Spirituality and Belief July 3, 2011Posted by ekarlpierson in 03) Spirituality and Belief.
WW: It’s my assertion that if an idea has genuine value regarding the inner person, genuine spiritual value, genuine value in understanding the way I operate, then it must be an idea that I can test by self-observation.
Let’s take an easy example here. There are plenty of folks out there that believe in astrology. They get up in the morning, open the newspaper, and go straight away to their “horror-scope” so that they can check out today’s effects that the stars will have on them. How would you like to know of all the unpleasant things that are going to happen to you and there is nothing you can do about it because it was predetermined by the stars? Someone you love will burn in a fire and suffer terribly for weeks before dying a painful and miserable death and you can do nothing to prevent it. If you could, then it wasn’t really the future was it?
Have you ever noticed that persons claiming to see the future see it only in vague bits and pieces? If the psychic said that a certain person was going to be killed in a car wreck in a certain brand of car, at a certain location, at a given time, then the person could avoid the event by simply never getting into that brand of car or never going to the suspect location. If a person can really see the future, then the future must be set, unalterable. Every single person that I have ever met or listened to that believes in seeing the future goes out of the way to avoid it! How can you avoid something that’s set in stone? If the future is not set in stone, then it can’t be the future! We can’t have it both ways; those ideas are incomplete, fragmented, conflicting, dishonest.
The trouble is that we see in fragments because our awareness function has been fragmented from the word “go.” That’s the reason we’ve been making a picture of man, or really a picture of ourselves, and have drawn the awareness function with three fragments. In reality it’s a lot worse than three fragments, but we have to start somewhere.
What is it that we normally mean when we talk about spirituality? If we really break that down, don’t we usually mean that we believe in spirits? I have found that most people that refer to their “spirituality,” regardless of its context, believe in spirits—that there are spirits or ghosts that visit the earth or haven’t left the earth yet, or that there are spirits out there in the cosmos that have some sort of influence on us. How about that we have a spirit or a ghost that that needs some assistance upon our death, so that it will float off to the correct place in the cosmos? How about a spirit that will drift away to some other place and then come back as another person?
This is a fragmented idea, much like the astrology idea. It needs a completed view in order to check it out. Do you want to question your own fragmented view with some degree of completeness? Do you seriously want to question this idea? I must ask because I would guess that half of the people in this room have spent a large portion of their energy, as well as their money, in devotion to their belief in spirits. It’s the unusual person that will allow holes to be punched in an idea that they have held close to their heart for so long.
PARTICIPANT: Go for it, go for it!
WW: It won’t do a bit of good to study what the experts say about the subject because we have hundreds, no, thousands of “experts” in the colleges and in the churches who say they have seen ghosts, detected ghosts or spirits, communicated with them, and have even had the spirits do good or bad things to them. We have well-respected members of the community who speak to God, and God talks back! Well-intentioned persons have spent a lifetime trying to verify this stuff! It would take several lifetimes to study a fraction of the “experts.”
Try going down to your neighborhood bookstore and pick up a book that deals with the subject of reincarnation. If you can really look objectively at the book, not look at it with the eyes of a hungry person, not look at it with the eyes of a believer, you’ll find that you learn nothing about reincarnation, but you may learn a great deal about the trolls of the author.
It’s not that we know the complete history or story of the idea, or that we’re going to investigate every aspect that could be looked at, but rather, we want to see with completeness the simple question, “Can I have a spirit that will float away?” Once we become believers, we can no longer ask objective questions regarding the belief, we can only speculate. This may sound like a bold statement, but we, as believers, cannot be intellectually honest, or for that matter, spiritually honest, respective of our beliefs. (I use the word “spiritual” here as meaning introspective.) Is that too harsh? Is that too disparaging to state that we are essentially dishonest? If I try to convince myself that the sky is pink with purple polka dots, and there is no information to support that, and all evidence points to the converse, am I not pragmatically and spiritually dishonest?
I’m not critical of belief just for the fun of it. For the direction that I want to take us, an individual that’s wrapped up in a prison of belief is beyond the hope of moving on. If we can’t give up belief, we’re then wasting our effort of looking at self. It’s a bit sad, in a way, to see that a person can be in a prison of his own making and not realize it, all because of a stack of beliefs that promise a sense of security. I didn’t say that beliefs provide a sense of security, they only promise a sense of security. That promise is an empty one. That’s what this is really about: insecurity. As we move on, we’ll look at where insecurity is born.
I have a daughter that adopted a two-year-old dog from a canine rescue shelter. The dog is quite timid and was raised in a cage. When the dog feels the slightest insecurity, which it did when I went to visit, or even when the furniture gets rearranged, he goes to his cage where he feels a sense of security. He is in his protected little world where he, sadly enough, can feel undisturbed. This reminds me of something Benjamin Franklin said. “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.” I don’t think we realize the degree to which we gravitate toward a desire for security. That’s one of the reasons we fall prey to all sorts of ideologies and the dogma that accompanies them. This leads to more confusion and conflict because the ideologies of the manmade world conflict with the real world, and we, strangely enough, can believe in conflicting ideologies. Each belief system has its untested dogma.
PARTICIPANT: Are you saying that all belief is a bad thing?
WW: I don’t think I have said that belief is bad. Someone correct me if I said that. One of the troubles with belief is that once a person accepts it, he will continue living according to that belief, often in the face of evidence or observation to the contrary. A belief prevents us from seeing clearly.
ED: But maybe some people need belief to get by in life. Maybe some people can’t handle the truth. Maybe some people get some relief with belief that they otherwise couldn’t find.
WW: Okay, Ed. If those people are out there, then they have no business being here listening to this talk. You wouldn’t be one of those people, would you, Ed?
ED: I’m just saying, there are people out there.
WW: There are people out there that can’t tie their own shoes, but we’re not dealing with those people. Back to the subject of belief: You may take notice of how difficult it is for us, and for some individuals more than others, to say the simple words, “I don’t know.” There really isn’t a darn thing wrong with not knowing something. As children, belief is necessary because children do not have the capacity or wherewithal to check out ideas for themselves.