The Benefits and Side-Effects of Questioning Beliefs
"There is a constant need for us to question our own beliefs, and the beliefs of those around us. It creates a healthy atmosphere of skepticism and intelligence, and
prevents people from coming to unreasonable conclusions. The way our brains work
mean that we frequently misinterpret events and data, and in particular, we always
think there is more rationality and evidence for our beliefs than there is. This all
matters because when beliefs become unquestioned, a community can become
increasingly divorced from reality. Religionists tend to deny any chance of
compromise, arguments based on differences in religion or belief often contain
parties that believe the issue has universal, absolute and cosmic significance. They
will not compromise on their position, and many ordinary believers state that they think that religious beliefs should be somehow beyond question. It has been proven
many times that religous poeple know the least about their own religion. Malise
Ruthven in his book on fundamentalism warns that this is particularly dangerous. It is how religious cults are formed. In extreme cases this leads to complete social
rejection and the possibility of suicide cults, as has been seen many times in history
for example with Charles Manson's followers and the 900 who died when the
People's Temple suicided. These groups always start out with borderline, but
common, beliefs and slowly become more delusional over time. In all cases followers
lacked an instinct to ask questions about the beliefs. It is religion and spirituality that
gains most when people cease asking deep questions about beliefs, and it is truth
that suffers most. In the name of common sense, do not let even trivial- seeming
beliefs take hold without double-checking them, because once beliefs are trivialised, a slippery slope can take you down into madness!”
by- Vexen Crabtree (2009)
What Exactly does it mean to have a Belief System?
Identity is the first belief system and so often it remains invisible to us. Our belief, whatever it may be, requires an opposite in order to exist, that which is separate, the “enemy” of that belief. And from this duality springs out the conflict that humankind has faced for millennia, inwardly and outwardly, unconsciously creating what we fight. We fabricate a sense of security by separating ourselves from that which we are afraid of.
I have a collection of beliefs that I think are good, so I separate myself from that which is bad, which is really just what I fear. For example, I think violence is wrong and so I am one of the “good people” and not the “bad” violent people. Yet I ignore the fact in which I am willing to fight for my belief itself! Whether physically or not it doesn’t matter, it is still fighting.The belief that violence is wrong is not even enough to end violence itself because there is no understanding of violence and the roots that create it! And as long as we do not understand violence and the very mechanics that lead to it we will never see the end of it.
The duality of “good” and “bad”, “positive” and “negative”, “god” and “devil” is
nothing but an intellectual abstraction. It is simply a limiting way to look at reality that prevents us from thinking more deeply and understanding. Suffering is very real, and not necessary, but it is absolutely meaningless to say that it is “bad”.
We are responsible for what we create and if we want to leave suffering and violence behind then we must understand them fully.
To say “having no beliefs is a belief” is nothing but a rhetorical escape from thinking. It is not about “believing” that beliefs are “bad” but understanding how they work and the mess that they make. Thus leading to an intelligent rejection of them. Saying such a thing is akin to saying “if you do not accept any artificial limits to your process of thinking then you are creating an artificial limit to your thinking.”
We think that we are our beliefs and that we need them, but this is not true at all. They have been installed into our mind by the system in which we live and they prevent us from thinking freely with our whole mind. Whatever beliefs, ideals, values,
ideas, etc... that we adopt will merely become the bars of the antievolutionary prison
in which we cage our mind.
Beliefs always grow out of fear and confusion. Indeed the mind that understands its confusion no longer cares about beliefs. This is why the EOF encourages inquiring into and beyond them. They limit our thinking and are masks for our fear, a way to
drug and numb ourselves so to escape our confusion, which only leads to more
confusion and then violence, inwardly and outwardly. They never get to the root of the problem.
I am not saying this because it is my belief, but because I have observed and understand how beliefs work in the mind as well as all of the confusion and suffering that they create.
