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Was it Really a Waste?

By Carl S ~

Back in 1967, I told a friend I thought my monastic years were a waste of my life. He made an interesting observation, with a wise piece of advice. He asked me if I had done what I did with good intentions at the time, and if anyone was harmed by my decisions because of them. I told him yes, and that no one was harmed. Then he said, "Never regret what you have done with the best of intentions using the knowledge you had at the time." I'm passing on this bit of wisdom to anyone inclined to regret all those "wasted" years, efforts and money dedicated to religion.

Catholic monks during the procession in the Ho...
Catholic monks during the procession in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Old City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We learned by our experiences, so we-might consider that that time wasn't really wasted. You, like many a truly faithful lover, were duped, lied to, and used; and you were told to blame yourself for your "failure" to stick with it. Like a faithful lover, you believed things because you desired them to be true. Clerics told you that there is a "hole“ in you that only God can fill. In reality, that hole was created by them for something they could f**k you through. No wonder you feel used.

Some of us still feel like fools for being so gullible. We did what we thought was good at the time and under the circumstances. Then we left the world of the reality deniers, a.k.a. believers. There are believers who go through their whole lives and never learn. Breaking up and growing up are hard to do. We can share our experiences and the methods we learned tunneling out of religion's prisons with others who want to, because we have the tools.

William Blake said that a fool, if he persists in his foolishness, will become wise. What was he saying? I think he meant that if the fool is open to learn differently and listen, he will learn just how foolish he is, was, or can be, and if he persists, he will eventually become wise. (At least, this worked for me.)

I'd regret not sharing my experiences, even shame, living in religion, and the many reasons and insights from others that bring me (us) to keep maturing stronger and lighter every day. With our pasts, we share, debate, discuss, and argue just how bad things are religiously, and like theology, all of it is so entangled that no matter where you begin or enter in, we have to conclude: it's an eternal mess.

Sometimes a lot of waste must happen before something finally works. That's living. There are more “failed" experiments than not.Would we have learned if our dedicated effort, time, and money had not been wasted on religion? Wasn't the price we paid in prison, in the end, for freedom? Like Nelson Mandela, we came out of prison stronger, wiser, and more moral, despite these things.

Sometimes a lot of waste must happen before something finally works. That's living. There are more “failed" experiments than not. One teacher told us, "There's no such thing as a 'failed' experiment in science." And maybe that applies to us. By "failing" religious tests, we have succeeded.

And without knowing religion from the inside, you cannot destroy religion, you cannot ridicule its teachings, question it's authority, so efficiently. You wouldn't know what you're talking about. That is valuable information. Use it. (Without inside knowledge, William Lobdell couldn't have written, "Losing My religion," for example.)

The great Wolfgang Goethe said, "Even God cannot change the past." He believed in a god. What would he say today, knowing what you know? He'd probably agree that "facts are stubborn things," and no amount of fantasizing or wishful thinking will change them. If I could change the past, I'd make it so that every child, being born atheist, Wouldn't have its mind screwed with by religious adults, ever. Then, children wouldn't have to endure religious brainwashing and de-programming.

I began with a comment made in 1967; it's been the future ever since.