This is the fifth post in a series leading up to the European Men’s Gathering this year, which I will be posting in order to set out my thoughts on the subject. See the previous post here.
So what about You?
I expect that, if you are good at being honest with yourself, you will see how this applies to your life. If you have made a conscious decision of what “God” you want to worship, then you are probably aware of the things that distract you from that and hold you back from realising your full potential. If you have no clear concept of what you are worshipping, then there is a greater likelihood that you are unconscious about your personal religion.
If you have never thought about it before, it often requires some self reflection to identify what you are worshipping. One way of starting to think about it could be to ask yourself questions such as:
What activities do you spend most of your waking life on? What are you most passionate about? What is the underlying motivation that gets you out of bed in the morning?
The first answer provides the strongest pointer to your primary “religion”. Especially if the first two answers point at the same activity, then you have a well aligned and embodied practice. If you spend most of your life on something you actually dislike and get your energy and reason for living from something else, then we have less alignment and a more complex situation – and you will need to spend more time thinking critically about your underlying motivations, which is the most difficult but relevant question.
Are you motivated by Sex? Money? Status? Power?
Earning the acceptance of others?
Many of us start with dedicating our life to earning money. If we manage that, status and recognition from our peer group becomes more important. If we step out of mainstream culture, then novel and exciting experiences take over, or we develop a lifestyle based on pleasure seeking.
Or you fit in ways of adding side religions into your mainstream life as a way of adding meaning and not feeling bad about your boring job, your terrible relationship or your lack of self worth. You start collecting expensive furniture or wines. You sign up for an iron man. You become vegan. You go to a self-development workshop. All good and fine things by themselves. But if you have no other religion in your life, if you have no other Ur-Father, then you will start treating these things as idols and your pursuit of them as a religion.
The alcoholic, the sportsman who neglects his family, the angry radical vegan, the workshop junkie.
Who’s your daddy?
If we have no other Ur-Father, then we turn the things that we spend time on into idols to get them to fill the gap. This can be the case for activities such as sports, physical objects such as money and ideas such as political movements. These idols become our Ur-fathers.
The reason this is problematic is that if we have idols as our Ur-fathers, they become the ultimate arbiter of value and truth. They set up a value hierarchy and stipulate the goal that we aim for and thus the compass for all of our decisions in life. They are the standards and objectives that shape our being and mould our behavior. They are the things that we focus our time and energies on the most and thus become our teachers and guides through life.
Think about it for a bit. If your greatest goal in life is to earn money, then you make money your guiding principal and decider of value. Money is your source of being-in-the-moment – your action and thus what you are is determined by money.
Money becomes your Ur-Father.
As a son of money, there is a good chance that you will become rewarded with money. But you will also tend to put money ahead of quality of life, of your relationships and your own health. Of course, you could try and add a few more gods to your repertoire, lets say, the gods of personal relationships, personal health and work-life balance. But this is quickly going to get too complicated and confusing and end you in a mess.
Ur-Fathers tend to be Jealous Gods.
To be continued on the next, concluding post….