tend to comfort or frighten us more than things.
For example, the belief in an unsafe
universe leads to perpetual anxiety, whereas
the thought of a safe environment produces a
feeling of comfort.
Anybody raised in a society
which, for centuries, has emphasised the so-called
Punishing Father aspect of God,
will probably regard worry, depression, guilt
and resentment as normal everyday states. Dominant
religious beliefs tend to affect everyone, even
those who don’t believe. For example,
our punishing work ethic can be traced back
to beliefs from our Puritan heritage, but how
many modern employees would consciously
subscribe to 17th century Puritanism?
Of course, there
have always been “alternative” beliefs with
a less depressing effect. Consider, for example,
the passage from The Kybalion: A Study of
the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and
Greece, 1912 (see sidebar, right).
Beliefs that dominate
a society for generations particularly
the depressing ones are absorbed into
the culture as common sense, despite
often being proved wrong over time. Common
sense is usually seen as more realistic
than idealism and optimism, despite the fact
that both common sense and idealism arise
from belief systems, and as such represent philosophical
gambles, not reality.
Beliefs tend to
function as “self-fulfilling prophesies” – for
example, the body becomes ill from the stress
induced by a “life is hard” mentality, thus
“proving” that mentality correct. In choosing
your own belief systems, it may therefore be
a good idea to gamble on beliefs that
make you feel safe and comfortable – even if
they seem overly optimistic to your current
common sense state of mind.
Better still, regard
all beliefs as temporary clothes
which you can try on or take off to suit
your current needs. The only benefits
of adopting a permanent belief are rigidity,
dogmatism, over-seriousness and eventual brain
death. Intelligence doesnt want to be
a slave to belief, dogma, ideology or religion
rather these things should be the temporary
playthings of intelligence.
It’s easy to experiment
with belief systems once you’ve overcome Naive
Realism. Naive Realism is an extremely common
philosophical outlook which pretends to have
nothing to do with philosophy. It theorises
that people experience reality directly as it
is, and that intangible things like beliefs
don’t affect your direct perception. This is
similar to anti-intellectualism, the view that
complex ideas are something separate from (and
useless for) real life.
are common-sense people who regard
themselves as uncontaminated by intellectual
influences, without perceiving how enslaved
they are to various depressing belief systems.
They don’t realise that their negative emotions
(anxiety, low self-esteem, insecurity, etc)
result from what they’ve been thinking
– the only remedy they recognise is to change
external reality (buy some furniture, go on
a diet, or whatever advertisers say will dispel
the negativity). Since nobody can change the
outside world enough to completely erase their
emotional insecurities, Naive Realists inevitably
suffer chronic helplessness and hopelessness
Common sense may prevent
you realising you can change your thoughts to
instil enthusiasm rather than depression. Enthusiasm
results from understanding that thoughts program
your reality, and that everything is permitted
in the realm of thought.