Beliefs. Beliefs are this magical thing. Well, these magical things. Quite a bit more so in subjective than in objective
reality, at that.
From the subjective perspective, beliefs are the framework of reality. All that occurs does so within the context of beliefs.
Subjectivity states that, rather than observing objects “out there” and then forming beliefs based upon observation, your observations result from your beliefs. Empiricism, then, becomes a way of not forming beliefs, but rather observing- or, perhaps, discovering- them.
I could crudely assert that this reality is basically a conglomerate of beliefs- specifically, my beliefs- though I’m not sure I believe that reality is really so crude. But it’s not too inaccurate to say this. Not too far off the mark.
What I like about this model of reality is that I don’t have to take in logical considerations and objections to my ideas “out there.” Instead, I just work with what’s “in here”- in me. This makes thinking quite a bit more comfortable- and perhaps, I’d like to think, more productive.
I was thinking about this earlier, both before and during my workout (i.e. running). I thought about how I run slowly- whatever the effort- and feel pain because I believe these things will happen. I thought about how I’ve believed these things for quite some time now, and I don’t foresee these beliefs changing anytime soon because I’ve become so damn hung up on them (as though they’re a coat rack for consciousness).
Then I thought how I’ve essentially been walking through a belief-mill everyday—or, perhaps, a belief factory (basically the same thing). The beliefs are the factory structure, which includes the machinery. A certain product is created based on that structure. As long as the beliefs- and thus the structure- remain the same, the product of each moment shall be the same, also.
Typically, the longer the factory stays the same, the harder it is to change. The workers are too used to doing their jobs a certain way, and the owners don’t want to buy different machinery or to change their marketing tactics. Too much effort, yeh know? Got to stay in the flow.
Layers of Belief
A conglomeration of beliefs is really quite crude. We could add on to say that reality operates on layers of beliefs.
For instance, in Subjective Reality: An Overview from the Inside I said that the dream (the “container” of subjective reality) will challenge your beliefs. For me the dream does indeed do this, but that’s only because I believe it will. Nothing happens in the dream unless I believe it.
Of course, that is a belief in itself. If I believed myself powerless against the events of the dream, and I am at the mercy of complete chaos, then I will be. But it’s tough to believe that. It’s difficult to believe that there’s absolutely no order to this world. Things are a tad too monotonous for that.
Picking up on beliefs- more “core” beliefs, in particular- can require picking up on subtle thoughts and feelings. They may not jump right out at you, but if you follow the cues you are likely to find them.
Don’t take much at surface value: the waters are not always so clear. But who believes that anyway?
For instance, I said a few words ago that I believe the dream will challenge my beliefs. But the deeper belief which I hold more strongly is that the dream wants me to grow.
But then, of course, what do I believe “growth” is? Perhaps it’s the ability to be more flexible in my beliefs. Not sure I have that one down right yet!
Anyway, when I look back on my life, it seems that I’ve subtly known in advance what my beliefs will someday become. Perhaps it’s just poor hindsight, but I think even while I held some of my most radical stances I knew, at least subconsciously, that these beliefs would not stay.
It’s just tough to be certain. Perhaps I have not lived long enough to understand the way beliefs tend to change, to ebb and flow, throughout a life. But, again, that too is just a belief.
Maybe I’m making this difficult for myself by considering time. I have said before that in subjective reality, time is irrelevant. The “past” arises as thoughts in your mind only as a reflection of your present state of consciousness. It’s not some collection of events that happened “out there” which you must capture as a “memory,” and you do not bring up these “memories” haphazardly and without purpose.
In subjective reality, it’s basically inaccurate to consider that there is such a thing as “memory,” as memory is time-dependent. I will admit, however, that this thought is somewhat disconcerting.
It seems I might be more apt to feel paranoid when I’m aware of the simultaneous power and flexibility of beliefs. At the end of my workout today I ran up a big hill (on the road) near my school. 4 or 5 cars passed me that were also going up, and when I heard each one I was legitimately paranoid that they were going to swerve to the left side of the road and hit me. I looked back and watched each car after I heard it.
In 6 and a half years of running, I’m pretty sure I’ve never had such a thought except for today. Is it degenerate, hysteria-stirring dream logic? Or are broader considerations about what is possible creeping in?
Removing the Belief-Filter
I also thought today about the Lefkoe Method, which is basically a thought process (created by a dude named Morty Lefkoe) for eliminating beliefs. Those beliefs may be replaced in time, though the immediate effect is to, essentially, weaken the belief filter. For whatever the belief pertains to, the filter for that thing disappears.
