Can you please offer me some guidance, because honestly I don’t know what I believe anymore.
Since moving away from my family and home town 18 months ago to go to the city for Uni, a lot has changed for me. Not just my environment, but personal changes too, like my behavior, my thinking and my beliefs. I don’t feel like the same person anymore, and sometimes that scares me.
I come from a very close-knit family with strong ties to the church. This way of life, with all its rituals, values and dogma, has been all that I ever knew, and up until very recently, I have always felt very proud to belong to this community of enlightened people. I used to love the solidarity I shared with my cousins and neighbours. We were taught to pity the less fortunate people who chose to ignore the word of God. These poor lost souls could only be saved by blessed people such as us, who carried the truth, but without this gift, the faithless were destined to eternal suffering in Hell. The worst possible nightmare I could ever have imagined, was to be one of these people.
Arriving in the city and immersing myself in campus life, surrounded by unsympathetic, non-believers, has been a shocking experience for me. This became even more confusing and confronting for me as I started to make friends and form relationships with non-believers. What I have discovered, since getting over the fear and sadness I felt for my friends as their “immoral behavior” secured them front row seats to the fires of hell, was how much fun they were having, and how much I enjoyed having fun with them! Something changed for me when I stopped trying so hard to obey the rules and stopped trying to save everyone else who was not obeying them.
My new friends, who are Agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Atheist have shown me how to appreciate a different kind of faith, and have given me more joy and love than I ever felt from my family and friends back home.
Even though my life is so much more fun and exciting now that I have stopped fearing God, I still get frightening visions of myself as one of those “poor, lost souls” who has lost their faith. Could it be that this reckless, non-fearing attitude I have developed is the workings of the Devil, seducing me with drink and girls and good-times? Leading me blindly astray from the truth and into the pits of Hell?
These thoughts scare me, but when I think about the poor, scared little person I used to be, living under the constant vigilance of God and fearing his punishment for me, I can’t see myself ever going back, nor would I ever want to. Could it be that I have lost sight of the truth and blown my chances of rewards in Heaven? Or have I opened my eyes to the pleasures of real life, here and now?
So many Humans are happy to go along with the extremely narrow-minded and limited views that are shared throughout religious communities when it comes to belief or faith in some sort of Deity, Creator or Higher Power. Along with the wisdom and hope that all of these belief-systems offer, almost all mainstream religions and doctrines have also adopted, to some degree, an elitist, black and white, we-are-right-they-are-wrong, follow us or be damned attitude, which does no good at all, and only serves to divide, isolate and breed fear, hatred and intolerance. These exclusive attitudes have nothing to do with love, faith, wisdom or universal consciousness. The language of the universe, and of all life itself, has been confused and misinterpreted as “The Word Of God” for far too long, being twisted to suit the selfish needs of discriminating groups or individuals. Can’t you see the childishness in the way every religion wants to claim “God” for themselves, and will only admit access to this awesome Being to those select few who agree to obey their rules! All the rest can, quite literally, “Go to Hell!”
This kind of “Belief” is nothing but dangerous, cruel, distorted nonsense. The concept of God and access to It is there for everybody and anybody who chooses to form a relationship with It. There should be nothing more sacred and personal than the understanding and relationship formed by an individual and their “God”, and no Human Being, no religion and no law has the right to intrude upon this private union.
My advice for you is to just believe whatever you believe to be true for you, and make that the only truth that you need to believe in.