Religion establishes control by taking over your identity through shame. Shame is identity trauma, soul-wounding. Religious dogma and ritual often take over peoples’ lives, to the point where religion is all they do or talk about. They may look as if they have no life or personality apart from religion. Religion claims to help you find yourself by giving you a new identity and spiritual purpose. But in order to want a new identity, you must first believe there is something wrong with you. You suffer with a misplaced sense of self. The I that is my identity is isn’t good enough to stand on its own beauty; it needs to be redefined through the self-hood of someone “better” and less faulty, or even perfect. The idea of a perfect god is a great candidate.
Religion tells you that are bad; you are sinful just because you are human. You will only look to define yourself by someone or something else (religion) if you think there’s something wrong with you, if you’re insufficient, bad, sinful, or helpless. We all have an innate sense of imperfection, as we are only human and have faults, so religion takes advantage of this by saying our core identity, our “soul,” is tainted; we’re born faulty beyond human repair. The wound of shame cuts through the core of your soul’s DNA, splitting it right down the middle. The ghastly demon of shame effects spiritual control by creating powerlessness, or soul trauma. There’s a reason Christians confess themselves to be broken in worship songs and liturgy: they have been broken through shaming and experience their identity in terms of brokenness.
Believers confess, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The identity is fully surrendered to the deity through the ritual of baptism, where the believer is said to die to herself and now lives only to god. In fact, the believer is only considered good (shaming) insomuch as she lives with a surrendered identity, as a shell of self with the spirit of god moving through her. The believer’s personality, life, family, and career–all of these only matter if they are surrendered to the identity and will of god. Thus, when someone leaves religion, their entire world often seems to fall apart, for the identity has become conflated with god, and subsequently lost. Religion is total identity system, and leaving it means an identity crisis.
In fundamentalism, everything must be given up to god, the egotist. An overemphasis on identity is really all about ego-games. Religion wounds your ego through shame and over-inflates it through spiritual elitism at the same time. This is total control. God is the ultimate egotist. The entire universe exists just to puff up his massive ego, to flatter him and bow down to him. In the same way, those who have been chosen by god see the whole universe as revolving around them. Believers become obsessed with building up god’s kingdom (ego-reign) and their own selves through amassing heavenly riches for themselves by condemning the godless, spreading the message of shame to the world, and participating in masochistic shaming rituals, then building themselves up again as a kind of superior god-race.
Religion claims to help you find yourself, to answer the existential question, “who am I?” It attempts to give you a purpose and new life. It helps you get over a broken sense of self by identifying with the perfection or claimed unconditional acceptance of god. You get to trade in your faulty self for the perfection and beauty of god, and participate in his infinite purpose. This is nothing more than ego-inflation, false sense of self, the pursuit of nothing. The soul is not to be found in pursuit of more ego.
We get over shame by getting over the identity, which is tying ourselves down to externals. If we define ourselves by what we do or don’t do, by our better aspects or lack, then we have no center. We will always be prone to manipulation and deceit if we are stuck in ego games. The soul, or connection to source, is about ego/identity transcendence. We transcend identity through understanding connection, that ultimately there is no separation. Connection to all that is, to the core of the self which has no imperfection and no wounding by definition, that is the essence of spirituality. This is also known as oneness. Through understanding connection, we can grasp at inspiration, and begin the lifelong process of breaking the bondage of the boundaries of separation that define the identity. We need an ego to exist, but that is not what defines us. By getting back to the center (soul/source), we find our inspiration, which is immune to trauma and shame, and which aligns us to healing. Because we are fundamentally whole.