I'm not sure if this was an image of heaven or hell, but it frightened me. The un-bearable thought of the unknown afterlife made me look for answers to the ultimate questions: "what is the meaning of life" and "what comes after death"?
As you can guess I was not well equipped for this at that age and eventually I ended up with my first depression and an ideology. Marvellous...
So I joined a laestadian religious movement.
It considers dance, sexuality outside the hetero sexual marriage, tv, pop-culture and birth control as sins, to mention few. So I eventually gave up dancing. What I didn't think through was that I also gave up my identity and my body. I let other people decide what I could and could not do, for the sake of god.
It was so relieving. To know, not to guess, what was coming at me both at life and after it. And I didn't have to decide what was right or wrong because someone would always tell me. I would be allowed to stay as a child forever, as someone who always would have a parent in heaven to take care of me and to carry the final responsibility of my actions.
Couple of months ago I saw an interesting documentary Exit - leaving extremism behind at Finnish National TV. It was also screened during Helsinki Film Festival this autumn. The director of the movie, Karen Winther, is an ex-neo-nazi who interwies others who have left extremist groups. One of them talks about the fear of death that made him feel weak and not being able to fight against "the enemy" of the group.
To conquer this fear he become a jihadist.
This made me think about the psychological needs that religions fill.
In an essence they are systems of meanings, that help people to deal with the un-known. They create a sense of direction, clarity and purpose through the narrations of gods and the people themselves. They make the un-knowns such as death, supernatural and psychic experiences, known. They give a safe context for weird.
Our time is blurry, with massive volume of social media comments, plurality of options and multiple big global changes that happen simultaneously and affect everyone. So how to deal with the un-kown without going back to religious systems? How to be in the presence of of it with respect and curiosity rather than fear?
My sincere conclusion is this: embodied practises and knowledge.
After reading about system theory, process ontology and theory of relativity, and most importantly after practising Deborah Hay's practise of perception (and many other embodied practises such as BMC to mention one), the idea of me being just a temporary gathering of stuff, energy, whatever, doesn't seem so bad. Suddenly it's not about me anymore - or at least at some moments it's just about life happening within me, particles going throug the space-time and me within it. Through thinking through the embodied, there is suddenly a way to comprehend the process of living in a different way. In a way that makes it possible to experience the life happening and to find peace in the current.