As I realized to my great astonishment, I didn’t ‘need’ to believe in religion anymore. The always-present net of beliefs that had always brought me comfort at times of difficulty was gone, completely vanished, and it was ok! Along with the need for answers, the need for wanting a god who would make things ok when I had problems, a need for having something to believe in, a need to have a moral system given to me, a need to belong to a community, all that disappeared in one go, from being a constant crutch for me, to nothing.
At times, it was disorienting. After all, the habits of a lifetime do not disappear, even if the beliefs did. I would find myself thinking the same thoughts, and then realizing,” oh, I don’t really believe that thought anymore”. It was strange. I was so used to turning to God, Allah for solving all my problems. And, living in a country where almost everyone has the same religious concepts, it is especially strange. I would hear other people talking the same way, doing the same things, and I remembered myself doing exactly the same just a little while ago, and now being completely out of it. I have to say, at times I found myself thinking, “oh silly people, don’t they know it doesn’t matter if they’re praying five times or none. Do they really think they’re going to be punished in hell if they don’t, and go to heaven if they do”, or, even worse, “do these people need the threat of an external God to be good and charitable” whereas I, awakened being that I am just ‘good’. Tsk tsk. I stayed in the "I am enlightened, hence better than them" trap for a while.
People expect me still to teach the same stuff to my kids. I struggled with that one for a while too, how to teach something I don’t really believe in anymore. Now, I’m letting life take its course. My eldest son has already reached more or less the same conclusions that I have, but in a more scientific way. My second one is religious, with the tendency to be too literal and rigid. Third son is the one who is slightly autistic. At the moment, I think he’s ok with the ‘good’ parts of religion. My daughter is still young. She hears a lot of rigid religious stuff, but at the moment, I make sure she knows that is not all there is. Help to keep her mind open.
I see people around me who are searching, but within the religious boundaries. Furthest they go usually is sufiism, with its concept of merging with God, and God being all there is. I think they are not yet prepared for the naked truth, that keeping within the boundaries will still leave you with residual beliefs, concepts and identifications. You have to throw it ALL out to get to the real. But as we discussed, if that is what is making them happy, then that’s fine. What makes me a little sad is how the religious clergy do their best to keep it mystical, difficult, far out of reach for ordinary people. It keeps them powerful and special, keeps the power game in their hands. Not good. I don’t usually go around broadcasting my beliefs, or lack of, but if someone asks, fine. I'm here to answer any questions.
Religion kept me focused on how this life was just a journey, real life was after death, after going to heaven. But after realizing this is all there is, I am appreciating the magic of every moment, the miracle of life happening anew.