Are YOU a Believer or a Knower?
You've been on the course, done the seminar, worked through the workshop and studied the workbook! You were inspired, you were moved, you felt genuinely changed by the experience. You returned home with a new enthusiasm, perhaps a deep and profound feeling something has shifted and that life is not going to be the same. Your thoughts emerge along the lines of, "This is going to transform my life...things are going to be so different...I will never look back now!"
Sure enough you find your self to be more aware, more at ease, less reactive, perhaps more consciously and choicefully responsive, slower, deeper, more patient, less irritable. But then, after a day, maybe two, or three, the light begins to fade, the old patterns, the old habits, begin to re-emerge and you start to return to your old ways. It's probably not long before you are surfing and seeking the next course, the latest seminar, the new workshop that everyone else is talking about. The hunt is back on for the latest process that's going to transform your life, ensure you discover the real you and 'unleash your unlimited and unbounded potential' (as they say)...for ever more!
So why do we find it so hard to change the way we think, how we feel and the way we act and interact...permanently? Why do we find it so hard to banish our stress and unhappiness, our old habits of anxiety and grumpiness...for ever? Why do so many of us join the merry go round of seminar, workshop, talk, only to realize it's not making the deep, lasting and significant difference that we crave?
The Mind is Set by Belief
The answer can probably be encapsulated in the word 'mindset'. Until our mindset changes, our thoughts and decisions, attitudes and actions, will not change significantly or lastingly. 'Mindset' essentially means the beliefs we have assimilated and to which we are now subconsciously attached. They shape our perceptions and condition our interpretations. They become the root cause of our consequent habits of thought and action. Hence the old saying, "I know I do not see the world the way it truly is, I see the world according to what I already believe". It's at the level of our subconscious beliefs that we find the origin of all our habits, all our stress, all our anxieties, all our grumpiness...all our moods. Our beliefs become fixed in a place that is outside our moment-to-moment awareness. And we don't notice how our mind is 'set' by those beliefs.
Until we consciously do something about our programmed belief system nothing much is going to change in our life. This is not a new insight. However, perhaps one of the greatest mistakes made on the search for change and transformation is 'believing' that changing our beliefs will do the trick! On this one belief are so many courses/seminars/workshops built. But changing our mindset is NOT about casting out the old and assimilating, adopting and affirming a new set of beliefs. It's obviously possible to do so, and many do spend much time, energy and money in such effort. It can bring some results, but usually only in the short term, and usually only at a certain level. However it's a level at which many are content...for a while!
For example, after a lifetime of learning to be a bit negative you can start to believe in, and practice the power of, positive thinking. And sure enough it may have some effect on both how you feel and how your relationships and circumstances unfold. After a lifetime of believing you are not that attractive you can start to believe in the 'law of attraction', sit down and profile exactly who and what you want, and there is a good chance both they and/or it will show up...eventually! After a lifetime of assimilating a pessimistic outlook from parents and peers you can start to believe that nothing bad ever happens in life. That will help you to change your perception and therefore your thoughts and feelings about how the world is unfolding locally and globally. But for many all that inner work feels more like an inner struggle. It's tiring. it's time consuming and ultimately it's unnecessary.
Why? Because the original beliefs are so entrenched in our subconscious. They sustain and nurture our habitual thoughts and behaviors. So there is always a 'dualistic mental struggle' between believing in the negative and believing in the positive. The newer and more positive beliefs can and often do win over the negative (especially after the seminar!) but it tends to be a temporary victory. The old habits that have formed out of these assimilated beliefs from long ago are deep. They constitute our comfort zone, even though it's uncomfortable!
Stop Trying to Change
So what's the solution? How DO we change? The answer is we don't! Stop trying. And give up seeking it! Only then is it possible to rediscover the truth. Truth is not belief! The truth about beliefs lies in the word 'belief' itself. Lie! When held up against the pure, unfettered light of consciousness in it's 'true state' all beliefs are lies! Beliefs are a product of dualistic thinking, which is the result of identifying with some thing/idea/memory created in the dualistic world, the physical world, the world external to our consciousness, which is the world of opposites. In the universe of consciousness, which means everyone's consciousness, there are no opposites!
Beliefs have opposites, hence the mental tension in the thinking, "Should I believe or not believe?...I should be positive and not negative!" But 'the truth' has no opposite. That's why the truth cannot be captured by words, only pointed at. Physical language is, by definition, dualistic. Everything spoken tends to be framed and described in opposites.
