I have recently undertaken to reboot my life. I had an experience that completely shifted my worldview, and inspired me to do more than simply survive for the sake of existing, just to bellyache about the state of the world around me. I have decided to take on a fair share of the work that must be done to change this world to a place I can be proud to leave behind someday (and hopefully not too soon).
I realized that I have been putting off adulthood for far too long. I have always felt young at heart. Sometimes actually think I'm still 23. Seriously. But I'm going on 28. When I was 23, I didn't even think about being 28, because my health was so bad that I didn't see myself living another 5 years. But that actually was the case when I was 18, looking ahead to 23. So, since my inkling of impending death seems to be off, I may as well live as if I were someday going to be 56. Who knows? maybe by some great fortune, I will manage to hold onto the miracle of life for that long, or longer.
I had a brush with a real-life Demon about a week ago, and over the next few days, I have contemplated the idea of being "scared straight". It is a difficult thing to wrap one's head around. In the end, I decided that I WAS being "scared straight", but had I allowed myself to be scared straight by this demon, I would be allowing myself to be "scared straight to hell", by continuing to associate with that type of person.
To me, Demons are people who understand the tactics and methods of Satanic power, and Satanic power is simply that which seeks to control through fear, whether that be violence, deception, coercion, or psychological domination, or all of the above. In my particular situation, it was all of the above. I was drugged and hazed on a construction site by my boss and co-worker. It rattled my brain (perhaps even a mild concussion) but I escaped the situation without major physical injury, and with a profound insight into the nature of fear, and how it has played a large part in my life, since my childhood. I didn't seek it out, but perhaps in not heretofore taking such things as demons, and Satan seriously, I inadvertently invited this person—this demon—into my life. At any rate, I have had a life-changing insight into human nature, spirituality, and those behaviors which traditionally sort into either 'good' or 'evil'. To use an age-old example to demonstrate this insight, I will revert to the religious teachings of my childhood to show what I have learned. After all, one's upbringing tends to be the lens through which they see the world. What better way than an epic tale of Love and Fear?
Love is an attribute of God (and godly people). Fear is a tool of Satan, and his followers. Now, just to clear this up at the get-go, the term "god fearing" has never really resonated with me, because I have never understood an association with an all loving, all caring and all wise creator as being someone to fear. The word seems to have no place in a sentence (or place) with 'God'.
Satan, or "Lucifer" used fear of the unknown in order to coax Eve into partaking of the fruit of knowledge. It might be claimed that the *original* Original Sin, was giving into fear. Fear, and not faith, led Eve to make her choice.
It is my personal belief that Satan has permeated every aspect of humanity since that day at the dawn of human existence, including that of organized religion. One of the guiding principles of my spiritual journey has been to steer clear of fear. However, I had no idea how deep seated that fear actually was in my own life until very recently. Satan rules this realm through promises of destroying our souls if we wander from the "straight and narrow path"... perhaps, it could be reasoned that he puts us on straight and narrow paths of his own through giving us fear of wandering astray from it, or wondering about other ways of living. If we are possessed by fear, we are not likely to take risks, even the risk to look askance to see the beckoning of angels to leave the Satanic path we are on.
I believe that there are many, many "straight and narrow paths". The fact that a path is straight and narrow doesn't imply that it is right. It certainly seems audacious to me to claim that it is the only path. In fact, I don't know that God ever used the term 'straight and narrow path', I believe the line is "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way..." If someone claims their "path" to be the only one that will get you into heaven (or cerain of its kingdoms), it seems more an indication to me that it is of the devil than of God. After all, Satan's plan was one where we had no choices. We were not able to wander about and explore in his plan, we were all to be set on a path, and none were to be lost. In his plan, there was ONE way. The most efficient way to envision this, would be a like a straight, narrow corridor. No twists and turns. Perhaps even the presence of light is not even an indication of Godliness. I used to associate such a light with the so-called 'straight and narrow path'—a well-lit path that led to the gates of heaven— but Satan never wanted us to be groping around in the dark. He wanted us to *see him* as the only one way to heaven.
