Photo-montage by Brian Dean

Thoughts 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 doesn’t 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.”

Naive Realists 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 (ie depression).

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.


“So, do not feel insecure or afraid – we are all held firmly in the Infinite Mind of The ALL, and there is naught to hurt us or for us to fear. There is no Power outside of The ALL to affect us. So we may rest calm and secure. There is a world of comfort and security in this realization when once attained. Then ‘calm and peaceful do we sleep, rocked in the Cradle of the Deep’ – resting safely on the bosom of the Ocean of Infinite Mind, which is The ALL.”
–The Kybalion