‘The Religion of Self-Enlightenment’ is about a man named Carrick, who writes a new religion. It is now available to purchase on Amazon: http://abv8.me/4m4.
Here is a sample…
“There was something you asked me which I have been thinking about a great deal. It was phrased something like this: had I loved someone enough to die for them in the name of love, to prove how much I cared for this person?”
“Yes, I remember. You didn’t answer.”
“I know, and I feel sorry for this; I was listening.” The Doctor rustled his papers. “I’ve felt a strong need to answer that question since we last met.”
“Please. Go ahead.”
“Being a married man, I have never once felt the need to demonstrate my love for my wife, or anyone else for that matter, with behaviour that is self-destructive. It strikes me as something profoundly missing the point it is trying to make, for destroying one’s self is surely not an act of love, in any sense of the word.”
“Well, I had three questions which I now want to put to you, if you would be so kind as to answer them. My first question is: what would be the point of giving your life for someone who presumably loves you, too? After this, my second question would be: why would a person even ask this? And finally, I would like to know how you think she or he would benefit?”
“What a stupid set of questions – have you ever thought about ANYONE besides yourself? What were they again?”
“I’ve forgotten!” the Doctor joked.
The bitterness of Carrick’s words had seemed sweet to him at the time. The Doctor thought for a while. “Well, first, what is the point of sacrificing one’s self for another that supposedly cares for them?”
Carrick considered this for the briefest amount of time.
“To show who you value; it is normal to put ourselves before all others, so to make a statement of the opposite is a sign of who means the most to you.”
“Okay”, the Doctor disagreed, “let me hold on to this thought, but it brings me to my second question of why they would ask someone for such a demonstration of their care.”
“Perhaps it is not them asking,” Carrick immediately responded.
“Ah-ha! So it is latent within the person themselves, this self-destruction, and love is merely providing an excuse for it to be manifested as something more positive. Well, that is, if you are saying what I think you are saying, it is they who are asking this of themselves.”
“What does ‘latent’ mean?”
The Doctor looked puzzled. “Hmm. Latent,” he repeated, as if it could possibly be a self-defining term… It was at this point when, facing the window and the greyness of life outside the room, he understood something about one of the people who coloured it from within. What rose up in his understanding was a wider point about life, that every entity requires something other than itself in order to define what it is.
The presentiment that then crept over the Doctor was that perhaps Carrick was not all he seemed – what lurked beneath the surface of this outwardly courageous, self-sacrificing person? Carrick was perhaps even self-destructive, and looking for another to activate this within him, and then to displace it onto them, calling it something about what it is to love.
“Latent: adverb,” he read, “hidden, concealed; existing but not developing or manifest; dormant.”
“No, I don’t think that’s true,” Carrick decided after considering the idea. “And, no, in fact, I wasn’t implying that it was me who saw self-sacrifice as a wonderful thing – as if!”
The Doctor immediately readjusted his interpretations, and continued upon his mission to dissect the thing more penetratingly.
“What were you alluding to then, pray?”
“‘Pray’: an interesting choice of words; I was actually getting to this exact point. It’s a very religious idea, to love; the highest idea of love is not that of human to human, but of the human to the divine, to God or whatever term is prevalent at the time and place concerned.”
“You have been thinking about this a lot?”
“Yes! A lot!” Carrick laughed.
“Because it affects me all the time, all the time.”
“This idea of interaction; the structure it takes on as you live. It is distorted, and I can see how.”
This was a rather arrogant statement for the Doctor’s communicative tastes, but he wanted to understand how it had come to be spoken.
“What is the connection between ideas of piety, ideas of communication and ideas of love?” he asked bluntly.
“We fear God and love, and subordinate ourselves to them, which is a thought. It is a thought with more complex parts, but this central thought is the body or entity which is requiring self-sacrifice to be envisaged as affection.”
“So, the third query, as to how the object of love could possibly benefit from the sacrifice, what is the answer to this, if there is one at all?”
“There isn’t one: God, if there is such a thing, whatever He or She or It is called, does not benefit from self-sacrifice, nor do lovers or friends or our good selves. I think it is a crucial misunderstanding of the human race, that hurting one’s self is admirable and required if we are to prove the validity of what we feel towards another. And this is what I think about a lot these days.
“But the thought is persistently overpowering when it comes to our natural survival mechanisms. It is funny then, that piety and love of God – the most extreme form or elevated notion of what love can be – also often demand a sense of self-hatred and obedience. Who benefits from this? Is it the holy people who are the messengers of another world? Or governing bodies which keep power as a result of others’ obedience and, as you say, ideas encouraging them to believe that they are not running their own lives? Who benefits?”
Carrick was asking the questions now, but the Doctor had no answers. He understood that this was a very complex point; three questions alone could open its depths. Complexities such as this had no answers in dictionaries, and could not be resolved by the simple-minded associations of psychoanalytical metaphors or behavioural observation. Carrick had addressed an open-ended problem for the human race, and although the Doctor could identify it as important, he was not the person to help; he was not a healer of that kind or calibre.”