How many people have suffered and died because of beliefs? How long are we going to continue clinging to external existential authorities before we finally decide to start thinking for ourselves? Following an authority whatsoever instead of thinking freely and understanding will always lead to the same psychological traps that have
plagued humankind for millennia no matter how well intentioned that authority might
People seek to follow when they do not understand for themselves, and paradoxically
in this way they can never understand. The mess in the world outside is merely a result of the mess in our minds. What we think of as the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ are not separate! Our thinking shapes thoughts and actions, which shape the world that we live in, which then shapes the future!
Beliefs are a result of the way in which we search for some kind of solution when we
are confused, but without understanding the roots of the problem!
For example, we fear the unknown, so then we search for some kind of existential answers so to encapsulate the unknown into the known, whether they come in the
form of religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs whatsoever. But we have ignored
the fact in which the “solution”, our beliefs, exists because of our need to know, which came from our fear of the unknown. So then why does our fear exist? Instead of searching for the “solution” we should investigate and understand the roots of the
problem first. How can we truly fear that which we do not know? What we truly fear is
to lose the known, because we identify in it and think it is who we are.
Or maybe we seek to be accepted, so we search for solutions so to match
“normality”, ignoring the fact in which our fear of isolation and loneliness are what
caused us to seek such solutions in the first place. And even in the case that we are “successful” in achieving some kind of acceptance or consensus outwardly, then we
fear to lose the condition that we have acquired.
Both of these cases are about identity, what we think we are, but it is actually nothing but an intellectual psychological picture of ourselves based on the past. It is merely an idea, a fragment, but we fight so hard for it and suffer so much because of it, constantly trying to protect it and creating war within ourselves over it, which is violence, inwardly, and then outwardly. The point is not merely to identify ourselves as having no identity or even pettily fabricate an identity as “freethinkers”, trapping ourselves once more, but to wholly decode the architecture of identity so to fully
understand how it works and go beyond the duality of identity or no identity.
So what is the alternative to beliefs then? What do you mean by understanding?
The alternative is to have no beliefs and think with a totally free mind. You might think that this is simply another belief, but it is not. There is a difference between beliefs and understanding. And the EOF is all about understanding, without learning.
It is not about telling you that all beliefs are ‘bad’. But can we investigate what really lies behind our beliefs? Why is there such nervousness when we feel that our beliefs are being challenged? So often we are ready to fight because we are so upset, but by fighting and blaming everything on the outside we actually protect the roots of our fear and confusion, which lie inwardly. Fighting is an attempt to solve fear without any understanding of it and the roots that created it. And if we censor everything that upsets us then we will never understand it. Instead we should step back and wholly decode what has caused us to react so automatically. Why are we so afraid to lose our beliefs? The End Of Fear Project is not about telling you answers, it is about getting you to think. It is not about giving you new beliefs, so to be reprogrammed once more. It is about understanding and dismantling all of the layers of conditionings that we have accumulated. If you merely accept what the EOF says blindly, then you do not understand it at all and you will not be able to tangibly dismantle your fear and
confusion. This is because learning is not the same as understanding.
Learning is conditional, a particular way to think about a particular thing. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself as it can have useful technical applications, such as following a recipe for cooking in order to prepare a dish in a specific way. But so often this knowledge abducts our entire process of thinking, basing it mostly or even entirely in the known. And then there is this attachment to this mental structure that we have created, this symbol of understanding (but not actual understanding). We identify in what we have learned, which is part of the known from which we construct our comfort zone, and then we fear to lose it, the enemy of it being the different and unknown. Then we view everything through the conditioned lense of our knowledge instead of observing freely and then thinking with our knowledge.
Understanding is unconditional; it has to do with the ways in which we think about things. Understanding with our entire mind goes beyond the intellectual structures that are our accumulation of learned information, which can be useful in some cases, but should not dictate our whole mind and entire process of thinking. It does not have to do with the need to hold information, and therefore takes place without the fear to not have an “answer”. Even if we may arrive at some revelation and understanding of our fear, that is not the end. If we cling to such a thing and identify in it, then it will merely become another statue within our psyche. It is not necessarily what we may find out through our thinking that frees our minds, but the act of observing + thinking freely itself! By observing + thinking in total attentiveness we can go beyond even what may seem like a revelation today. Attentiveness is not being in a state of constant alertness or focus but rather an awareness of our mind and thoughts.
