Dogmatic religion is a bitch. It destroys the very core of people.
Humans are social creatures. So when our cherished others share with us that it is possible to know the love of a perfect being, to be enfolded in the bliss of union with it, if only we follow some rules, we naturally strive to seek this perfection. But the rules are the thing. When we submit to rules we want to know that they are justified. That they will be efficacious. But dogma, the insistence on unquestioning faith, does not give us such reassurance.
Any dogmatic set of rules is functionally unattainable in the long term because of the power of doubt. Dogmatism is not a natural part of what it is to be human. We thirst for understanding. And, while there is a great truth in not being a slave to the why of things, in sometimes accepting things as they are even though we cannot yet understand them, we will never cease completely to ask why.
Whenever there are rules they are broken. Always. If there is a rule, someone is breaking it. But with dogmatic religion it is always the rules held in the highest regard that are broken. Not just broken, smashed. The most proscribed precepts serving only to indicate the nature of the depravity of the oppressors. Our tender bliss seeking hearts recoil from this hypocrisy. And we instantly see the deception that these others have perpetrated upon us. And we hate them for it.
And if we are hurt enough, we defensively reject the entire possibility of the blissful union ever existing at all. We want our money back, because the thing they sold us does not exist. Or so we think. We think this because the hypocrites who taught us are hooked on the idea that there is only one way to characterize the perfect thing, and it is their characterization. All the other ones are evil. The god of Abraham boldly declares that all other gods are evil and untrue, false and deceiving, or even, the big lie, simply nonexistent. Like a spoiled toddler, his every utterance an insistent cry of There Can Be Only One.
This is often the first clue to us that the god of love they say they are recommending might not be quite as loving as they make him out to be. Even though we reject them once we see their hypocrisy rear its so, so ugly head, we have been so traumatically conditioned by the purveyors of the One True God™ that we can’t easily escape from the bounds of monotheism. Once we have found that particular god lacking we fall back on that conditioning and we believe that there must be no gods at all.
But the blissful union with the perfect thing is still there! If we continue to be prisoners of the conditioning foisted upon us by the damaged peddlers of the one single truth lie we shall be forever beholden to their conceptualizations. Forever locked in a trap of their design. Forever believing that it is their way or nothing.
Consider, if they lied about the truth of their way, by being unable to be true to it themselves, while forcing you to try to abide by the very ideals they fail to meet, perhaps they are likewise in error about the nature of deity. Perhaps the rules they tried to make us live by, the way they see the universe, how they define their god, how they see others, and most importantly, how they say you should decide if there is a thing called the divine at all, and what it might be like, might be a tissue of lies. They may be fundamentally mistaken about a great many things. They may even be in error about the very nature of the good.
And so our first task must be to nullify the conditioning that these hypocrites have emblazoned on our psyches, usually via our bodies. Not by falling into the trap of atheism, the doing of which only serving to reveal how fast one still is gripped in the fist of one’s boolean minded tormentors, but rather by embracing the plethora which the universe provides in place of the miserly conceptions of monotheism. Therefore seek all the gods. Erect a Pantheon in your soul. Inscribe the form of that perfect circle which expresses the all within the architecture of your being. Embrace everything.
But be wary. Because, unlike in the fairy tale they told us, things turn out to not be so clear as good and evil, black and white, god and the devil. There are a lot of things out there. To open the doors wide at once will blow you the fuck away. Protect yourself. If you don’t know how then seek this knowledge out first.
Seek then some agent in a realm dear to you. If a scholar seek Djhuty, a healer, seek Asclepius, a lover, seek Yue Lao, a warrior, seek Kartikeya. Once decided, do not believe in them. Instead devote yourself to the practices of your chosen deity’s cult. Learn all you can about them, enact all the obligations of their tradition, open to them your heart in full honesty, respect and awe. Most importantly, give them the true service of your actions, rather than the false service of only saying words of belief. Walk the walk. Don’t just talk the talk.
Perhaps that god will not answer your call, will not call your name, you feel nothing. Do not fall into the trap of boolean thinking again and believe that if you can’t hear a particular voice then there must be no voices to hear.
Persevere. And they may accept you, they may speak your name, may offer you a great learning to cherish, may touch your heart. And if one does, listen, grok, grow, and then put that one aside. This seems crazy right? But if you were not to do so you would just be doing monotheism again. You would still be trapped within the narrow confines of that particular stifling theology.
Putting your first chosen deity aside, literally on your altar, choose now another to take the centre space for a time. Enrich yourself again in the embrace of this new teacher, learning not just the lessons of that god’s own teaching but those that are shown by the nature of their relationship with your first chosen god, with others in their family, with the silence of the negative response, with all of creation. All gods exist in relationship to all others. And the nature of their relationships describes the nature of their being. And you know how relationships are. Messy. But the details of the mess encode a wealth of data. They lay before us an experience that it is not possible to explore with a single deity, or the deity of no deity.
Engage, embrace, diversify. Lather, rinse, repeat. Religion as experiment, as experience, as expansion. Not just as lip service. The understanding born of gnosis. Because dogmatic religion is a bitch.