Having Beliefs Worth Dying For

Get Results: seek the truth
Get Results: seek the truth

I recently commented on a post, that talked about how even people who believe themselves to be ENTITLED are often attached to beliefs, because they have invested a sense of themselves in these beliefs, and when challenged can become aggressive, and closed off to competing narratives, because defeat would somehow make them feel their sense of self to be less.

This is important because this mental positioning is what leads mankind into conflict and ultimately war. Now I’m not saying we are all capable of killing others to defend our beliefs, but given the right circumstance it is possible that even so called level headed, model citizens are capable of contributing to unimaginable things. Mankind’s history is littered with examples. World War 2 for instance, is often blamed on the Nazi party under Hitler, but we have to remember that German people voted him into power, because they believed his rhetoric, and the narrative that Jewish people where the problem.

The following conversation ensued, I thought I would make a post about it, because this is a good illustration of what happens when you attach to beliefs, now there’s no chance of this escalating into war or anything so extreme, but it hopeful shows how division starts, because one person feels threatened by the ideas of another, because they are invested in their beliefs..

Me: A belief in anything risks investing yourself in it. As soon as anyone feels the need to defend their belief they have probably gone too far.

Other: But what good is a belief if you are unwilling to defend it? I don’t ask anyone to become a Buddhist or think the same, but if they challenge my core beliefs, such as work telling me to take a sentient life, I will defend my beliefs to the end.

Me: and there lays the Ego dilemma. It is for the individual to pick their own path, but as long as you choose to defend your beliefs you automatically invest yourself in them. This is Ego at work. Beliefs forge separation (from contradictory beliefs) and form attachment (to the belief), both are designed by the Ego to make yourself more, because the more you have the more you are. Why would a person need to be more, if you were truly enlightened? I’m open to contradictory views, I don’t invest myself in this way of thinking, it’s just the best explanation available to me at this moment.

Other: this is not allowing another to breach my beliefs. It has nothing to do with ego. There is nothing wrong with belief and faith. It is what makes us spiritual and follow an ethical path. Without belief we are nihilists.

Me: I’m just saying we should be open to the possibility we might be wrong. Seeking the truth, rather than settling for something that could be wrong, and closing ourselves off from the truth.

Other: why do you assume that I have not investigated multiple beliefs and religions? I do not create my beliefs out of just accepting what my parents told me. If I did, I would be a Christian. I take refuge in the three jewels because of my investigation into truth and logic. Yes I am invested in my beliefs.

Me: I’m not assuming anything, I’m not judging you in anyway. You commented on my comment. I hope what you believe serves you, but that alone doesn’t make it THE TRUTH, but it is your best guess, as is my view for me.

Me: Many beliefs are built on assumptions, inferences and the testimony of others, rather than FACT. What actual facts back up your beliefs? (that is a rhetorical question, I don’t expect you to list them) but ask yourself this question for every belief you hold. We all should do this. Many of the BIG questions we have about life, can’t be proven as fact, there is often a lot of faith involved, so they are effectively guesses, we hold to be the truth.

Now I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass in this conversation, or attack the other persons beliefs, but he or she seemed to take it that way to some degree and the impression I got (which is often difficult to accurately gauge via a text only medium) is that they were agitated by my comments just a little bit, and as a result felt a need to defend their position. The comment about Christians just believing what their parents told them, could be construed as a dig at a different belief system, but generally I think we both approached this conversation with a balanced view.

I dare say if I’d have framed my language more aggressively, and the other person, likewise, this could have got into something of a slanging match, like we see all too regularly on social media.

My comments during the short conversation weren’t a criticism of the other person but a general statement that all of us should be very wary that our beliefs don’t close us off to competing ideas. It’s like a barrier goes up and perceptions are closed down. I liken it to a child covering their ears and humming to prevent hearing what is being said.

Hey, I’m as guilty as anyone else, for defending my beliefs in the past. I now have a different view of them, or I could even say I have a different belief about beliefs. You can’t get away from holding beliefs, they’re kind of an anchor for us to build from.

The problem seems to come from investing yourself in them, as I said in the conversation above.  But it is important to realise we often take what we need from our beliefs and ignore the rest. However this isn’t the best approach for uncovering THE TRUTH. Scientist generate an hypothese, and look to disprove it. The scientific approach prevents confirmation bias, and investment in the belief. It’s a best guess, until proven otherwise approach.

I have become very wary of anyone who says they have strong beliefs, that they would defend with their very lives, because I believe them.

For more about improving self awareness, check out these posts