What exactly is ‘religiosity’ – not the meaning of the word, but rather how does it translate into the real world? How does one ‘measure’ or even ‘detect’ religiosity in other people and from there, recognize it within ourselves?
I don’t go about my day whispering prayers under my breath. I don’t verbally or even physically ‘thank’ some spirits for this-or-that event or thing. I don’t leave offerings.
You might say I’m lacking this religiosity.
But perhaps my ‘religion’ doesn’t require such behaviours of me. Perhaps my religion dictates a normal behaviour and encourages us to see the glory in our every-day lives, not only during some dedicated ritual.
I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing to dedicate a special moment of your day or week to ‘practice your religion’ but that only doing so is to ignore the miraculous in every day life.
That being said I do notice that by not having any ‘religiousness’ in my life hasn’t led me out of the woods either. Sure, I have found that I am able to be appreciative of the various ‘ups’ we can have throughout a typical day. I have found that my ‘downs’, however, go so much further down than before. I’m cautious of those moments, and for the sake of my own sanity I only ever let myself rappel down those pits of despair as long as my rope goes, and then I climb back up as quick as I can. Them’s dangerous places they are! But my soul’s landscape is pock-marked by those holes. It is a treacherous and otherwise barren terrain. No sun sets over the horizon, from which to orient my meandering life. At those times I feel aimless and alone. It is a solitude that doesn’t hurt or sadden me so much as it echoes a gaping silence of vacuous pointlessness. That solitude comes from having broken through the veil of truth and illusion, having seen the cardboard props that scaffold what we call reality. Around me people still wear their R-Goggles and ignore this desolate landscape, happily immersed in their subjective experience. I have seen one or two other people who have their R-Goggles off their face and dangling from their necks, but… you know that masterful skill only a stressed-out waiter has of always knowing where not to look so as to avoid any chance of eye-contact? Yeah, we do that with each other. So we know that there are ‘others out there’ but every single one of us speaks a different language, and we’re all so deeply convinced that ours is the genuine truth that we all have a sneaking suspicion that the other guy may have come close, but still doesn’t quite ‘get it’ to the extent that we do. So we don’t quite talk together so much as ‘at each other’. And we part ways dissatisfied and still alone.
We write; just as I’m doing now. It’s our message in a bottle tossed from the beach of our uninhabited islands. We want nothing more than to build a community on this island, have a thriving peaceful and happy community, but we also know, having come to understand the cyclic nature of history and the deep human flaws, that were we to have a community – a ‘cult’ of followers – our community will inevitably wander astray or fuck-up in a messy scandal sometime after we’re long gone. Or perhaps if we were too trusting of our followers and revealed a little too much truth, that scandalous collapse might even occur while we’re still occupying these fleshy shells. Our name, and all the work we put in will be dragged through the mud and pulled back into the pit of forgotten saviors.
Some of us ‘do a Cypher’ and willingly plug ourselves back in, having understood the necessity of donning a subjective experience of reality. To ‘retreat from the world’ is a price too high to pay – because it was the world we sought to save that pushed us to attain enlightenment in the first place – and to fully disconnect, to leave it all behind, to detach from all that and ‘die’ is kind of defeating the purpose.
But you can view this reality as the most sublime and wondrous thing ever, you can renew your faith in humanity and launch yourself from the firm foundation of trust in sheer human capacity into full-blown Nirvana.