A look at how beliefs are the secret director of all of our lives, even to those who
vigorously proclaim that they have nothing whatever to do with beliefs.
From where I live when I look out my window, all I can see, as far as my eye can see, is beliefs. I don’t like beliefs very much, but I keep a fair few around for practical domestic use. They’re handy to have around. For instance, I tend to believe that the car heading in the opposite direction to me is driven by someone who doesn’t want to get into a head-on collision with me. I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, and that if I drop a hammer from several feet off the ground it will tend to fall on my sore big toe. Nevertheless beliefs are rather unpopular in the social streams that I swim in.
But I hadn’t suspected that I myself was deeply immersed in a personal belief of stunning proportions. And that belief came to be seen by me to be running, and actually ruining my life. More about that a little later.
Amazingly, beliefs are not only the mainstay of many of the world’s religions, they are also the secret mainstay of nearly everything else, from scientism to occultism, as well as, surprisingly, much of the non-dualist, transcendentalist, and even the Buddhist world, though their subscribers would probably rather die than accede to that fact. For these reasons I think that the subject of ‘belief’ deserves a careful re-examination. There might be something of value in getting to know this extraordinary little beast a bit better.
Strangest of all, the Old German root of the word ‘believe’, harkens back not to superstition or doctrines but, to of all things, love.
What Exactly is it to BELIEVE?
First, some definitions:
Encarta: believe– to accept that something is true or real.
My definition: believe- a substitute for having ‘been there’.
Etymology of believe– [summary] from West Germanic languages – “to hold dear, esteem, trust, to care, desire, like, love” 
[ W.Gmc. *ga-laubon “to hold dear, esteem, trust” (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. Glaube), from *galaub- “dear, esteemed,” from intensive prefix *ga- + *leubh- “to care, desire, like, love”]
Most interesting to me is that the etymology of the term stems from a deep feeling-emotional place, rather than a mental-conceptual one. I began to suspect that that fact speaks to the strength and power of believing.
The Big Picture
If you are reading this far I can assume that one of the mysteries of life which you feel inclined to pursue is the question of who we are, and why we do the things we do. As you may have heard, recently researchers in the field of neuroscience have begun to document the phenomena of how people seem to make choices. It has become obvious that we make many of our decisions before the conscious mind even knows that it has made a choice. It is becoming increasingly clear that no matter how much evidence or solid reasoning that you bring to a person, they will only receive it if it conforms to their core belief system. In fact studies have shown that when confronted by overwhelming evidence that a person’s opinion is incorrect, the effect is that the confrontation actually strengthens that person’s commitment to their fallacious point of view!
Historically, Psychologists have always taken very seriously the profound and often overpowering influence of the personal subconscious, to say nothing of the universal unconscious. They understand that hidden in the subconscious of the client will almost certainly lay a crucial number of often self-destructive beliefs about the client’s sense of self, about those around them, and what they can expect from them and from life.
Authors such as George Lakoff talk about this in the political arena as using ‘frames’ to motivate people. He explains that those frames are moral and reflect values, and not merely reasonable or intellectual. But what is that morality based upon?
Politicians and advertisers for many decades have consciously tried to game this phenomenon to suit their own ends. Canny suitors play at this with an eye to score the mate of their dreams. And people continuously make life choices that seem to ruin any chance of happiness or pleasure for themselves. What is operating here?
I myself, being very intrigued by these counter-intuitive revelations about choice-making, have long felt that I wanted to understand this issue better, but didn’t know where to proceed beyond the scientific reports I read, or the doctrines of spirituality, or the matrix of my own thinking mind. And I hadn’t sensed how deeply it infected the ‘spiritual’ level. Not only how it influences or creates our attachment to our chosen worldviews, whether it is atheism, scientism, paganism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and even the Post-Spiritual perspective, but how it controls us at the core of our being.
The second revelation for me occurred as I began to look further into the question of beliefs, was the realization that most post-spiritualists like myself actually had a profound connection to the realm of beliefs, not unlike our spiritual brethren who we are so quick to criticize for being addicted to religious-spiritual beliefs of almost every shape and variety.
And lastly, within that critique of post-spirituality, given my suspicion that all egos are actually made from the ‘stuff’ of beliefs (see below), was whether the post-spiritual doctrine of “no-free-will/divine-will-only” should at last be regarded as itself a belief, rather than an unambiguous and immutable fact. While it is a standard dharmic verity, its use by us mortals indicates that we are still playing the belief game, although we may not altogether realize the extent of it.
