Losing My Religion
I've been struggling with my religion. I can't tell if I'm observant of my parents' tradition out of guilt or belief or familiarity. How can I teach myself the difference between the three?
I thought about this question for a while because something about it doesn't make sense. It assumes that everything we do is out of deliberate, conscious choice. One of the axioms of existential psychology is that awareness gives birth to choice, but how often are we really aware? Most of the time, we do things out of habit, practicality, or out of respect for authority.
My guess is that the reason you're observant is because you grew up that way. Your parents did it, and you assumed it was just a normal thing people do, like saying hello to greet people or throwing your trash away when you finish eating. You're now getting to a point where you have more awareness and that's making you wonder why you do the things you do. That's healthy. Your mind can make all sorts of connections and hypothesie, but I think the only way you're really going to know why you observe your religion is by continuing to wrestle with the justifications and experiment with different lifestyles. Try not being observant for 2 weeks. Completely let go of your religious identity. Maybe something will pull you back in eventually, perhaps in a way you didn't really expect. You may form a very different relationship to your religion even though it appears the same on the outside. The difference is that your relationship will be authentic and meaningful--conscious--rather than something you just inherited from your parents and society. That's kind of the process I went through: questioning, abandoning, rediscovering, abandoning, and then rediscovering again in a new way. Don't be afraid of suspending your religious identity. If you never come back to it, it couldn't have been worth that much.