So it is not about just telling you to have a “belief in no beliefs”, not at all. But can we see how we limit our minds and create such a tunnel vision when we identify in what we have learned and think through beliefs?
Accepting something on the basis of authority or because we want to believe it is not understanding. Memorizing and assimilating information is not understanding. To believe is not to understand. Understanding arises when we are observing + thinking freely with the entirety of our mind. Though even the want to understand can become an obstacle to actual understanding if we identify ourselves in it because the want to understand is still not understanding. Someone else may be able to explain something to you, but they cannot understand it for you. And if you understand, then maybe you can help others to understand, but not before that, otherwise the “help” will merely lead to more confusion as the confused leading the confused like the blind leading the blind.
To think through beliefs is not to be an individual but merely a copy, a result of other authors, which became your authorities. Beliefs are all about conformity, inwardly and outwardly, as well as control, and how can we find freedom and peace through control?
To think through beliefs is to be a product of confusion, imitation, and repetition of the past, rather than thinking freely through your own private intelligence. It is a tragedy that we gave up our own natural and genuine curiosity in the name of limiting beliefs, and that we sacrificed our entire mind for the duality prison of identity.
The EOF is not merely some kind of hyper-intellectual philosophy. It is not just about reading a few interesting posts or having a few interesting conversations but realizing just how deep all of this fear and confusion goes and rules our existence inwardly and outwardly, and then tangibly understanding and dismantling all of it.
The posts are designed to get you to think about things that you have never thought (or forgot), and are an invitation to think more deeply and inquire further on your own, without clinging to any prepackaged models of thinking. They are not aimed to give you “truths”, “solutions”, or other escapisms to assimilate. They are all about finding out for yourself. If they upset you, then go a bit deeper. Is it really you or your conditionings that are so upset?
This article is designed to help you understand, but if you really want to know what the EOF is then the best way is to find out for yourself!
by Peter Gebauer
Let’s Try Something New, The EOF Project
How can anything come before understanding our minds and how we think? What could possibly be more important? No matter what we want to do in life, how can we neglect understanding inwardly, psychologically?
Depression, anxiety, stress and other forms of psychological suffering are on the rise. Our primary response has been to medicate the brain with drugs to combat the neuro-chemical imbalances associated with these ailments. But this has been largely ineffective by treating symptoms and even making patients dependent upon as well as increasingly tolerant of these drugs, not to mention the side effects that go along with them. We try to treat the imbalance in the brain, but why does that imbalance exist in the first place? Surely we were not born so psychologically dysfunctional, so what happened?
I think this is the question that we must ask ourselves… because we are missing something. Many solutions have been proposed, whether academic, political, religious, economic, spiritual, philosophical, technological, a combination of the above, and so on… but none of them have ever been able to help humankind to finally rise out of the swamps of confusion. We have advanced technologically, but psychologically we have gone nowhere. This is a historical observation, the result of which can be seen by asking the question: where are we now? Many therapies and self help books focus on a type of system so to give people a way to face their problems. But they are simply aimed at reprogramming the mind with a particular strategy to deal with depression, anxiety, thoughts, discomfort, and so on… Then the mind has to think through that system; it becomes dependent on it and is once again stuck in a limited way of thinking. And people constantly have to reaffirm the new belief system so to combat their discomfort. And in the case that some success is achieved in dealing with our discomfort, whether due to a placebo effect or otherwise, then we fear to lose the condition that we acquired. Nothing gets to the real roots of our psychological suffering. Why are we so upset in the first place? What ways are we thinking in and why? What are the very mechanics that lead to our depression and so on…? Can we inquire there freely with no constraints or expectations? Because if we can do that, then we can begin to understand what created and creates our discomfort.
