Tao Writer (April 17, 1948 -)
Beliefs: Part I
In the battle of beliefs. Who wins? Might? Wisdom? Gods? Beliefs are always right of course, at least to those who hold a particular belief. Why would anyone believe something they do not believe is true? We are conditioned to believe what we believe. The course of this planet’s existence following the dawn of humankind has been led by beliefs. We once believed the earth was flat, that the sun revolved around the earth, and that Pluto was a planet. All the major revolutionary events of history were founded on the strength or weakness of a belief: political, social, economic, scientific, or religious. My invisible god is better than your invisible god. My political system provides the greater good for the greatest number. And my favorite, “We will bury you!” The strength of my belief is backed by my military might. What would my life be like if I did not have to believe in anything at all?
A belief is always true to the individual who believes it to be true. A belief takes me outside of myself. A belief can result in an individual sacrificing one’s life to the belief.
As a child, I believed in the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause and the boogyman but eventually I out grew those beliefs. That is the thing about any beliefs. They don’t seem to stick around for too long at least not to the philosopher in me but for the poet, it is a different story. The poet believes in beauty, joy, love, the curve of a woman’s body, and the endless possibilities in a child’s eyes. These are beliefs having to do with ascetics of life but very little to do with fanaticism. One could, I imagine be a fanatic in love to the point of narcissism or self sacrifice. This is the closest I have ever come to the experience of fanaticism, but I did not think my action fanatical at the time, more of loss and despair. Despair can be a fanaticism, I suppose, but not one chosen, like a religion or political party.
I have never believed in anything strongly enough to make the ultimate sacrifice of my life. I have experienced moments of euphoria, of ultimate despair, but never have I believed in a cause for which I would sacrifice my life. Life is too important a gift to be taken lightly. I would not fight for my country’s belief and would not have gone to Viet Nam, if drafted. My “number” was never called.
If I have a belief, at this time in my life, it is that the perfect exists in everything. It’s the yin, yang balance of existence. We must experience both in order to see one, for the one would be unknown without the other. We cannot know the experience of light without the experience of darkness. Although this is my belief, I do not know that I would sacrifice my life for it. Perhaps this belief has not been tested to the point of sacrifice. How many lives have been lost since the dawn of humankind because of what someone believed was true?
The central beliefs of the inhabitants of the planet have religious roots, bound with religions dogmas created to serve man, or was man created to serve religion? When did the belief in an invisible god take over our minds? Was there one large event or no event at all which caused us to stop the search of self and replace it with the search for a god? Was it fear that caused us to lose faith in ourselves and place it in an external, invisible being with omnipotent powers? What happens when the belief in an invisible God leads to fanaticism and a breaking of the dogmas upon which the belief was initially established?
In this first part of my writings on Beliefs, I raised a number of questions. In the follow up essay, I hope to answer some of them.