By Mike Sygula
One of the traps that most people fall into is to conform to the “norms” that society creates. A lot of these norms are not compatible with our nature, they are outdated or often false and misleading. We conform to them, because we are raised in specific regions or cultures.
Religion is one of those norms. People often follow a particular religion just because they were born in a particular region of the world, and a particular family. They will believe everything that this religion teaches without ever questioning it, even though it can contradict with other religions where people are thinking exactly the same — that their religion is the ultimate truth. There are 40.000 denominations of Christianity, how can anyone think that “their version” is the true one? I think that most religions have a lot of truth and useful practices involved. For example, I believe strongly in the power of prayer, reincarnation, concepts like karma, etc. However, some of the meaning behind most religions has been totally lost, misinterpreted, or even hijacked for certain reasons, such as controlling large groups of people.
If your religion tells you that it is the ultimate truth and you should avoid other ones, this should already be a warning sign for you. One of the reasons why people can be so protective about their belief system is the fact that they have been indoctrinated from a very early age, and it is almost impossible for them to shift their perspective and belief system. The programming is so strong that it works like a form of hypnosis.
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I have nothing against spirituality, you can have spiritual practices, pray to whoever you follow, but you don’t need to have a dogmatic religious system to be spiritual. You can practice your religion without conforming to dogmas. Once you decide to go outside of your system and see how other religions and spiritual systems operate, and what they teach, you will start noticing similarities. You might discover new practices that will benefit you more and you will agree more with their beliefs. A religious upbringing is one of those examples, of rules that are often imposed on us that we should question.
I know someone who stopped getting along with their partner in their marriage years ago. They stopped having sex and there is no intimacy or relationship between them, but they still stay together because, as this person told me, “this is how she was raised, by her religion, the marriage is sacred”. She might waste decades of her life being with someone with no love, because of some “religious dogma”. This can literally be dangerous and create unnecessary suffering. Maybe if her religious belief did not control her way of thinking, she could actually find a new partner that she would be truly happy with?
There are many other norms that society brainwashes us with. In some regions, specifically in Asia and The Middle East, arranged marriages are common. This means that someone decides for you, who you will spend the rest of your life with, even if you don’t like this person or don’t feel anything towards them. It is hard to imagine for a westerner that this can be happening in the 21st century, but it is still common and it is an example of indoctrination, by an outdated system that does not benefit those involved. The fact that other people in your culture have been doing this for generations and generations does not mean that you have to be forced to do something that is not benefiting you. Everyone should have the right to be with the person they truly want to be with. It is about your life, and your happiness, and not about making someone else happy, like your parents or those who are trying to control you.
Another example of this indoctrination, is how often parents tell you who you should become and what career path you should pick. They will look at your life from their perspective, maybe they just want you to make money, so they will pick something like law as a career for you. Maybe it has to do with their own career and they want you to do something similar. A lot of people who go through this situation, end up unhappy, depressed and forced to do something they don’t truly enjoy. You should be the one who decides what you want to do in your life, it is about making you happy and not your parents, or anyone else. The conditioning I’m talking about here is embedded into so many different areas of our society. In some cultures women are treated differently to men, this is another ridiculous, outdated example of how culture destroys humanity.
Even things like our approach to health. Today what is “conventional” medicine, is what pharmaceutical companies produce. We blindly follow the advice of our doctors and purchase products from big pharma. Despite the fact that many of these treatments often have severe side effects. Doctors who prescribe us these medications have financial incentives in some cases. And many doctors misdiagnose patients. It has been estimated that one in six public health patients in the UK have received the wrong diagnosis. The so called “alternative medicine” is often perceived as quackery on the other hand. Despite the fact that some of these treatments have no side effects and use more natural methods. Things like cannabis oil, for example, remain illegal in most countries, despite the overwhelming evidence of the many health benefits it has. If you think about it, it is a natural product that can’t be patented. So there is no money here for big pharma… These examples I’m mentioning are a form of indoctrination, often imposed by financial interests of those who profit from our disease and lack of good health.
You should always do your own research and question things, everything that you learn is some kind of a creation of other people, therefore you should question these things. Is it true? Does it benefit me? Does it harm me? Is it aligned with my conscience? Does it make me happy?
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Peace and love
– Mike Sygula