BY SOFO ARCHON
The basic reason why so many of us believe and follow the dogmas of religion is fear.
What are we afraid of?
We fear many things, but all of our fears ultimately come down to one basic fear: the fear of death — that is, the fear of temporarity, insubstantiality, emptiness.
We all deep down sense our transience. The ego that we have worked on so hard to build is inevitably going to dissolve and disappear at any point in time. Afraid to consciously accept this gut feeling, we desperately try to find something to cling on to — something to console us that we’ll keep on living forever, no matter what that “something” might be.
Some people are willing to believe in a virgin who can give birth, others are ready to accept that a god-like figure is floating somewhere above the clouds, and still others have no trouble worshiping idols.
Our fear of death has made us believe in anything, no matter how silly it is. And this fear is being exploited by those cunning, power-hungry ones who are willing to propound all sorts of religious ideologies to psychologically entrap us: priests, gurus, religious teachers of all kinds.
Fear has made us accept and blindly follow dogmatic religious beliefs. Yet, we have no viable evidence to support those beliefs. In fact, we never took a single moment to question the validity of the beliefs that we hold in dear faith — again, out of fear. In the Western world, many of us have been conditioned to think that to question the rightness of our religion means to sin and end up in hell, and who in his or her right mind would risk being thrown into hellfire?
The problem with religious belief systems is that they prevent us from seeking truth. They offer ready-made answers to nearly all of our existential questions, and this way we don’t have to worry over them. And since the search for truth can be arduous, most people are not willing to endure the hardship one has to undergo in the process of finding it — instead, they just sit back and pretend that they know everything.
Ignorance is, in a sense, bliss, and fundamentalist religion keeps us tied to ignorance by consoling us; it is singing us lullabies so that we can remain in a deep state of sleep. But no matter how peacefully we might seem to sleep, one day nightmares are going to abruptly wake us up — and this will be a painful process.
When you’re living in hell, to pretend that you experience heaven isn’t going to do much to help you deal with your existential fears. That’s because fear can’t be dealt with by avoiding it or pretending that it’s not there. Fear can be dealt with only by accepting it, facing it, understanding why it’s there and getting rid of its root causes.
If you’ve been believing in and following religious dogmas, perhaps it’s time that you reconsider your beliefs and behavior. Regardless of how much fear religion has instilled in you, there is no good reason why you should believe or do anything that it’s telling you to, unless it deeply resonates with you and reflects your own experiential understanding.
It’s not that religions don’t have any important spiritual lessons to offer — they do have, some — but to follow them on belief alone is nothing but idiotic and can only result in making your life — and most likely the lives of those around you — worse. Attachment to ideologies — whether religious or otherwise — has caused tremendous harm to the world, and unless we let go of them, we are bound to experience further suffering, both on an individual and a collective level.
Our fear has entrapped us, making us mindlessly believe in things that fill our lives with pain and misery. To escape from this psychological prison and effectively deal with life’s problems, we need to question our beliefs and start our quest for truth from scratch, no matter how hard that might be.