Recently I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel, her biography of the unraveling of her upbringing as a Muslim female. The story of her life is one of abuse, enslavement to the Quran, clan and family. Her story is worth reading. From her book, I was introduced to the term mental cage. When people such as the females of the Muslim religion are programmed from birth to a life of living only as a slave to men’s whims, I can readily understand the term mental cage. The women of Islam are so indoctrinated by Islamic men that they can’t see beyond the bars of their mental cage and they perpetuate this onto their children.
In contemplating Ali’s biography, I can also see that there are degrees of mental cages. Almost everyone on this planet has some form of a mental cage. What is a mental cage? From teachings I have had, our brain is similar to a computer and the programs we run in our brain create our thoughts. Our thoughts create our mind and our experiences. One only has to mentally stand back and observe the lives of others around us and listen to the words that are spoken. Once we are aware of these mental cages, we can know what kind of program is being operated in the brain.
We can also observe our own words and thoughts to know what program we are running. The brain is filled with neurons, synapses and much more that make up the neuronet which is like a specific piece of learning software that runs a pattern. We build our own mental prisons by what we have been taught and accepted. The movie What the Bleep, gives a vivid picture of moving out of a mental cage. The movie has been extremely popular because it resonated deep within the recesses of the brain that it portrayed a truth.
There is a statement that when we change our mind, we change our life and I have found that to be true . There have been many books written about this with each one giving methods for changing the mind. However, there are embedded core beliefs that are a challenge to change and this keeps many in one form of a mental cage.
I have asked myself where these core beliefs begin because everything has a beginning. It is much like Ariadne’s Thread and following the threads in order to understand why people are so addicted to their beliefs and habits. This includes me also. Somewhere along the evolution of humanity, there became a belief that women were less than men and knowing this, my thread took me to religion.
I have done extensive research on the Bible that Christians use. There are many variations or translations of this ancient text with each one having a slightly different interpretation and some have added books that were omitted in others. What I have learned is that the Old Testament is not a holy book at all. I know that statement will be considered blasphemous by some who hold on to the bars of their mental cage. However, it is an ancient text of history that was handed down by word of mouth until someone wrote it down. If you have ever played the telephone game, then you can understand how the original meaning became changed.
I have seen a proliferation of new churches popping up in communities and each an offshoot of the primary denominations of the Christian religion. I began wondering why and realized that people become dissatisfied with the established churches and some man thinks he has the answer and draws to him people who like what he has to say. Thus, they leave the established denomination and begin a new one. In my research, I have learned there are approximately 34,000 separate Christian groups in the world. One report states there are approximately 1,000 Christian faith groups that think they are the only true Christian denomination. In my small community there are 22 Christian groups. Over half do not have a denomination included in their name. In looking at this list, I have wondered why such a small community needed so many different churches. Multiply this across the U.S. and the number is staggering.
Having been an ordained minister, I can say that from my observations and experiences that many people want someone to tell them how to live and what to do. Thus, the minister, priest, pastor or preacher becomes empowered and the people become enslaved to that set of beliefs until something within them is triggered and they begin to question.
It isn’t only the Christian religions that enslave people’s minds. Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in her book Infidel: I found myself thinking that the Quran is not a holy document. It is a historical record, written by humans. It is one version of events, as perceived by the men who wrote it 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. And it is very tribal and an Arab version of events. It spreads a culture that is brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war. Ali has summed it up very succinctly. The history of Christianity is the same. Islam and Christianity are the two sides of the same coin.
I grew up in the era of segregation in Texas and the south. I grew up in the midst of bigotry and prejudice and I didn’t understand as a child why blacks were segregated. I didn’t understand why my church professed that God is love, yet women were also kept in an inferior place. Where was the love for the blacks? When I began working for the Foreign Service branch of the U.S. State Department, I had a sudden shift in my beliefs when my first post was to the embassy in Paris. I broke out of some of the bars of my mental cage. In retrospect it was one of the most freeing times of my life.
I have learned that if a religion suppresses the rights of women to be treated as equals, then it is a religion of man and not of God. Because of this programming, men equally have their own mental cages. Perhaps it is up to the individual to look within and find the mental cages that keeps one in a state of lack, anger, guilt, fear, victim, and other modalities of thinking. The only change can come from within.
What are the attitudes that keep us limited? If it is prejudice, then it is time to change the attitude. If it is one of lack, then it is time to change one’s perspective. There are many books and programs available to help one to move out of the cage. Usually change comes from adversity. I like Richard Bach’s statement: Every problem comes with a gift in its hands. Another way of saying it is that when the shit hits the fan, look for the gold. To move forward, we cannot stay in self-pity. I am finding that for myself I must look at all of my beliefs and begin to discard the ones that are not self-serving. End of Part I. To be continued.