The Users and Skeptics
Generally are there 3 kinds of relationship to beliefs- The ‘avowed believers’, the ‘averse believers’, and the ‘pragmatic believers’:
The ‘avowed believers,’ those who honor, embrace them and base their lives around an alignment to those beliefs. Obviously religions from Christians to classical Buddhists come to mind here.
Then there are those who we might call the ‘averse believers’, those who handle beliefs as if they were dealing with the plague, these are your Scientarians (devotees in the popular cult of Scientism, see below), Post-Spiritualists, Advaitists, Zen Buddhists and Jedists.
Then there are the ‘pragmatic believers’ who use beliefs in a casual way, and may believe in almost anything, from their children, to democracy, apple pie, the American Dream, Justice for mankind, Vitamin C, macrobiotic foods, marriage, freedom, the ‘free market’, ‘the future’, or even good bowel movements etc. Perhaps I should leave this group alone as they are probably beyond the Pale.
They all seem to orient themselves in different ways in order to gain power over something – belief, doubt, knowledge, impersonal self-awareness, and the realization of (universal, absolute) ‘Being-ness’.
Scientarians use data and doubt to get more knowledge, and they avoid belief.
Religionists use belief to gain knowledge, or even to get being-ness, but they avoid doubt
Spiritual Folk use knowledge and beliefs to get being-ness, but they don’t like doubt.
Post-Spiritualists avoid doubt, belief and knowledge to get to their higher self or even being-ness,
Mystics use a combination of beliefs and knowledge, but they don’t like doubt very much.
At this point I would like to shift this consideration to a personal perspective in order to offer a humble reference point, which you the reader may find useful in order to follow the trail I will attempt to navigate from the microcosm of the individual to the macrocosm of society. After that I will look at the way ‘scientific’, spiritual, religious people and ordinary men or woman are all quite bedazzled by their secret beliefs.
My Descent into Honesty
About beliefs, I never imagined that I might wake up one morning, look in the mirror and see one looking right back at me! As the old joke goes: “a year ago I couldn’t spell ‘belief,’ but now I is one”!
This adventure began when I noticed that in my life, I had, unbeknownst to me, been suffering from the absurd assumption that I myself was a person! Of course I was intimately aware of all the ‘high dharmic’ challenges to this presumption, but there remained a hidden dimension to this which I had not seen yet. Within my hidden conceit, I had naturally expected to enjoy some kind of ‘good life’ as a reward for my sincere and positive involvement, as well as my overall honoring of the Laws that govern Life.
It was at this point that I discovered exactly what a nightmare I had created! Oh, what an error! Or as the Chinese Government used to say about the foreign policy adventures of other countries: what a “miscalculation!” I suddenly realized just how much suffering this creative dreaming of mine was causing me. And it was truly staggering.
As a psychotherapist, I certainly understand the value of believing in yourself (in a positive way) in order to gain traction against your own dysfunctionality, as well as societies often destructive projections and expectations. I understand the liability of not having trust and faith in yourself in terms of healthy functionality, so trying to live without a belief in one’s own personal existence creates a challenge at a “whole ‘nother level”. An outsider might think that I was trying to create a whole new disorder for myself!
At first I was relieved to have seemingly awoken from my heretofore undiagnosed delirium. But soon I realized that the spell still persisted at subtler levels of my awareness. Not only that, but the new ‘no-self’ presumption (of tangible doubt about my very self) also had repercussions of yet another very unpleasant kind.
The bottom line is this: it was a fool’s errand to live under the expectations of personhood, but the emptiness of new reality was so disorienting as to qualify as another kind of nightmare. Yes it can hurt when you believe in your own dreaming, (contrary to popular psycho-babble) but it also hurts when you can’t believe in your self anymore. I oscillate back and forth nowadays, and I can’t control the fluctuations.
I hadn’t realized that I still had an active and fundamental belief system going with regards to my personal nature. I knew I lived as ego and had been trapped for the last few years in the particular dead-end of absorption in the deeper self. Not to be misunderstood, I didn’t love my self as its personality, as I’m as big a pain in the ass as anyone I know, and certainly no more admirable than the average ego-persona. But I found myself falling easily into a self that is non-personal, and whose nexus always seemed to be located in my chest area, and offered an unprecedented ease of being which nothing in my life had ever equaled. Aloneness became my refuge.
