This I Believe

hans - 98070, Washington
Entered on December 30, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that belief is a double edge sword. Beliefs can cover perceptions. Beliefs can crowd out the truth we can see with our own eyes. It is better to believe less, and develop the senses to look with unbiased eyes on everything around us, and particularly on those things where controversy rages. The plain ability to simply witness all that is around me is a far a more powerful and useful tool in my life than conclusions, judgments and beliefs that I may develop in the wake of my perception.

My politics, my spirituality, even work and play can all be hamstrung by belief. Looking around at this world the deepest trouble spots seem to be mired in old systems of belief that believers cling to like life preservers, but drag them to the bottom like lead weights. Even religion need not be dependent on faith, which I would define as the ability to keep to ones beliefs, and to modify them just enough to be able to ignore inconvenient truths, or observable facts.

Yet, I am a deeply religious man. This part of my life is not based on following some system of thought protected by ancient injunctions or threats of hell fire. It is based on a very simple principal. Yet this idea, like so many simple things, can be quite difficult to communicate. There have existed those whose religious teachings did not promulgate so much a system of belief as a way of life that helped develop the vision to see beyond the blindness caused by our beliefs. In this way one practices allowing the mind and all its permutations to flow like water without at first trying to modify that flow.

You could call this meditation, but then a load of beliefs about what meditation is would crowd out the simplicity and beauty of simplicity itself. Its not about believing something that observation seems to disprove, but practicing a method that develops the capacity of direct observation. No faith required. In fact, the idea is only to believe what one can prove to ones self to be true beyond doubt. Everything else is wait and see. How, one might ask, will I then be reassured and comforted about life after death?

That comfort may not be found here.

An astronomer once said “We are the matter in the universe being aware of itself.” As I stand here on our planet looking at the night sky, during the day in a great city or desert, or on the deck of a ship, I am witness to the greatest miracle, the miracle of the existence of a universe. I have maybe 85 years to explore this unbelievable gift with my consciousness. For me to make myself fully appreciative of this simply awesome fact is sufficient. What if at the end of that time my lights were to go out completely? Other little lights like my own, billions of them, will come and go after me as they came and went before me. Is this such a poor thing? Why must we wish that it would go on forever?

There is a great deal of pain and suffering in life. In fact, all that live know grief. In many cases it is overpowering. Maybe this is the price we pay for our lives. We must work at it. No free lunch.