I have written several times about the dangers of sharing my beliefs. I have some further thoughts to share on this topic, drawing on reader’s comments and the general feedback I get. I keep making mistakes… and learning.
The last time I wrote about this I focused on my fear that people will judge (and abandon) RPT as an instant healing technique because they disagree with me spiritually. I feel that I have cleared and let go of that fear. People will either use RPT or they won’t. Obviously I hope they’ll give it a shot because they’ll see that it works. But I’m not attaching myself to it in any way. I do feel more freedom now to express my beliefs.
Challenging people’s beliefs about God
Something has really come up for me this week about my freedom of expression. It is this: people feel very threatened if you question their definition of God. And they will attack you to defend their notion God.
I think you can see a good example of this in a couple of the reader’s comments to my Divine Intervention article. (I also had plenty of off-line feedback.) You can see some people being fairly inexplicably angry at me and putting words in my mouth. Two readers went so far as to invent a “hypothetical Simon” as it were – projecting all their disagreements at a “me” which bears no resemblance to me at all! I didn’t much like how that made me feel.
This isn’t really anything new. In 2009 I made the mistake of speaking out very loudly against some of the teachings of my former teacher, VS. I only did this because I genuinely felt that I was protecting people from a real danger (the concept she started calling “Creator” is certainly not the spiritual Creator). I knew that many people would disagree with me, especially those that had a financial investment in her work. But I was not expecting to be the most-hated person by thousands and thousands of TH practitioners (the ones without much financial investment to lose, especially since I gave away the “fix” for free).
It was my friend Val Moore who explained this hatred to me – “They hate you for undermining their beliefs about God.” It also reminded me of something the spiritual writer Neale Donald Walsch wrote: “People would rather die than change their beliefs” about God.
I have explored this and I find it to be true. It is unconscious for most people. When I say things that undermine people’s spirituality, they often lash out. Some people (the more conscious ones) talk to me about it – they say “I have a funny or sickening feeling reading your article” and I can help them explore where they feel threatened. [* More on this point tomorrow - see "Trusting your gut instinct."]
Most people won’t explore it. They lash out. People will do this to defend all beliefs (e.g. political) but nothing seems to inflame people nearly as much as threatening their beliefs about God. When I explained to those people in 2009 that they were connecting with a Creator that was rather un-Godly, they got mad! They had every right to disagree with me, but merely disagreeing doesn’t make you mad. People only lash out like that if they feel really threatened or under attack. And that’s the point – new ideas about God have always made people feel threatened.
Why is it that so many saints get crucified (literally or philosophically)? It’s because their ideas threaten people. Throughout history people with new ideas about God have either been killed (Jesus), spiritually or physically exiled (Buddha – note the lack of Buddhists in India!) or were extremely good with a sword (Muhammad).
I must admit to being hurt and upset at times by the attacks. But I’ve learned that attacks really mean you are doing good in the world (remember Tim Ferriss’ post last year about the benefits of pissing people off). I’d rather challenge the status quo then hide under a (burning?) bush for fear of offending people.
So I want to post this question to YOU, dear reader: How attached are you to your beliefs about God? If I could prove your beliefs wrong (which I can’t), would you even listen? Would you give me the time of day? Or would you run like 99% would?
As far as I’m concerned this blog isn’t about people agreeing with me. What would be the point in preaching to the choir? But this blog is about finding and connecting to that 1% who are interested in engaging in a dialogue about divinity.
My new resolution
I resolve today to speak out fearlessly on this blog about what I believe in.
If I offend or upset you, you have choices in how to react:
- stop reading this blog (that would be a real pity);
- attack me (that would be too easy);
- leave a comment and tell me why you disagree. Explain your thoughts, feelings and instincts. Set the intention of sharing and maybe teaching me a thing or two. Be open to learning from my reply. In other words create a dialogue.
My experience is that most people who get offended go for option 1 (I never hear from them, so they lose the opportunity to make a difference). A small number go for option 2, but not many. And the best of the best go for option 3.
Please remember that most of my friends disagree with me (atheists on one side and yogis on the other). But they are my friends because they are in the 3rd category. They TALK about their thoughts and feelings. I enjoy being surrounded by people who challenge my beliefs. You will never offend or upset me by disagreeing with me.
What do you think?
Do you feel attacked when people challenge your ideas about God? Do you feel betrayed if people can’t see your truth? How do you react when I challenge your ideas?
Looking forward to hearing from you and hoping you are part of the 1% that can handle the conversation.
Due to the length of today’s article I split it in two. Please read tomorrow’s article on (a) why I blog; (b) whether any of this is truly original; and (c) the potential danger of trusting your gut.