Nearly everyone I encounter seems to need supernatural motivations for their personal life. They claim these beliefs give them direction and meaning, and that a universe without ultimate meaning and ultimate purpose is too depressing to even think about. This seems strange to me because I am comfortable with living totally within this Universe, and on this Earth, and when I die, for my body and everything dependent upon my body to dissolve back into constituent atoms randomly wandering about in a non-thinking physical universe is fine with me. It appears that others aren’t comfortable with that natural reality and want more. Why? Why isn’t this wonderful world enough for them when it is plenty for me?
I don’t claim to enjoy everything that comes along; I certainly don’t enjoy the slowly increasing chronic pain that accompanies a near eighty-year-old physical body. The word appreciate as an attitude toward the, often difficult, world in and around me seems more accurate than to say I enjoy every moment. To claim contentment for the world as it is seems difficult too, because that implies acceptance of the vast number of horrible things that have brought the world to its present condition. And yet, the world is what it is. There is no way I can change, or even influence nearly anything in the entire universe, past, present or future. I have no choice. I am compelled to accept even nearby things as they are, and for almost everything a little distant it is an absolute and rigid compulsion to accept them as they are. Thus, it becomes an intellectual choice to be content, because I have so little choice in the matter. Of course I have things I want to change, and goals that I may be able to reach, or at least strive toward, but whether that is done or not, at every instant I live in the same philosophical situation. I can choose to be content with the world exactly as it is, or choose not to be content and be in pain. Stated that way, who would choose to be discontented?
Discontentment with one’s world is painful, and who would choose pain if they weren’t forced to choose it as the lesser of available evils? It makes more sense to choose contentment, because then quite a lot of pain, mental pain that leads to personal physical actions that cause physical pain, can be ignored and avoided. Lets turn for a moment from these abstractions to our daily world, and what that means for most people is several hours of TV and other media exposure. What is it that you’re seeing? Advertising, and lots of it, and what is that, but an effort to convince you to buy something. It is something that you are not aware of that you need, so they try to convince you that you do need it. That requires spinning ideas that are intended to convince you that you lack something you really need. These are little white lies that we all claim don’t affect us, but the proof that they do is that enough products get sold to pay for the advertising. Look at the ads carefully, not at the products themselves, but at the ads, and you soon see they are creating emotional longing, and a subtle pain in your inner self that you are somehow an inferior person if you don’t have this product. You of course reject almost all of these ads, but the underlying emotion still permeates your inner being – you should be in pain because you are unworthy. The result of this wave of advertising is to raise your anxiety and convince you that you are failing in some basic way.
Advertising is easy to point at for creating these feelings of unworthiness, but religion is more successful at generating fear, because it doesn’t dwell on your relationship with other people, as does advertising; it dwells on your primal fears, especially on your fear of death. Your fear of the meaninglessness of your entire life. It gives you an antidote to your fear, but it is premised on your believing some plausible fantasies.
The cure – create a fantasy that you pay money to satisfy that will give your life meaning.