• Leo Hart

What's Up with Beliefs?

Try to define belief in your mind quickly.

This question wasn't so easy for me at first. I went to write my definition and I kept using the very word I was trying to define. Yeah, I could of just googled the definition but it was important to me to find what I had been defining belief as in my own mind.

I kept using the very word I was trying to define.

I ended up writing a lengthy 3 paragraph definition that read more like a story. But it did make sense to me and I ended up settling on that when I turned in my assignment. I later googled the definition of belief and one of the first results was so simple that I immediately became a little embarrassed at my overblown essay on the word.

"Something taken to be true."

There it was. Five words that also felt pretty right. I've been told that I can be long-winded but this took that to a new level.

I think I had described beliefs as guideposts that we'd staked out in our minds in order to find our way through the world or some BS like that. Which also felt right. Maybe not nearly as direct, but right nonetheless.

But after consuming the definition in it's utter brevity, I thought about what those five words meant to me.

SOMETHING: Something could be anything. I honestly did not apply the thought of belief to anything and everything. I thought belief had to do with politics, religion and parenting but I wasn't really applying belief to all things under the sun. Even though I had been doing it all along, just like everyone else. That meant I had beliefs about everything and I just didn't realize it. We often call them opinions but make no mistake, they are beliefs.

TAKEN: This word seemed harmless at first but as I looked at it more closely I realized that the very definition of belief, at least in this form, proved that I wasn't born with beliefs. I had acquired them. I took them on. So if I had acquired them, that meant they definitely could be changed. They weren't like my skin color or height, etched into my genetic code. They were things I'd grabbed along the way. And now that I knew I had picked them up, I could also put them down if it served me to do so.

TO BE: It's very essence is of.

TRUE: I probably don't have to explain true, right? But I do think it would help to elaborate a little. True is obviously not false, but it's also not fact. This is kind of a hard one actually. Truth doesn't really exist if we dig into it. But on the other hand, truth in relation to me does exist just as truth in relation to every other person in the world also exists. What's challenging is the very relationship each of us have to something.

One person may look at a crystal and see a vibration-emanating structure of nature while another person just sees a fancy rock. Those are actually both truths. It's just the relationship that each person has with the crystal that's different.

One person may look at a crystal and see a vibration-emanating structure of nature while another person just sees a fancy rock.

And this is where the story got complicated for me. You see, this is where "common sense" kind of got blown out of the water. Common sense is the idea that there are things we should all just know and accept as true even though there's no published list of the things covered in such a doctrine. But whose truth established these things as "common". And what if I believe something considered as common sense for a different reason than another person believes it as common sense? Just because the result of us both believing it is the same, if we have different reasons for believing it, doesn't that negate the whole "common" aspect?

Ok, I'm diving deep and might have lost some readers. So here's the payoff.

There is only why I believe something and why it's true for me.

I don't believe there is any such thing as common sense and there is also no such thing as truth. There is only why I believe something and why it's true for me.

It all reminds me of Alan Watts talking about the nature of hardness or softness and how those ideas are how they are in relation to a person. We think of a large tree as hard but would a giant boulder falling from a mountain ledge experience the tree as hard or soft? It's our human experience that is creating truth. But its truth for us. And to take a step further, we are all doing the same thing individually inside of our personal experience that is unique to each of us.

What does this all mean? I personally believe it means we are each constantly creating. We are creating our beliefs that are forming how we see the world. New beliefs are then spawned or adopted in direct relation to the previous beliefs that we took on. I don't think anyone would dispute that and many others before me have put this idea forward.

If we agree that we are doing this creation and that this creation is being directly guided by the beliefs we already have, then that means there's a structure that we can look back on.

We can then investigate the track of beliefs that brought us to any current thought and we can learn how we put it all together. When we see the track in it's entirety, we can also see if it still keeps it's strength or it all falls apart.

And this is what I want to do here at Belief Unboxed. I want to provide a space where people can do that investigation and see that structure. Because it's been the biggest tool in my life, and I want to be a person who gives others opportunities to do something similar.

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