Sunday, January 20, 2013


Forgive me, but I wish to return to a familiar theme of mine. Why? Because I think it is the most important thing I have to say. It is this---if you want to get better, if you want to be truly happy, if you want to know and understand life, give up all your beliefs. Yes, all of them.

There are many things wrong with beliefs and belief-systems. Here a just a few of them.

First, beliefs fetter and cage the mind. They prevent us from knowing and understanding reality as it unfolds from one moment to the next. Beliefs, by their very nature, take the form of second or third-hand prejudices, or biases, of various kinds. The Buddha referred to beliefs as being in the nature of thought coverings or veils (āvarnas). You see, each one of us is in direct and immediate contact with reality---both internal and external---unless we choose to put a barrier between ourselves and reality. When we believe something about some aspect of reality, a thought covering or veil is placed between us and reality, blocking off the latter. Using a different metaphor, beliefs are like distorting lenses which filter and distort reality as it tries to pass through the lens. If you want to see, know and understand things-as-they-really-are, discard your beliefs. You don’t need any of them.

Secondly---and this follows on directly from what I’ve just said---beliefs, being entirely a product of the past, are a substitute (and a very bad one at that) for reality. When you take on a belief system, you cease to be choicelessly aware of life. Beliefs are not real. Reality is. Beliefs are crystallized or hardened thoughts---a form of ‘psychosclerosis’ (a term I heard Norman Vincent Peale use in a talk many decades ago). You see, every belief is some other person or group’s collective thinking and conditioning, and when you believe you take onboard that other person or group’s thinking and conditioning---a pernicious form of mind control (whether internal or external or both). The result? An 'infected' mind. You stop thinking for yourself and experiencing life in all its directness and immediacy. Vernon Howard has written of the miserable person who, not knowing things 'from their own essence,' must endlessly switch their beliefs ‘from one authority to another.’ That's a terrible way to 'live'! Now, remember this---whether or not something is the case does not depend upon belief or disbelief. That is why the Buddha said, 'Do not believe, for if you believe, you will never know. If you really want to know, don't believe.' Beliefs are the most powerful, and the most dangerous, form of conditioning known to humanity.

Thirdly, beliefs, more than any other thing (eg race, skin colour, ethnicity, nationality), create deep divisions and separate people one from the other. Catholics are separated from Baptists. Muslims are separated from Jews and Buddhists. Communists are separated from believers in capitalism. With separation and division comes conflict, turmoil and strife. There is no end to it. I laugh when I hear some religious leader talking about ‘brotherhood.’ There can be no world brotherhood or sisterhood for so long as there are religious distinctions---for example, when people are divided up between the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved’, the ‘chosen’ and the rest, and so on.

Fourthly, beliefs prevent freedom of thought. As already mentioned, beliefs are a form of collective thinking, and all such thinking is the result and reaction of memory. In such a conditioned state of mind, there is no ability to think freely. Even the desire to think freely is lost. Any 'true' (ha!) believer is constantly exhorted by those in authority to believe more deeply and fully, to have more faith. The result? You build a bigger cage---or prison---for your brain and thus for yourself. Great stuff.

Fifthly, beliefs hold us back---indeed, they make and keep us sick. Examine your beliefs and belief-systems. Have they really made you happier? Do they really make it easier for you to see, know and understand things-as-they-really-are? Now, please be rigorously honest with yourself. You may have been a devout---or perhaps only a nominal---believer in some religion or political ideology all your life, but if it be the case that you are ordinarily anxious, depressed or the like, or have constant difficulties relating to other people, or think the world will be a better place if others believed the same things you do, then I respectfully submit that your belief-system has done absolutely no good for you at all. Krishnamurti put it this way many decades ago:

'So, your belief in God, or your disbelief in God, to me are both the same, because they have no reality. If you were really aware of truth, as you are aware of that flower, if you were really conscious of that truth as you are conscious of fresh air, then your whole life, your whole conduct, your whole behaviour, your very affections, your very thoughts, would be different.'

I tell you this---whether you want to hear it or not. You will never---I repeat, never---be able to experience any meaningful, lasting change in your life for so long as you remain wedded to your beliefs and belief-systems. If you want to recover from any illness, disability or condition, the first thing you must do to get better is to see, know and understand things-as-they-really-are. Do you believe in the sun? Of course not. You know it’s there, so there’s no need to believe in it. We tend only to believe in things we don’t know or understand as well as things the existence of which is either unproven or unprovable. Funny, that.

So, forget about belief-systems. Indeed, why not start today on a lifelong process of purgation of the mind, in which you choose not to believe, or disbelieve, in anything. You set yourself just one goal---to be choicelessly aware of all things as they unfold from one moment to the next. That way you will come to know and understand---and nothing is more important than that.

Beliefs are for ‘spiritual cripples’--that is, for those who can’t, or won’t, think for themselves, for those who choose not to know and understand. Choose to be different. Choose not to be deluded. Choose to have and enjoy an uninfected mind. Choose life.


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