8/09/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy hellboundsoul ~
I have to admit that sometimes I get irritated by the “drifters.” In this case I mean the people who “sorta went to church” when they were little and then “sorta stopped going to church” when they got older. We share the same “exChristian” label, but not the same tremendous emotional trauma of having your whole mental framework and social support network wiped out from under you in an instant.
My exit from the faith was unusual, or it seems that way based on the conversations I have with other people who have left the faith. It seems that the norm is to have a belief, likely from childhood, that was never really put into question. Then that generally unquestioned belief starts drifting to the front of the mind where it accumulates doubt over a period of months or years until the doubt draw enough attention to itself that the belief is completely restrained by them. By this point the person has likely begun to adapt themselves to a more secular way of living and the final “official” discharge of the belief is little more than a formality, a recognition of an event that had already occurred in the mind at some earlier date.
This is, I think, a “normal” mental conversion, similar to other conversions that involve the mind discarding incorrect childhood perceptions, a routine “housekeeping” activity which the mind hardly even needs your active attention to conduct.
Maybe I’m not so much irritated by the drifters as I am envious. I wish that my mind could have swept that part of my childish belief structure out, with the gentleness and care that it operates with when it has not been taken over by the grasp of fixation and attachment.
My Christian belief had graduated beyond the level of basic childhood acceptance before it was disposed of. It had become subject to the very adult practice of “fixation.” It was not a mere passenger. It was that framework of understanding that was “right no matter what.” The world was filtered through it and if something didn’t make sense, well, then that thing was wrong and we’ll figure out how later or maybe just forget about it because faith.
I was very good at applying this filter. I went to university and majored in philosophy and holy hell you should have seen how efficient I was at twisting and contorting every last philosophical text to fit into the Christian framework. I was getting A’s and was very pleased with myself.
Now I’m just embarrassed.
Of course I was able to fit everything through that framework. The human mind is total bullshit. It can twist reality in whatever way is most beneficial at a given time. I could have mentally masturbated my way all through grad school on my pet theories. Thank god I didn’t.
Studying philosophy wasn’t all bad. I am completely fascinated by the human mind so why not venture into the minds of completely insane people throughout the history of thought?
One reason I would recommend against this is that if you really leave yourself wide open to new ways of thinking and perceiving reality you will soon find yourself unable to function like a normal human being.
Under no circumstances should you engage in a mental experiment which has a possibility of plopping your sorry ass outside of the framework of belief that connects you to your family and every person you ever knew.
You see, in my philosophical frenzy, I thought that conducting such an experiment would be harmless. What damage could result from temporarily holding my foundational beliefs in suspension in order to ascertain their basis in reality vs bias?
The experiment occurred over mere days. I went in 100% Christian, came out 100% not – with absolutely no idea how to interpret the world.
What I saw with my belief framework held in suspension was not so much frightening as it was completely out of this world. It was all a stream of indiscernible perceptions, a little trippy actually. Trees were flabbergasting – people on the sidewalk? I didn’t even know where to begin with those things. How the hell am I supposed to know how to interact with these organisms when, in the absence of a mental framework, I can’t even define what they are?
The good news was that I had very few responsibilities during the days of this experiment. I went to my lectures and stared blankly into space – I was having trouble understanding anything I was seeing or hearing.
I was striving to become a drifter, to have a mind less fixated, less certain in its framework so that it is open to new realities and perceptions. Ultimately this part was exhilarating. Seeing the universe in this way is more interesting than any book you could ever read or place you could visit. The only annoying part was that my Christian belief didn’t seem to exist in this universe. That was what I had been there to discover – so that I could prove to an internet random that I wasn’t a Christian just because mommy and daddy told me it was true when I was little.
I thought that if I could just stare into a world unfiltered, if I took apart the puzzle of perception, shook the box and put it back together, only including the pieces that truly fit, those pieces would be pieces of the Christian framework, perhaps not exactly the same version of it that I believed, perhaps a better "more pure" version, but I was pretty sure it'd be there somewhere.
It wasn’t there, much to my dismay. I lost that argument. I lost my faith and I dated that internet random for 3 years, much to my parents’ dismay.
To be honest, I am striving to become a drifter, to have a mind less fixated, less certain in its framework so that it is open to new realities and perceptions. To be fixated on anything is to take the mind as something to be trusted.
The mind is up to no good. Sure, it’s trying to protect you by fitting your world into categories so that you don’t jump off of cliffs or otherwise destroy yourself. When it comes down to it, it cares a hell of a lot more about survival than whatever version of "truth" you've affixed yourself to.
Social survival is pretty important. My mind fought like hell to prevent me from seeing the thing that would ultimately form a barrier between me and my “tribe.” I thought truth mattered. It knew that survival was more important.
I let my blind pursuit of truth override my mind’s natural social survival instinct. To this day I can’t figure out if I would’ve been better off giving in to the daggers that my mind threw at anything that threatened my Christian belief. It was trying to protect me. I didn’t listen and I got hurt.
Even now I could be with my family, participating in those traditions that gave me such comfort growing up, knowing I have a network of people who share the same foundational beliefs and who have my back no matter what instead of fluttering about hoping that I don't completely hit rock bottom -- because the safety net that I'd always relied on is gone, it'll be the pavement for me.
Being a true drifter is lonely, because you never fixate on something long enough to build up a community of people who share the same fixation.
Fixation skews reality but it makes human relationships possible.
Is truth more important than survival? You might think that truth aids survival, but who is better at surviving: the person who fixates on their “truth,” bending for no one or the person who lives with a more fluid intuition, allowing their mind to “drift,” actively exchanging old “truths” for new ones?
A free mind sees more than it bargains for. The truth sets you free – into a world of terror and loneliness, perhaps only at first though, if you’re able to remain in that terror long enough to see it dissipate instead of giving in to another, perhaps more secular, fixation.
Perhaps I shall join a community of drifters. Yes, this is my destiny...
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