There are immense benefits of beliefs.
Stories themselves are obviously essential. They helps us orient and navigate in the world, and guide attention and action. Stories help us remember the past, envision the future, and make sense of the present.
We can of course use stories as guides, whether we see them as just guides or make them into beliefs.
So what is the function of beliefs? Why do we have beliefs when stories themselves are sufficient? What is the unique contribution of beliefs?
Beliefs give a sense of separation, of an “I” here with a wider world out there. As someone said, they are the only way God (or life, the universe, existence, what is) can experience itself as separate.
They intensify experience. Stories filter and interpret experience, and beliefs says it is true.
They give an extra life-or-death edge to experience and action.
They create a sense of drama. What will happen to this “I”?
They create stress, tension, reactive emotions, all of which would not be experienced – or experienced far less – without beliefs.
They are an invitation for inquiry, finding what is more honest for us than the initial belief. And that is another journey. It is another area of the terrain opened up to us through beliefs.
In all of these ways, beliefs enrich experience. That is perhaps the greatest gift of beliefs. They open up vast new terrains to experience and exploration.
Many of us go through a phase where beliefs are made wrong, mainly because we recognize them as (a) not true, and (b) creating discomfort and stress. And yet, that too is a belief. As we explore what is more honest for us than that belief, we may find a genuine appreciation for beliefs, as they are.
They are still not true, and do still create discomfort, so it is natural to still wish to investigate beliefs to find what is more honest for us. It frees thought, actions, and experience, and is the wise and kind thing to do. And yet, it can be done with a great and sincere appreciation for beliefs.
They enrich our lives immensely.
As usual, in writing about these things I skip over a lot of detail.
For instance, what is a belief? I can say it is taking a story as true, which is accurate in one sense, yet doesn’t say much.
It is also identification with a viewpoint. Quite literally, I take myself as this image of a doer or observer located in or around the head area, which has a viewpoint on the world. In space, this viewpoint is straight ahead, aligned with the physical cone of vision. It is created through identification with a point, in or slightly above and behind the head, and through an image of a cone pointing straight ahead. “I” am this point, looking at this world through this cone.
This basic viewpoint is then fleshed out through other viewpoints, creating an identity as a human in the world. I see the world from the story that “I am a man”, and additional stories of age, sexual orientation, interests, values, opinions, and so on. All of those stories have their own viewpoint, which I identify with when I take them as true.
- benefits of beliefs
- organize, makes sense of, interprets
- guides attention and action
- take stories as true, identification w. their viewpoint
- benefits of beliefs
- create a sense of an “I”, separation
- filter experience
- stepping stone
- gives an extra edge to the experience/effort
- creates drama
We can of course use stories as guides, whether we see them as just guides or make them into beliefs. Even the core story of “I am that”, usually attached to a sense of a doer or observer, can be recognized as simply another story, as content of experience, or taken as an absolute truth.
Beliefs is what gives a sense of an “I” within content of experience, usually as a doer or observer, and then also as a me with particular identities and viewpoints.
We may not always appreciate it, because discomfort is inherent in beliefs. We can also step back, investigate, and find a sincere appreciation for beliefs.
Beliefs are also inherently innocent. We take a story as true, and cannot help experience and act as if it is true.