Yet I knew and felt that that self was just another form of ego, and was actually the prime cause of my existential suffering. But enamored as I was with the splendors of routinely abiding in the non-personal self, relatively free of the undertakings of mind and desiring and emotional needing, I found a velvet prison cell I had made for myself that I could find no way to escape.
But this dawning awareness of this self of mine as a superficial belief offered my only real hope of escaping my existential trap, as I certainly could not go back to the all trappings of spirituality; and as I say, my Post-Spirituality was seen and felt as another trap. (For more details about the ‘Post-Spiritual” life you can read all about it here- https://jedmckenna.wordpress.com/post-spirituality )
This developing realization is what led to a shift in my critique of both Spiritual and Non-Spiritual worldviews, and challenged me to take a broader look at this bedraggled redheaded stepchild of philosophy known as “beliefs”.
The Broader Perspective
The only person in the modern ontological or spiritual scene that I knew of who argued convincingly for the hegemony of beliefs was Neale Donald Walsh, who, in his book “Home with God” (yes, a very corny title!) asserted that beliefs were the essence and first form of manifestation within creation. Although a brilliant book, I’d found his choice of the notion of ‘belief’, as the original act and senior principal of creation, to be a clumsy semantic choice. I felt that the truth would have been much better communicated if in its place was substituted, perhaps: attraction, attention, will, imagination, identification, or even desire. But somehow this seemingly unfortunate choice of words created a useful bridge for me to expand my recent revelation into the broader philosophical plane.
I began to see that if something as deep as the assumption of the existence of one’s self ‘ was itself a belief, then as NDW suggested, perhaps everything in the universe is glued together fundamentally by and as beliefs. (the only person who might resist this mirage being the very rare person who stands in total freedom and mastery, in ‘abiding non-dualism’, beyond the Illusions and delusions of ‘Maya’ and ego.)
But here I will go NDW one better. I surmise that beliefs not only direct and create our superficial life and experience for us, but that they actually create us, as a person. The “Creator’s” (whoever the hell that is!) ejaculation of him/herself into the ‘egg’ of our body-mind-psyche machinery, is act of love by which we are born as who we are. We are held in place there as that personality until the Source or Creator gets bored with playing at being that specific ‘Brian’ or ‘Mary’, and bumps us up (or down or over) into a new reality which the ego then claims to have manifested for himself through his own will or whatever.
It is the true ‘original sin,’ but the real responsibility lies not with humanity but with its creator (who is, of course, his own divine self at play). Original Sin in this case is based not upon responding to a temptation to eat the ‘apple’ from the Tree of Knowledge, but by imbibing on the intoxicating grapes that hang on the vines of Belief. Man is born with beliefs already active, a priori, because of the divine’s use of that device to create the illusion of personal separate identities, and beyond that, even more dramatic qualities of experience such as separation and even seeming divorce from Source (the ego’s true or real identity, of course ). If anything mankind is the ‘victim’ of a creator gods use of beliefs to create, not the ‘sinner’. If anyone has original sin, it is god.
This would go some way towards explaining the incredible irrationality and self-destructiveness of human beings. I’m not the first person to notice that people are not interested in hearing about well-reasoned assessments, or your or anyone else’s wisdom, for they are riveted to something much more dear to their hearts -their own beliefs. To challenge a man’s beliefs will usually be perceived by him as a death-threat.
So to try and overpower a belief system is in fact to try to overpower the creator (whether that creator is within yourself, or an outsider), and it’s not going to happen! Of course, that rigidity applies equally to ‘skeptics’ such as scientists, who are as strangled by their own belief in the preeminence of the rational mind and the senses, as are the ardent religionists and spiritual folk, with their beliefs in the pantheon of heroes and super-truths that they have embraced in their hope of finding salvation, safety and comfort in a savage world.
The Scientarians, the ‘Non-Believers’ of Scientism
Many people assert that they are steadfast non-believers. Most notably these days are ‘luminaries’ such as Richard Dawkins, who is foremost of the new ‘missionaries’ of the great cult of reason. Understandably they are at war with the religion over the hideous distortions and crimes which religion has perpetrated over the millennium on humankind (and continues to do so to this day). But few people seem to notice and identify clearly what Adi Da described decades ago as the Cult of Scientism. That is, that aside from the admirable use by scientists of the scientific method to obtain objective and useful power within our world, there was a new religion around called Scientism, whose subscribers believed deeply, and with a religious type fervor, that science could save humanity by the substituting the rational methodology of science, not only for the decrepit superstitions and beliefs of religion, but for the contemplations of art, philosophy, spirituality, or anything else, for that matter.
