What is belief? Do we really ever think about it?
Could it be that belief is at the root of all our suffering?
A belief is something that we consider to be true - even, and often, in the absence of knowing it to be so.
And we base so much of our lives on our beliefs...
Is that a bit crazy?
Belief comes about once our own internal standard for evidence has been met.
In other words, belief just happens when we are convinced.
Some of our beliefs are based on what we believe is irrefutable evidence, but the human mind and senses are highly fallible and easily tricked.
We can observe this in others, but can we look at something we believe and explore whether we know for certain it is true?
We need to be very motivated to take on this challenge.
Acute suffering is motivation enough!
Looking with real honesty at our beliefs, we find that very little is truly known, in fact we discover that only through ongoing direct personal experience can we say we know something is irrefutably true.
In the absence of this high bar of truth, would it not be more realistic to say 'I think it seems true'?
We tend not to do this, we just say 'I believe this'.
And with this simple decision we have decided we 'know'.
But, in truth, quite often we don't.
Our minds continually do this. It just happens.
We create beliefs without realising it, all in an attempt to make sense of what we perceive.
The incredible thing is, true or not, real or not, these beliefs become our reality, and we build our sense of who we are around them.
We then become resistant to alternatives, unlikely to even consider other opinions and perspectives, and we will defend these beliefs as if our very life depends on them.
This is why all suffering, if we really look at it, can be traced back to something we have taken to be true - a belief.
Once we start looking at our beliefs in this way we begin to relax about the need to hold onto any that are not known to be true.
The freedom from reactivity and suffering we experience leads eventually to a realisation that the whole idea of belief is flawed.
After this, a new attitude develops.
We leave anything that is not known to be true as simply a 'maybe'.
We then remain open, not falling into the closed trapped state of belief.
An expansion in our thinking takes place, judgement lessens, acceptance becomes easier.
From being contracted and limited, we open to a new freedom of experience and expression.
We find, looking back, that we were actually living in a mental prison, and the bars were our beliefs.