The vast majority of people today have not developed beyond a fairly basic level of psychology and personality. Virtually everything they know and think has been acquired through external influences. At best, the most creative among them have synthesized some of these influences to express them in a different way, but the result is just a new recipe with the same basic ingredients. Notwithstanding the diversity seemingly apparent between such people, however creative and clever they appear to be, there is nothing in them which is authentically their own. The whole of their psychological makeup has been absorbed from the collective mind of their surroundings, which includes their national, societal, racial, ethnic, and family influences. Such a basic personality is what we refer to as a ‘collective me’. It has extremely limited, if any, free will.
As a collective me, one lives in a prison, the prison of the mind. If you examine your beliefs about this world and about yourself, you will see that they are no more than highly questionable assumptions or presumptive contentions; you live in a reality that is defined by assumptions. You might not believe in Jesus, Buddha, another faith, an ever-expanding universe, or a vegan diet, but this does not mean that you are not a dogmatic person; you simply believe in different dogmas. And, even if you consider yourself an agnostic, someone who does not affirm any beliefs, this still boils down to being just another belief. Agnosticism is merely another kind of dogmatism acquired from others, just as other people have similarly picked up their religious dogmas. Influences from others have given each of us the particular set of assumptions our individual minds and psychologies have identified with.
The level to which such unsubstantiated dogmas dominate the lives of the collective me is not only farcical, it beggars belief. And it is astonishing and incomprehensible that the vast majority of people agree to spend their whole lives in such prisons of belief. It is not that they have come to a well-reasoned decision to accept the false security of dogmatism. Rather, they are too senseless to realize the stupidity of what they are doing.
The Importance of Questioning One’s Own Beliefs
The contradictions and inherent insanity of the belief structures of religion, politics, business and personal ambition – to mention but a few of the major influences on collective mentality – would be too endless to discuss. As such, we will use the example of collective spirituality to explore the phenomena of blind belief. The ignorance underlying so-called spirituality is nothing less than deceit because it makes the pretense of knowing the truth. What truth could it possibly know? The ‘spiritual’ truth it proclaims is all based on assumptions, hearsay, and interpretations by the collective mind. An assumption asserting itself as truth is nothing but a lie.
Before we go any further, you should take a step back and look at your belief structure. Are you sufficiently courageous and imaginative to examine it? What are you believing as real? As examples, do you believe that Jesus died for your sins or that Jews are the chosen race? Do you believe that Buddha found the ultimate truth about reality and that there is no self? Are you the kind of fool who believes that you will reach enlightenment through being initiated with kundalini energy? Have you been taken in by a belief in non-duality? Are one of these your preferred mental prison: the Christian, Buddhist or Advaita structure of beliefs?
Before you can discover truth, you need to realize what kind of fool you are or, in other words, which dogmatic beliefs are deluding you. There is nothing wrong with being a fool, so long as you are able to realize you have been one and can then free yourself from the particular prison you have been in. Do you believe in there being a life after death for who we are as a personality? Do you believe in an external god? Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe in a divine mother taking care of this universe? Whatever you believe will tell you what kind of fool you are. Would you not agree that it is about time to wake up and stop being a fool?
The very prerequisite of intelligence is the ability to doubt one’s beliefs. If you do not doubt your beliefs, you remain a fool. You may be a Christian fool, a Buddhist fool, an Advaita fool or an agnostic fool. It does not make any difference; you are still a fool believing in mind-constructed nonsense. If you are not able to take a step back from your belief structure to question it, you are worse than a fool, you are a traitor to truth. And yes, it is a shocking realization that our whole planet is populated with traitors to truth – they ‘believe’ in all kinds of nonsensical and contradictory assumptions. Despite having so many unsubstantiated convictions, not only do these people not know who they are, they do not even make the slightest effort to seek the foundation and source of all truth – self-knowledge. Many so-called spiritual traditions claim to be based on the search for self-knowledge, but they are using the term ‘self-knowledge’ deceitfully to justify and sustain the prison of their belief. They are the traitors betraying the soul, the worst traitors of the human kind.