One problem with this stance was that they made a straw man out of the obvious lunacies of big-religion, entirely ignoring the greater aspects of esoteric and experiential spiritualty, as well as ignoring or dismissing the equally hideous consequences that application to the Cult of Scientism had already bestowed upon our world (chemical additives which are now killing the planet, nuclear weapons, technologies designed to surveil and control humanity etc).
I take special pleasure in dismantling Scientism’s unique lunacies because while Big-Religion was always the intellectual stalking horse of Feudalism, Scientism is the hammer of the modern Fascist state, from Japan to China to Europe and on into America. It has big privileges nowadays and a vast governmental support system to solidify its power base, so it deserves a particularly vigorous working over.
Scientarians have their high priests (see above), their theories which have become dogma (the list is immense, see reference below), and let’s not forget their majestic mystical incantations: (drum roll, please!) “Cognito Ergo Sum!”,or better- “E=MC2!” through which they get to think that thinking (and doubting) is all we are made from, and that they have just solved the grand mystery of life. No need to test the veracity of this premise- it is dogma, stupid! No need to experiment with the internal subjective world and its disciplines of esoteric spirituality; that would obviously be too hard! No need to explore the thousands of years old traditions of superior men and women who had something a little more profound to offer the human race than cheap toasters, cool gadgets and dead philosophy. And anyway, ‘I did try meditating once, and it didn’t work’! Case closed! Whatever happened to using the tools of intuition, hypothesis, experiment, documentation and corroboration to find answers to the questions concerning the possibility that the human experience is capable of more than objective conceptual scientific knowledge?
Scientarians have their self-serving rituals (awards such as the Nobel Peace Prize), their presumptions of wisdom (by the application of ration thought and the scientific method we can gain power of Nature, and create a utopia), and their very active persecution of ‘heretics’ (see below link). And they have their taboos, which only the foolhardy dare to violate (“don’t play around with spirituality, emotions, or acknowledge a reality other than the conceptual mind, and the needs of the modern industrial state”). And lastly they have their deities (Hawkins, Einstein, Planck, Darwin, Newton, Galileo…). Say ‘Amen’, somebody!!! Hosannas in the Highest!
But more to the point they have their belief in rationality, and dogmatic doubt relative to everything which doesn’t conform to the current doctrines of Scientism. Have they ever bothered themselves to test whether this belief is valid, or what its limitations may be? Any psychologist or philosopher could offer magnificent counter arguments to their assertion that rationality or reason or thinking is a profoundly limited mechanism in determining something of the truth of our existence. Not to mention mystics and experiencers of every kind. And I know a few good women who could make mincemeat out of their precious mental presumptions.
Scientists are fine people and provide a wonderful service to humanity. They are intellectuals and technicians of the highest order. But Scientarians are, in every sense of the word, true-believers. In fact, you can take it one step further, their rigid adherence to the dogmas of rationality and materialism, and their refusal to acknowledge other ways of knowing mark them as fundamentalists.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…it’s a duck!
From Wikipedia: “Scientism is a term used, usually pejoratively, to refer to belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints. It has been defined as “the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism
Allan Bullock & Stephen Trombley (Eds), The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, London: Harper Collins, 1999, p.775
Top 10 Reasons Science Is Another Religion – http://listverse.com/2012/12/15/top-10-reasons-science-is-another-religion/
Beliefs amongst Post-Spiritual Folk
We don’t love what which we believe in, we believe in that which we love.
I had assumed that what distinguished a spiritual person (as I myself had been in the past), from a Post-Spiritual person (which I am now) was that the spiritual person was profoundly controlled by belief in mind based forms such as, practices, dogmas, rituals, traditions, interpretations, revelations, scriptures and authority figures, whereas I had assumed that the Post-Spiritual person was free of all that stuff, because Post-Spiritualists seemed clearly to be guided solely by a realization of the self itself, and are not organized or driven by such relics in any significant way. It turned out though, that this assumption was only half true. Post-Spiritualists don’t have a mind-form belief system, but they do have a self-based belief system.
