If I were to ask you, why do you do what you do, after some “philosophical” discussion, it will boil down you saying, you do what you do because you believe in this and this. You have crafted your life, your personality and your attitude based on a certain set of beliefs that you have acquired over time. Some beliefs have been instilled in you since your childhood, some beliefs have changed over time and some you have claimed anew as you age. The key word here is “claimed”. You constantly hear yourself and others say I believe in so and so, hence we have to do so and so.
The foundation of any society is also a set of beliefs. A society exists only if the individuals believe that we ARE in this together, that we ARE co-operating with each other, and that we ARE here for each other. These sentiments are why society hasn’t succumbed to chaos and anarchy. To prevent total anarchy, society has formed a set of behavioural guidelines and has created institutions that punish those who get caught when they don’t abide by these guidelines. Over time, these guidelines become LAW, and punishment is used to maintain ORDER. And then propaganda brainwashes you to believe that no one is above the law. You are taught this propaganda from your childhood, from your parents & environment, and from your school.
Once these beliefs take a root in individuals, other forms of beliefs start taking shape with these initial beliefs as the foundation. Religions, borders, governments, money, organizations, corporations, etc. etc. are other such forms of systemic beliefs. Even the idea of a family is a limiting belief. What is a limiting belief? A belief that closes you off intellectually and spiritually towards all else that doesn’t fit your belief. The systemic beliefs are limiting beliefs. There was a time when we the human species believed that the earth is flat (some still do), or that the earth was at the centre of the universe, or that lightning is created by an all powerful deity such as Zeus or Indra.
Over time, we just accept these beliefs as a part of life. You manufacture all sorts of justification to sustain and to uphold these beliefs. These justifications range from downright stupid to arrogantly stupid; stupid nonetheless. This is how beliefs become you. And everything that you experienced, gets filtered and judged based on your beliefs. You mark your experience with your own version of grading system, and arrive at a conclusion of “this is good” or “this is bad” or anything in between and beyond. This is how you become your beliefs.
On to the topic at hand. If the sun is shining outside, you don’t need to believe that the sun is shining outside. No matter how much you believe that the sun is not shining outside, the sun will continue to shine outside until it doesn’t. And the fact that it doesn’t shine later on, doesn’t give any credence that your beliefs are powerful. It’s nothing but wishful thinking. If something is true, it doesn’t require your belief to be true. The only reason you need a belief is to sustain a lie, sustain an idea, and because it is convenient.
The thing about lies and ideas is that, there are exponential quantities of them as there are people. If there were no people, there will be no beliefs. You can justify that it’s because of these so called beliefs that we as a species have thrived, and achieved such human-made wonders. You are correct, though only “half of the full story” correct. The same beliefs are why we are caged, and you know you are caged.
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Ben Franklin
Now lets talk about the part why you believe in whatever it is you believe. It is because it’s convenient. If you are going to be challenged on your beliefs, your arguments are construed as an opposing belief. If you are going to use Science to back up your beliefs, then you are using your flimsy understanding of Science to justify your stupid beliefs. You don’t know Science. If you are going to use Religion to back up your beliefs, then you don’t know Religion. The point is, you don’t know SHIT. And rather than accepting that you don’t know the full context of anything, you mask it with a stance of belief. Reality is that in our current state of minds we are not capable to know it all. Heck, we don’t even understand reality.
If a question gets answered, that answer leads to more questions. This cycle of questions and answers is never ending. And it can lead to depression. I have been there, and so have others.
If thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee. – Nietzshe
And it often becomes difficult to come back out of that depression with your sanity intact. In fact, you need to realize that what we call sanity in today’s society is sheer stupidity. That realization is the only way we can come back out of that abyss. And that abyss can fill your existence with anger, frustration and hate towards yourself and all around you. You might even loathe your own existence and long for the blissful ignorance of others. Oh I wish I was stupid, but you can’t, you simply can’t go back. The only way is forward, and I found my way through growing myself as person.
So, how do I grow myself? Keith Johnstone, an improviser and teacher, wrote in his book “Impro – Improvisation and the Theatre” the following.
At about the age of nine I decided never to believe any- thing because it was convenient. I began reversing every statement to see if the opposite was also true. This is so much a habit with me that I hardly notice I’m doing it any more. As soon as you put a ‘not’ into an assertion, a whole range of other possibilities opens out-especially in drama, where everything is supposition anyway.
Start by challenging your beliefs; each and every belief. Don’t stop at an answer that you like, go further. You will realize that you simply do not have the intellect to know everything. We are stupid to know everything. Rather, you will know that you don’t know enough. The only reason you will stop at an answer is convenience and arrogance; neither of which are prudent or sensible. You will find that beliefs are built upon other beliefs. And all beliefs are instilled in you by someone else. You can analyze how their beliefs got them to where they are, and how your beliefs got you where you are; accept the good, the bad and the ugly. Accepting whatever it is and however it is key to this whole journey, and for that you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Only when you accept it, you can find a way out of it.
I turned to Science to find answers, but even Science has it’s limit. So, I had to expand myself and my efforts in search for answers. I ended up in Acting and Spirituality. I found that where intellect has holes, spirituality can fill those holes. My answers become possibilities rather than absolutes. And this has freed me from crafting my cage, also known as my personality; it has enabled to constantly evolve me and hence never “stale” enough to be categorized in a specific personality type. Yes, you will automatically judge me for when and if you meet me, and that is a snapshot of what I am in that moment. You are the sum total of all that you have been so far, and you are just catching me at a particular junction of an ongoing journey.
You can follow your own similar journey, or find sources of intelligence that are not strictly intellectual. Your understanding of the universe and your role will bring on a new level of depth in your life. Your attitude will change from rigid to free flowing. Your cage will start to crumble, you will become more than just your intellect and body. You will attain a better sense of clarity. You can see how all is connected, not just know intellectually, but see it and live it. You can bring all your past experience and see how all that you have experienced versus that you have yet to experience as all leading up to someplace.
So, where does this all lead to? To you dying after truly living, rather than dying trying to live.