Saturday, January 9, 2021

Relationships as Religion



In Osho’s book ‘The Magic of Self-Respect’, he explains how birth is the first death we experience, where we cross a great divide into the unknown. How we have to leave a world we have become comfortable in, safe, taken care of – and this leaving is forced, it is not by choice or by volition. We then spend our lives creating (or trying to create) a new life where we experience again a little comfort, a little security, we “carve out a little corner of the world” for ourselves and call it home. And then after having spent a lifetime creating it, we are met again with another great divide – another forced leap into the unknown.

Within all of this, according to Osho there is one ingredient that makes the difference between a believer in God and a non-believer, and that ingredient is FEAR. Osho had an atheist as a grandfather and a theist as a father, and so he always had the two to observe, to compare and contrast what they believed in, what they spoke and what they actually lived in fact. His grandfather claimed an absence of fear and thus no need for a god. Until his dying breath, he never called upon a god to save him - from what? He had lived fully, done nothing wrong, had nothing to pay for in the end, and was simply ready to pass on to whatever came next with no concern as to what that could be.

The religious men around Osho, on the other hand, prayed and chanted for hours a day, asking for protection – protection from what? Osho observed only many instances of fear.  Fear was always at the root, at the core and the starting point of religious beliefs and actions.  

I am not however, here to write a book report. I am here to share my own, personal realization I had from reading the first parts of this book, and how even though I have never defined myself as religious, I have used ideas and beliefs in the same ways the devoutly religious do in the book in terms of comforting self with a belief in a god - I saw how we are capable of creating a ‘religion’ out of other ideas - repressing fear with beliefs not necessarily related to the idea of God or divinity, but rather exalting ordinary things not normally deified, creating a personalized religion inside of self to cling to, adhere to, to abandon self for.

“the moment you think of dropping the idea of God, fear comes up. It is a simple indication that with the rock of the idea of God, you are repressing fear; so the moment you remove the rock, the fear springs up.”

What ideas serve as these rocks for me? For you? These ideas which, if removed from your life, will uncover a hidden (or not-so-hidden) well of fear?

There is one paragraph in particular which helped me to identify what I have ben living as a ‘god’ or ‘religion’ in my life, it is as follows:

You asked for God to be invented because you could not live alone.

You were incapable of facing life, its beauties, its joys, its sufferings, its anguishes. You were not ready to experience them on your own without anybody protecting you, without somebody being an umbrella to you. You asked for God out of fear.”

This hit me like that rock, I felt it hard, as if it were speaking to the depths of me when it comes to how I have lived within my definition and belief of RELATIONSHIPS in my life. And it was not until I deliberately and painstakingly began removing this construct from my life that I began to see the fear it was repressing.

And it has to be deliberate, because relationships, as they currently exist in our society, are omnipresent. It is a construct that exists that is taught to us from our birth, as we are born into them much like one would be born into a religion and know nothing else. The construct is fed and impulsed to us from every direction, including religion. Every media outlet will sell to us ‘relationships’, it even has its own market share, and it is weaved into the fabric or our society through marriage, laws and legal contracts. I would say, the religion of ‘relationships’ is more pervasive than the godly or spiritual religions that exist today, because even atheist and non-believers are still susceptible to hiding from their fear in relationships.

I made a decision one and a half years ago to no longer participate in the construct of ‘relationship’, and decided instead to enter into an Agreement. In an agreement, there is no hiding. There is no game playing, no hierarchy, no manipulation, no control, no room for feelings and emotions, and there is no morality. This essentially has turned everything I have lived and understood upside-down.

It may sound like chaos, with nothing giving direction or holding the partnership in place, because we automatically assume that taking away one thing means replacing it with it’s opposite: without the game-playing there is boredom, without hiding there is only shame and judgment for who we really are in our minds towards each other, without hierarchy there is only conflict, without manipulation there is no fidelity. Without control there is no fulfillment, without feelings and emotions there is nothing but a void, without morality there is no consideration, and so on… but this is not the case at all, because it is only looking at what an Agreement isn’t, or how it is NOT a relationship, instead of looking at what it IS, how it is something that stands independent of the construct of relationship.

An Agreement stands upon principles – doing what is best for all involved. It stands upon commitment, regardless of feelings and emotions. It stands upon holding the best of someone and not letting go of that, even while they walk through their worst. Within this, it stands upon patience, trust, and integrity. An Agreement stands upon accountability and taking self-responsibility – which leaves no space for hiding, for victimization or for blame. It embraces the fact that each individual is a Whole, not requiring to be fulfilled by another. An Agreement stands as ‘two or more’ in the name of the principles agreed upon.And most of all, an Agreement stands upon FORGIVENESS - Forgiveness of Self and the Other as Self. And here I am talking about REAL forgiveness; the kind where you can in one moment drop the past and give each other a blank slate. Start fresh. Start over. Not even one trace of the past or an emotional reaction to it must exist in the minds of everyone involved.