Post-Spiritualists typically pay tribute to (at least the spirit of) the Enlightenment concepts of Monism, Non-Dualism, and Transcendentalism etc., but this sympathy or association frequently seduces them into idealistically identify themselves as living beyond, not only dogma, but any beliefs. But their hidden beliefs may actually be hidden within their own self, a place that they may not yet be well equipped (as egos) to see into. They don’t see that they too are “believers”. Arguably their belief system is simpler than the typical religious or spiritual person’s, but it is there, nonetheless.
This Post-Spiritual form of personal idealism is structurally identical to the strategy of a garden variety religious idealist, who claims that he is free from this or that sin or motive, or dark behavior, or doubts about divinity. It’s just a little subtler here.
They boast of the quality of freedom they have from conceptual bandage which is indeed absent from their field of personal consciousness, while they fail to notice their dark or hidden dimensions. In the case of Post-Spiritualists, they feel that they are indeed ‘Awake”, as if believing it will make it so. How do I know that? Just a matter of experience. I know ‘post-spirituality’ because I have lived it every day of my life for years. The flaw is evident in my own self. You can taste it, smell it, and see it. If it quacks, it’s ‘a duck’! I’m a duck!
Some Post-Spiritualists I know claim that they don’t believe in anything, at all, even conventional notions such as the likelihood that they will die, that the Earth orbits around the Sun, or that the Sun will rise again. This assertion is usually based on an overuse and over dependence upon the mental faculty, an over-identification with the rational and intellectual worldview that they hold as Truth, just as with convention religious folk.
They unwittingly excluding the realities which are lurking within the heart – the feeling dimension of their ‘love’ of self or family etc., their relationship to physicality and their body, and the psychic dimension of being. They make sincere claims of grand detachment. In such a state they don’t notice that they are bonded to a limited worldview that suits their ego’s need to set itself up as being a ‘free’ person. Here I would cite the work of Adyashanti who explained that it is fairly common to find people to have enlightened minds, not common to come across people who have enlightened hearts, and very rare to find people who have enlightened bodies. If you only have an enlightened mind you may find it very easy to believe things about yourself that are just plain untrue. Why? Because it secretly supports the ego.
Ask such a person to apply his conviction about his total freedom from beliefs as it applies to his relationship to his children, or his parents, and other emotional dimensions of existence. If you were to threaten his life, a more-than biological defense mechanism will likely be displayed. Ask him to hand over his bank account and valuables to you, and we may soon see some real negotiations begin. He defends himself because he believes in himself, he believes in himself because he loves himself, and he loves himself because his ‘creator’ wants him to be just as he is! At least for the moment.
My conclusion about these splendid folk is that their claims to not believe anything is almost always a sign of some unexamined dissociative activity, tantamount to claiming that you don’t love anything. It is to naively imply that you are ‘Enlightened’ without putting yourself out there for closer examination in the light of others (make-believe).
If your worldview is constructed upon unexamined beliefs, it means that you can’t really discern your real position in the midst of things.
If your world is constructed out of a denial of beliefs, that suggests that you haven’t fully engaged in and become aware of your deeper energetic, emotional and psychic attachment to things.
The Side-Step of Spiritual People
On the other hand, many spiritual people, having been informed of the criticism about ‘mere’ beliefs, have shifted their testimonial into a ‘higher’ lexicon of authentication. They will report for instance that they don’t merely BELIEVE such and such is true, but instead they report that they have EXPERIENCED the truth (concerning their spiritual relationships or affiliations). They will faithfully testify about the ecstatic communion they experience with a particular God or Spirit or Guru, and cite this as evidence that they are not indeed bound by belief, but instead have realized this particular truth through that experience.
The dynamic which is apparently invisible to them is one which we might call ‘interpretation’, the kissing cousin of belief. No doubt they did (or do) experience genuine ecstatic communion with their beloved. No doubt its quality surpasses everything a mortal could ordinarily experience. It is truly great! Godlike! But if they were a little more observant or sensitive they might have to admit that they didn’t really know what the hell was going on during that experience, however wonderful it actually was.
But instead of remaining blissfully ignorant about the nature of the encounter, instead they almost always interpret it according to the doctrines of their chosen belief system (path). Then it becomes: “I was infused by the Holy Spirit”. “I felt her transmission”. “He says he is God-Incarnate, and my sublime experience necessarily means that I am in a good position to confirm this to be true-(I believe him)”. In all honesty they will rarely have any real idea what exactly they experienced, or what is what is altogether in this universe, except that they had an extraordinary and a wonderful moment(s). But their cultural explanation (interpretation) is accepted and repeated as if it were their own truth! I myself have done this type of shape-shifting a thousand times in my own spiritual life, yet I submit that this type of testimony is simply a belief. We might call this affliction: PESD = post ecstatic stress disorder!
