Is your mind really truly free?

"Free the Mind" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Free the Mind” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

(A brain is in a zoo. He’s sad. A sign says, “Do Not Feed the Brain!” A child asks his father, “Dad, wouldn’t it be happier free?”)

[Like this cartoon? Get a print of it HERE!]

The brain is capable of incredible feats. It’s most remarkable one is its ability to believe itself.

Last night I watched the remarkable documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Nothing should surprise us anymore. But I did find it fascinating that the further into Scientology you go, the more committed you must become, and the more ridiculous the theology is.

It’s easy to point the finger and say, “How could they have done that? Unbelievable!” Even those interviewed who left Scientology are dismayed and even ashamed of themselves for believing what they did. But, I claim we could be blind to our own ridiculousness. It has nothing to do with intelligence. The mind is critical of everything except what it itself believes. It will tweak, enhance, or add anything that reinforces what it already believes and reject anything that challenges this. The result is that, though your mind believes it is building a fortress of faith, it has actually built a prison of belief. We are trapped and blind within our own theology.

It takes something like a trauma, a crisis, a shock, to realize this, then employ the heroic effort it takes to liberate oneself from this intellectual bondage.

This applies to Christians. It is frightening to consider the escape. But the freedom is worth it. You’ll see.

Meet a lot of people (over 400 of us) who know exactly what I’m talking about here. These are people who either realize they are trapped, or are liberating themselves, or are already free. I warmly invite you to The Lasting Supper.



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5 Responses

  1. Acilius says:

    I saw that documentary. I was struck by a remark Paul Haggis made, that other religions give you all their most basic beliefs in the first few minutes, while with Scientology you can be years into it and hundreds of thousands of dollars down before they get around to telling you about Xenu and the volcano people and so on.

    I found that encouraging. Other groups really do lead with their most preposterous-sounding ideas. The cross, as a Christian symbol, gets you right to the idea that a guy whose family was in the building trades in some colonial backwater left home to become an itinerant preacher, was put to death in a particularly shabby way, and turned out to be God Incarnate. Christians put that proposition right up front, it is the most heavily advertised belief in history, and in the ears of someone disinclined to believe it, it sounds at least as silly as anything the Scientologists teach.

    Likewise with the idea of the Qu’ran being dictated to Muhammad or Joseph Smith finding books of the Bible in New York or the Buddha having been the first truly enlightened being in 36 trillion years or any of the other propositions that people lead with when they are proselytizing for the great religions of the world. Those ideas don’t sound ridiculous to the proselytizers, and once you get past the initial shock of them and enter the mental world of the believers they don’t seem ridiculous to you either. Moreover, with religions that have been around for more than a few generations and have weathered more than a few schisms, the deeper you get into them the more you find that the way-out-wacky stuff at the beginning is of a piece with the insights that have kept people coming back to them over the years, and that those insights include vital truths not generally available elsewhere.

    So that’s what seemed most disturbing to me about Scientology as GOING CLEAR depicted it, even more so than the abusive behavior they recounted, that it starts you out with some OK-seeming therapeutic activities and gradually gets nuttier and nuttier. That makes it sound like a sheer waste of time, not likely to transform into a long-lasting enterprise of discovery as the great religions are.

  2. Thanks Acilius. I found that part interesting too. Although I would argue that every religion, including Christianity, has a bottomless hole that we can decide how far to go down. For example, in Christianity, it might all start with an altar call, “Jesus loves you just as you are! Come to him now!” Once you do that, then sign up, the layers of commitment and belief increase. We tell new believers to read the gospel of Mark. Then later John. Then we tell them that the book of The Revelation, which can be considered the weirdest book in the bible, can only be understood by the mature and initiated.

  3. Ducatihero says:

    I agree, that sadly it takes something like a crisis, trauma or shock to realise the prison.

    What I also like about what you have written David, is the acknowledgement of politics happening wherever people are involved. Therefore whether it is a religious institution, family, a group of friends, a human movement or any other form of community then values whether expressed explicitly or implicitly, and often very subtly can form a prison.

    So then, given this, how do we have freedom whilst staying in community? It seems sometimes, does it not the if we are to enjoy connection and belonging with others, that sometimes we might have to learn to hide part of ourselves and certainly learn to adapt in order to fit in.

  4. Ducatihero: The prison I speak of in this post is our own intellectual one… or belief one. However, yes, it closely ties with how we fit in community as well. My goal is to help form communities where we can be authentic but with accountability. It’s been a long philosophical problem: how to be free and responsible to others at the same time. Politics.

  5. Ducatihero says:

    I hear what you say David about our intellectual prison. What I am trying to say is that it is the communities that we are in and our interaction with them that are significant in us being in that prison. So then my question being, how do we be free but also with the accountability, authenticity and responsibility with what you rightly say about politics?

    I was removed from a position a few months ago due to alleged abuse when having a disagreement with a person in a position of authority. Just this week I had a disagreement with someone similarly but then received support and back up for myself with the other person experiencing consequences with removal form a programme just as I had been removed from a position previously.

    It seems to me that we can’t go by other’s opinion of us if we are to be truly free but have some other form of discernment. By the same token what you talk about with accountability, suggests that we can’t always go by our own view of ourselves. So, as you say, it’s been a long problem.

    How can we have a solution to that? I think there has to be something other worldly, some may call it the Holy Spirit, divine order, the implicate order, the Tao, reverse-entropy, life-force, but something to connect with, and have belonging. I think that no human movement or gathering can solve this problem or provide real freedom and security.