Friday, May 24, 2013

Beliefs

Most people do not come to their beliefs by a deliberate process.  They are influenced into believing things by the happenstance of their lives - what part of the world they are born in, who their parents are, the teachers they interact with, what various figures of authority, friendship, love and respect tell them.  They are influenced by the course of events in their lives.

Mostly, they are guided in their beliefs by emotional attachments and through emotional events, and by  the structure of whatever local society exists around them.  That's not to say that they adopt the consensus beliefs around them, but rather that those local group structures serve as the grounding for however their particular belief structure assembles as time goes on, pro or con.  One might rebel against their local beliefs, but then those local beliefs are still the basis for their rebellion.

And, usually, this is not a deliberate process, but rather just a happenstance collection of views that are usually not very well thought out.  Which usually ends up with people committed to hypocritical, self-conflicting, unsupportable and/or even disabling views. Committed to them on a deep, emotional level where their beliefs become a large part of their sense of self.  Challenge their beliefs, and you've attacked them personally.

How many people, do you suppose, are willing to set aside all that they believe (even if possible), and start with a blank slate, and pose these questions:

1) What should I believe, and why?

2) What do I want to believe?




6 comments:

  1. I honestly do not think I know anyone that could set aside what they believe, to ask those two questions, because their beliefs are based solely on an emotional attachment / response to a tragic event....or a miracle.
    I can't answer question one, but, what do I want to believe ? Well, I want to believe that when we die, that we are not just dead ; we lived, we loved, we died. We lived, we loved, we pass onto another place of existence.

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  2. I've found that it's possible to dislodge beliefs one is attached to, but it's pretty difficult. I had to invent some mental tools to accomplish this. One of those tools was thinking about human history. Extremely intelligent people have, throughout history, believed all sorts of very different things; so, what are the odds that I just happen to believe stuff that is true?

    Not very likely. It's pretty arrogant, in fact, to think that I happen to believe all true things when so many of greatest minds that every lived believed differently (even if many also believed in similar things).

    I stopped thinking about beliefs as being the same as "things that are true", and instead thought of belief as "deliberately thinking towards a goal". When an inventor believes they will be able to create something, it certainly isn't true that they have created it, or even that they will; the have faith in it. They are deliberately thinking towards that goal as if what they want exists, or will exist.

    There's no reason an afterlife cannot exist. There's lots of evidence that one does - http://www.victorzammit.com/ If it's something you want to believe, then why not? Does it matter if an afterlife actually exists or not? Does it matter to an inventor whether or not he/she will eventually, actually create whatever they are trying to invent?

    We all live our lives with the expectation that tomorrow will come, that we have time to do things, with faith that the bottom will not drop out at any given time. This faith and expectation allows us to not curl up in a ball and hide from the world, even if, at some point, something we had faith in fails us. The faith still got us through and kept us going.

    So, why not have faith in the afterlife, a belief that you continue on after death, if it brings you peace, joy, or comfort?

    It seems unlikely, but it's been my experience that once you start practicing believing what you choose to believe, instead of what you happen to believe, it actually gets easier. It's sort of like forcing yourself to smile, and then feeling happier just because you chose to smile, instead of just happening to find something that makes you happy for a moment and then smiling about it.



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  4. I too have personally found it possible to throw away what you happen to believe and choose what you want to believe; but like our universe and everything in it, this is just the same concept experienced a different way.

    A mental tool I developed to aid in this process is a glimpse as to what Infinite is. Infinite is everything and nothing all at once, it cannot be defined and cannot be calculated because to do so would render it finite. In our current state of consciousness humans can only exist finitely, the only finite thought that even scratches the surface of Infinite is a point moving along a circle; no beginning and no end, just the journey.

    Apply this to life and death and you render the thought mute. If we truly exist in an Infinite Universe then everything in it (including us) must be Infinite as well. If we weren't Infinite then we and the Universe would be finite, ergo there could be no life after death as that concept involves an Infinite element. We cannot die because we're not alive, as both of these terms are finite and we are Infinite beings after all.

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  5. I completely agree with the infinite journey view of our existence, and I think that's a very useful tool to use and put things in perspective with. It provides a way to have more of a balanced and peaceful reaction to events in life when you believe that, as they say, "this too shall pass".

    Another thing to think about as far as adopting a belief in an afterlife is - what does it cost you? What is the downside? I don't see any downside to it, and I it can add a lot of benefit.

    BTW, I'd like to thank you guys for coming by and contributing! If there's anyone else you want to send this way, feel free.

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  6. The idea that in order to receive something you must give something in exchange, is a concept that's derived from what has become humans capitalistic secondary nature.

    We must consider the thought of an afterlife much the same as your inventors gradual progress towards completing his invention, but since we and everything are Infinite, progress doesn't end when the inventor finally finishes his invention; he pats himself on the back and says "Ok...now how can I make this better".

    The idea of Death should not scare anyone if not simply for it's statistics. Firstly, it's one of the most common occurrences that takes place, even more so than the sun rising everyday, yet we are not scared of the sun. Secondly the physical bodies that we live in and hold so dear will spend the vast majority of it's time on this planet lying in a ground decomposing.

    If one wants to calculate the cost of an afterlife I say look at it as a gift and replicate that generosity and compassion towards anything and everything you come in contact with. Death would not seem so tragic and final if we had a thousand persons we considered and treated as immediate family.

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