Are any beliefs sacred?
Every spiritual path has beliefs built into it. Religions are filled with doctrines that are “written in stone”. Most of the less formal groups or teachers likely have certain practices and tenets that are to be followed. What can you trust? What can you believe? Wars are fought over differences in creed. Usually there is at least an intention that there be a connection between belief and truth. What you are asked to believe is to be accepted as the truth. The crucial question is, “How can you be sure that it is true?” If your response is that you simply believe that it is true, you may put up blinders to prevent yourself from seeing anything that might question your “truth”. You are certain you know what the truth is. If you really want to know the truth, instead of blindly grasping on to ideas, you must be willing to take the blinders off. Is there absolute truth? If your answer is no, my question is, “Are you absolutely sure there is no truth?” If you agree that there is absolute truth, we have a situation. Some believe the truth is one thing and some another. Often these truths are mutually exclusive. Even if you are to let go of any attachment to being right about your beliefs, how can you figure out who is right, if anyone? How can you know absolutely that any belief is true?
A good place for us to begin as we wander into this minefield is by establishing that whatever the truth is, it makes no difference whether you believe it or not. It is what it is and is not affected by you belief or unbelief. The truth could care less. However, it would seem that it might be to your advantage to be aligned with whatever this truth is, rather than working counter to it. You might have difficulty navigating life if the manual you are following is a false one. That leaves us with the question of how to go about finding this truth. Your ego mind is not capable of succeeding at this task with certainty. Since the ego has been your teacher up to this point it might be a good starting place to assume that everything you have ever believed is wrong. Throw them all out, but we would suggest that you handle these beliefs one at a time. If there is something that is particularly hard for you to release, it is time to do some inner inquiry. Find out if there is absolute proof for the belief. Stay with it. Either way, if you are brutally honest with yourself, you are going to have a difficult time coming to a place of absolute certainty. If while doing this inquiry you are not able to distance yourself enough from your opinions, you might invite somebody else to play the questioning role for you. If the ego attachment to this belief is very strong, we offer another test. Does it upset you to have another person attack your belief? If that is disconcerting, ask yourself why. If your belief is the truth, what would it matter what another thinks?
Usually when a person goes deeply into questioning the veracity of a belief, they find it can’t be proven. As you investigate more “truths”, they will also likely fall by the wayside. That can be a scary place. Beliefs can be a comfortable place in which to hang out, but they don’t bring you knowingness; they help you maintain your slumber. Even if by some fluke of the universe, your belief is actually aligned with the truth, you would still be unable to prove it. Believing is not knowing. A belief is like a key that goes into your mind and locks it shut. Nothing else is allowed in or out. Knowing has no doubt and asks for no proof because it is directly experienced. Belief is a theory, a postulate. It is a thing that is assumed to be true so that other conclusions may be drawn. Let’s just play with this a little. Let’s say you have the belief that if you are good you will go to heaven and if you are bad you will go to hell. The first question is, “Do you have first-hand experience of that?” How, then, can you know it is true? If you live your whole life based on ideas that you don’t know the veracity of, what kind of existence is that? It is probably one filled with judgment, guilt, fear, and blame. We don’t want to pick on this one example; most any principle will lead you to act in ways that increase tension and unhappiness in your life. The only thing you can be sure of if your life is steered by doctrines, is that you are headed in the wrong direction – that is if the right direction is truth and awakening. It is not a question of changing beliefs, but one of investigating the ones you have. The new ones won’t hold any more water than the ones you have got. Find the untruth in your beliefs, or the places where you can’t be absolutely sure. This investigation won’t likely unveil the truth; it will simply eliminate one more possibility. Keep looking at all these ideas you have stored in your head, and one by one try to shoot them down. Your marksmanship will improve with practice. It can become a fun game.
This is all still an ego game. Knowingness is of Spirit and comes only with awakening. Untruth realization is merely clearing a path for Spirit to operate on. Upon having an awakened direct experience of truth, falseness will be humorously obvious to you everywhere you look. It doesn’t matter how much you study, read books, or follow different teachings; you won’t find the truth through a mental search. The best you can do is to blow up the ones you already have. Searching out new “truths” will just leave you with more detonation work down the line. Finding the untruth of your cherished ideals opens up a space where the grace of God or of Spirit can nudge or propel you into a direct awakening experience. Should that day come when your eyes are opened, you will want to share this truth you know with others. Mostly, they won’t believe you; more likely they’ll consider you to be crazy. That won’t bother you because the knowingness of truth cannot be threatened. The truth you will have discovered cannot be adequately communicated through words or even through modeling. Your students will have to do their own work and find their own path, just as you did. You can help point them in the right direction, kind of like steering a blindfolded kid toward the piñata*.
We would suggest that you have the following as your one and only belief. Here it is. If you set an intention to awaken and thereby know the truth, and maintain your energy and focus steadily upon that intention through untruth realization, you will be blessed with the experience of awakening. No part of the belief addresses the nature of the truth or the awakened state other than through negation. Without that kind of commitment, you will wander perhaps for many more lifetimes before finding your way home. Your steadfastness and dogged determination will invite the support of Spirit. You will not be alone. Let me conclude with one final thing. Please don’t take anything I have said here as the truth. Do your own inquiry into absolutely everything your mind encounters. The ball is in your hands. It is all up to you.
* Piñata: A decorated figure of an animal containing toys and sweets that is suspended from a height and broken open by blindfolded children as part of a celebration.