Religion and invisible friends

Some memes get popular because there is a grain of truth to them. They point out something we already know and most don’t talk about – even to ourselves – because it’s not polite.

In this case, it is true that many treat their images of God and divine entities as their invisible friends.

And it’s true that many religious people argue that they have the best invisible friend, whether to themselves within their own thoughts or also out loud.

WE ALL DO IT

There is nothing wrong with that. It’s natural – with the mind, biology, and culture we have – to imagine gods and divine entities, to take our images as reality, and even to assume that our images are the better ones.

It’s a way to find comfort and a sense of safety, although it’s also a very precarious project. Somewhere in us, we know what we are doing. We know these are images and imaginary friends. We know it doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. And we may feel we need to prop up and defend these images, including by arguing with others about who has the better images and invisible friends.

It’s understandable and a bit silly.

And we all do it in our own way. If we don’t do it with religion, we do it with something else or perhaps just about everything else.

THE NONDUAL VERSION

Even nondual folks do it.

We may recognize the more common images in mainstream society and see that people hold onto them for a sense of safety. And we may overlook that we are doing the same, just with different images.

Instead of images of God and angels, we may have images of oneness, capacity, consciousness, love, and so on. We may mistake these images for reality and what they point to. We hold onto them for a sense of safety. And we may even spend energy propping them up and defending them, whether in our own minds or also out loud.

In addition, nondual folks are like anyone else and have more universal images they may hold as true, including of being a doer, observer, this body, better or worse than others, have lack in certain areas, and so on.

That too is natural. It’s how our minds work.

And it’s good to notice. It’s good to take some time exploring these images and see what’s happening.

The essence of finding our nature is to differentiate our images from our direct noticing. What’s here in my images? What’s here in immediate noticing?

NOTE: Yes, I know it’s very unfair by whoever made the meme to use an image from the IRO, the Inter-Religious Organization. It seems they are doing very good work and promote inter-religious understanding and cooperation. (Not arguing about invisible friends!)

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