Gellman, a physics Nobel Laureate -the one who coined the word “Quark” – says that when he was at Caltech, they used to avoid the word “Mind”, terming it simply the “M-word” . Why? Because mind seemed like a Pandora’s box raising all kinds of issues about the laws of the universe being dependent on conscious observers. They wanted simple explanations, reducible to matter alone and untainted by mind.. Yet in their day to day lives they were normal humans with normal thoughts and emotions. I find the obsession of science to insist on a matter-only approach very strange. The elephant in the room has been ignored for hundreds of years
There are very few “pure”emotions, like anger, jealousy, etc that we know. Others are a mix. It is a bit like colors; a few colors give rise to an infinite rrange.
Our feelings care only for their own survival. When you are angry, you only want more of the same, untill another feeling, gnawing at the back of the mind, clamoring for your attention, shunts the anger aside or dilutes it. It may of course be that you have lived through all the anger within and are free of this cycle. Anger will still rise, depending on circumstances, but it will not be the type which simply wants to get stronger. It will dissipate as soon as the situation changes even mildly.
If psychologists were to also look within instead of relying only on surveys and cognitive mappings, they would see this. But would ned the attention of a cat watching a mouse! Who has that?
Listen, sweet atheist! You have felt moments of great peace and joy, perhaps when watching the sea , or looking at mountains, or watching children play. One question which true religion purports to ask is whether this peace can increase a hundredfold, a millionfold and permeate the rest of your precious moments. To go on such a quest requires you to have interest in exploring. The level of interest required is such that it is difficult to sustain such an inquiry without having “faith” that all this is possible.
Oddly, if you start from brutally honest atheism and add a quest for greater inner peace, you may find yourself indistinguishable from believers. Which believers? Your faith will be that which you were born with or that of those around or perhaps that of a person influencing you in the quest. Why would this be? Because peace brings deep trust and worshiping at a different altar is contrary to both peace and trust.
Sweet Believer! The above goes for you as well, for every time you add in some extra ritual or litany to your vast repertoire, you end up having less energy for the quest for peace and love. And it is the peace and love which are attributes of God and really the bedrock of true faith. Without these, faith is either insecurity disguised and a way to pass through life without dealing with your archived emotions The mega addition of rules works if and only if you are at an intense level of love and peace. At that point, you crave to add more. But this is so rare that it is hardly worth mentioning as everyone will feel they fit in this category. They do not.
The ones among you who have a measure of self-honesty will say this may be all well but how does one get to reach better levels. Just knowing it is possible, and hearing these words, makes the change that much more probable. College math students would almost never be able to reach the correct solutions if they did not absolutely trust that there was a solution to each problem.
You can lie to others but you can still be somewhat religious, perhaps because you feel regret. If you cannot have self-honesty, you cannot be religious. The one who is honest with himself or herself is the one who wants the truth and nothing but.
My mother retained her wisdom, strength of faith and equanimity even in harsh times. She followed some simple base rules. Had she taken to going to the regular religious lectures, she would have lost both her religion and her peace of mind. Of course, on the plus side, she would have thought herself to be religious.
It is very very hard to not think of oneself as religious if one is following a mega dose of religious principles self-consciously. If you are conscious of being religious, you are not.