Standing on solid ground provides an inherent sense of security. We tend to take this for granted except perhaps for a few seconds after disembarking from a plan or a boat.
Just as our bodies find stability on solid ground, our minds seek their own form of stability. A primary way our minds attempt to achieve a sense of stability is through the cultivation of conscious and unconscious belief systems.
A belief is something a person accepts as true or real. Beliefs often come in clusters or constellations, which is why we often call them belief systems. Some belief systems are held as absolutes, as in the case of religious fundamentalists. Other belief systems are held more loosely but are still accepted as true or valid.
Belief systems can provide us with a sense of meaning in an apparently chaotic world. They give our minds something to stand on. Even if we’re only standing on something as unstable as a Frisbee soaring through the air, any stability feels better than no stability.
This helps explain why we tend to cling to our belief systems: they give us a sense of safety even if the belief isn’t true. A belief can help us feel grounded even if the belief ultimately prohibits our growth and development.
Transcending Belief Systems
Letting go of our cherished belief systems can be frightening because it means being willing to float in emptiness with nothing under our feet. The notion of emptiness isn’t too compelling when we cling to our belief systems. Resting in emptiness means sleeping with the unknown, trusting in forces beyond our understanding (hence, it has been called the unconscious).
Transcending our beliefs means setting aside the very foundation of our previous sense of existence, letting go of a false sense of security we once enjoyed. In so doing, we learn to accept inherent paradoxes and live with contradictions found within others, the world, and ourselves.
Courage is a prerequisite for the daring adventurer. But even more important than courage is the need to understand the true nature of our suffering and the role our belief systems tend to play in masking our suffering.
The price of holding onto old beliefs—even those that provide us with a false sense of security—is our freedom. Liberation only comes to those willing to challenge that which we hold most dear. It’s a wild adventure, definitely not for the faint of heart.
With clarity of heart and mind, we can examine what we believe to be true—even what our most esteemed teachers and guides have told us. Our perception of truth is always changing. A lesser truth will always be replaced by a greater truth; such is the evolution of Spirit.
If we’re courageous enough to challenge what we “know” to be true, we can set those beliefs aside that no longer support our development. We can be flexible and grow, or we can remain stagnant and wither away. The choice is always ours.