So often we search for solutions without really even understanding the problem. The solutions exist because of the problem and the problem exists because of its roots! For example, the solution to insecurity is to build up some self-esteem or confidence, which comes from the outside. But then we always need something so to reaffirm our confidence, our picture of ourselves, and we get upset when something knocks or even scratches our self-esteem (which comes from our identity). By searching for self-esteem through whatever kind of consensus, whether academic, financial, social, familial, etc… we merely perpetuate our conflict inwardly, then outwardly. We think we have made progress, but we still fight the same battles. They might look different on the surface, but the patterns are the same. So often people argue and fight about something and then just apologize and say they really do care about each other. But without understanding why they were fighting in the first place soon something else comes up and they are fighting again. It’s the same thing in relationships romantic or not. The people may change, but the same/similar problems always reappear.
What people think, the belief system, ideas, and values that they think through may change, but this is merely a symptom of how they think, which is through an accumulation of psycho-existential authorities instead of thinking freely.
So are you willing to try something new? If so, then perhaps you would be interested in the EOF Project.
The EOF does not offer solutions to depression and other psychological ailments. The EOF is not a doctor nor interested in offering clinical advice. Instead, what the E.O.F Project offers is a profound investigation into the very mechanics that lead to psychological suffering such as anxiety, stress, depression, and so on….
The EOF has no methods, structures, techniques, nor strategies. It is not possible to understand the wholeness of the human psyche through such things because in adopting a theory or technique we limit our observation to what lies within that intellectual structure based on the past. Furthermore, all of the above require control and act as psychological authorities, and we can never find freedom or peace through control. By thinking at our thoughts, without thinking through them, and without the thoughts that created those thoughts, we can explore inwardly so to understand how our minds work and how our psychological suffering, no matter what form it may take, is created.
By understanding the very roots of these things we can change our relationship with them. We can fully observe them and inquire into and beyond our conditioned reactions and confusion by using the entirety of our minds rather than the fragmented way of thinking with only our intellect and memories. The E.O.F is all about the possibility to think wholly, with all of the parts of our mind such as imagination, perception, intuition, inspiration, instinct, intellect, emotions, and memory all co- working in harmony. It is about the possibility to think without ideas, to regain that psychological serenity and totally private free observing + thinking that we once had. That place of inner peace and psychological freedom, which is the flowering of our
intelligence, where there is no longer identity or the fear to lose anything, not even
our psychological serenity itself.
Are we willing to try something totally new? By looking at the very ways in which we have been conditioned to think? By changing our relationship with our thoughts and fears? By inquiring into our confusion and how it originates? By thinking at our confusion without thinking through it and without identifying in it?
The End Of Fear Project has already begun to have success in helping people to understand and dismantle their psychological conditionings and subsequent discomfort.
When we are attentive, we are able to circumnavigate our conditionings. When we are in that place of quiet private psychological serenity, we think totally, freely, without thinking through our conditionings. As we stop feeding our energy to the
psychological authoritarian constructs of conditionings they begin to wither. The point is not necessarily to erase all conditionings, otherwise we would simply accumulate
new ones or reacquire old ones, but in attentiveness, in observing + thinking freely,
which leads to the eventual dissolution of conditionings, being that they have a
beginning and therefore an end.
The EOF Project is interested in being researched in a theoretic science study,
connecting with a network of psychologists, researchers and other professionals as
well as hosting conferences to really show people what the project is.
Some psychologists have already begun working with the End Of Fear Project, such
as the prominent psychoanalyst Lisa Romero, from Milan Italy, who assisted in
introducing the EOF with the University of Tucson Arizona’s Department Of
Consciousness Studies to have had the EOF write an article for the “Towards a
Science of Consciousness” 2011 global conference in Stockholm.
For more information about the project, please feel free to contact me or the founders
of the project Jessica Schab and Diego Kricek Fontanive.
by Peter Gebauer