Can you endorse this: Religions have caused and are causing endless miseries and evils in this world?
(For example, the inquisition trials and torture chambers, the witch hunts, the suppression of women and children, the religious wars, the Crusades, Catholics against Protestants Jews against Arabs, Shia Muslims against Sunni Muslims, the Islamist terrorism...)
Do you agree with, that also non-religious belief systems have caused and are causing endless miseries and evils in this world? To abandon religion was obviously not enough.
(The Gulag, the Killing fields, the Holocaust, nationalism, racism, neo-Darwinism, the horrendous exploitation of fellow men, women, children and the whole planet in the name of freedom and democracy…)
Are you aware of the fact that your ideas about yourself and the way you look at life can create endless problems to you, and not only to you, but also to people near to you?
(I am completely useless. I’m ugly. There is not much point with anything. I don’t want to do anything. The only thing I care for is alcohol. Or: The only thing that counts is money. My career comes first. One has to fight like hell for a room at the top. One must not fail. Losers can go and fuck themselves. I have to have it my way because I know that I'm right. I’m entitled to this because I‘m from a rich family…)
However, many religious and superstitious people are not causing miseries and evil, on the contrary, many of them are good people. Many communists were really fighting for a just society without poverty, bondage and exploitation. And many neurotics with a low self esteem are also good people who do the best they can with the potty horses they have to ride.
I have a work mate who voted for the extreme right. When I asked her why, she said: “Because I don’t like Arabs.” She didn’t know anything about the political program she had voted for, because she doesn’t care a bit about politics, but she is nevertheless an easy going person, always truly enthusiastic and happy. Isn’t that quite common? Many people vote without any idea of what they vote for. I have friends that have totally inconsistent ideas but who are very pleasant to hang out with. I have friends who believe in astrology but that don’t make them evil. And I know of from my, way back, two unhappy years in scientific laboratories, highly rational and well informed people who were complete assholes.
So, when do ignorance, superstition and misapprehensions become evil? I don’t know. But I know that it is possible to relinquish religion, political ideologies and ideas about oneself and life, if we want to. Religious and ideological beliefs are not necessary for anything but holding a group together and we don’t need to belong to mad groups anymore, if we don’t want to. If you desperately need a group to belong to, no matter what crazy beliefs they cherish, because you are so afraid to be alone, then that is your problem. (As long as you leave me alone.) And we don’t have to admire or resent other people, or ourselves, if we don’t want to. Human beings have since the dawn of history been superstitious, ignorant and cruel, but we can, nevertheless, step out of that madness if we want to. It is not until recently we have begun to understand that it is actually possible to break the spell. I don't have to be a racist because my family and workmates are. There is no need for a belief system to make pancakes. You don't have to become an atheist to mend a bicycle. There is no need for scientific theories or religious mythologies about how the universe was formed to live here and now with whatever is under ones nose. You don't have to become successful, slim, radiating, wonderful or positive. You don't have to become anything. You don't have to think positive thoughts all the time. You are completely free to feel whatever you feel, think whatever you think, here in this moment. Get rid of your self improvement books. Get rid of your dreams of self improvement.
Are there any benefits with waking up? Isn’t it often much more pleasant to be pleasantly deluded? Maybe it is so. Maybe it is more pleasant to be asleep or half asleep. Maybe it is more pleasant to be drunk or drugged. Maybe it is better with comforting beliefs and ignorance of ones foolishness. Some people might even have to kill them self if their illusions are taken away. What I’m saying is that it is possible to wake up and sober up and that this insight is fairly new to us. We are like recently discharged long term prisoners or mental patients. We are bewildered and don’t know exactly what to do.
If we are borne with a free will, we have certainly not had many opportunities in our history to exercise it. The majority has always been slaves in one way or the other and slaves have no use for a free will. And we have always been sent to war.
This is from Richard Dawkins book, The God delusion: “From the high command’s point of view it would be madness to allow each individual soldier discretion over whether or not to obey orders. Nations whose infantrymen act on their own initiative rather than following orders will tend to loose wars. From the nation’s point of view, this remains a good rule of thumb even if it sometimes leads to individual disaster. Soldiers are drilled to become as much like automata, or computers, as possible.”
“Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival. But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses. For excellent reasons related to Darwinian survival, child brains need to trust parents, and elders whom parents tell them to trust. An automatic consequence is that the truster has no way of distinguishing good advice from bad. The child cannot know that `Don’t paddle in the crocodile-infested Limpopo’ is good advice but `You must sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon, otherwise the rains will fail´ is at best a waste of time and goats.”
To sustain yourself or a family you almost always have to have a job, but only a lucky few have a job they love. Often you have to accept what is offered. And as employed you have to adjust to the policies and the atmosphere of the workplace. You have to follow orders. This can sometimes be a horrible experience. You are often forced to pretend that you are someone else. As a salesman you have to be positive, charming, competitive and result orientated. If you don't want to play that salesman game, if you have had enough of classes in positive thinking, team building, goal setting and neuro linguistic programming techniques to improve yourself and your performance, you have to look for another job. As a laborer of any kind you have to be strong and able to work hard without asking too many questions. If you don’t want to adjust to or feel like taking orders from sometimes complete idiots, you have to set up a business of your own, but you will still have to adjust to the rules of the market. To be free to do what you want, you have to be rich enough. For us who have to go to a job we don't love to make a living the free will is limited. It can often only be exercised at vacations and at times off duty. But something is better than nothing, isn’t it? The big risk is that when you are off duty you are not aware of it. You can become like an actor in a play that comes home at night, still in your Hamlet costume, still believing you are prince Hamlet.
We are often forced to act and play games to satisfy relatives, workmates or bosses. Many people certainly don't want to hear that their beliefs are nothing but imaginations; often, if we happen to be around touchy and quick tempered people, we have to learn how to keep things to ourselves, but we don’t have to sell our soul. It is possible to wake up. It is possible to break the spell. We are not the persons we think we are. The world is not as we think it is. It is possible to live without all these crazy ideas about everything. Often we have to put our lamp under a bushel, but we don’t have to put out the light. It is this that is new. Mankind is in the beginning of the disenchantment process.