What are Beliefs?

Beliefs are extremely precious to us humans. We treasure them, put them on a pedestal, in the window for all to see, proudly; Yet at times we hoard them, cover them up, defend them aggressively, or hide them from sight, perhaps obscuring even our own vision. There is much talk about beliefs and indeed, a large portion of what is presented as fact is, actually, our approximation of the “Absolute Truth”. But little time is spent discussing what beliefs are in the first place. I want to discuss three main aspects of beliefs, using metaphors to discuss their function and essence. These are: Beliefs as Waymarkers, Beliefs as Hopefulness, and Beliefs as Boundaries.


Beliefs as Waymarkers

Beliefs are like signposts, or Waymarkers. One might picture a map in the mall, or at a nature trail, depicting the location of routes or stores. The map is not “true” in the sense that there is not a perfect correspondence between what is shown on the map and what you will find when you travel to your destination. However, it can be very helpful and speed your arrival on your journey. There are numerous minor discrepancies between the Waymarker and Reality. For instance: all the beautiful scenery that is enjoyed on a nature trail, or perhaps a tree has fallen and one must deviate from the path depicted. At the mall, the Waymarker does not show the people one might meet along the way to the store, or how many steps one must take to get there. Beliefs are very similar, they are Waymarkers that encourage us to travel to a desired destination, and they protect and guide us as we journey along.

Beliefs as Hopefulness

Beliefs are a beautiful expression of our innate Hopefulness in the face of our essentially total ignorance regarding the big questions of Life. Not knowing or comprehending from whence they came, humans have posited many lovely and elaborate, or simple and dismal, theories about the purpose of their existence. This Hopefulness they cherished because it gave them the motivation to live their lives fully. So the more people thought & lived, the more they hoped for the lofty and unimaginable things which dwelled in the innermost chamber of their being. They yearned for such things to be true, despite the fact that they perhaps could not prove these fancies. Thereby these precious longings became entrenched in their psyche, these Beliefs that were Hopefulness manifested.

Beliefs as Boundaries

Beliefs are expressions of our limitations and Boundaries. They mark a circumference around ourselves that show how far we are willing to go and what we are willing to consider. If something seems to violate these bounds in our experience, we can either expand our belief system and grow, or we can defend our beliefs and remain as we are, diminishing whatever experience ran counter to our beliefs. However, it is not really possible to remain the same, as everything is constantly growing and changing. So, we actually shrink in our understanding and become rigid when we refuse to consider alternative points of view and instead hide behind our insufficient comprehension. Of course it is not necessary to agree with everyone, but to consider our way of living correct and others incorrect tends to quickly alienate us from our fellow human beings with different perspectives. Therefore, Beliefs are Boundaries that define what we are capable of understanding and who we are capable of connecting with.

I hope people will begin to discuss beliefs in a balanced manner, realizing that they never represent “Absolute Truth” although they may lead one towards that direction. In the final consideration, all beliefs evaporate as peculiarities of the human mind like clouds before the radiant and perfect sun, leaving only the Infinity of Things As They Really Are for one to behold in wonder. Let us be broad-minded and tolerant of all types of beliefs and wish everyone well in their journey here on Earth, regardless of what they currently believe.

 

This is a brief introduction to the subject of beliefs which may be elaborated on in the future. Please post a comment if you would like to add to the discussion on belief systems. All viewpoints welcome, I would love to hear from you! The only rule is to be respectful and nonviolent in our discussion. We are here to learn and grow, please contribute any insights you have on the topic of Beliefs.

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