Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Nature of Belief.

In this post I'm referring to belief as the mind saying to itself, for instance, 'this must be so.' What is the nature of such a statement? For one thing it is assertive, it is claiming to know beyond a shadow of doubt that 'this is so.' There is an absoluteness about it, and there is a certain necessity that is implied for it to even make sense. 'It must be this way and that is why I know this must be so.' But is it ever truly observing something, actually, or is it all just implied? So, for instance, I can believe beyond any doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow morning outside of my window. And as long as I assume that I will survive the night, and the Earth will survive the night, the sun will rise with an almost absolute certainty. That's rather obvious, right, I mean I can directly observe the sun rising each day if I so choose? I'm sure it can be argued otherwise, but why bother.

However, when my attention moves into the realm of that which cannot be objectively, physically verified by others, like the statement/belief 'I will be a better person by next week', things get a little more complicated. The sun rises because there is a very definite succession of physically moving objects observing certain concrete laws, it actually 'is so' in that regard. The sun will not rise two hours earlier today than yesterday, there is an observable succession of movement. The twelve hours that pass between 5:47pm and 5:47am may seem to pass by much quicker to me, relative to you, but my personal experience will not change the fact that the sun will rise at 5:47am for both of us. But in the realm of that which is put together by thought, is there such a succession of moving phenomena obeying concrete laws? Or is there no succession of moments at all? Are you following all of this? Belief, in this regard, seems to be man's hope that the laws he observes in the natural world around him apply to the world created by his thoughts. If I think of myself as selfish today I believe I can follow an exact succession of steps in order to move from selfishness to unselfishness in a certain period of time. Is this actually so?

We know from our physical surroundings, and thousands of years of experience, that being able to predict with near absolute certainty creates a sense of security. The discovery of agriculture, for example, stems from observing/predicting the seasonal changes of the environment. Because one can rely on certain patterns there grows a sense of security. The flip side being the loss of that certainty creates insecurity. It seems the brain of every human, the human brain, demands such security. In other words, we call that craving for security...life, all of life, everywhere. Life is never 'actually' guaranteed said security, even for the top species on the planet, but we can and must, to a degree, accept the fact that certain phenomena can be relied on to such a degree as to seem absolutely secure, like the sun rising. And yet when we look at psychological life, the life of me and mine and who I will become, you know, the personal, relative life of your own attention and making, where is this security, where is this implied foundation of absolute certainty that one can build securely from? Isn't belief that security? Belief being the statement, 'this must be so', said with absolute certainty. And yet, coming full circle, what is the nature of that belief?