More than Believe

May 20, 2013 - 8:45am -- fraser

So okay.  We all do this freaking great job of declring to the world what we believe and intend to believe for the rest of our lives.  That's all well and good as far as it goes, but that's the catch, see: what we believe is only a belief until it shows up in something real.  

For a long time I lived with this idea that believing the right stuff was what really matters. So much of the way we approach politics or religion or philosophy is about the correctness of ideas and beliefs--or the perceived correctness. And it's one thing to tear off in a rage because somebody challenges your beliefs (methinks thou dost protest too much) and quite another to trust that your beliefs are right enough for you at this time and this place for you to act on those beliefs.

The world is full of people who had exciting religious experiences but then lost the energy and momentum (see also Bob Dylan's temporary conversion to Christianity in the early 1980s).  I think part of our problem (and I am no less a sucker for getting swept up in momentary emotion or the lingering effects of feeling that I'd finally gained the corner on right beliefs (thereby giving me a superiority, you see--god, what a loser I am). Those beliefs are just great as long as they satisfy our own supposed needs.  The other, though equally disabling, thing that we do is to take powerful experiences and start trying to explain them into theories.  This may actually be just as arrogant as thinking that our experiences make us somehow superior--both of these reactions can end up preventing us from testing our ideas in real life.  Aren't the best beliefs the ones that are real and that really determine our actions?  I guess believing in the power of love, yet acting out of hatred actually reveals the depth of that love to begin with.