So what is truth? What is the truth that lies beyond right and wrong, beyond believing and disbelieving, way beyond faith and doubt, beyond positive and negative? What is this truth that is said to be unspeakable and indescribable? It is consciousness itself. It is you, it is me. But only when we are in our 'true state' of being. This true state of being is also 'pointed at' by the words 'true nature'. The natural physical world, in it's true state, is beautiful, balanced and harmonious. We value the unspoiled nature of that world. Similarly our true nature as human beings is beautiful, balanced and harmonious. It is not something that can be seen with physical eyes but we can know it with our awareness. And we feel it's presence in others when we sense their inner beauty and harmony.
Unfortunately just as the nature of our planet has been polluted by unnatural substances, so too our consciousness has been polluted by unnatural ideas, otherwise known as those pesky beliefs! It starts with with the belief that jumps into our consciousness when we look in the bathroom mirror every morning! It's the moment when we believe we are simply the form that we see reflected back to us.
Rediscovering the True You
Our true, abiding and eternal nature is unpolluted and unspoiled and it awaits our rediscovery. That has been the frequent message down through the ages from those who valued and walked the 'spiritual journey' as opposed to those who chose and talked the 'religious route'! On the the spiritual journey nothing is believed. The traveler seeks to 'realize' what is true for themselves. The religious route is one long filling station where pilgrims tend to 'fuel up' with a hundred thousand beliefs created by others. It's only when we realize our true state of being and rediscover our own true nature that 'truth' becomes easier to 'see'. Realizing that 'truth' cannot be 'captured' by words and concepts, 'truth' then ceases to be a noun (the truth) with abstract meaning and becomes more like an adjective (true being) and eventually a verb (being true)!
In our true state of being 'truth' is not something we have, it is what we are. In our 'true state' of consciousness, the true peace of our nature is 'known' (not believed) as silence and stillness. No one can ever take it away, we only lose awareness of it. In our true state of being, love is known to be the natural impulse of our heart (not Hollywood love). Not the heart of our body but the heart of our being. No one can ever take it away, we only lose our capacity to be it and extend it. And 'in truth', joy is known to be our natural way of life. No one can ever take it away, we temporarily lose the awareness of our 'inner condition' of freedom that is necessary for the feelings of joy to emerge. That freedom is lost when we assimilate and become attached to our beliefs! Where there is attachment there cannot be freedom!
The Shift from Belief to Truth
When we realize and live both in and from our 'true state' of being all the old thought patterns, attitudes and behaviors that are not 'aligned' to our true state, lose their grip on our consciousness. It's as if they 'fall away' from our personality naturally, without us doing anything to 'make' them disappear. The key word is 'realize'. Just believing we are peaceful by nature, just believing we are loving by nature, just believing we are joyful by nature, will not change the way we be, think and do...very much! If it does it's liable to be somewhat superficial and forced. The old beliefs and their progeny, those habitual thoughts and behaviors, are still alive. They will not be deposed by just another set of beliefs after all this time.
It's only when we fully 'realize' our true state, which is to realize and know your true nature, that all those beliefs, positive or negative, right or wrong, good or bad, become toast! Belief itself becomes redundant. When you are 'in' your true state of conscious awareness then the idea (belief) that you need to 'believe in' your self, believe in the project, believe in the product, just sounds a bit silly!
Sometimes these realizations are called spiritual. They 'happen' within our consciousness which is within our spirit or soul. Spirit/soul/consciousness/I are simply words that describe the authentic self. But they do not describe the form that we occupy!
They do not describe the self that you 'believe' is you in the bathroom mirror! The 'self' is that which animates the form that you occupy! The primary method to 'induce' such 'self realizations' is generally referred to as meditation. Although they can happen spontaneously following regular reflection and/or deep contemplation. Meditation facilitates a deeper level of awareness where the tension of opposites is transcended within consciousness, within our self, and the awareness of ones self as 'pure awareness' is restored! Then, all the other identities that we have learned to create for our self, and the 'belief systems' that arise from them, dissolve into the light of our own true being.
This internal movement out of belief and back to truth is not exactly an item for the board meeting, or the breakfast table scramble prior to whizzing off to work, or even for the average cappuccino conversation. But it certainly seems to be a level of self awareness that more and more people are realizing they are able to ...realize! As they do they become aware there is no need for a new or a 'replacement set' of beliefs. Learning and assimilation come to an end. Unlearning and liberating become 'new ways' to go beyond belief and rediscover what is eternally true. For what is truth but that which is eternal, that which never changes!
Question: What are the three main beliefs that you hold which, when challenged, you sense your self 'reacting'?
Reflection: Why do you think we become so attached to our beliefs?
Action: Initiate three discussions this week, with three people that you know well, where before you would have reacted to the their beliefs but now you are going to practice letting go of your belief and not react? See how it feels NOT to want to defend or prove your beliefs.
© Mike George 2010
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