Bear with me, I know this sounds like I am embracing Satanism. I am not. I am suggesting that Satan has embraced organized religion, as an efficient set of precepts into which he is able to inject fear, and thereby defeat the practitioners of that religion who absorb his fear-mongering teachings. Through long held traditions (not limited to, but certainly including, religion) he has coaxed our understanding of the world to align with his own: That there is only ONE way—his way. A dictatorship. It makes sense that he would spell it all out for us, and deny us our choices. In fact, I believe that God's plan was, indeed, one of "forgiveness", simply for the fact that He wanted us to have a choice. Forgiveness implies that we are able to make choices, and naturally make mistakes in the first place, and then be forgiven for it. This is kinda the concept behind blessings, as well. We are blessed because we try and fail, and are given another chance, or a different opportunity and tool to succeed. In Satan's plan for humanity, "forgiveness" was not in his vocabulary. "Not one soul will be lost," he said "I wont allow it." We weren't allowed to make choices which would prevent us from returning to God.
However, according to the story, God refused that plan and the word "forgiveness" became part of the human vocabulary. Satan's recourse was to play upon the meaning of the word, and thereby play on our fears that we would not be forgiven; that we were not worth forgiving. He perverted the teaching of forgiveness with a deep-set fear. he has convinced us that deep down, that forgiveness has its limits. 'Yes, it's for everyone, and yes, God will forgive you... but he will *not* be mocked. He forgives everyone, but not forever. He will forgive you a dozen times—perhaps a trillion—but eventually, he will draw the line...'
While this isn't true of an all-loving God, we begin to believe it. We are convinced by our shame, that surely God isn't as freely forgiving the hundredth time around as he was the first. We doubt ourselves; 'Surely others don't falter as often as me...' We think we must be the only one in the world who needs forgiveness this much, this often. We begin to feel ashamed that we have to be forgiven so often, because we "know better" and do it anyway. After all, that was exactly Eve's mistake; she knew better, but she did it anyway... We feel fear of being punished by God, for not "walking uprightly" every day, for not keeping our covenants made in His holy presence. We fear that we have fallen from his grace, and under the power of Satan. And truly, we are under the power of Satan when such fear rules our minds. Satan, not God, not Christ, is the one who utilizes a "Scared Straight" program. Satan's fear-mongering has absolutely no place in a "religious experience", God would not allow threats to be made toward His followers by Satan in Godly, sacred space. As the adage goes "if you can't see God from where you are, who moved? You, or God?" Unfortunately, for all the well-meaning and truly good work that religion does in this world, religion is susceptible to corruption. We have seen it in the news, where holy men do damnable things to innocent children. We live in a world where wars from time immemorial have been driven by fundamentally misguided ideas of God's love, or justice... God gave Satan power over this world, but he gave us each power over Satan. He is unable to take our power from us, by virtue of our having mortal bodies. But that doesn't mean that we cannot give our power to him. They say that Satan cannot abide in holy places, and that God cannot abide in unholy places. But it is up to the individual if their head space will be pure and holy. If we attend church out of fear, we bring fear into the church. Chapels may be sacred space, but they cannot purge the human mind of unholiness. Through establishing a religious tradition of "scaring straight", Satan has sneaked into spirituality. I am not a fan of religion, because it blurs the concepts of spirituality. When one simply deals in terms of spirituality, it is not so hard to discern between good and bad spirits. But when one tries to observe even their own spirituality through the lens of religion, things become much more unclear and convoluted.
