What Do You Believe?

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

What do you believe? Something, certainly! We are in effect the sum of our beliefs. Look at it closely and you will see there is always a 'bottom-line' to beliefs. However, look further and you will see that much of the time, in the final analysis, there is little real evidence for many beliefs. There are always reasons, yes... but evidence? Provable facts? Not usually. People are largely convinced that their beliefs are true because of their feelings rather than by an actual analysis.

So when most people talk about such varied matters as religion, values, truth, morals, history, politics, public policy they are really expressing their beliefs about these subject. Likewise, and perhaps more importantly when most people talk about others in a generalization, such as, "those people over there", or "people like themselves" or "people like you" or "people who they like" or "people who they don't like"; It is exactly the same. That is, it is a conversation that exists in a network of conversations about what they believe is true. So you see that this is part of how human beings are. In this aspect of being human, I assert that we are all essentially the same. We all believe certain things, and we take our beliefs at first glance as if they are true, and don't always examine the actual facts to prove it.

What's more interesting to me than this, is the seemingly obvious fact about people, that our beliefs have an effect on on our inner states. You might say our very consciousness is a product of our strongly held beliefs in many or most cases. And so, it is our moods, emotions, reactions, and passions that shape our identity and these largely on the basis of our beliefs. It is this identity that we take to be the experience of our self. But even this experience is an assessment, and that is really just a thought. And we believe it, just like we believe that "seeing is believing." That is to say we trust our assessments.

Being present, at times, in our awareness at the precise moment when we see something, we might experience the action of our observing as being like what Martin Heidegger called a " clearing" or "opening" within our being in which we see reality as it appears. In that moment of seeing, we can realize that without our beliefs and the labels of language that we use, that we don't know very much really about actual reality. To human beings, the greatest mystery about the world is the explanation for how it is that both we and the world, together exist. The observer and the observed at the same moment of time, sharing that moment of time as quantum reality. We are a phenomenon as living beings who observe their own existence and cognize about it thus creating it for ourselves as a reality to believe in. Thus while we participate in the world, more or less aware of what is happening, and acting as both a cause and an effect in it, we do not completely understand our role as a participant, or even what is actually happening, and yet we re intent upon our explanations and beliefs about it, because that is all we have. It is the consequence of our cognition to observe, explain, and to form beliefs.

And so, the beliefs that we have are like the software that runs us. Some of these beliefs we have inherited from another time. Obviously, some are from the past, but we cannot say for certain that some of our beliefs might even be from our expectations of the the future we are living into. This might be a disturbing thought to some, because of their beliefs about time. But regardless, it our system of beliefs that operate in the background of our thinking. It does not actually matter if they are distinguished as such, or remain undistinguished and transparently operate in the background of our thought. They are evident whenever we see them, but also can work outside our awareness..

A question to consider is if it is possible to have these beliefs operating in us, and also to be free to experience of the moment without being conditioned by them? Said another way, is it possible to be free of the consequential effects of our already existing beliefs? It is obvious that we have no choice about having beliefs that give a form and flavor to our experience, but would the awareness of this fact offer any freedom toward having a real will or intention in life that not the result of a system of beliefs that makes use of our lives in culture of belief that we inhabit.

© Copyright 2006 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

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