Defining the Line between Truth and Dogmatism
The distance separating reality from a lie is often a tenuous and ill-defined area. For instance, we could compare Buddhism with Christianity, and say that while they can nowadays both be seen as dogmatic religious belief systems, Buddhism did, originally at least, directly contribute to the exploration of truth and development of human intelligence. Comparing Christianity to Buddhism is like comparing the intelligence of a five-year old to that of an adolescent. Putting aside the fact that, from the heart’s perspective, Christianity and Sufism could be said to offer relatively more than Buddhism, still, Buddhism is simply more insightful on many levels. In its early period, it rebelled against the established Hindu dogmatism and made room for new discoveries. However, it then immediately became dissociated from the living truth of pure subjectivity and sacrificed its soul on the altar of new type of dogmatism. In fact, Buddhism’s ideology now shares the common fate of most other barbaric religions – human sacrifice. What is the denial of self, after all, if not human sacrifice? Buddhism is a spiritual establishment that prevents the soul from ever being conceived, or in the case of those who have already connected to their soul’s embryo, facilitates its abortion.
Living in the Freedom of Non-Conceptualization
We need to remember that the opposite of belief is not disbelief, because disbelief is also based on false assumptions. To disbelieve is just a choice to disagree with, or not accept, one or more beliefs. The real opposite of belief is non-conceptualization, the absence of any belief whatsoever, an open space of intelligence that allows truth to enter our existence. Non-conceptuality is the courage to live in emptiness, free of dogmatism. It is not the denial of any knowledge of ourselves, or of the world we are living in, but it rather represents non-reliance on conceptual constructs to define our position in the unknown.
There is, of course, a practical side to ‘beliefs’, such as believing in the existence of the world, or that other people are not figments of our imagination, or that after a night of sleep we will wake up to live another tomorrow. To overly question the reality of these things would make living in the world virtually impossible and take us to the brink of insanity. Even though, when examined deeply enough, everything can be doubted, we do not need to excessively examine the empirical evidence of living in the physical reality of creation that is governed by its laws of everyday experience.
‘Believing’ in our everyday reality is not the same as harboring various mental or dogmatic beliefs (although if we were to leave it entirely unexamined, it would then also be an expression of dogmatism). It is more like an innate agreement to accept our everyday experience as real that is pre-conceptual in nature. It can be regarded as a base-belief shared by all beings living in this physical realm. We do not need to call the world real or an illusion (as with the concept of ‘maya’ in Hindu spirituality), because we do not need to impose such artificial mental constructs on our direct experience of physical life. This also applies to the philosophical theory of subjective idealism, in which the world is regarded as one’s own mental projection; such an idea is just another belief prison.
Non-conceptuality should not be confused with a refusal to explore reality or to evolve into a higher understanding of truth. Rather, it is the refusal to rely on artificial concepts. For instance, in our teaching we do not want any student to ‘believe’ that there is conscious me, pure me of being, or absolute I am. If you believe in these things, you are no more than an intellectual follower of an external theory – you are a ‘believer’. Rather, we give you practical tools, so you can directly experience the reality behind those concepts. They become your own empirical reality, which is in fact a ‘higher empirical reality’, or ‘absolute empirical reality’, because it exists independent of your mind and senses. The experience of the world around you is a lower empirical reality, because it needs to be verified through your sensory faculties which are themselves very relative. But your true self exists prior to experience, or rather beyond the duality of knowledge and experience. When realized, it does not require proof; it is its own proof.
You need to begin to explore the wide and virtually endless spectrum of non-empirical beliefs that have imprisoned your mind since before you can remember. You have been living in a prison of beliefs without even knowing it. We believe so many things, including the theories of reality imposed on us by our societies, science, the medical establishment, diet gurus, religions, spiritual traditions, and the idealism of superego. We have been brainwashed so thoroughly that these layers of conditionings, which have been imposed on us by others, have become deeply embedded in our minds. So deeply that it is very difficult to step back and look at them critically.
Accepting a life run by so many unsubstantiated and invariably irrational beliefs can be a way of compensating for the meaningless of living as a collective me. Or, it can be a cowardly strategy of avoiding the fear of not really knowing anything authentically. You might, of course, have some theories about reality, but they are all ‘maybes’. And the question remains – do you need those maybes to live fully and completely? Does your mind need to support itself with all kinds of theories like a cripple leaning on his crutches? You are not a cripple – you can choose to walk through the mystery of life as a free soul in a state of not-knowing and emptiness.