Fear can be propagated very subtly. Satan's tactics have not been so much one of word choice, but of word re-definition. 'Worthiness' becomes a pursuit, because we have a fear of being unworthy. I hate those words, because the root of them is "worth". We all have worth. Religion (or Satan, through religion) has simply redefined in our minds what it must mean to be "worth" heaven, or blessings, or temples... "Worthiness" is a scale of measure for the imparting of conditional love, and God's love is NOT conditional. Again, fear drives us away from God. It causes us to hide from his love. This is the fear that Satan taught Adam and Eve when they heard God coming, and hid their nakedness. Shame is fear. Satan gives Adam and Eve an idea of obscuring themselves before God, in order to hide their guilt. But of course, God knew. God knew because he *created* them, and their impromtu invention of clothing could not fool him. Likewise, our feelings of "unworthiness" established through feeling judged by others, or by our church leaders, who want to know if we are "temple worthy", has nothing to do with our worthiness to speak to, and be spoken to by God. We are told by any given religion that we need that particular religion in order to gain access to God. As if God is helpless (or, much more disturbing, that he is unwilling) to embrace us with his love until we have ascribed to a very particular religion, and its dogma. This is why I believe that Satan has a stronghold on organized religion. Because, though they are quite adept at showing conditional love, religion is propagated through fear of damnation. But, paradoxically enough, we actually "dam" ourselves from progress when we allow others to give us laundry lists of what God demands before he will show his love. God's love is unconditional. Only WE can place conditions on it. When we do, we no longer feel God's unconditional love.
I know I haven't spoken hardly at all about the experience that led to this insight, so I will try to be as succinct as possible here, and wrap up my long-winded entry.
I was thrown from a scaffold by my employer. He did so in a mad rage, and it was so sudden and unexpected that I was put in mortal fear. I didn't know if there was a bolder behind me, and my brains were going to be dashed out, I just knew that I had absolutely no control over the situation. I was flying backward through the air, and all I could see was the look of a drug induced rage and contempt on my attacker's face. It epitomized every artistic depiction of Satan, or Demons in classic art: furrowed brow, bared teeth, glaring eyes. I realized this all as I was still in mid-air, wondering if this would be the last image I would ever see. I was simultaneously associating this fearful image with the fear of death, and as this was happening, my mind was reeling with what I could possibly have done to avoid it. The answers that I came up with were (understandably) rooted in fear: "I shouldn't have done that" "If I survive this, I'll never make that mistake again" "please please please don't kill me"... etc. It was as if he had taken control not only of my physical body (his hands gripped around my throat), but had actually injected himself into my brain, and usurped all my thoughts. I have been in quite a number of life threatening situations, the kind where they say your life flashes before your eyes (it does, in a very real sense) but none in which I was so completely unable to have any sense of peace. I have always been able to come to terms with my impending death, even in the milliseconds preceding a car crash.. but this time, I was tortured with the thoughts of how I might have behaved differently (not raised my voice to him, checked my ego, chosen my words more carefully, etc.). In short, those moments in which I was anticipating the impact, and possible mortal wounds, I was experiencing hell. It took what felt like an eternity, and for that eternity, I was racked with regret, and torment of how my choices had led me to this. I and landed flat on my back, in relatively soft dirt. He and and my co-worker pinned me down for perhaps 30-seconds, and continued to physically and psychologically dominate me. It was a very methodical way of asserting their dominance through fear. I was so shocked by the violent outburst that I my 'fight or flight' instinct didn't even kick in. The whole point was to put me in mortal fear, and to associate it with blind obedience, subservience, submission. It was a ploy to take my power from me by frightening me into giving it away. The 'deal' that I was supposed to make, in my head, was one where I would never question or contend his authority again. This is the core concept of the type of discipline I was raised with. I don't think that requires much explanation on my part, though it may require more reflection and pondering on the reader's part...
They said it was like an "initiation" and that they had never let it get out of control. 10 minutes later they were acting like nothing happened. But as I walked away in a daze, I was already making plans to take back control of my own life. To never allow myself to be in such a situation again, to never allow myself to so mistreat another human being. I walked away with a certainty of the reality of 'Good' and 'Evil', and I committed myself to purging myself of the fear that had just been injected into me. Over the next few days I have realized that I have many more fears, that have been with me much longer. And I am committed to seeking out love, and replacing these fears with love and Godliness as well.