Saturday, March 28, 2009

Belief System: Challenging Convention, Convictions and stepping out of the moral high-ground

Belief System and Convictions
On Thursday, I read a blog post by Jamaapoa on the Foundation of a Belief System. Jamaapoa is currently on a pilgrimage of rejuvenation, self-motivation and self-improvement.

Jamaapoa writes that a belief system is "what you stand for, what guides you and what forms a basis for your values in life." Something I also believe.




[caption id="attachment_135" align="aligncenter" width="291" caption="Self Discovery"]Self Discovery[/caption]

Exit the Comfort Zone
He goes on to write that prior to embarking on a journey of self-improvement, or in my case, a walkabout of insight, inspiration and self discovery, one has to first discard whatever they once believed in, ready for the new. And we all agree this is particularly hard to do. Challenging long-held beliefs and convictions never comes on the cheap. The mind is such a difficult thing to deal with.

That reminded me of what Alan Alda said, that on a self-discovery mission,
"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."

Stepping outside the Moral Matrix
In his talk at TED Global, Jonathan Haidt outlined openness to experience as a requisite trait for objectivity. At one point, he quoted Sent-ts'an,
"If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between 'for' and 'against' is the mind's worst disease."

In sum, it helps to sometimes step out of the moral matrix, to step out of the battle of evil and good, and be not for or against anything.

Everybody thinks they are right, however. You may not believe this, but our "righteous minds" were designed to unite us into teams, divide us against other teams and blind us to the truth.
Methinks, this is what prompted some (unknown) author to write,
"If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions."

Why do you Believe?
Few of us have dared question our faith (here, I deliberately avoid the word religion).
One of my friends keeps saying that the reason he is a christian is because his fore-fathers (somewhere near Mt Kenya) were influenced by the British missionaries to adopt the christian faith. Had he been at the Coast, he continues, he would have ended up being a muslim.

After meticulously questioning my own faith, I have finally come to settle on the one I subscribe to, with solid reasons to support my claims and my conviction. Have you?
This post is not a discussion of what faiths and religious beliefs are worth  subscribing to. They do however, form the basis of our value system, and are therefore worth getting right. Otherwise, one would continue to live a lie, guided by a firmly held fallacy.

Get on the right track



Getting back on track
In his book The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli writes,
"he that lays not the foundations first, might be able with great difficulty to lay them afterward, however it'll be with great trouble to the architect and danger to the building."

Yet, it is possible to get it right. That is the essence of hope and positivity. You get it right when you first understand who you are. That way, you are able to find your place in this world.

Then, you can make your own life a revelation, realize your potential and and turn your days into a spiritual quest. Learn to make the most of every moment and find the power and peace waiting within this oh-so-wonderful you.

The Challenge
Upon realizing that we think we are always right, it becomes possible to step outside these unquestioningly firmly-held beliefs and watch things play out from without. One then acknowledges and appreciates that everyone has some reasons why they think they are right.

At this point, one gains moral humility. But only when one steps out of the blinding self righteousness, which by default, is the normal human condition.

So, take the bold step and seek to see things for what they really are. Without bias. Without prejudice. With no prior unquestioned beliefs. Without being 'for' or 'against'. Objectively.
Guided by your own intuition and informed by a mind that is open to experience, you will discover something wonderful. What you will discover  is yourself.

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