There seems to be many different alarms built into beliefs, or maybe just many variations of the same alarm. Each one is reminding me that I am now attaching to an idea, and out of alignment with what is already more true for me.
Here is a selection that comes to mind, in no particular order…
Sense of separation
Any belief gives a sense of separation, and this is in itself uncomfortable, again because it does not align with what is already more true for us.
A belief in the idea of I inherently creates a sense of I and Other, and of separation.
From this sense of separation comes a sense of lack, dissatisfaction and precariousness. I can lose what I want and have. I can get what I don’t have and don’t want. I may be stuck with what I have and don’t want. And I am trying to get what I don’t have and want. Any apparent resolution at this level is limited and temporary.
A belief in the idea of I, when placed on this human self, in addition creates a sense of being within time and space, being finite, being subject to birth and death, being at the mercy of the larger world.
Also, through beliefs the world is split into right and wrong, true and false, good and bad/evil. Situations are one or the other, and ideas are one or the other. So again, there is a separation in many ways. I may be right and you are wrong. I may be bad and want to be good. You may be evil and I want to be good. And so on. In each case, there is stress.
Life is showing up differently.
From this, we see that when we have any belief, life is likely to show up differently than what our belief tells us it should. And this is inherently stressful.
My belief is that people should be good, they act in ways that I don’t see as good, and get upset and frustrated. My belief is that I should have lots of money, I don’t, and again experience stress. My belief is that my body should be healthy, it is not, and there is stress.
Something to protect
When I hold onto any belief, there is something to protect. I need to protect the belief and the identity that comes from this belief.
I look for supporting evidence and ignore that which does not fit. I dismiss counter arguments and opposing beliefs. I spend time and energy refuting opposing beliefs. I prop up my beliefs by other beliefs. I maintain my beliefs by reminding myself of them, fueling them, explaining them, clarifying them, refining them, justifying them.
Any belief is also a part of my identity.
Not only do I need to defend this identity, as mentioned above. I also limit myself through my identity. Any identity defines what is me and not me, what is OK as me and not OK as me, what I can accept as me and not accept as me. And by this, I limit myself. I box myself in.
I think I am good, and dismiss and push aside any sides of me that do not fit this image (so they come up in nightmares, actions apparently outside of my control, in how I treat others, and so on). I think I am liberal, so automatically dismiss any views I see as conservative. I think I am Christian, so dismiss the views and practices of other religions. I think I am not a good dancer, so leave dancing mostly to others, even if I may enjoy it if I try.
The process of boxing in is stressful. It takes a good deal of energy and attention. The consequences of boxing myself in are limiting and stressful. And it also fuels a sense of separation, which is stressful.
Any set of beliefs is also inherently self-contradictory.
The only way to have a set of beliefs be inherently consistent is to keep them very simple and limited in number, but this does not work well in the world. The world is too complex and rich for a too simplistic set of beliefs.
If the set of beliefs is more complex and higher in number, then they automatically become self-contradictory. Beliefs split the world into right and wrong, true and false. Each one split the world in slightly different ways. And in this, some are bound to contradict other beliefs within the same system.
So when we believe, we automatically contradict ourselves. Others, and our own mind, are quick to remind us about this. This too is frustrating and stressful, at least at times.
The stronger we believe, the more obvious the contradictions are, and the more stressful it is.
Any belief is an attachment to a particular view or perspective.
There are infinite possible views and perspectives out there, each one with a grain of truth, each one useful in particular circumstances. So when I attach to only a limited set of them, I limit myself. Not only my views become limited and rigid, but my actions as well. And this has very practical and often unwanted consequences, which again brings up stress for me.
Beliefs are inherently stressful by…
Creating a sense of separation. Inviting life to show up differently. Create a sense of something to protect. Limiting identity. Being inherently self-contradictory. And limiting the possible views and perspectives I can take and apply in the world.
And probably in many more ways and variations as well.
First, there is a belief in an idea. This automatically splits the world into I and Other, inside and outside of identity, right and wrong, true and false, good and bad. Then, there is the continued holding onto this attachment to an idea, which creates inflexibility, stuckness in a particular view, perspective, identity, and way of being in the world. Each of these are possible sources for stress, frustration and discomfort.
Believing itself as religion
There seems to be so much stress inherent in beliefs that it is almost a miracle that most of us are so invested in them.
In spite of all the suffering we bring up by doing so, it seems that we make believing itself into a religion, independent of its content. I guess it is because we don’t know or see many alternatives, and don’t know how to explore beliefs in ways that allow them to fall away.
When we do find ways to explore beliefs which allows them to fall away, for instance through The Work, it seems that many go into it with a good deal of passion, having finally found something that gives liberation from the stress inherent in beliefs.