I write to offer encouragement and suggestions. This may be arrogant of me, but I guess your humanity touched my humanity and having greatly struggled with some issues you write about I felt maybe I could provide some fuel for your very worthwhile quest.
You are the first person I have reached out to that I do not know in the real world. I do this because, as you say, it is the right thing to do, and just as importantly because it is absolutely essential for me. If I am not actively and consistently connecting to that part of myself that connects with others in a benevolent way, then I am depressed and lost (as I was for most of my first 30 plus years).
I certainly do not have time to try to explain it all, but again I was hoping to share a little on why you are correct in a lot of what you say.
First as you are moving towards, I think, the overall goal should be wholeness, whether that be wholeness within yourself or the greater whole (world) generally. The reason why few people of his time or since really get Jesus’ parables and teachings are because they are viewing it from their own individual perspective. If viewed from the greater good of the whole (again world) they actually make a lot of sense.
I too am not sure I want to be called or should be called a Christian because it seems to have so many different meanings to different people that all it mainly does is illicit prejudices (pre-judgments) that are likely not accurate and yet may still be damaging. I do not plan to talk a great deal about Jesus’ message either because it has so many different interpretations, but I will say that it seems consistent with what you and I are saying. He mainly railed against the people of his time who put their focus on rituals and outward appearances or even proper interpretations of scripture, and said you are all missing the whole point. The whole point is to be good and caring to each other, as you say.
So again it all comes back to wholeness. The world is quite often a nasty place for the individual, but for the whole it is an absolutely amazing, beautiful, etc, place. This is mainly because evolution is rough on the individual but perfect for the greater whole. Of course evolution is a controversial topic, but it should not be. It is some of the best evidence we have for God’s plan and way of life, because it is real. And to the extent the individual aligns their focus with the greater good it becomes great for the individual also, provided a few steps are taken to protect oneself.
Most people spend all of their time trying to figure out how reality (the world) can be fit into their current beliefs with possibly being open to having their current beliefs tweaked a bit, rather than looking at reality and formulating beliefs from it or being open to radically different beliefs. Now it is not really their fault, that is how we are made, but if you can understand this and then try to look at things without all the pre-judgments, great things appear and things make a lot more sense. To some extent, I think this is what you have done with saying, I do not want to worry about labeling what I am being, I just want to be. And I am saying that sounds like a great idea.
Also it is important to note here again that viewed from the perspective of the whole this being resistant to changing our current beliefs is an efficient process, but it often leads to internal torture for the individual. However, even that often has its own benefits for the whole.
Moving onward to applying the wholeness philosophy to ourselves individually. Most therapy these days, drugs, talk therapy or a combo, try to get us past our bothersome feelings. The bothersome feelings are viewed as the enemy. Unfortunately the best that can leave us is better able to cope with them and getting slowly and incrementally better, but always still at war with ourselves because our feelings are a part of ourselves. The only real way to the freedom and happiness we all seek is through wholeness and embracing all of us, as well as those around us. However, again that is not really our default mechanism for handling things because we do not want to feel the bothersome feelings and they are also bothersome to those around us who try to get us to stop feeling them.
The answer turns out to be that if we embrace the bothersome feelings and what I call the visceral beliefs behind the feelings we can learn that they were legitimate feelings from our perspective of our experience at some point and the feelings keep coming back because, again, that is how we are made. The feelings and visceral beliefs are trying to teach or warn us about our present from what they think they have learned in the past. As long as we just try to get rid of them, they basically just hang around saying, you really ought to listen to me or you are going to be sorry.
Where as, if we embrace them we can learn that they were legitimate feelings based upon our perspective of our experience. After we do this we can truly realize if the visceral beliefs behind the feelings are needed in our current life. In other words, if they are still applicable and we should keep them. If they are still applicable we can often at this point see how to change our current life and relationships to make them no longer needed or applicable. Once we get deep enough to learn from our feelings what the visceral beliefs are behind the feelings, and we realize if the visceral beliefs are still necessary in our current life, and then change our current life if necessary, we will be free. If the visceral beliefs are no longer applicable in our present life the feelings will at that point go away or change.
Unfortunately, as long as we just try to suppress, avoid or otherwise distract ourselves from the bothersome feelings, they linger because they at least think they have something very important to tell or teach us. Additionally, until we embrace them or torture ourselves for many many years trying to fight them, the feelings and visceral beliefs often create our current life such that they are still necessary or applicable. In other words our visceral beliefs often perpetuate themselves and become self fulfilling prophesies.
Now most of these feelings are too overwhelming to tackle on their own and therefore you need a person or people to help you that are not threatened by your feelings and associated visceral beliefs. Essentially this means it normally cannot be someone close to you. If they are threatened by your feelings, that will generally prevent you from being able to really explore it with them because the threatening will put the important relationship at jeopardy, not allowing the necessary exploration and adding to the overwhelmingness of things, rather than detracting from it.
It also must be a person or people who have had some success with their own similar bothersome feelings and visceral beliefs or someone who never had the issue to begin with. If the other person has similar feelings and visceral beliefs and has not at least somewhat successfully dealt with them, they will subtlely not let you go there because it will illicit the same feelings in them or more importantly challenge their similar visceral belief. Either way the other person who really is trying hard to help you will often guide you away from the answer instead of closer to it because that is where the other person’s feelings and visceral beliefs will lead both of you.
Unfortunately, this happens a lot with paid therapists as well as other acquaintances. Another problem with paid therapists is that they (or the method of therapy they subscribe to) does not trust the patient to be able to discover these visceral beliefs. Of course this can often come from the patient not trusting themselves and expecting or demanding the therapist provide the answers.
At some later point I will discuss a number of things that can be helpful for discovering and starting to modify our visceral beliefs. The only thing I have mentioned so far in this regard is finding a suitable person because that is almost always necessary to some extent. Other things that can be helpful include writing, music, exercise, and a few others not worth mentioning until I can explain them well.
I would guess I lost you with a lot of this. In fact I think it has to be that way because it can only become clear as you successfully go through it or learn it yourself. However, my hope is that maybe it can encourage you to continue on your current path. You might also see why I labeled my blog obnoxious psychobabble and blasphemy, ha ha.
So my suggestions to you are:
Find a person or more who will allow you to embrace your bothersome feelings, explore the visceral beliefs behind them, and learn from them what they are trying to teach you. Then they will become valued and cease being what they were or you can then at least choose to change your life at that point so they are no longer necessary.
Find people who share your spiritual leanings and are acting upon their spiritual leanings. There are lots, although they can be hard to find since uttering anything other than accepted views in whatever group you find yourself can illicit such strong and negative reactions. Be sure you find the ones that want wholeness and freedom and not to just spend their time complaining about the wrongness of parts of religions or others in general. There are lifetimes worth of legitimate criticism, but it is a futile path. If we spend most of our time or energies on these criticisms we are also missing the “whole point” of all the great spiritual teachings because we are not being good and caring to each other, but rather tearing ourselves and each other apart. There is a place for some of it if done in the spirit of being good and caring towards others, but if it consumes us we become part of the problem. In the grand scheme of things it is really not that big of deal though if we miss the whole point because everything IS used for good, but it keeps us at war with ourselves and others, which is a miserable place to be.
Most of all continue to be brave and find what your truth is and follow it and share it with others.
And if none of this is helpful to you it was valuable for me to embrace my own better parts of my humanity and spend a little time there. So thank you. I am honored to be a grain of sand on the beach of your journey.