There is an almost silly question that pops out of the discussion on religions among friends the other days: are those religious people imbeciles?
We could laugh out loud. We easily scoff at a rubbish question like that. Of course, it is just a crap. But, hold on. Think again. Try to honestly think about the answer. Could it be a yes? Well, it could actually be a yes, or no – depending on the function of the mind.
Yes, when someone becomes addicted to a religion, it is when he or she becomes closer to being imbecile. A religion addict hinders the mind from functioning properly in this context. When someone becomes a religion addict, it is when the religion has achieved its ultimate goal – that is, making the religion as god itself, and making the followers follow it blindly.
Just open any page in a holy book of Abraham descent. It is easy to find a flow of instructions that are immediately followed by threats. And, because the marketing positioning of religions is based on the love for God, there is always a promise of that famous reward – the heaven. But read just any page, the essence of the message is usually clear – you get to follow blindly. Do not argue, do not question, and you’ll be heavenly rewarded. Otherwise, you’ll be severely punished.
To achieve the ultimate goal of recruiting faithful followers of no arguments, no thinking, no doubts, the writers usually tried to arrange the words in such a way that the words would leave no room, no grey area for the mind to argue. The programming uses language or words that are mostly based on sets of opposites: do and do not, should and should not, must and must not. The basic premise of these dualities is – for anything to be labeled as something, its opposite must be excluded.
So, as the story tells, according to the holy words – there is only one truth. And, anything that is not labeled as such must be a lie. Also, according to the holy words – there is only one way to salvation. Anything that is not labeled as such must be a sin. The premise of “either-or” ignores the very basic sense of life itself – that is, the aspects of which the writers tried to distinguish actually exist simultaneously without borders. Life is not just about black and white, nor good and bad all the time. The complexity of life cannot be empowered by this simplistic premise alone. In fact, it is possible for people in some points of life to experience an absence of all distinctions.
The fact of the matter is – this premise makes people fail to realize that they actually have an extraordinary range of unbounded messages of life from various sources. In fact, the whole universe is an unlimited source of messages. But because they choose to close the mind and simply follow the book instructions blindly, they actually have missed many possibilities or alternative ways to experience life. This also means that they have missed many things that life is able to offer to enrich humanity.
When a religion addict bets his or her life on a book alone, clings his or her life to words of that book alone for support, he or she does not realize that words are only symbols. Though we could not deny the value and importance of words, we have to realize that life is too complex to be expressed in words alone. More often than not words fail to represent the real meaning because the meaning of words change across time, and the situations they are supposed to label also change. An addict tends to abandon the power of mind and follow the claim of the words literally – that they hold the ultimate truth of the whole universe, across time, across lives, across all situations, across everything. An addict tends to ignore that the words often fail to acknowledge that life is naturally about evolution, that life is actually about a constant change.
So, there it goes. History has showed us again and again that religion addicts would willingly do anything, anything whatsoever in the name of God – even if that anything would cause an unimaginable, horrified misery to all humanity. This kind of people would buy in anything, anything whatsoever, with a God brand on it. They might think they worship God, but in reality they actually undermine the power of God by refusing to use the power of mind. Not realizing that they actually have lost sight of the real God, the religion has become the god instead.
Yes. There is a name for people who refuse to use the mind for heaven’s sake. They are imbeciles. They are zealots.
Now, there is this second group of believers. These people are sometimes able to use the power of mind. Occasionally these people are willing to think, to question, to criticize, to argue – even though they mostly are in the state of denial, or ignorance. Like those zealots, this second group of people has also been stuck in what is called the social programming too, but they usually do not bet their lives fully on it.
And, what is a social programming? Throughout our lives – our thoughts, our actions, and also our emotions have been formed and guided by language from our earlier encounters with words directed at us by our closest family and society. We are told to do this, or don't do that, to follow this, or forbid that – and the process goes on and on and on, throughout our childhood years, adolescence, and into adulthood. For most people, those assumptions and values upon which they’ve been nurtured throughout lives are rarely challenged. Therefore, those assumptions and values have become their second nature.
This second group of believers simply follows this second nature because it is the only way they know to live a life, often without any pretension. It is not about a choice, because there is never a question of choice. It is just about norms. About being synchronize with the society.
So, what makes these people different from the previous group? Funny things happen when these people meet with some challenges. They won’t easily change their point of view, for sure. By any measure, it is forbidden to challenge the holy words. But because they are able to use a little bit of their minds, they are usually busy finding justifications and reasons for everything that they find less-than-perfect. They notice that some of their own people have actually twisted the rules and norms for gaining money and power or even for abusing other people. However, because the holy words say that people of their own are always the privileged, the chosen ones – they would always find a way to tolerate even the most devilish acts of their own people. When there is no more excuses, no more justifications, no more reasons can be found, these people prefer to keep silent in confusion. They are definitely the safety players.
There is only a little hope left of any reformation or change that could be done by these people. But, there is still a hope anyway. When these people have a chance to meet with a strong leader who owns a strong spirit and determination, they are able to courageously open and widen their mind to follow the leader. Once they are able to step out of their confusion, they would be able to become some agents of reformation themselves.
And last but not least. There is also a group of people who consciously explore religions as a necessary stage of growth in order to understand life. They realize that without stepping into this area, and learning about its essence, they will never fully understand life. For these people, every step of life has its own purpose and meaning.
Unfortunately, these people are already difficult to find. Not because they are only few, but because most of them have usually reached an understanding that all those hocus pocus are not important anymore. They have understood that religions are only tools to understand life, and religions are not the only way for achieving the same goal. They have come to a stage where the reward accounting, or the heaven and hell, or the truth and sin, or the love and fear, or the chosen and the non-chosen, do not matter anymore.
But once again, they cannot just simply explain their experience to others in words. Life is always too complex to be explained in words alone. Words as they understand – are not the only tools to express the ultimate truth. Words are only insignias. Only symbols.
So are dogmas. So are religions.
However, most of us are not there yet. Here we are, all are still in love with the hocus pocus. We judge. We judge a lot. It is always easier for us to judge rather than to widen our perspectives. It is easier for us to embrace bigotry rather than to hold on to open-mindedness. It is easier for us to be prejudice rather than to be an enlightened person.
And, who knows what the future might bring?
At the end of the day, we might finally understand. We might finally come to an understanding that those imbeciles are there for a purpose too…