Discriminating between Base-Beliefs and Beliefs that Imprison the Mind
It could be said that even physical creation is a projection of our belief system. One element and example of this belief system is that people want to prolong their physical lives for as long as possible at virtually any cost. There is no rational explanation for this, especially when we consider that most people not only live unconscious and meaningless lives, in which they are are constantly suffering on a mental, emotional, and often physical level. The instinct to survive has been imprinted in us without our agreement. How we perceive the physical world, how our senses respond to external stimuli, and the innate drive we have to pursue psychological, emotional, and physical comfort and happiness, are all part of the design of this reality.
But as we have said, these can be considered to be elements of a basic belief system we all share. And when we speak here about living in freedom from beliefs and dogmas, we are referring to something quite different, which is the mentally superimposition of artificial concepts, philosophical theories and religious superstitions on ourselves and on reality. This also includes the values we have placed on our lives which have come to us through societal conditioning. An example is that the majority of people assume they are supposed to get married or have a partner, and have children. Because others do this, it is therefore expected of them. These are completely unconscious beliefs that most follow without questioning.
Even more deeply rooted than the mental beliefs are a large number of beliefs at a psycho-emotional level that we received and accepted as pre-rational infants – some perhaps even while still in the womb – which move into the subconscious or unconscious and yet still continue to run our lives. These include beliefs such as the need to be loved, notably by a mother and later by a partner, and that we need to be accepted and liked. Many of our learned beliefs are ingrained in us in infancy through modelling we do based on what we observe in our parents and others. Very young children learn more – pick up more beliefs – through such modelling than from what they are told. As a result of this, our self-image is often defined by our relationships and possessions and we have beliefs that who we are will be diminished if our marriage ends, if we lose our friends, our jobs, our home or other possessions.
Other deeply ingrained beliefs we pick up from others include that of scarcity, a conviction that there is never enough of what we need, as well as our racial and societal beliefs.
It is not that all these beliefs are false by themselves, as some of them are part of what could be considered the base-belief of our empirical reality. However, many of these beliefs are culturally conditioned, restrictive, and incompatible with the wisdom and positive experience of life. Real freedom has to include letting go of many of the very deep subconscious beliefs, too, and understanding how, internally, we have to accept being utterly alone, while externally we go along with some of the accepted ‘rules’ of the collective consciousness. However, we do not go along with all of them, only those which we have no choice but to accept, or with those which have a positive practical application. As an example, we do have to make money in this world to sustain our physical existence, as money is the currency of survival. We have to dress at least to a minimally suitable level for the society we live in, so as not to attract unwanted attention and to be accepted while we live our everyday lives. But, if you live in Christian society and attend church just because others expect it from you, or you display mindless ‘patriotic’ devotion to be accepted, this is where your compromise with belief becomes negative.
So we can identify two different things here: fitting into the basic framework of others’ beliefs, and living in the prison of belief. The former is part of the art of living consciously in the unconscious world. But what we call the ‘prison of belief’ is not the prison of living in society but of living in the prison of your own mind. It is certainly important to have some perspective on the beliefs that have been imposed on you, but which you may have assumed were you own. They are not your beliefs; they were just absorbed and accepted by your unconscious collective me. Unless you awaken your intelligence and begin to think for yourself, you are no more than a puppet of the collective mind. While certain relative beliefs need to be embraced consciously as part of the basic-empirical-belief useful to manage life within creation, you have to free yourself internally from all belief. To transcend the totality of the dimension of illusion, you must return to the original innocence of not-knowing.
Belief in the Context of the Spiritual Path
People do not even know why they live their lives as they do; they follow the collective mental status quo like automatons. They do not question the basic assumptions underlying their lives. Truth at the soul level and what your mind believes are two different things. There is no need for belief as regards what your soul wants from you – you just have be sensitive to it and follow her path. The only true fulfillment possible in this world, your own actualization, cannot come through a belief system. Many who do not walk a real path think beliefs are essential for the spiritual journey. But these spiritual paths are a sham, designed to give false hope to the minds and meaningless lives of the collective me. Knowing and believing is not the same. A belief can only exist in the mind: it is nothing but a false knowing, a miserable substitute for truth.
