Religion, spirituality, self help, and new age philosophies are often the real backbone of our lives and provide us with a deep sense of purpose, mission, and identity.
They tend to offer comfort, security, and peace in times of turmoil and upheaval. For these reasons it is important to question and examine what the foundations and assumptions of these really are.
I was raised in a Christian environment and was made to go to church on a regular basis until the age of 14, even though I strongly resisted from the very beginning. After being granted freedom in that regard, I took a deep interest in spirituality and mysticism. Thanks to my obsessive nature and strong desire to learn, I jumped head first into the deep end and have been exploring, studying, and practicing a variety of philosophies in a wide array of arenas and outlets even since.
What has really stood out to me thus far is how we say legs aren’t important and you don’t even need them—and then spend our lives running.
We are usually unaware of our own biases and conditioning. Instead we try to salvage it, improve it, update, or re-organize. The biases I’m referring to are the ones we inherit from our culture via the mediums of religion and science. What if those unconscious biases were actually the invisible root of much of our suffering?
So far, my experience and research has shown me that quite often this is the case, and instead of really seeing our programming we instead try to dress it up under umbrellas of spirituality, higher consciousness, or self help.
It’s highly likely that we’ve all experienced the real “original sin” of losing touch with who we really are and subsequently live our lives from the amalgam of other peoples experiences, ie. cultural and religion. This can socially be useful, yet it disrupts our natural functioning and normal rhythms of health, which opens the door for distorted behavior and habits which deplete rather than nourish who we are. We lose our natural spontaneous quality in favor of conditioned responses.
From that basis we develop a deep lack of self respect and self esteem because the self who we really are is being dis-respected and ignored.
Then it really is no wonder that we experience disease, if our fundamental orientation toward life is “I’m not good enough” and “I need something or someone outside of me to save me or make me okay.”
The fundamental aims of religion, spirituality, self help and new age philosophies can easily be understood as variations on the following themes:
- How can I put a gun to god’s head?
- How can I feel superior to other people who haven’t “seen the light?”
- How can I feel inferior to those above me who have “seen the light?”
- How can I get one up on life and somehow transcend this human experience?
- How can I rise above suffering?
These are honest, although politically incorrect ways of saying something even more politically incorrect, which is that choosing these beliefs is based in a deep lack of self respect and worth which devalues our own experience and intelligence.
This conditions us to be constantly looking for the next thing to “save us” and as such, who we think we are has become an organization and reorganization of these salvational strivings.
It’s like, what flavor of subservience would you like? Christian? Atheist? Buddhist? Raw vegan? Paleo? Heart centered? New ager? Conservative? Liberal? We brand ourselves with the logos and slogans of whichever “isms” we choose to buy into, therefore demonstrating their ownership over us.
In exchange, we get the illusion of identity, the hope for a better tomorrow, and a feeling of camaraderie with others that have chosen a similar path of serfdom.
We’re often unaware of the large amount of obligation, responsibility, pressures, stress, and roles to fill that come with the territory. We often fail to see the shadow aspects of our beliefs based in fear driven behaviors, insecure thoughts that we won’t be loved, accepted, or taken care of if we don’t do A, B, or C. We buy into these things and then end up dedicating our lives to “doing” a “thing” because it will maybe produce a result one day. Thus, we really feel like we need these systems to deliver, improve, and save us.
The reality is that these external investments of energy and identity seeking make no real difference to who we really are and only function as a means of projecting that realization off on something, someone, or a future self. It is simply reorganizing the same belief system under a new umbrella because the desire to experience some sort of ascension denotes that the person’s real circumstantial feelings are of lack of self respect and self worth.
If I brag about how much money I have, odds are that most will say how insecure I am and how uncool it is for me to try to elevate myself above others because it’s oppressive to use material wealth as a measure of the worth of a human life. Yet if I say how purely divine my centered compassionate consciousness is and that I am awake, then it’s a round of applause and a pat on the back. It’s surprising how many people fail to realize that this is the same identical belief system expressing itself.
The more our psyche becomes compartmentalized, specialized, and divided, the more we feel the need to rely upon a variety of external surrogates/hand rails to save, improve, and deliver us. We also begin to develop and cling to our illusory alliances and memberships to a buffet of clubs, groups, parties, cults, paradigms, which are all inherently violent and subtly oppressive.
This list of ways in which you can divide and subdivide and classify and reclassify yourself is so infinite that it makes me want to puke, but that doesn’t mean that it’s actually real or true. The issue here is that these approaches skew and cover our original nature and unique path, thus cutting us off from our birthright of cosmic nourishment.
If you look in the mirror, how many bodies do you see?
Do you see a lot of mechanical systems working together, like a swiss watch? Do you see one process unfolding spontaneously of its own accord? Do you see a bunch of broken things that need to be fixed? What is your experience and how often do you simply investigate and explore that?
The crazy thing is that you are capable and worthy of doing this, if you feel like it. Choosing to validate the illusion of control to medicate our inherent fear of the unknown is really choosing to validate that all of your existing bias are correct but maybe you just need to re-arrange them under a new umbrella.
In other words, your natural feelings and inclinations as a human are evil or impure and you need a method to rid yourself of them. Nevermind the natural intelligence that is your organism, its natural appetites, and inclination towards health and self regulation. What about your inherent spontaneity and natural responsiveness? Do we really need another thing to “get” or “be good at” or “do the right way?”
Do we really need more drudgery to plow through in the hopes that all of the misery and suffering will one day grant the gold we imagine we need to be happy/enlightened/spiritual/successful?
What if nature is inherently self resolving and self correcting? We can easily observe and find it in our own experience if we look at the things we can’t change and didn’t agree to do to in the first place like: breathing, eating, sleeping, moving, and f*cking.
Then again, how would you know if you never took a break to look?
Author: Brandon Gilbert
Editor: Catherine Monkman