Everyone has them—beliefs too “sacred” to question. It’s ironic, but they might be blocking our growth. See what I mean in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
Dear Seeker of Truth,
You might think you have a small house, but it’s full of sacred cows. Let me explain.
When I studied economics, I learned to think like an economist. They have their own way of looking at the world—their own system of thought. When I studied mathematics, I learned to think like a mathematician. They have their own system of thought. When I studied music, I learned to think like a musician. When I studied business, I learned to think like a businessman. When I studied Catholicism, I learned to think like a Catholic.
Each system of thought, each world view, each way of perceiving the world, has its own characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and distortions. All of us use our marvelous minds—our God-given ability to think and reason—to develop a system of ideas that are fascinating, mostly consistent, and help us to understand some aspect of reality and the world around us. This is our world view.
Yet the mind is not nearly as helpful as we think it is. And we are not nearly as clear-thinking as we think we are. Everyone thinks they’re logical but almost no one has studied logic. It’s a little ironic. Even the brightest among us has slips of logic, errors of thinking, and occasionally gets blind-sided by the Truth. Even the most brilliant system of thought is shot through with fallacies.
For example, when I studied economics, I read “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money” by John Maynard Keynes. It’s the most famous economics book of the 20th century by its most famous economist. All of modern economic theory and practice is based on it. Every respectable economist has a copy on his bookshelf. But, ironically, not many have actually read it.
When I read it, I was disgusted to find the work littered with logical fallacies, especially the straw man fallacy. How could the brightest economists in the world all think this is a good book? How could all of modern economic theory be based on such shaky ground?
I’ve found that every system of thought, every way of looking at the world, is incomplete, narrow, logically inconsistent, limiting—in some sense, not Truth. In this context, I recently heard another spiritual teacher say something that resonated with me.
“If you seek Truth, you must have no sacred cows to protect.”
Jacqueline Maria Longstaff
This touches on the fact that we see the world and reality only through the lens of our own world view, to which we desperately cling. Do you cling to the belief the Donald Trump is the head of an evil conspiracy? Or that Joe Biden is the head of an evil conspiracy? Do you cling to the belief the Satan is the Prince of Darkness and rules over the Kingdom of Hell, (to which certain people you know are certainly going)? Do you believe that you were born with original sin? Do you believe in everything that your particular denomination, religion, cult, guru, or spiritual guide teaches? What if the Truth were that none of this is true? What if the Truth destroyed some of your cherished beliefs—some of your “sacred cows”?
Our understanding of how the human mind works, says that you will dismiss the Truth as lies and fantasy if it doesn’t conform with your existing lies and fantasies—your current world view. That is part of the human condition.
This idea was laid out decades ago by Thomas Kuhn in his classic book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. Scientific evidence that doesn’t fit the current paradigm, or system of thought, is ignored and denied until the weight of evidence becomes so overwhelming that it forces a re-examination of the current theory, or world view. Then almost everything is turned upside down—like our understanding of the universe was turned upside down by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Nothing in physics was the same after that. It turns out that all of us do this. It’s simply how the human mind works.
We won’t look at our own beliefs until our pain gets too great to bear, either physical and emotional pain, or just cognitive dissonance. That means we tend to stay stuck at a certain level of spiritual growth until our pain forces us to re-examine our beliefs and change those beliefs that just aren’t working.
Our beliefs about the world determine how we see the world and how we act in the world and, therefore, how the world reacts to us. Our actions will bring us pain and suffering until we align our actions with an accurate understanding of Truth, with a capital “T”. So, we tend to move from one spiritual plateau to another, with a lot of kicking, screaming, pain, and struggle in between.
If you honestly seek Truth, begin by holding your existing beliefs lightly. If everything you currently believe constituted the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, there would be nothing left for you to seek. You would already be enlightened, awakened, in Nirvana, in the Kingdom of Heaven. If you don’t already have the complete sense of being there, then something is amiss in your world view, your beliefs.
Bear in mind that your beliefs are not your beliefs anyway. You didn’t come up with them. You learned them from somebody else. Some other fallible human like you. Recognize that some of your most fundamental beliefs might be wrong. You cannot make progress on the spiritual path without being willing to examine your beliefs carefully, objectively, ruthlessly.
If you are willing to consider them, here are a few “beliefs” you might consider adopting, but you don’t have to. I can’t guarantee they are ultimate “Truth”, but I think they’re worth considering.
· The universe is unfolding as it should, so whatever is happening should be happening.
· You are the Light of the World.
· You are an eternal being of light and love.
· God is with you.
· God is constantly communicating with you, guiding you.
· What you think, say, and do, creates your experience of life.
· There is nothing to fear.
· Things are never as they seem.
· God is Love. Everything is God—so, as the Beatles sang—Love is all there is.
If you deeply ponder any of these ideas and their implications, and hold your current beliefs lightly, you just might be surprised by your next spiritual plateau.
God Bless You!
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