Thursday, November 1, 2012

Conversations with Ourselves- The Internal Struggle

In part one of this self reflection series I had talked a bit about what I love about self reflection and the creative sacred space born from asking questions. (On a side note before I get too far I have a copy of The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark which I believe relates to what I'm talking about but I have not gotten a chance to reading it yet. Will dust it off as soon as I finish reading Cloud Atlas.) The courage to even ask any question which may challenge the faith of your parents is a HUGE step in it of itself. Asking questions doesn't mean you are betraying God, your faith, or even jeopardizing your place in the here after.  Questioning your beliefs merely means you want to explore your spirituality, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you're a part of a religious community then your spiritual leaders will most likely say that asking certain questions may lead you astray. The "believe what we tell you, ask only the appropriate questions" should fire off all sorts of alarms in your head. If it doesn't then you're not ready to ask, explore, discover your own spirituality if you allow others to decide your spiritual life.

[Litany Against Fear by Gavin Aung Than, you MUST click here and see the entire Litany Against Fear cartoon at Zen Pencils. Incredibly inspiring.]

I'm not advocating leaving your faith altogether but to recover the reins to your own spirituality. If you can make the decision to choose which house of worship to attend then why can't you decide the boundaries of your spirituality? Any relationship which requires certain unflinching, unquestioning loyalty is bound to cause pain. If you see God as the source of unconditional love, why then are there conditions to receive and experience that love? You must believe X or God will love you if... are conditions, plain and simple. Some will say that God loves everyone, but then continue with you must accept God into your heart or you must accept Jesus' sacrifice, etc, etc. But what happens when you begin to question the religious teachings that surround that unconditional love? What happens when certain events lead you to question your relationship with the divine all together? What happens when you just can't accept any of it?

How do you struggle with the questions which may unravel what you believe to be foundational to your human experience? It's difficult, I believe even more so than the external battle with friends and family members who may not agree with all this self discovery. For me it eventually turned into a spiritual practice. To sit and meditate on who we are and the enormous creative potential of who we can be is very spiritually rewarding. And that's the clincher, what's keeping you from discovering yourself? Is it fear of the unknown, fear of what others may think of you, fear of what you may discover, fear of becoming something/someone else, or fear of losing your beliefs? All of these hurdles include fear, but we must not be a slave to fear. Although I don't pray I do recite the following prayer before a test, interview, etc.:

The Litany Against Fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

This is recited by an order of women called the Bene Gesserit in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. It's a bit silly to recite a science fiction prayer to battle the fear of something like an exam. A string of words is not going to help me ace the test, so why recite it? To help remind myself that the prayer is just as silly, hollow, and weak as fear itself. The questions you are afraid to ask are just a string of words.  They are not incantations to a spell which will immediately turn you into a monster. They are just words. The questions are simply a mirror to discover yourself. How can we love our neighbor when we're afraid to know, let alone love, ourselves?

Part 1) Conversations with Ourselves: The Question
Part 2) Conversations with Ourselves: The Internal Struggle
Part 3) Conversations with Ourselves: The External Struggle
Part 4) Conversations with Ourselves:  Reflections on Who We Were
Part 5) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Peace with Chaos
Part 6) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Sense of It All

1 comment:

Don said...

"How do you struggle with the questions which may unravel what you believe to be foundational to your human experience?"

This was the question I came to ask myself as my journey began over 10 years ago. And you are correct, it is a difficult question, but one that must be asked.

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