the truth about beliefs

Today we ask you to question your thoughts and beliefs.

This is something we have asked many times, but it bears repeating.

Just because you think something is true, doesn’t make it so.

Humans have historically believed many things are true, that are totally false.

Humans have believed the world is flat, that the sun revolves around the Earth, and that the solar system is encased within a large shell with holes in it, giving the appearance of stars.  

Many humans still believe they are the only sentient life forms in the universe, which is an utterly nonsensical belief, given the vastness of the universe, and the billions of stars and galaxies.  And yet many intelligent humans believe this.

Humans have been convinced that certain races are superior to other races, which has justified enslavement and genocide.

If you look back on your life with real honesty and clarity, you will discern that there have been many, many times you were convinced something was true, that was totally false.

Humans are rather credulous, as a rule.  If someone speaks with an authoritative voice, many people will believe that person — even if the person is telling lies.  And so historically preachers, politicians and tyrants have systematically destroyed lives, by spreading lies.

Even outside of wars, enslavement, and genocide, countless lives are still destroyed today because people believe lies.  Most suicides are caused by people believing lies about themselves, and reality.

That is why one of the most intelligent and useful things you can do is constantly question your thoughts and beliefs.

When some authoritative voice tells you something, you must learn to ask: Is that true?

This is especially important with parents, preachers, teachers, and voices on the TV and internet.

Does believing what this person is saying make you feel relaxed, or afraid?

That is the criterion by which to measure any belief.

Is the belief stressful?  Does it feel bad?  Does it make you feel angry at others, or yourself?  Does it make you fearful?  Does it convey a feeling that you are a victim of a hostile universe?

Or is the belief something that relieves stress, and relaxes you?  Does it make you feel good, and loving toward yourself, and others?  Does the belief convey a feeling that you are an empowered being, in a friendly universe?

Keep any thought or belief that suggests the latter.  The rest, you must question.

When someone tells you something that triggers a stressful response, when you are thinking a thought that feels stressful, you must ask — is that true?

Is it true that climate change will destroy the world?

Is it true that I am an irresponsible failure?

Is it true?  Can I be certain of this?  Can I definitively prove it?

The Work of Byron Katie is an excellent guide for this process.

When you truly grasp this, it is very uncomfortable, recognizing how all the certainties you cling to are unreal.

But on the other side of that discomfort is liberation.