The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

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anna
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The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby anna » February 16th, 2008, 7:12 pm

There was one particular struggle which took many years to unwind, and that was the ability to embrace totally new ideas in religion, without feeling somehow that I was doomed by that investigation. I was brought up Episcopalian, and while my immediate family was not in the least religious, they did expose their children to church going at an early age. I was religious in a superficial manner as a child, but developed into a deeply religious teenager for a few years after attending a private girl’s school in Tacoma, Washington for my high school freshman year. It was fittingly named Annie Wright’s Seminary. We wore gloves and hats when permitted to go into the city to shop, and the school housed privileged but sometimes difficult young women, mostly from wealthy families who could somehow not find a way to control their wild daughters. I was sent there ostensibly because I had a boyfriend at Punahou School in Honolulu that my parents did not approve of, but actually I was sent there because I wanted to go, and there was a tradition within my family of sending the daughters away for a year in high school. I still don’t know what the purpose of this hiatus from the family was supposed to accomplish for me and my sisters, other than a vacation for my mother from an early adolescent girl, but I went along with the tradition. I hated the school, and was painfully homesick. I ended up spending only one semester there after telling my parents that the headmistress wrongfully accused me of stealing and threatened me not to complain to my parents. In retrospect, that mistress should have been fired. Anyway, because of my unhappiness at this school, I turned to religion, and it was here that I was confirmed an Episcopalian at the tender age of 14, with all the required preparation, etc., very similar to that of Catholic confirmation. While I have no conscious recollection of having been bombarded with threat of hell if I did not believe in Jesus, somewhere along the way I picked that up, because I had to fight that feeling as I investigated other religions and disciplines that did not embrace that particular limitation much later in my life.

It was an enormous burden, and I believe slowed my own progress toward shedding conditioning and opening my mind to more expansive thought for a very long time. When I think back to the enormous struggle I went through, the doubt, the angst, the sheer burden of guilt I labored under, I see how incredibly powerful concepts can be to those who have not found their own authority within. How pervasive that kind of conditioning is among organized religion just in order to prevent that kind of questioning and discovery of one’s own authority. Was I inclined to be less charitable, I might consider this particular conditioning almost evil in its effect, for it stunts the spirit of questioning and discovery, and in many ways prohibits growth of the spirit into its ultimate destiny. Whether the church fathers actually consciously know this to be the case, only they can answer, but I would hope that they do not consciously understand the ramifications of such guilt mongering. Of course, power is a corruptible thing, and this kind of threat is full of power.

Sometimes I even thought that my fear and guilt was so deeply ingrained that the only explanation might be that my previous incarnations were such that I suffered at the hands of inquisitors, and thus had deep memories of those sufferings. Of course, reincarnation can be an explanation for many things, and reincarnation does not need to explain these kinds of fears, the present is enough to justify them. Nonetheless, my struggle was actually heroic in many ways. It required enormous strength of will. It demanded facing fear head on, and “risking one’s soul” in the pursuit of knowledge, which can be a frightening prospect. It also taught me how carelessly we condition the minds of our fellow human beings, and how deeply they can affect the future of each individual’s own search. This struggle was archetypal in that it showed me the power of thought, and the difficulty in transforming it when the mind that is trying to change is young and inexperienced in referring to one’s own inner guidance and authority. One of the first truths I learned was this one, which is the process of giving away one’s own authority and the tragic ramifications of doing so.
Last edited by anna on February 21st, 2008, 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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Re: The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby jenjulian » February 16th, 2008, 8:49 pm

Sometimes I even thought that my fear and guilt was so deeply ingrained that the only explanation might be that my previous incarnations were such that I suffered at the hands of inquisitors, and thus had deep memories of those sufferings


I have felt this also, Anna, and do not know where it comes from. I become extremely emotional over this issue and while in a 'discussion' that turned into a monkey pile attack in another forum, felt true fear of what this time was like for those that opposed the Church. I think this is also part of the hero's journey, coming up against the outside ruler, and deciding to follow our inner guide.

I kept my children outside this indoctrination and struggle with guilt from this also, since I was raised Catholic. My son is a biology major, an atheist that backs up his view very sensibly, very stronly intellectually led, and well informed reader. My daughter is a born spiritual soul, with insights from a very young age. She seems to protect herself from too much intellect stuff, (such as school, books, and such :wink: ) and definately lives from her heart. What two opposites! I suffer guilt that my son is an atheist, but truly not sure if he would have more hurdles to overcome from church indoctrination? Anyway, just a few thoughts from your post.
I can't wait everyday to hear the rest of the story... :D
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Re: The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby anna » February 18th, 2008, 4:50 pm

Jenjulian:

I read your post about your own struggle with guilt, and in particular, commiserate with you because of your Catholic upbringing. You realize of course, in your more rational moments, that the guilt is purely and only a result of indoctrination, and thus, from a spiritual point of view, totally irrational. ;-) Threat of damnation is a strong, powerful means of control. Sadly, religion always seems to stoop to that level eventually, when it starts to group itself into organized factions. We just watched the documentary "The Mormons" on PBS this past week, and was appalled at what this young country did to them when they took a strange position and began to group -- only because they were different and would not conform. So you don't have to go back to the inquisition to find man's idiotic behavior, it is right in one's back yard. Of course, the Mormons themselves apparently went berserk as well one time, rather similar to Jonestown, so they have a checkered history as well. I attribute that incident to paranoia, which was not surprising considering how they had been treated.

