I’ve long pondered the reason as to why people settle for meagre conditions in life. Why they content themselves with inadequate answers and unsolved mysteries. Why they are so quick to capitulate to temporary difficulties? It really bogged me because I thought if majority of mankind find themselves deep in cynicism and bleak outlook on life, am I delusional for seeing and seeking a prosperous life beyond what the current world reality has to offer? I mean, if I could find the answers and ways – and I deem myself as lower on the totem pole than others, not out of false humility but because I’m quite sensitive- why were people who are more resilient and more proactive than I am incapable of even entertaining the possibility of prosperity?
For months I’d been endlessly ruminating on this because I was afraid that my idealism was delusional,that perhaps I was setting myself up for failure.
But as I was reading a passage from Chris Hedges phenomenal book When Atheism Becomes Religion where he quoted Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Christian mystic, as having said
God is, as Thomas Aquinas argues, the power that allows us to be ourselves. God is a search, a way to frame the questions. God is a call to reverence.
Something clicked in my mind. Allaah allows me to be myself. He’s the parameter, the direction, the existential boundaries that allows me the space, the wriggle room that is challenging enough for my growth yet reassuring enough as to not overwhelm me.
I ravaged through my mind for the countless pieces of thoughts and ideas that I had collected from my obsessive ruminations, and I started to rearrange the way I looked at it.
The Divine. Humans have an innate greed to want to become gods, to possess, to dominate, to be perfect.
It makes so much sense to me now; we dread failure, we abhor being seen in a not so flattering light, we avoid rejection because it ruins our quest for perfection which is basically a denial of our imperfect nature, and a thirst for absolute power. It bursts our ego’s bubble.
And I now understand why I’m increasingly dedicated to this journey : I’ve been broken. My ego has been brutalized by depression and PTSD and phobias and fibromyalgia. I didn’t give up my perfectionism cold turkey. I didn’t hand in my world domination badge out of good will. Years of suffering and resistance made me realize it’s do or die. Literally.
Sensitivity is the crack in our human window that allows the enlightenment in. Emotions carry this enlightenment and need to be aired regularly to ensure constant circulation of enlightenment that allows us to be in harmony with the rest of the world. Donning a mask for fear of being vulnerable or due to pride clogs the crack, and seals our lifeline. We’re left to our devices and we slowly die from the fumes of our ego.
Enlightenment is a shedding of one’s protective layer. It’s a removal of attachments. It sends you fleeing your comfort zone. That’s why when Adam took a bite from the apple of the tree of knowledge in paradise, the two suddenly became aware of their nudity, and they were expelled from Paradise, to earth.
When I talk of the divine, I do not talk about the religious. I find most self-proclaimed religious people drain the life out of me because of their ego fumes. They use religion as a pulpit to bolster themselves. They use spiritual jargon to clog their humanity. The same thing goes for passionate atheists who feel a need to remind people how they don’t believe there is a god. They reject the divine because they don’t want to be limited by any power but their own. They use science and reason as substitutes for religion. The religious and atheist are the polar opposites of the same spectrum. They use different methods to arrive at the same outcome: existential bypass.
Here’s what Hedges has to say about this duality:
The belief that rational and quantifiable disciplines such as science can be used to perfect human society is no less absurd than a belief in magic, angels and divine intervention. Scientific methods, part of the process of changing the material world, are nearly useless in the nebulous world of politics, ideas, values and ethics. But the belief in collective moral progress is a seductive one. It is what has doomed populations in the past who have chased after impossible dreams, and it threatens to doom us again. It is, at its core, the enticing delusion that we can be more than human, that we can become gods.
We have nothing to fear from those who do or do not believe in God; we have much to fear from those who do not believe in sin.
The concept of sin is a stark acknowledgment that we can never be omnipotent, that we are bound and limited by human flaws and self-interest. The concept of sin is a check on the utopian dreams of a perfect world. It prevents us from believing in our own perfectibility or the illusion that the material advances of science and technology equal an intrinsic moral improvement in our species.
To turn away from God is harmless. Saints have been trying to do it for centuries. To turn away from sin is catastrophic. Religious fundamentalists, who believe they know and can carry out the will of God, disregard their severe human limitations. they act as if they are free from sin.
The secular utopians of the twenty-first century have also forgotten they are human. These two groups peddle absolutes. Those who do not see as they see, speak as they speak and act as they act are worthy only of conversion or eradication.
We discard the wisdom of sin at our peril. Sin reminds us that all human beings are flawed—though not equally flawed. Sin is the acceptance that there will never be a final victory over evil, that the struggle for morality is a battle that will always have to be fought.
Self-actualization awaits us at the threshold of our inner cracks. The path back to paradise isn’t through preaching or conquering. It’s through letting go of the urgency of the ego, and letting in the timeless wisdom of just being.