Vector8 Journals

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Problem with Belief

"Mortal error will vanish in a moral chemicalization. This mental fermentation has begun, and will continue until all errors of belief yield to understanding. Belief is changeable, but spiritual understanding is changeless." Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy
Last night I watched a documentary on television called Derren Brown: Messiah "Derren goes undercover in America in an attempt to raise questions about the validity of certain religious and spiritual belief systems." Derren Brown: Messiah. His purpose is to get experts in various fields in spirituality to endorse him as a professional based purely on his performance. Derren insists he has no psychic powers whatsoever. All he's going to be doing is pretending to be one. If the experts ask him if it's a trick he will confess.

In one experiment, Derren is with a group of psychic experts. One psychic goes into another room and draws pictures while he tries to figure out what the pictures are. He gets them right. The psychics are convinced Derren has psychic powers.

In another situation he is with a group of atheists and manages to convince them to believe in God. In another example he meets up with a world renowned expert in alien abductions. Derren tells her he also has been abducted by aliens. The effect of the alien encounter means he's now able to make medical diagnoses. He accurately diagnoses an illness the expert had and her current situation. The expert is so impressed she wants to recommend his work to others.

The experiment that made me chuckle was when Derren gave an esoteric expert an equipment that was supposed to be a "dream catcher." The woman is advised to sleep with the equipment for several days. Derren makes a great show of putting electrode pads on his forehead so he can read the dreams in the equipment. He gets her dreams right. The pads reminded me of ones they use in hospitals when people are undergoing operations.

Derren had made it clear at the beginning of the documentary that his intention was not to criticise people's beliefs but he was raising questions about beliefs. The documentary certainly challenged what beliefs are. If someone can believe in a doctrine purely on another's performance, how can you be sure what you believe is real? If Derren can make atheists believe in God just because of clever mind-control techniques, how can one be sure there is a God? How stable are one's beliefs?

Does this mean one shouldn't have beliefs? That is impossible. Without a belief that I can walk, or there is a force walking me, I wouldn't be able to walk. I guess people don't fly because they have got so used to believing that humans can walk only or fly in a plane, unless you are a Superhero. But is this strictly true? Surely if you can fly in your dreams, which I have, it means humans can fly. Perhaps people don't fly in this reality because they haven't seen it happen enough to convince them it is possible.

Everyone believes in something. If you are not believing in something, you are afraid of something. To be afraid of something is to belief in what you don't want to happen, which means you do believe. I think it's a matter of discipline and where you put your faith. If your belief is not harming anyone and it works for you, that's OK, isn't it? What difference does it make whether you believe in God or in yourself? As long as you believe in something for we all believe in something, right?

I think the issues Derren Brown's documentary raised was the danger in believing in a doctrine, principle or power without testing it out to be true. Anyone who is adept at mind-control can convince you to see the world their way. Advertisers, the world of medicine, nutrition and many more are continually telling people what to believe; and these beliefs influence how people live their lives.

If one cannot be sure about what to believe, surely there has to be a belief that is unshakable, a truth that is unchanging. I personally have gone through many beliefs. I have documented many stories in my journals illustrating how I have had different experiences based on my belief at the time. After a while it got tedious. I needed to have something that would stay the same regardless. For me this truth is the state of inner silence or stillness which is unshakable. I know nothing can take that away from me. It is this Stillness I go to to nourish me when I'm feeling out of sorts, to heal me, to give me inspiration or to just be. Is it a belief? Maybe or maybe not. I only know that I have experienced it and continue to experience this stillness; and for me it is very real.

So the Derren Brown documentary is an interesting one indeed. It is either going to shake people out of their complacency, particularly those who accept things at face value; or it will make no difference at all to others. Beliefs give people a sense of security. They are not going to let go of them easily if they can help it.

I always enjoy Derren Brown's programmes. They are insightful, interesting and always fun.

With love,

Related articles: Self-Belief, How I Conquered Fear with Belief, Playing With Beliefs and Do Beliefs Matter?

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