THIS I BELIEVE
I am not a philosopher, or at least not an adherent of any named philosophy, nor I am religious, or at least not as it conforms to any established religion. I am, however, spiritual, and I find it difficult to imagine a sentient, adult human being who is not. If pressed to give name to my spiritual identity, “non-sectarian metaphysician” would be somewhere in the ballpark.
I also have no organized belief “system”. I simply collect willy-nilly interesting but otherwise unrelated ideological snippets just as I find them. Selecting from among them requires no real effort on my part; I just leave my mind open to them and keep the ones which resonate (or as one might whimsically suggest, as the spirit moves me).
Not only do I collect them irrespective of kind, I also have no purpose. I have no spiritual or intellectual end goal which my random collection of ideas facilitates. I make no attempt to organize, institutionalize, or justify them; they simply are what they are. Each survives (or not) on its individual merit. I have not even wrapped a label around them. I have, however, metaphorically wrapped myself in a patchwork quilt of them, my own custom-designed, user-friendly security blanket.
Some of my beliefs reinforce my self-concept, and some do not. Some of them are profound and others just convenient. Some of them contradict existing beliefs, and some contradict even themselves. Each of them, however, at least at first encounter, appealed to me and was consequently added to my collection.
As entertaining but otherwise pointless as this activity may appear, there is in fact a profound and purposeful aspect to it. I find in my motley collection a certain epistemological compatibility, a suggestion that these oft incompatible ideas are in fact just so many pieces of an infinitely larger whole which taken in its entirety makes (literally) perfect sense. I understand that I am in much the same predicament as the three fabled blind men who defined an elephant having touched only the trunk or the leg or the tail, their limited perspectives defining their comprehension. Circuitous as it sounds, only the entirety of all ideas can comprehend their own entirety, or more to my point, its entirety. I can neither perceive nor even conceive beyond my circumscribed boundaries. I can never, as only a part, comprehend the whole.
My limited comprehension of my limited reality doesn’t overly bother me, however, and interestingly enough it doesn’t bother me expressly owing to one of those self-same beliefs I have collected. I believe that I, along with everyone else, am but a temporal conception in a dynamic infinity of conceptions… just an idea in the mind of God. Miniscule and temporal as I may be, however, I am ultimately an inseparable part of an eternal infinity, I am a part without which the whole by definition is incomplete, and by that fact itself, ipso facto, I belong, I matter, and I can live with it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.