My Everyday Response
However my personhood ‘originally’ came into creation- whether it was by some god, or whether it was by me when I was born – or directly from ultimate Source, the most important fact was that I was seeming to add fuel to the fire by unconsciously fixating on the notion that I was a person, as if that assumption was a genuine necessity and irrefutable fact. I now seem to have an option (discussions concerning the reality of ‘Free-Will’ notwithstanding here).
Exactly how I have come to maintain (rather than create) some degree of freedom from this belief that “I am a person” is in applying a fundamental insight articulated most elegantly by Adi Da when he asserted that — suffering is caused by the self-contraction, and the self-contraction is, by nature, an activity, not a state. In any moment of my life, I might begin to notice that I was once again busily activating my self, as a ‘person,’ with all the consequences and demands of such an action.
But now that I had access to a kind of ‘dual awareness’, I seemed to have some degree of freedom to continue to either affirm myself as a person, or simply to ignore that presumption, feel the burn, and see what comes of it. Not only that but the tacit sense of myself as residing deeply inside my chest is now completely gone. somehow I’m beginning to feel myself outside the perimeter of my body and mind. It feels good and it feels better and it feels like the next step for me.
So the good news for me is that this seeing of my self as a mere belief has indeed provided the catalyst for me to break me out of the velvet prison I was trapped in.
The Life of the Believer
In summary, it is not a question of blame or judgment, you are if course welcome to may maintain many many, many beliefs, or very few beliefs. If you have lots of beliefs, you will have a very rich and full and dynamic life. If you have very few beliefs, you will have a very free and easeful and simple life. If you look deep inside, I am pretty sure you will be able to find that you have some your own. My point is that any particular persona is a unique assortment of beliefs rolled into the person that you call yourself.
Beliefs have a bad reputation nowadays because of its association with old-time religion and psychological dysfunction. Everyone wants to get away from any beliefs they have, or may be seen to have, because they feel it is the mark of psychological problems and spiritual delusion. I understand and empathize but they are the Ferris wheel of life. Do you really want to step off of Ferris wheel now?
A spiritual person often claims to have chosen their path either directly, or as a result of responding to contact from a higher power. A post-spiritual person will often claim that they did not choose to leave their spiritual path in order to take up the post-spiritual path; they simply ‘fell’ out of it, into something better. They will affirm that claim with some evidence from their lives, and support that by citing some of the doctrines of non-dualism which supports a fatalistic no-free-will presumption.
So I offer you, dear reader, a variety of questions which may apply to you and which you may wish to consider. Or maybe not:
–If you assume the truth of free will, and spirituality by way of intentionality, is it possible that that those assumptions are based upon belief?
–If you are a spiritual person – how much of what you take for granted about your path is actually a belief, which at this point may actually holding you back from a truer relationship with reality?
–If you don’t believe in free will and dismiss spirituality by way of intentionality as patently absurd, is it possible that that assumption is a limitation?
–For the post-spiritual person -are you actually as free of beliefs, specifically regarding your spiritual or post-spiritual worldview, as you think you are?
–to what degree do you still assume that you are a person, who expects that by persistence in your virtue, you will at last become fully realized and enlightened, or even just ‘ordinary’?
–If you are a devotee of Scientism can you now confess to the ‘sin’ of being a ‘true believer’?
If beliefs are simply the stuff of which egos are made, then I suggest that it behooves a person to look again to try to locate his own hidden belief system, as that belief system, however useful it was at one time in your life, may just be the glue that is holding your ego in place. I have nothing against beliefs, after all, as I say above, I am one! But I would just like to see people own the fact that they are in fact, ‘believers’.
Lastly I’d suggest one more question to direct to yourself, if you are interested: How much discomfort do you feel in yourself, the moment or two AFTER you ask yourself any of the above questions? That irritation is usually the signal for me that I’ve touched something that my ego doesn’t want touched. My response to that defensive reaction is what determines whether I move forward, or go into denial.
But please don’t listen to me about all this- this is just what I believe- and it certainly can’t be the Truth!
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
“When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realization the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the ‘I am’, which again is a mode of being.” The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.
 CITATION Zal03 \l 3081 (Zaltman, 2003)