So if I believe that squirrels are evil, and I use the Lefkoe Method to eliminate that belief, then I don’t believe anything about squirrels anymore (at least, for a little while).
But I may be stepping on my own toes. If beliefs form the framework of subjective reality, then what happens when I take those beliefs away?
Well, reality basically becomes more fluid. The realm of potentiality becomes more potent. The belief-pool becomes more evened out.
Imagine that I remove the frame surrounding a painting: what happens? Typically you might say, nothing. But what’s more likely in a dream world?
Maybe the frame actually holds the contents of the painting together, and when it’s removed all of the hardened colors become liquid and flow away from the canvas, perhaps to mix together and become new colors. Whatever they do become, the colors (that is, the paint) have regained the ability to become something. They aren’t locked into being part of a concrete image anymore. Now possibility- that is, movement- has returned to them, and there are a whole lot of things they might become.
If you really, really, really are able to let go of beliefs- and I’m talking about all of your beliefs, the most fundamental ones especially- then your reality may too become a river of mixing paint.
But, of course, most things happen to a relative extent most of the time. The experience of removing the belief filter can be intense and fear-inducing due to the premise of possibility; yet, it sometimes produces a sense of calm readiness, by which you are prepared to face whatever may come your way.
I haven’t been able to operate on “filters-off” mode for too long at one stretch; though I tend to be, it seems, aware of the specific beliefs that pull me toward them and back into “filters-on” mode.
Actually, I think removing the filters helps me to identify the beliefs I have, because I get to experience being overtaken by specific beliefs. If I never took off the filters, in contrast, it would be easier to take those beliefs for granted and remain unaware of them, as we tend to become insensitive to things that are always present.
I should mention that the removal of the belief filter is basically the same as using the ability of foresight (see my homepage if you have not before). Foresight means about the same as perceptual flexibility, the capacity to view a situation a different way.
Generally the first and most appropriate step of foresight is to let go of the belief you have about the situation right now, leaving yourself empty and open to other possibilities. You choose to see that this one way is not the only way.
I should also mention that the concept of belief, as we know it, is time-dependent. It’s a thought that arises over and over and over again: from the context of time, it seems you have difficulty parting with that thought.
From a subjective perspective, a belief is basically a strong thought you have right now, which generally takes some form in reality (e.g. I believe that I will feel the ground under my feet; this belief takes the form of, indeed, a ground that I am standing on).
What counts in belief removal, then, is whether you can do it right now. When you challenge a strong belief of yours it can be scary to consider, “You want me to drop this belief forever?” So you can play with your thoughts. Ask, “Can you believe for 1 second that it can snow and be 60 degrees Fahrenheit at the same time?” Then you say, “Hm, you know, I think I could try that!”
I asked myself a rather interesting question earlier. I thought, other people might ask me, of all this stuff, where this whole series of belief-formation and observation-making started. Surely the observation-making must have come before the belief-formation, because how can a mind that is totally new to the world have beliefs about the world before observing it?
Well, that makes sense from an objective perspective. But remember that from a subjective perspective, time is irrelevant. That means that there probably was no “beginning”: there’s only right now, duh. So when you ask that question, the subjective perspective either collapses or it interprets its meaning to fit the dream world.
From a subjective perspective, I cannot answer that question the way the objective perspective would like me to consider it. Such a thought does not compute. But I have to stay in the dream- remember? I can’t start pretending there’s some world of objects out there!
It’d be easiest, then, to consider this question as resistance to the dream. Of course, I know that’s an unexciting response. But… Well, I’ll just leave you hanging there for now. ;)
Beliefs About Objects
A point which I began to cover earlier but did not cover in full was that of belief-layers. The “core” beliefs I mentioned are those beliefs you have about the fundamental nature of reality (is that redundant?). In other words, these are your beliefs about how reality operates.
These beliefs are typically quite difficult to alter in any way, though remember that that, too, is a belief. Even the strongest of beliefs are subject to change.
Gravity, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is a concept that is quite difficult to not believe in. Try it- I dare you.
Somewhat more fluid are ideas about biology, the human need to eat and sleep, in particular. These ideas have, however, been defied in at least a few cases, because sleep is silly.
But gravity and biology are beliefs directly about the “object” aspect of the dream. Perhaps we can consider objected-related beliefs to be fundamental on some level (layer), though the really good stuff consists in your beliefs about how reality as a whole operates.
I am sharing some such beliefs with you in this article, such as the idea that beliefs form the framework of reality. The objective perspective believes that the building blocks of reality are particles of matter, known as atoms (well, or maybe quarks. I don’t know how miniscule science has become). What do you believe?
What the belief-model says about biology is that, in a nutshell, all medicine is placebo. The placebo effect pertains to the “mental” aspect of medicine, by which a fake pill or other inert treatment helps patients feel better, presumably because the patient believes the treatment will work.
To test whether a treatment works beyond reasons of placebo, researchers conduct studies in which both they and the participants are unaware of whether the participants receive a placebo treatment or the real deal. This is done in an attempt to reduce the influence of their beliefs on the results of the experiments.
This is wise, but it’s not perfect. You cannot escape the dream, you see. Whatever the participant believes on a subconscious level is what will react with the pill. So if a patient strongly and truly believes that no medicine will help him, then it will not.
But, again, we cannot take what he says at face value: our own beliefs are elusive to us. They are subconscious, after all.
I mentioned in Subjective Reality: An Overview from the Inside, however, that it is more difficult to lie to yourself in the context of the dream. To lie to yourself means to resist the dream. If you’re like me, however, and you believe that the dream will push you toward truth, then it will do so.
Of course, I believe this is fundamental to dream mechanics: what the heck would the dream show you but yourself? The truth about yourself will stare you in the face- perhaps literally. You can escape only by closing your eyes, but even this will not work for long: soon the truth will start breathing down your neck.
I am uncertain whether it is correct from the dream perspective to say that humans (or at least, I) have both a conscious and a subconscious mind. Even from a more objective perspective (i.e. the “conventional” perspective is semi, though not 100%, objective: you believe in thought, don’t you?) this idea is useful.
I suppose a purely subjective perspective would say there is only what we know to be a subconscious, as everything that happens in dreams (as we know them) arises within a subconscious mind. So even what appears to be conscious thought is but an extension of the subconscious. This thing I call “consciousness”- even collective consciousness- is, in the dream world, just a part of the dream (though a potent one).
For me, the primacy of beliefs has been most apparent while I run. Sometimes I feel like I need to whip out a whole control panel that displays which beliefs are operating right now, and which also contains switches for activating or deactivating them. There’s a lot going on at once! A speedy athlete must also be a skilled captain.
It sometimes feels easiest to play around with my thoughts and beliefs when I run. Perhaps the mind is most fluid when the body is. I like to say to myself, “Hey, stop believing in that ankle pain for a second.” So I do, and for a moment it goes away.
The extent to which I can remove pain, you guessed it, depends on my belief in my ability to do so. If I believe I can only make the pain stop for a second, then that will be so. If I believe that I can actually allow that area of my body to heal, then it heals, and the pain does not return (well, not too soon, anyway).
It’s interesting, as I’ve said before that I’ve had a lot of resistance to changing my beliefs about my body and about running. But perhaps the dream is starting to coax me in that direction. Perhaps I’ve demonstrated a sufficient ability and desire to change.
Of course, the only entity I can show these things to is myself. There is no one else to answer to.
I believe that once even a small, subconscious inkling of a desire for change has been introduced, change shall in time occur. It appears as though the dream plants a suggestion in me to be played out, though I have to wonder whether it is I who plants a suggestion in the dream. Or maybe we do these things to each other at the same time. Perhaps the distinction is pretentious, as I am but a character in the dream.
I can think of lots of times where these suggestions of change have proved their power. A few months ago I read an article by Steve Pavlina called How to Achieve Travel Goals. Prior to this, I would read about his travel experiences fairly interested, but “knowing” that I had little interest in travel myself.
But when I read this article, I felt the planting of a seed in my brain. Suddenly the door creaked open just a little to the premise of travel…
Now, after more information regarding travel has arisen in my reality, in the form of podcasts, personal experiences, and other articles, I’ve seriously considered traveling full-time for a while. I’m not 100% certain at this point that I will do so, but I have indeed been moving in that direction. Whatever the case, clear changes have occurred.
And what does it mean to grow, anyway? To be more aware of and open to possibility? To develop your skills? To have more choices based on that awareness and those skills, and thus able to claim more responsibility for your actions? I sure like the sound of that.
It does indeed seem, then, that the dream is coaxing me into growth. Well, or I’m coaxing the dream into coaxing me into growth. But you know what I mean (right?). J
I perceive that beliefs operate on a statistical basis. The strength of a belief determines the way it manifests in reality.
If I have a moderate belief, for instance, that cars usually aren’t pink, then most cars won’t be pink, but I’ll certainly see a few pink cars here and there (even if all of them are driven by Barbie). If I have a weak belief that it will snow tomorrow, the possibility of snow is there, but it’s pretty mediocre. If I have an unshakeable belief about the laws of gravity, then I shall observe no exceptions to those laws.
The manifestation of beliefs includes what I perceive other people to believe. Because my belief in gravity (I know, I’m beating this example to death) is at about 100%, then I will observe that 100% of people “believe” (relatively speaking) in gravity.
If I have a weak belief that long, steady-state aerobic exercise is essential to good health and fitness, then a few other people will agree, but for the most part people’s beliefs will be all over the place.
It certainly is interesting to watch this play out. I can actually observe a whole ideological battle that would have played out in my head. I don’t even have to worry about thinking through nuances and considering different perspectives, it seems: this happens right before my eyes.
In one of my classes today we basically had a series of debates. The teacher would ask a question and each person would move to the designated corner of the room that best fit their stance on the question: Strongly agree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, or somewhat disagree. It was basically a live survey with discussion.
Pretty much everything that I was thinking also manifested “on scene,” so to speak. All the concerns and conflicts of thought I had and opposition to the thoughts of “other people”… from what I can tell, all of them were voiced. I barely spoke: I could have spoken to some nuances, but for the most part there was no need. And I knew this.
I knew, watching my classmates, what was bound to come out of their mouths (well, or hoping they would say the things I wanted to). Sometimes this happens beyond the point of comfort: during my previous Subjective Reality 30 Day Trial (“dream experiment”), I reached a point of sometimes knowing word-for-word what my teachers would say right before (i.e. seconds) before they actually said them.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a psychic or can predict the future: that’s just not the right way to view this. To me, the case is simply that the more I know and understand myself, the more likely I am to know what will happen in the dream.
Of course, this is not to say that I drag myself through my days, bored because of my knowledge of what will happen (school, however, is rather predictable sometimes). Rather, it’s interesting to be able to interact with my internal process.
In addition, as I said earlier, subconscious processes are elusive. I don’t know everything that goes on in me. The dream definitely has its way of surprising and exciting me, pretty much on a daily basis. It is hardly ever stale.
Living in the dream does feel a bit passive sometimes, as I know that whatever rests in my subconscious will play out: I can only watch.
At the same time, of course, this entails massive power. I only need to make changes in my subconscious to change what happens in reality “out there.” I suppose this to be the epitome of “active observer.”
Returning to belief statistics, how about a belief that a lot of people appear to hold but I don’t? Well, I could say that they’re reflecting my resistance to what I think.
I see this in diet, where I choose to eat far differently than “expected” or than most other people around me do. I tend to basically disagree with most of the food choices I observe other people making, though my faith lies on shaky ground. I’ve always been uncertain whether I’m making the “right” choices. It’s always been hard for me to consider much of anything as “healthy.”
I suppose that as I immerse myself in subjectivity, I must remember that there is no objective truth in the matter: rather, what is healthy for me is what I believe to be. Perhaps it would serve me, then, to start believing that some of what I eat is healthy? Damn, if I ever become involuntarily homeless I’ll have a hard time convincing myself of the nutritional value of donuts.
And, hey- I suppose the general disorganization and overall lack of consensus in dietary science reflects this. J
The Biggest Fear: Fear of You
Objective reality isn’t incorrect, but when you remain within the confines of that perspective for a long time you forget how fluid reality can be. You forget that the so-called “way things are” is basically arbitrary, and highly subject to change. You forget what power you have.
It can seem, from the surface, that subjective reality is too “easy”: Can’t you just believe and disbelieve all your problems away and all your dreams come true?
Well, yes, you can… But I have a tendency to believe that progress without work would be no fun. I’m not ready to handle that premise. Thus, work still, we must.
It can seem that a massive list of all the beliefs you have would be helpful. You can attempt to write out this list, though I think it’s useful for your strongest and most fundamental beliefs only. The others you may be better off leaving to the fluidity of your mind. Awareness of those core beliefs is most helpful to having a handle on reality (and this includes influencing that reality).
It can, I know, seem scary to have so much power. I’ll leave you with some words from Melanie Kaye in “Women, Violence, and Resistance” on this matter (she wrote specifically in regard to women using self-defense. Also, I can’t find this essay on the Internet, so the quotation might be a tad skewy).
“To fear ourselves is to use them as model:
They abuse their power, therefore we would too
Is to imagine only helplessness keeps us in line:
The more choices we have, the worse we’ll be
Is to insist in some hidden corner of the body:
We need oppression
But they say, you can’t take the law into your own hands. What better hands to take the law into than your own?
… Our fear of ourselves, then, is fear of ourselves empowered.”
Use your power well, my friend. Take pride in the responsibility you hold for your life- and for all of our lives.
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