“So joining this cult, the Aeshir? Well, did that give your life meaning?” asked Kelly.
Kent shook his head, “No. Well, not at first. By the time I completed my seasoning I was actually miserable and quite depressed about my life and the state of the world. I was ready to quit then, give up on my inheritance and just try to go back to being ignorant about my life again.”
“What does seasoning mean?” asked Paul.
“Seasoning? That’s the term we use for the initiation period. You need to pass a test to join, then spend one season in a monastery, swear an oath, and presto you’re part of the Aeshir. You can choose to stay more than one season if you like, but if you want to get your inheritance then you have to join one of the religious orders. There are five to choose from. I chose to join the druids as the membership challenges appeared the least odious to me.”
“Oh, so did becoming a druid give you a sense of meaning to your life?” interjected Kelly.
“No, it wasn’t anything to do with joining the druids. It was something we learned early on at the monastery. It was actually prayer that helped me.”
Kelly snorted, “Prayer? What asking god to give you money? Like that creep Peterson was saying?”
Kent shook his head, “No. Prayer is actually another word for love. Because that which you pray for, you move towards. Peterson prays for money and power, because he loves money and power. By praying for those things he affirms his goal in life to acquire money and power. It frames his thinking each day drawing him closer to those goals by influencing the decisions he makes.”
Oriana cut in, “but you said you used to pray for money yourself?”
“Yes, I did, when I first arrived at the monastery I was praying for money. I wanted my grandfather’s money. I didn’t even realise this. See, a lot of people pray and they don’t even realise they are doing it. They think things like ‘I really would like to meet a beautiful girl’ or ‘I wish uncle Rob would get better quickly after this operation’. They call these sorts of thoughts wishing, hoping, thinking, longing for, but in a sense they’re all prayer, albeit unconscious prayers. What I learned in the monastery was that the things I was praying for unconsciously were actually having a big impact on my life.”
“But how so? They’re just words aren’t they?” ask Kelly.
“Well words are the ingredients for thought, and with thinking we gain free will. We can’t have any free will if we don’t think. So what I started doing was I started praying deliberately. Each night before bed and each morning before I had to start my day, I would sit down and think consciously: what do I want? At first, yes, I wanted money, but I found myself asking ‘what is the point of having money? Will it actually make me happy?’ I felt very miserable when I realised that money would not actually solve my unhappiness. So I started to pray that I would learn to seek what would actually make me truly happy.”
“Interesting,” said Paul, “That’s quite a different way of looking at things. I mean, if you think about, wish for, or in this case pray for money then that’s saying that you value money. By reminding yourself of this every day you might start deciding to change habits like buying a cheaper lunch or walking to work to save money and thus you accumulate more money. And if you’re praying for happiness then you’re declaring that you value happiness rather than just money.”
“Yes, but more than that, I was praying to be truly happy, not just feeling excited or titillated by sensations like sweets, sex, and flattery. If I just wanted to feel happy then I might start spending more money on sweets which would make me happier in the moment, but less happier in the long run when I grow fat and poor. I didn’t want that kind of temporary happiness, I wanted an honest happiness: A happiness that I had earned for myself and could feel deserving of. I was declaring that I valued truth as well as happiness.”
Paul considered this, “That seems fine to me. But those guys wanted to kill you for it.”
Kent frowned, “Yes, the members of the Tyranni all pray for different things, but they typically like to pray for money, power, pleasure, attention, flattery, excitement, and vengeance. Praying for these things gives their lives some kind of meaning and direction. However, they didn’t want to kill me for not praying for those things.”
“What did they want to kill you for?” asked Oriana.
“They wanted to kill me because I was praying to be a better person. The idea of changing themselves is antithetical to their beliefs. They make other people and the environment change to suit them.”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“Just say a man has a smoking addiction, and it is costing him friends and money to maintain his habit. Instead of recognising he has a hunger for smoking and praying to change himself so he won’t desire those cigarettes anymore; he prays for his friends to change to be more tolerant of his smoking and for the price of cigarettes to be cheaper. He then changes his behaviour accordingly. He might start mocking his friends for complaining about his smoking, or trick them into feeling guilty for not accepting that he is a smoker and if they truly loved him they would accept that he will just smoke no matter what. He might start stealing money to help pay for the cigarettes, or steal the cigarettes themselves, and he will feel justified in doing so because he doesn’t see any possibility of changing himself: only in changing the outside world to suit his wishes, the things he prayed for.”
“My mother smokes,” started Paul, he swallowed before continuing, “It’s affecting her health very badly. I wish, I mean, I pray that she would stop smoking because I don’t think she will be around much longer if she keeps it up.”