Many of your inquiries overlap in their subject-matter. We have already addressed, several times, how to avoid the support of interior fear, and the discovery of courage, but this teaching will be repeated here:
Try to avoid all sources of negative religion. This includes all reading that supports fear, as well as regular association with all people of fear. A spiritual classic says, "It is better to be alone than to associate with fools."
Any religion that is founded upon a god of fury, rage, emotional insecurity or instability, will tend to fill your mind and heart with damaging and hurtful "religious garbage." This is psychotoxic, and even "pneumotoxic." In other words, what you read repeatedly can affect your very deep Soulmind, and can even affect your ability to integrate your life with the even deeper Spiritmind of pure Love.
So, try assiduously and carefully to avoid reading any material that can be spiritually toxic. This includes all material (and it is common everywhere) that mistakes Jehovah/Yahweh, the god of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") for the Lord of Love taught by Jesus and the other great masters.
All religion that is exclusive, judgmental, and condemnatory is also toxic. All religion that adores the ancient wargod or that predicts the "end of the world" is also psychotoxic.
You can usually identify a potentially toxic form of religion due to its high content of quotations from, or references to, the Hebrew Scriptures. Let it be repeated here, for any record, that this is not a "condemnation" of the Jewish faith; most Jews have completely outgrown the ancient god of their earliest traditions. They do not even embrace or teach about this god. Instead, you find it in fundamentalist "Christianity." This fundamentalism is not "Christian" at all, and
almost every form of it is also toxic.
Avoiding negativity is only "half the battle." While it is healthy and healing, your education is not complete simply because you avoid the negative. It is not complete until you take the necessary second step in education: Replace negative material with positive. Read only positive, uplifting, inspiring spiritual literature that emphasizes the Way of Love. This includes dozens of sources; we, at Love Ministries, publish and distribute over twenty books, for example, and we highly recommend all of them. Then, there are the great classics of spirituality,
including the Gospels of John and Thomas, selections from the ancient Nag Hammadi Christian Library, the famous Chinese classic The Book of the Great Mind and Its Expression, also published by Love Ministries; we also recommend the Indian classic, The Celestial Song of God, and various readings in history, especially the history of mysticism, or the Way of Oneness, including but not limited to various Sutras of Hinduism and Buddhism.
There is an entire, and very large, library of positive spiritual sources. Each time that we read these materials, we are educated, uplifted, and made stronger. The writings of St. John of the Cross and his student, St. Theresa of Avila are among these Western works of Christian mysticism. And there are plenty more where these come from, including the writings of Catheryn of Genoa, Catheryn of Siena, Meister Eckhardt, Julian of Norwich, Jan Van Ruycebroeck, and several other fairly wellknown mystical writers from the Christian or Jewish tradition. You can also read the works of Kabbalah and the poetry of Sufism for spiritual renewal.
There is so much, much more that can be said. This letter could be expanded into a book. So, we recommend a book called Journey to the Center of the Soul: Mysticism Made Simple, and its companion-text Falling in Love with Yourself: Love and the Inner Beloved, along with a great library of other mystical literature.
NOTE: People always misunderstand the words "mystical" and "mysticism." Fundamentalists, in their ignorance, are terrified of the very words, and often misdefine them as having something to do with the "occult," magic, or even demonology. This is purest ignorance; mysticism has nothing to do with the occult or with magic in any form; it also has nothing to do with any form of occultism. And it is the very polar opposite of demonology, since its task is to educate us in the Way of Love, and to encourage our hearts to grow closer to the interior "heart of God."