by Zoe Nova
I don't want you to listen to me; what you need is to listen to yourself.
|I don’t believe in God. At least, not the way most do. To most of the world, Yahweh is an all powerful figure, right in every way, perfect in His majesty and unfailing in His might. I feel that He is someone else’s story, revered far too much in that we have forgotten our other cultural bases, our other creation myths. I say that there is more to the world than what we are told in our churches on Sunday.
There is, without a doubt, some meaning for me in what I hear at church, but I do not accept, blindly, what I am given. There is little use for me in what others say I should believe. I do not mind that others feel differently than I do on matters of the soul, not in the least. What does bother me is that they believe their way of thinking is the only correct way; that all others are obscene, or damned in their different schools of thought. This pains me, and I feel the ache through my bones.
This is wish thought for a universal path, the one every person seems to need so much, and, whether we admit or not, pine for as an example of simplicity and perfection. This universal path cannot be found anywhere, but has been sought as far back as the first time anyone ever looked up at the stars and felt alone inside. The word for this is Asha, usually translated as “truth,” and, paradoxically, is the most dangerous lie ever told. The more we search for a one true way, the farther we distance ourselves from what is right for us. You can’t fit spirituality in a box. More has been said on philosophy, on life, and on religion than anyone could ever read in a lifetime, much less comprehend. And even if, by some distant star, you managed to find this library, at best it would only point you in the right direction to your own truth, the place where you need to be to find inner peace. And there is inner peace, though it changes from moment to moment, breath to breath, heartbeat to heartbeat. It just isn’t how we always imagine it.
In Christian theology, heaven is forever, and it can be attained by accepting Jesus as God, and God as all-powerful and good. Aside from the flaw of “the one true God,” there is another fallacy. Heaven is not forever. Heaven can never be forever. One can feel boundless joy, one can feel perfect happiness, and, while the moment is as real and tangible as anything physical, that moment will end. Everything will end. Ideas change, loves move on, minds decay, sorrows fade, and burdens are lifted. This is a most sublime blessing, and a haunting curse. There is nothing so incorruptible that it is impervious to change. Deviation is the only thing that saves us from monotony, a death far worse than the end of life. If we were not to change, to alter the molds of our thoughts, beliefs, and dreams, then we would be so static as to never feel love. Even the worst of bigots can reform when someone close to them suffers, and this is what keeps humanity human.
Asha, while a comforting thing for a while after it is first accepted, is something that silently kills your ability to relate and interact successfully with other people. It is evident to me that there is a wide spectrum of destruction wreaked by Asha, one extreme being the cultists, who force their beliefs down the throats of most people they come in contact with, like force feeding a protester on a hunger strike. These people try to forcibly convert everyone they see, and this, more often than not, leads to fear of a belief in a higher power, or, at least confusion in their own way of thinking, and disdain for whatever our cultist preaches. If the victim in question does convert, it is out of fear for his or her spirituality--or even life-- rather than a realization of belief. It isn’t possible to change someone’s mind. You can present facts which challenge their way of thinking, which they may bend to accommodate, but you can never change someone’s mind: that is something they must do for themselves.
The other extreme with Asha is the sheep. Usually coerced through fear by a cultist, and with low self-esteem, they hold onto beliefs ordained by someone else out of an inability or an unwillingness to leave what they have held onto for so long. There is a bit of poetry, of innocence in this, summarized by a blind faith in a world alien to the believer, like a child wearing her mother’s shoes, trying to imagine what life will be like when they are older, and understand what they are taught. This pattern of thought, while not outwardly horrible or wrong, does terrible things to the sheep’s psyche. I would know. I was one for a long, long time. My father’s family was very religious, and throughout my childhood I clung steadfastly to what I was told at church, but this became a problem when I grew into a stage where I could think for myself. I fell into believing that what I did, how I thought, and the way I wanted to live my life was entirely wrong. I felt guilt for my flights of fancy, for the poetry I read, for the music I listened to, and that I disagreed with things that were taught to me. Things were so much simpler then, but I soon outgrew that state of mind, and that complacency that seemed to be so crucial a part of an organized religion. Keeping Asha with me forced me to my knees, and I’m still getting back up to where I want to belong.
For those who feel that wherever they are, where they always have been, suits them spiritually, then they are welcome to stay where they are. Just let them know that their way is not the right way for everyone they meet, and they need not feel guilty if they ever need to move on. Let them know that, in all probability, they are not following their religion to the letter. All holy books have inherent contradictions, as they are written by men meant to be the mouthpiece of God, and not by God Himself. Whatever is read from the Bible is written by a mortal’s hands, and may not apply to you. No one should take someone else’s words as an absolute, but they should take what they hear and create something unique for them to live by; it doesn’t have to be contradictory to what the original verse said, but just something that resonates with the person as an individual, and that they can understand.
One person is worth more than an entire crowd; it just takes leaders too long to separate the two.
Living fully can be a cruel challenge, as is thinking for oneself. What one finds, what one believes, and what one dreams are deep things, seemingly unattainable to a wandering mind, but we are all pilgrims. Finding ourselves is the mission of a lifetime, with many pitfalls and dangers, but knowing who you are, and where you fit is worth anything, even if it only lasts for seconds. A true feeling that everything is fine, in that moment, is the best anyone can hope to attain. One can only find joy through letting go of conventional ideas, and learning to accept who and what their world is. I can’t tell anyone how to get there. I can’t tell anyone when they’ll find it. I can’t tell anyone if what I can say will ever help. All I know is that what I have is my own, and it can’t be duplicated or taken from me.
It just takes some time to find my truth, and to hold it close.