Humans enjoy belief systems. Belief systems help people to fill a need that otherwise might be a troubling void. Belief systems take things for true even when empirically it may be impossible to substantiate a truth claim. They are like a filter that limits potentialities of view. It is challenging to change a person’s belief system once it is installed and fixed. Belief systems quickly become dogmatic ideologies. Intensely religious, political, philosophical or spiritual views triggered conflict with extraordinary destructive results throughout history. Many people have a firm requirement to project their belief system. They exclude opposing views, overlook facts and insist on promoting their viewpoint. A particular belief system’s moral and ethical components do not stand in the way of brutality and bloody action once passion rises. Belief systems ignore the world’s immense diversity by reducing the myriad of creative possibilities to a set of biased opinions.
‘It could be like this, but it could also be different in a billion ways.’ said Robert Musil.
The All-Inclusive Totality ignores belief. Belief systems are dualistic by definition. A person who believes in this cannot at the same time believe in that. The singular, non-dualistic mind surrenders all notion of belief.
The Nihilist Belief System
The Simple Theist View
In the theist view the eternal essence (soul) of a person passes into a ‘higher place’ such as Paradise (Christian), Jannah (Islam), Valhalla (Nordic), Summerland (Wiccan), Svargan (Hindu), Underworld (Ancient Greek), She’ol (Judaism) or Yomi (Shinto). In many religions there is a suggestion of ultimate ‘resurrection of the dead’ on a ‘judgement day’. The lives of individuals, maybe even humanity as a whole, will undergo a ‘final assessment’. The virtuouse ones advance into bliss, those who have lead negative lives decend into eternal hell. There are many variations of this idea. Most of them are exclusive of each other and all require a strong sense of conviction and belief. Society as a whole benefits inasmuch as a person is fundamentally inspired to live a life of virtue simply to avoid everlasting condemnation.
The Complex Theist View
A person is born and lives a life. At death an essential part of the person (soul) is passed on to be reincarnated into a new life. This view includes the concept of karma which, in its negative form, needs to be progressively neutralised until the soul is ready to join the ‘Kingdom of God’.
Hinduism, Bahai, Jainism and Sikhism have similar beliefs in an immortal soul which will continue to retain individuality and consciousness. In Hinduism, the soul (atman, spirit) is immutable and indestructible and takes on different lives in each birth/death cycle. The Atman is permanent and cannot change while the physical body is not permanent and can change. Death is a natural event allowing the spirit each time to move closer towards liberation. When all negative karma (the law of cause and effect) has been eliminated, the spirit will gain entry into Universal Consciousness (moksha).
There is No Shortage of Strange Belief Systems
There are hundreds upon hundreds of belief systems. Many of them appear strange, illogical even ridiculous. However, the followers firmly adhere to whatever system they have decided on and are impervious to different views or suggestions. Some belief systems are organised as cults not infrequently to the followers’ detriment, spiritually and financially.
Here are a few examples:
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven.
Some orthodox Jews believe against shaving the sides of their heads.
Scientologists see people as immortal alien beings (thetans).
To Animists, everything in the universe has a spirit.
Shinto believes in the kami, a divine power found in all things.
Pagans believe in and venerate multiple gods and goddesses.
Fundamental Christians do NOT believe in evolution.
Flat Earth believers claim the Earth is flat and reject Earth sphericity contrary to scientific consensus.
And so on.
Adhering to one belief or another is always limiting. Rejecting all belief systems becomes the nihilist’s viewpoint which fundamentally limits creativity and imagination. It is better to include ALL belief systems as expressions of human imagination and not cling to any of them. As long as belief systems are not destructive and corrupt people or make their lives miserable, they can play a positive role since they can have a calming influence. However, those who are yearning for Totality will find little value in belief or non-belief duality.