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Beliefs

 

I believe that the only purpose and meaning to life is the one that each of us creates for ourselves over the course of a full lifetime.

 
It is our individual responsibility to find our own purpose and meaning. We must pursue this quest relentlessly from the moment we are born until the moment we die.


We must never settle on fixed beliefs. It does not matter if they are of our own making or, much worse, based on somebody elseís beliefs.


There is no such thing as absolute truth.


There is no such thing as absolute right or wrong.


There is no such thing as a divine deity that rules over the universe, negating us having to take responsibility for ourselves.


All of these myths are simply limiting conceptions and stagnated beliefs held by individuals who have abandoned their duty to continually seek purpose and meaning.


Just because a belief may be held in common does not mean that it is true.


Just because a belief is empowering does not mean that it is true.


Just because a belief is useful does not mean that they is true.


Just because a belief is emotionally satisfying does not mean that it is true.


At some level all beliefs are powerful, and all beliefs are limiting.


We can learn from people whose beliefs raise our own limitations, but at some point we must break through our ethical apprenticeship and raise ourselves to a higher standard of personal accountability and self mastery.


One persistent limiting belief is that if you take away a divinely ordained system of ethics then everything degenerates into murky moral relativism. We must break through these limiting ideas and challenge them at every opportunity.


Everything we think, feel, value and believe is contingent on our perception of the reality in which we seem to exist. We must always recognise that we are all still trapped in Platoís dungeon. If our conceptions of morality, virtue and ethics are those of the chained man, then so be it. If they serve us in the confines of the cave then that is entirely appropriate. In fact they cannot be otherwise.


The idea of divinely inspired morality is simply another limited conception of the chained men in the cave.
Imagine, for example, that our perception of time was not linear, but we could experience every moment of our lives completely at will, complete from beginning to end. We would always know everything we had ever done and everything we would ever do, as clearly and completely as if we were always in the present moment.


What would happen to ambition? What would happen to greed? What would happen to guilt? These ideas would simply not exist, as they would not have any power to explain what we were thinking or experiencing. No doubt new and different ideas would arise that we could not conceive of in our current reality.


If that example is too challenging then let me offer something a little more prosaic. Imagine if the human race developed a genetic flaw so that the human memory span was reduced to 24 hours. Imagine that everything we did revolved around day to day survival with no sense of continuity, history or consequences. How would divine ethics hold up? Would it be wrong to kill to eat? Would it be wrong to steal to survive? Would it be wrong to worship the sun and fear the night?


Imagine that one tribe of unaffected humans with long memories remained. How would they apply their moral code to their mutated brethren? Would they treat them as animals, as a new species of primate, not human and thus exempt from their own code?


This is not an idle speculative exercise. This is simply an allegory of how existence really is, with every individual limited by their perceptions and chained to their pre-existing beliefs. We cannot change the way we perceive our reality, therefore we must continually release, revise and expand our beliefs, day by day, hour by hour, until we cease to exist.


At this point you may argue that I am advocating the worst kind of moral solipsism. Surely no society could survive long with everyone deciding for themselves what moral standards they will choose to follow. With every man for his ethical self you are imagining a universe of infinite conflict, no longer between nations, or races, or religious affiliations, or tribes, or even communities; but at an individual, person to person, man to man level of conflict. Well so what? What else is new?


This is another example of a limiting belief that we must overcome. As long as we believe that we must all share the same beliefs we are doomed to conflict. Even within ourselves we are conflicted when we believe that we should believe something that someone else believes (but we donít really believe it). How can we possibly imagine that we can ever be happy and fulfilled living up to somebody elseís values, no matter how much we seem to be in agreement. This is the worst kind of delusion. Ultimately consensus is about one individual gaining power and control over another individual through guilt and acquiescence, expanded to a global scale.


The answer to this dilemma is tolerance.


Tolerance is not about respecting somebody elseís opinion while clinging steadfastly to your own; that is called patronising. There is nothing more hypocritical than believing that everyone elseís beliefs are as sacrosanct as your own. If you hold fundamentally incompatible beliefs you still think they are wrong and you are right; itís just that you are too politically correct or weak spirited to uphold your position. That is called lying.

 
True tolerance is when we recognize that everybody, including ourselves, is wrong. There are no degrees of wrongness; we are all stumbling in the dark as much as each other. Our beliefs hold us until some better insight comes along.


We should tolerate any beliefs except for those that are intolerant.


If we learn to recognise that someoneís current beliefs are just an indication of where they are on the journey to wisdom it becomes easier to be practice tolerance. If someone believes in something that you have outgrown, then donít try and push them along, just respect where they are and hope that they will someday get to your level. If someone believes in something you never have, then they are either further advanced than you are or they are on a different path. Doní try and pull them back down, or make them change course. Eventually we all end up in the same place. Nobody gets out of here alive.


One final word about beliefs. We need to share them with other people. Not so we can convert them. Not because people need to accept them. And certainly not to justify ourselves or seek social vindication. We need to share our beliefs so that people can take from them whatever is useful, reject what they are not ready for, and help to lift themselves to a new level of understanding and wisdom.

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