Although, none of us lives in the shadow of a volcano, but all of us still worship this angry god and pay him regular horrific sacrifices. Having an angry demanding god was one of the first and most difficult beliefs that I had to deal with; it was so ingrained in me that fighting it was like fighting a monster with three thousand heads, you sever one to find more still attacking you. Even today, some distant remnants of that belief come up in several disguises. It is not important what religion you have grown up believing in, even if you have grown up believing in no religion at all, you still have been affected by this belief, because it is an integral part of the reward and punishment system (or action and consequences if your conditioning is totally non-religious). And that system runs all societies and human interactions in general.
When I was a child, I have been told that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. Heaven has different names in different religions; it could be Bliss, or Nirvana. Hell also could be Inferno, oblivion, or just coming back as a cricket next time around; different images, but the same concept. The list of what takes you to Heaven or Hell is long, and it gets longer the older you get and the more complicated life becomes. And any item added to this list becomes automatically internalized as long as it fits the whole picture. Most of the items on the “condemned” list are not items that prohibit doing harm to others or to nature, to the contrary, in many religious views, it is ok to induce harm to someone who does not share the same views with you; it is even rewarded. The majority of the items are designed, however, to prevent you for living your life naturally, joyously and freely. And importantly, the rules are designed to strip you from the feeling that you are free to do whatever you please, or that you can control your life.
When you do something good off the list, you feel that god (or nature) is by your side, and you expect that sooner or later you will be rewarded. On the other hand, when you do something bad off the list, you anticipate punishment, consequences, or repercussions. In some cultures where these beliefs are strong, you expect something bad to happen to you physically, or you will be denied something you long for, and usually this happens. In cultures that take this concept less literally, you become burdened with guilt and the guilt can grow so bad inside you that it eventually affects your health and manifest as diseases. I am sure you could recall how much you have tormented yourself over something enjoyable you have done, but that was deemed bad or wrong by the society. Every time you recall that event, you feel a bang of guilt in your stomach, and you might flush with shame.
People around you have deep interest in reminding you of the rules, and the consequences of breaking them. They will tell you “No, you cannot do that! Have you considered how your action would affect this or that person?” No one tells you how your inaction would affect you, or even consider you in the equation. As if what you are obliged to do has to take into consideration everyone else but yourself, what a hypocrisy!
The reality is, there is no system of reward and punishment but in our heads. Our actions, or the lack thereof, affect, most and foremost, us not the people around us, especially when these actions concern our own lives. So free yourself from the fear of punishment, live your life not afraid of the consequences of what might occur if you take that daring step. Don’t be afraid of the god inside the volcano; he should have been long since dead.
I see light blog
The image is a courtesy of "Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische"