The Tyranny of Belief

Updated on July 2, 2017
Stephen Austen profile image

S.P. Austen is an Independent author writing on a diversity of subjects and genres. He writes short stories, novels, and self-help books.

Image by: johnhain
Image by: johnhain | Source

Belief; it's an interesting word, with many connotations. Most people will equate belief with a religious faith of some description or other, but that is of course not the sum total of what belief may refer to.

I will give you two examples of actual incidents that I personally experienced whilst book-signing in malls where passers by might come over and stop and look at my books and talk with me. I would like you to compare the strong similarities between the two, which on the surface, might seem to be vastly divergent belief systems.

The Atheist

In the first instance, a man in his sixties approached my desk, where I sat with my book "Meditation for Everyday Living" and he immediately launched into his very evident hatred for religion and everything that smacked of religion, or anything which he perceived to have its roots therein.

At first, I listened patiently to his rant, as he quoted select and obscure passages from The Bible to support his disdain for religion. Finally, I told him that my book is not a religious work, and is about meditation, which has as much scientific evidence for its efficacy as the recommendations of Yogis from India. But it is not a religious work as such, and is not intended to be. It's about attaining peace of mind, something which everyone could do with, regardless of belief.

He ignored everything that I told him, in response to his continued tirade, as he had made up his mind that I was promoting a religious conviction of some sort. Naturally, he was very quick to inform me (as if I couldn't already tell) that he was an atheist, and he was most intent on hammering home his beliefs in that doctrine as it was clearly his firm conviction of the absolute truth of his non-belief. But actually it revealed that he had a very strong belief; he believed in atheism.

I am certain that he left my book-signing table feeling that he had spoken his piece and had put another religious nut in their place, never once considering any word that I had said to him. He could not be reasoned with, because his mind was totally blinkered by dogma. It was the dogma of unbelief, the dogma that is so sure that there is no God or an After Life or anything else that might be 'otherworldly.'

The Religious fanatic

In the second example, (factual, it happened to me) I was again book-signing with the same book "Meditation for Everyday Living" on my table. (Looks like this book attracted trouble!) This time, a young woman probably no older than 25 years or so, came up to my table with a face like thunder. She picked up my business card and turned it over in her hand then brusquely slapped it down on the table with barely concealed anger.

"Are you a Christian?" came the anger-laden question, without a how do you do or so much as a polite introduction.

I responded cautiously, explaining my personal stance regarding all beliefs, and she leaped into a religious tirade which actually turned into an argument. Trying to keep my cool, and resisting the temptation to put her over my knee and give her backside a good spanking, I retorted with quote after Biblical quote, matching her, and beating her on many 'doctrinal' points of which she had no answer, or denied the source from where I was quoting from. (I doubt if she had even read The Bible right through or spent any real time studying it.)

So, feeling disgusted with her religious zeal, and mindful of not losing my temper (not a good example if you teach meditation and are trying to sell your book on the subject) it eventually concluded with her turning away in self-important spiritual superiority and sitting down to drink coffee with one of her male cronies and continue to justify herself to her Bible School companion.

We therefore have two examples, which I have personally been on the receiving end of, where the fanatic, under the tyranny of their beliefs, will fixate upon the right and wrongs of all other beliefs, and yet these two, if they encountered one another would argue with each other the worst of all!

Both were under the intoxicating sense of rightness; their beliefs, and theirs only, were the Truth, and all other options are false; pure and simple. Now they can walk through life with the self-satisfied smugness of one who has all the right answers to the mysteries of the Universe.

They were both suffering from the tyranny of belief. A disease for which there is no cure, save for some radical realisation of some other truth that can replace their current stance, and even then, that is no guarantee, for the Universe must be bent to their beliefs, and not their beliefs adjusted to reality or proven facts.

Image by: aitoff
Image by: aitoff | Source

They Can't all be Right!

When we look at the world around us, with terrorists supposedly acting in the name of God, for example, we can all see just how far a belief may take the fanatic. But it doesn't end there, of course. It isn't just religion that causes war and oppression. Politics is equally a belief that only a certain type of political doctrine or agenda is the answer to national and international problems.

Therefore it becomes a slogan that communism is the only way to share our resources, conservatism is the answer to our financial woes, labour is the only party for the people, green politics solves everything and saves the planet. The reality is that it is more likely that somewhere in-between these ideologies is where the truth may be found; moderation in all things is the rule.

There is a story of a sage who came upon a crowd of people all gathered around two men arguing. The sage carefully listened whilst the first man presented his case, and the sage answered "You're right." The sage then listened whilst the second man presented his case, and the sage responded with "You're right."

"Hang on, they can't both be right!" someone piped up out of the crowd.

The sage turned to the person and replied, "You're right!" and off he went, leaving many a mouth open.

Beliefs are Malleable

We must remind ourselves that to be too sure of our beliefs may be one of the most detrimental concepts to true human development and evolution. There was a time when people truly thought that the Earth was flat, (some people still do, despite all the evidence against it) and if you sailed over the horizon you would slip off the edge of the world.

When Galileo proposed that the Earth was in fact a sphere, the Catholic Church wanted his blood. He also proposed that the Earth itself revolved around the Sun, and not the other way round. Even other scientists of the day disbelieved him. That was four hundred years ago. At the time, people considered that they lived in an age of great enlightenment and sophistication. Yet the Church would have had Galileo burned at the stake. He remained under house arrest for his truthful 'heretical' discoveries for the rest of his days.

When we make a god of our beliefs, we fixate an idea and turn it into an ideal and bring into a narrow focus only one aspect. It becomes concretized, set in stone. When we do that we cannot see the periphery, only the central point. It is truly like wearing blinkers. No other idea can get a chance to be seen let alone heard.

We must remind ourselves that Truth, in all its forms, whether religious, scientific, political or even medical, is unfolding, and ever revealing more aspects of itself. Like a rose, it keeps revealing more layers as the flower of Truth unfolds. If we just believe in the bud, we will never see the bloom or smell the fragrance.

We have to be big enough to declare that we do not know; like Isaac Newton who said that he felt like a child playing on the beach with a vast ocean of Truth before him, awaiting discovery.

When we recognise that our beliefs are constantly shaping our reality, by fixating a concept of 'this is how it is, and no other way' we have immediately limited how much more we can possibly know. Our beliefs are self-defining. They circumscribe us in a bond from which we cannot escape, like a self-imposed ring-pass-not from which the evolving consciousness cannot break free.

Be prepared to say that you do not know; be open to the possibilities of the new. Be ready to listen to the 'what if' concept that goes beyond what you have been told is true.

We cannot shape Reality to fit our concept of what is true. We must shape our beliefs to fit Reality as it reveals things to us that in the beginning may not fit with our preconceived ideas.

Image by: mattysimpson
Image by: mattysimpson | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)