I recently read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The book had a pretty heavy spiritual theme. Surprisingly, despite being a self proclaimed godless heathen, I found that theme very engaging. It really spoke to me, which is why I told basically everyone I know about the book. In fact I recommend you give it a read. I don’t even get any kickbacks from Coelho for saying so. Plus the book is too short for you to hate me for wasting your time if you don’t like it. In fact, if you were going to hate me for wasting your time, you’d probably already be there by now.
While I enjoyed the spiritual theme of the novel and started to really think about the existence of a higher power, it made my wonder why years of exposure to organized religion didn’t produce the same thing. Even as a child, when one would assume a person is most susceptible to ideas and influence, I never remember being convinced my actions were accountable to some higher power beyond the back of my mom’s hand.
I do believe that religion in its purest form (by this I mean how the words speak to you as opposed to being told what they should mean) has a lot to teach people about philosophy of life. I think even non-believers and belief-strugglers (like me) can glean a lot of insight if you keep an open mind and don’t judge too much.
That being said, I think you really have to completely believe in the magic to get 100% out of it. It’s all well and good to be able to talk about the philosophy and life lessons learned from religious texts but to fall to your knees, look up to the sky with your hands open and praise
The funny thing is, a lot of the time I wish I could just let it wash over me and devote my life to it. I actually envy these people. They seem to be so happy and peaceful. I’d love to be able to justify everything as “God’s will” and “if I pray hard enough, it will happen.” Most of my family is like this. A lot of my friends are like this. And in many ways, I’d like to be this way instead of the critical, sarcastic overanalyzer that I am.
Taking that one step further, (follow me on this one) maybe it’s that unshakable belief in God that actually spurns some sort of growth of confidence out of which we are then able to achieve great things. By this I mean that any self doubt or questioning is removed and by doing this, we would live our lives more efficiently and with more conviction, which then would let us achieve more in life and whatever goals we pursue.
Now whether that faith is logical or not doesn’t really matter (and this isn’t the point here) because it elevates us to such a level in our minds that we achieve success and in turn that success is attributed to a god who helped us shed all the little personality defects that hold us back: self doubt, worrying about the future, etc. As long as you do your part and live a good life according to the philosophies discussed earlier, God will take care of you according to the Master Plan. From my perspective, that would make life a lot simpler.
Reading back, I realize I did exactly what a typical belief-struggler would do: I took the idea of unwavering belief in a higher power and broke it down into an argument for living an easier life. I also realize that people who do believe may think I’m way off base and totally missed the point. But that’s just it – to me it seems like your journey to 100% belief is exclusive to you and each person’s trip is different. Some, like me, will probably never make that trip or may take a completely different path to get there (as in The Alchemist).
Maybe I’m too logical to believe in this way. Maybe I’m not truly opening my mind up. Maybe I should have paid more attention as a kid. Maybe I say “maybe” too much. Then again, maybe I don’t say “maybe” enough. Regardless, stuff like this is why I have such a hard time falling asleep at night.