What about in our teaching? For instance, does the concept of selective reincarnation fall into the category of being a ‘belief’ because we cannot verify it directly through our own empirical experience? A real understanding of reincarnation is not a belief, but an insight into the very subtle journey the sufficiently awakened soul can take. The truth of such an insight is very different from other naïve generalizations concerning reincarnation – often supposedly about the collective me’s personality – served up by spurious spiritual teachings. There is no value in just having any purely mental belief about reincarnation. If you are unable to have genuine insight into it, it is better just to consider it a possibility, something to help expand your imagination. We do not consider the concept of selective reincarnation as pertinent to the teaching; it is, rather, a matter that regards the various laws governing this reality and the dimensions around it. It is a waste of time to retain artificial beliefs about reincarnation or even to dwell on the concept, as one’s energies are better spent on what one can do for one’s evolution in one’s present physical life.
To live as conscious humans in manifested creation, it is natural for us to have some understanding and theories about the physical universe, such as that the earth is round and that there are other planets, even though we have never really been on them. Have you ever seen an atom or what is inside it? We trust scientists who tell us that there is such thing as a subatomic world, because it is a workable theory helping us to understand the physical world. But many of their interpretations might be completely wrong, or be distorted by the instruments they use to look inside the atom, as well as by the imperfection of the human eye, which is looking through these instruments, and the flawed nature of the mind forming the conclusions from what their eye sees through the instrument. In the past, people lived in a world understood through myths, but we now arrogantly claim to be scientific and superior. However, we have just replaced past myths with new ones and our world is as full of mythology as the one in the past was. The advantage scientific myths have over religious and the other older myths is that they are based on empiricism and are more provable. Religious myths are nothing but imagination, pitiful illusory projections of our hopes, fears and superstitions.
This explains why the wise man lives in the openness of not-knowing. He does not need to support himself with beliefs and assumptions in order to feel better. He is only concerned with solving the mystery at the very foundation of his experience of reality, his own self. The one who is either certain or uncertain of himself and of the world around is real – that one is the knower within you, not your mind. Only the knower is real – all the rest is relative and fluid truth. Only the knower is doubtless.
What is a dogma? It is a belief, a presumption, it is the insistence in one’s own mind of the existence of something that one has never seen or experienced. Such dogma is what comprises the very base of religions, but similar dogmas make up many other spheres of our lives. In religions, these dogmatic assumptions have been elevated by people – who have no imagination or questioning intelligence whatsoever – to a ‘spiritual’ status through the irresponsible use of emotionally charged words like ‘faith’ or devotion. How irrational!
If you simply just believe in a so-called god, you are succumbing to dogmatism, you are the victim of a mentally conceived idea. What god? Have you ever seen any god? Has anyone? Such a ‘god concept’ is just another idea of the mind, a byproduct of our ability to create distorted abstract concepts like ‘one’, ‘unity’, ‘everything’, and the ‘causal source’ of existence. The fact that we can create any concept, including one of god, does not mean that what this concept points to actually exists, ever did exist, or ever will come into existence.
Part of the responsibility of waking to our real intelligence is for it to lift us out of the mind and out of all the beliefs and dogmas it had imprisoned us with. After all, it was our own intelligence, which we were not yet conscious of, which had always been the living source behind the mind’s conceptions – even those which had been imprisoning us for so long. Can you see this?
Conclusion: Living in the Knowledge of the Knower
So, what are the implications? If any belief constructed from collective assumptions is false, and if rejection of them through agnosticism is just another form of dogma, what are we left with?
We are left with naked truth, truth that is alive and constantly unfolding. Any attempt to fix truth into a permanent belief is dogmatism; it fossilizes it and blocks its further unfoldment. To embrace not-knowing in a knowing that is born in the conscious now is intelligence and discrimination; it honors the living truth. Truth is not a dogma, not a belief, not a religion, and not a philosophy, but a constant illumination which is born in the space that exists beyond both sheer ignorance on one extreme and the pretense of truth based on the conceptual fixation of it on the other. The essence of truth is knowing that which makes all knowledge and ignorance possible, the knowledge of the knower. No one can believe or disbelieve it; it is the fundamental knowledge which is the source of the illumination of everything.
What is the conclusion here? Do not believe anything! Nothing whatsoever, including to an extent the basic knowledge of your so-called everyday empirical reality. Beliefs are of the mind and, while you have a mind, it is not who you are. Follow your life according to basic common sense, but remain intelligently detached from any assumptions about reality. Use your practical mentally-learned beliefs as mere points of reference in the external world while internally remaining focused on that which is beyond doubt, the substance of very your existence – your sacred self.
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