Importantly – an Agreement is created in awareness, and not something blindly fallen into like love, falling in love, blind love. This is because we are in fact broken people coming from a broken system, beaten down by survival, dominated by authority, brainwashed by school, media and culture, emotionally underdeveloped and reactive, and our personalities are deeply rooted in so much fear. This is why you cannot ‘fall’ into an agreement. It is deliberate, it is worked on, it is seen through to the end, despite the discomforts or unbearable points we may face when stripping away the ideas that have kept us safe (from ourselves!) for as long as we can remember.

And it is this ‘stripping away’ of the idea of relationship that exposed to me the hidden fear I had – and not only the hidden fear, but what had become of me over time because of and due to living with this fear. And it is important to note that the truths of me that I exposed to myself were never visible to the naked eye. On the surface, I have been a very independent woman, having worked in careers, supported others financially, travelled across the world by myself, thrived after a divorce, aced my way through university later in life – everything I could have defined as ‘independent’ and ‘fulfilled’, I had done it.

But what I didn’t see until I really dropped the idea of ‘relationship’, was that even while I was alone and feeling independent, unstoppable, empowered: I still caried with me the faith, the belief that one day, I would get my perfect relationship. It was as though one is floating on clouds of hope, keeping one elevated just above the reality of self. The belief that, I am alone right now, but will not be forever.  I will not ever really have to peak under this cloud to see what I have become over the years. I will not have to admit I have been avoiding my fears while busy contorting myself into things that I am not in order to secure relationships; placing the ‘eventual perfect relationship’ as my starting point, essentially disregarding myself and not exploring Who I Am, but rather, who must I be to get into heaven?

You can either be a person who is a coward, afraid, ready to submit, surrender, a person who has himself no dignity, no respect for his own being – or you can be fearless.”

…needless to say, I have not been entirely fearless. Not at all.

So, what happened as I stripped away the comfort, security, the exalted nature I held of the idea of relationships? I sank deeply into the reality of me – that which I feared - into the void that was there which I had never filled for myself, the parts of me I had abandoned and neglected, thinking and believing it was someone else’s job to tend to.

My demons came out as I tried to escape the reality of me, looking for someone, something to blame, to make it better, feeling as though this had all been done ‘unto’ me by some hand other than my own. I faced the aloneness that existed within me – that utterly alone feeling that drives one to God… or in my case to dance clubs and bars, dating sites and lovely fantasies. That emptiness that comes up from time to time, that motivates you to pray to something outside yourself, or in my case to look my best and go out into the world as an eligible individual, looking to meet her ‘other half’.

Relationship had become my god, my religion with which I covered up my fear of being alone, the emptiness I felt when things that should be enjoyed were not able to be enjoyed, or pain and sorrow seemed too painful to bear by myself. So, yes, it looks entirely different. But if you break it down and look at how we use it, any idea, belief, or construct can be used as one uses a religion or belief in God. It’s only when the fact of the matter (the truth of the Self in the Flesh) is realized and known that one can open one’s eyes to be able to see through the veil of religion, and it’s only through actually DOING it, LIVING it for real that the truth can be fully exposed. The truth of Self exposed to Self– there is no one else involved here.

Interestingly, what I had discovered through walking an Agreement, and a very unique one at that, was that the personal hell I discovered inside myself, the one I had buried, hid and feared, was entirely emotional (not a real, physical hell, not real pain) – because the reality of the situation was that I was not in fact alone – I was in an agreement. All the physical supports and structures are here. Everything I could ask for is Here – just not the participation in the emotions, feeling, conflict, drama, love, attachment, manipulations, control and everything else we do to keep a hold of another person, instead of just standing unconditionally there, Here with them no matter what.

Within this, I can emphasize and relate to those who begin to question or even give up on their gods, and how that can be a painful process. I can also now understand how people can be and become so devout, unwavering, defensive and protective of their religions and their gods. I understand how it is all based in fears – a unique array specifically designed by and for the individual.

Within this, I can admit that I have been devout. I have exalted something outside myself above myself and then submitted to it. I have been a coward in the face of life, and ran away afraid, surrendering my personal power to another, and built a false power on top of a faulty foundation, compromising my dignity, my self-respect for my own being, in believing I required another to do or be something for me.

I only slowly realized what Osho meant when he said:

“If the fear comes up, you have to face it; it is in no way going to help you to cover it with the idea of god”.

So now I am busy facing my lifetime of fears, using the tools of self-forgiveness, self-correction and self-commitments. Relationship systems and constructs had been programmed quite deeply into me by me, by my upbringing, by my culture and my family, by media and television and social circles. Questioning and letting go of something at this level involves shaking foundational parts of self, as self was created on top of this belief system as if it were fact, unmovable, unchangeable. It has, at times, felt like the entirety of me is being shaken, where it feels like there is nothing left of self to hold on to. Yet with breath and breathing, forgiveness and self-change, I have seen that there is always something of me to come back to. And until I am back Here completely, unwaveringly, unshakably, in the physical – I walk, breath by breath, step by step, re-creating myself as I go. Falling, getting up, repeating mistakes, facing the pain and the fear, realizing what is real and what is not. Realizing so much about the mind and how it functions – seeing more and more through the veils based on one point that extends into many other points, moving back to the title of the book that started of the blog, and rediscovering the Magic of Self-Respect.


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