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Belief, Hope, Problems and Limitations December 3, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 09) Belief, Hope, Problems and Limitations.

PARTICPANT: I’ve always liked the idea of believing that there is something after this life …that this isn’t all there is …that our soul or something will go on to another place where we won’t have all the problems and limitations that we all have here. I think believing gives people hope, even if that belief is not based on fact. Wouldn’t it be better to have hope than hopelessness, even if it doesn’t go along with the ideas that you’ve talked about?

WW: You’ve brought up several interesting points. These are very interesting points, but in order for me to respond with a complete answer, we need to examine each point with completeness. I hope you won’t have the impression that I’m picking on you by examining the question critically.

PARTICIPANT: Not at all. Well …I’ll try not to cry.
(Laughter from participants.)

WW: If it makes you feel less picked on, even the very elite ask questions in this same fragmented manner. We tend to make some fragmented point or statement and, without realizing it, we drop the ball and move on to the next fragmented point and then the next and the next.

Let’s look at the idea of believing in something. Does belief change reality, whatever your view of reality may be? Can you think something into existence? I have read literature that states you can do that, but it must be an extremely rare occurrence because I’ve never seen it happen! I read a piece that stated that everything we bring into existence started with a thought, therefore thought is extremely important and we must be careful to cultivate right thought. That one is a real lulu! If we want to get ourselves into some real serious anxiety, just try living up to that one for a while! We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves on that so we may come back and address that idea a little way down the road.

A friend of mine was trying to convert someone into changing over to his brand of religion. In so doing he asked the other person the question, “Wouldn’t you rather believe that when you go to heaven…” and then he went on to give his view of what heaven was like. Do you see something askew here? …Let’s go for another one. As a boy I was amazed that people would stand up in church and tell us how firm their faith was or how strong their belief was. I have found it to be a very strange phenomenon that people have the idea that belief can somehow make something be true. Furthermore they have the idea that if they believe something very strongly that it will make it even more true! This isn’t some isolated incident; I’ve heard it a thousand times!

Here’s another one. A friend was considering the possibility of putting on a barbeque in his back yard and invited some friends to attend. A lady friend heard about it and asked if he was still planning to put on a barbeque. My friend said that he was still planning to do so if there wasn’t a prediction for rain. The lady-friend replied, “Oh, don’t say that, think positive.” Are we to believe that positive thinking can change the weather? For God’s sake, the woman was 40 years old! I wonder just how often she was able to perform this feat of magic. How old do we have to be before we stop to reevaluate some very basic ideas?

Now don’t start crying, because I’m not picking on you, okay?

PARTICIPANT: I understand. I won’t cry.

WW: Okay. You see, this is one of those many things we have backwards. If I didn’t value your question, I could give you some cheap, flippant answer that would make everyone feel “gooood” …a fragmented answer to a fragmented question. I’m all for contributing to a pleasant atmosphere, but not at the expense of our aim here today. Since I value your question, and I assume that you did ask it with sincerity, I want to give you a serious answer that may be of benefit to you as well as the other participants that are in this room.

Next, what part of us would go on to that better place of which you spoke? What part of us would that be? We’ve addressed the issue of memory. Do we have a duplicate memory stored on DVD somewhere in the cosmos? What would we do without a physical body? Did you ever see a guitar string start playing music all by itself? Did you ever hear music coming out of nowhere without the instrument or some device?

I don’t see these as difficult questions to ask. It looks to me that these questions are directly in front of us but for some reason we don’t find the wherewithal to ask. What do you think it is? Laziness? Lack of interest? I’m certain that we don’t need a master’s degree to field legitimate questions. Could it be that we just want to put our heads in the sand when it comes to questioning our own beliefs? Could it be that we are stuck in the past by nothing more than habit? Could it be that when we have a sizable amount of energy in something, we don’t want to admit that we could have gone down the wrong path?

I have a little story about investing energy into an unworkable idea. I had a couple of fellows come to see me about a technical device they were engineering. They must have spent hundreds of hours on the project. It had to do with the field in which I earned a living. One of the guys was the moneyman, whom I had met on some previous occasions, and the other fellow worked as an engineer. They pulled out the blueprints and went over the general idea, as well as a few of the details. They wanted to know if I could make any suggestions or improvements on the design. I found a problem in the basic concept that essentially made the device impractical, if not unusable. After I went over the design flaw a couple of times with the engineer, he tried to make a couple of “yeah but” arguments that didn’t pan out for him. He looked as if he was totally befuddled with the whole thing. Rather than accept the fact that the basic idea was flawed, he simply folded up his prints and walked out without making a comment. To have someone point out a serious flaw in his project must have been very hard to take. To this day, I don’t know if they tried to rework the plans or if they started over from scratch or if they just gave up. In any case, it doesn’t matter because the point is: it’s very difficult for us to give up on something into which we have put a considerable amount of energy, even when we find out that our idea was flawed from the start.

Another thing to consider is that they must have come to me out of at least some degree of respect for my pragmatic, technical view. Would it have been better of me to tell them what a nice job they did and send them off feeling gooood about themselves? It would have cost the investor a small fortune in development costs to end up with something that was unusable. Needless to say, they didn’t offer any thanks for destroying their bubble.

If I have any say in the matter, I prefer not to be like the engineer and the investor. I don’t want to waste my energy on unusable ideas, but if I do find that to be the case, I want to be able to accept it. I would also like to be able to move away from it.

I have a little parallel to draw on that matter. Have you ever discovered that you had been mispronouncing a word, possibly for years or decades? If so, have you tried to change the way that you pronounce the word? I have found it to be quite difficult. The word becomes so deeply fixed that it becomes nearly ineradicable. The difficulty is compounded because few people recognize their own error, even though they hear others saying the word correctly and they see it in print. It’s further compounded when a person has the mispronunciation pointed out to them but they see no value in a programming change.

What else was there? Oh, yeah. There was a point about problems. This brings up a quite long discussion, so let’s talk about hope before I forget where we’re at, and then we’ll come back to our so-called “problems.”

We have already been over this question of hope, but we used a different set of words to describe it. Does anyone remember talking about hope? …Okay, hope. What is hope? In what condition would we see ourselves to require hope? Wouldn’t we have to see ourselves in a negative situation? If we saw ourselves in a state of grace, we would have no use for hope, would we? What is hopelessness? We’re hopeless when we can’t see a way out. We also hope when we can’t see a way out. Hope and hopelessness both come from the sad situation of trying to change an event into something that would see as better. In so doing, we bring ourselves down into the dungeon of disappointment and despair, the self and the trolls becoming expanded and the awareness function becoming diminished. It means more inner conflict and struggle—our resistance to “what is.” If you want to keep people down, keep offering them hope.

To really look seriously at our fragmented ideas and questions takes a quite a long route, doesn’t it? Let’s take a coffee break and then we can come back and talk about the last part of this question: problems.



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