Anyway, you have, consequently, done your children a huge favor by allowing them to find their own way. In particular, I would not worry about your son. I too was a Biology major in college, as well as I would have called myself an atheist at that time, and I managed to find God despite that. Actually, Biology is in many ways a very spiritual discipline; you cannot study biology without being astounded at the order and beauty of the manifestion. Much of youth needs to go through that kind of inquiry. I think it is proof of a thinking mind, and does not damage the soul in any way whatsoever. After all is said and done, the soul is always intact, and always pure, and the mind is simply and only a veneer over that pure soul. It is the Bishops and priests, from whatever discipline, that seek power, that muddy the waters, and threaten damnation if you don't agree with their limited perspective. And it is also the followers of indoctrination that, in turn are seeking power, if only vicariously, that "pile on" and try to coerce, in whatever way they may find expedient, those who differ in thought. This isn't just in the spiritual arena, it is throughout all of social interaction. Life is political, in the final analysis.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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Re: The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby jenjulian » February 21st, 2008, 1:41 am

Yes, during my more rational or heart centered times, which rule me for the majority of the day now, I think I have done right with my kids concerning the religious, spiritual issue. I made a decision to allow their own paths to unfold as naturally as possible, even though I was given a lot of grief over it. We live in a very religious community and I remember when some kids (or perhaps parents) started silly rumors that my son was a devil worshiper because he disagreed with a lot of the ways of religions. I do become frustrated and sad with the fear tatics that go on with religion. It is an impossible situation to put people in. If you disagree with the teachings of the group---that is, of course, the devil speaking to you. How can you disprove this? It is a circular philosophical trap, that is so unfair to place anyone in. And then if I state I don't believe in the devil, someone states, AHHA! that is exactly what the devil wants you to believe! Sounds like a lot of hooey to me.

S. Weil stated that the dark night of the soul is for those that have been brought up in religions, since she was raised as an agnostic. There is some interesting thoughts with this one. Maybe this is what we have to do, burn off all of the limitations and emotional fears that have been drilled into us.
We started watching the Mormon PBS series last night and it is amazing to me that Spirit, God, Love can be used to support and validate evil, division, and hate so much of the time. What I continually ask from my son, is to separate religion from spirituality. Thank you for your reassurance, Anna.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby W4TVQ » February 21st, 2008, 1:01 pm

"Actually, Biology is in many ways a very spiritual discipline; you cannot study biology without being astounded at the order and beauty of the manifestion."

Absolutely! I find tremendous inspiration and spiritual resources in the writings of Loren Eiseley (particularly The Immense Journey) -- the writings of a paleontolgist seeking the meaning behind bones several million years old and finding direction and purpose in the wonder of natural evolution. When I was sruggling to hold on to a "cretionist" viewpoint, I felt like I was holding a wiggling fish that wanted to escape, and I felt... well, stupid. Being an alcoholic, I tend to specialize in denying things, and slowly am learning that that isn't really the path to enlightenment. Studies of Eiseley, and of Hawking (A Brief History of Time), have revealed the "real" God to me, as opposed to the Tribal God Whom I served for so long.

Awesome!

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: The Burden of Guilt (02/16/08) Third

Postby anna » February 24th, 2008, 4:47 pm

Actually, the creationist approach toward the universe is not in any way at odds with biology, or evolution, it is simply that we as humans are hung up with time, and if we remember that time is always personal and therefore flexible, the creationist theory is every bit as rational as the evolutionist theory. Of course I don't know a whole lot about the details of creationism, but what I have read is that its foundation is that there is intelligence in the process of creation, and by extension God was the intelligence that set up that process. Knowing what I do about "God", and knowing what I do about biology and the process of evolution, and the innate intelligence behind both those processes, I see no conflict whatsoever. So, a creationist that cannot see how these two can be combined is simply an individual that has not yet struggled with the issue of time and space, and that's okay too, it's only more limited in scope than perhaps an evolutionist might be. The same of course can be applied to an evolutionist, and if that particular evolutionist has concluded, erroneously I believe, that there is therefore, no God or intelligence behind evolution, then her perspective is every bit as limited in its own way to that of a creationist, only it is limited to broad extensions of time, but still limited to time. Maybe more expanded in time, but still limited.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth


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