Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Toward A Science of Human Beliefs Is scarcity a law of nature, or something peculiar to planet earth? Observing nature, we see that species populations are regulated through predation, or when resources become scarce. Almost all species fight to maintain territory and secure food. In human societies, the prevalent mode of problem-solving is to war upon other groups to secure scarce resources, such as oil. The system, and nature itself, seems to be set up for a zero sum game. Scarcity – of energy, of food, of water, of medical treatment, and a host of other resources, seems to be an underlying principle for the human race. Is this natural? It obviously is on earth. But what if the scarcity we observe all around us is merely a result of our own belief systems, and not a law of nature? The human race’s total immersion in our own belief systems – a form of blindness -- even leads us to conclude that earth is the only planet in the universe with intelligent life. We assume that if there is life on other planets, it will have evolved in a similar fashion to earth, and have similar belief systems. Like adolescents (or monkeys who hold their hands in front of their faces) we project our consciousness onto the rest of existence. The human view of the universe, I would argue, is as parochial as the small-town hick who comes to the Big City (and soon finds his narrow worldview overset). It is as parochial as the squirrel who chitters on the tree and sees himself as the center of the universe, and, in his limited understanding, thinks that he knows all there is to know. Our narrow view of life also applies to the human view of the race itself. And the way humanity views itself is vitally important in determining our evolution. Scarcity (or any limiting concept), I would argue, is a state of mind. A military man sees the world in terms of armed camps, and the only reasonable method of gaining resources or power is through armed conflict. Thought and belief determine action, yet the importance of thought and belief in determining the direction of our species is ignored. We all, obviously, see the world through the filter of our own belief systems. It is apparent that through 5,000 years of history, humankind has created a consciousness that resonates to the idea that there is only so much to go around. This has led to a “have and have not” mentality, which creates hierarchical societies shaped like pyramids, with a few at the top who make decisions for the rest of us. It has also led to a science that believes in the inefficient and forcible extraction of energy from the explosion of fossil fuels. Such a belief is perfectly consonant with a consciousness of scarcity. Democracy is an attempt by mankind to organize itself based around the idea of liberty and equality for all. However, practically, democracies have evidently devolved back to the old ideas of scarcity, which results in favoritism and aggrandizement of resources into the hands of a few (banks and corporate interests) to which the government shows undue favor. Throughout history our societies, even though they may have experienced golden ages, have eventually devolved back to the same set of limiting beliefs, and have imploded. This argues that mankind has created a consciousness mired in limiting and destructive beliefs. If your thoughts resonate to scarcity, you will create societies that resonate to scarcity and that reflect the belief in scarcity: greed, poverty, injustice, control from above, problem resolution through argumentation and conflict, and all of the ills we observe in human organizations. And, of course, they will eventually fail. In all cases, what is manifested in our societies comes forth from the set of beliefs held by the population as a whole. If you believe in the idea that there is only so much to go around, your political structures and your economies get set up that way. Not only that, but your science also gets set up that way. Science has become the new religion of our materialistic culture. Science is so complicated that only a minuscule fraction of the population can understand the complex mathematics that science uses as its language. Therefore, scientific pronouncements go largely unchallenged. But the accepted scientific paradigm is based upon the same set of limiting beliefs that form the whole of our human consciousness. Science is not exempt from the strictures of belief! And these beliefs are wholly uninspected. Only maverick scientists, in this setup, have the credibility necessary to challenge the religion of science. But their voices are drowned within the mainstream. For example, plasma physicists challenge the idea that the sun is a hydrogen-helium fusion reactor. They state that the fundamental state of matter is a plasma, a gas composed of charged particles that exists throughout the universe. The plasma theory leads to a whole new way of looking at matter and energy, but it is largely ignored by the mainstream. In plasma physics, for instance, black holes are completely unnecessary, for black holes evolved as a necessity from gravitational theory. The point is that mainstream science is the ultimate authority figure, but science itself is mired in the same consciousness of scarcity and limitation that affects the entire race. Is scarcity a law of nature? Or is it merely a result of the collectively held and agreed upon set of human beliefs? I would argue the latter. Because science believes in the idea that consciousness is biologically based, the importance of thought in shaping our world is ignored. After all, what is a thought? Merely an adjunct to the firing of neurons in the brain. In this view, human beings are biological automatons, and our beliefs are largely the product of our environment, and the chemical structure of the brain (which is why our medical establishment is largely based on the idea of drugging the patient). This can be summed up by the sentence: “what you see is what you get.” Matter and energy are all-important, and thought is a mere by-product of biological processes. In this view, human evolution and human nature is merely ad hoc to the rigid laws that govern the interaction of matter and energy, and which lead inevitably to largely unchanging conditions throughout time. In other words, we observe that almost every civilization that has ever existed on earth has risen and then fallen, and we assume that “rise and fall” is a law of human behavior. But perhaps this phenomenon actualizes from the matrix of human beliefs! Like biological robots, in other words, we think and act in the same ways, generation to generation. Has anyone ever tried to compile a list of widely-held human beliefs? If this were ever done, I am sure that this matrix would correspond precisely to the conditions that exist on our planet. (What is the belief system of the Hindu civilization that has allowed it to exist uninterrupted for 5,000 years?) It is time for a new science of belief systems, based on the simple but powerful idea that thought precedes and dictates action. This puts the cart before the horse, and places consciousness in its correct relationship to biology, matter, and energy. We believe that gravity only works one way, for example, as an attractive force, and we do not even consider that a counterpart – a repulsive force – may exist. Because our belief systems do not allow for something outside the accepted norm, we do not consider – or investigate – anti-gravity. We see, in the middle of the Egyptian desert, a carved sculpture from one single piece of stone that weighs over 100 tons, and we simply ignore it, because to carve and transport such an object is beyond the scope of our current technology (and it also violates the cherished belief that our ancestors were ignorant savages, and that our modern mechanical society must therefore rest at the top of the evolutionary pyramid). At the base of the Sphinx are cut blocks of stone over 50 tons in weight! If someone were to suggest that our so-called primitive ancestors had access to anti-gravity, or some technology in advance of our present knowledge, that person is simply regarded as a kook. Egyptologists proclaim that no pyramid is over 6,000 years old, even though scientific evidence shows pyramids much older than that. In order to get a degree in Egyptology, however, one must parrot back this line of nonsense. That is because, in Islam (Egypt is an Islamic country) the world was created 6,000 years ago. Here is an example of religious beliefs – total absurdities -- infecting the belief systems of otherwise intelligent persons. When a group of people operate from a certain set of beliefs, it is impossible to be aware of anything outside the box of those beliefs. Humankind has imprisoned itself in a set of limiting beliefs. But what are they? This is a vital question that has never been seriously researched. We believe that it is impossible to solve problems without eventually resorting to conflict, because resources are scarce. We believe that cancer is an incurable disease. We believe that human nature is primitive, and that civilization is but a thin veneer over an inherently barbaric, instinctive nature. We believe that energy must be extracted from fossil fuels, and that it is impossible to create overunity devices that extract energy from the vacuum. In short, we believe that what goes up, must come down. And that is how we create our lives. We apply limiting concepts not only to our conception of gravity (and science in general), but also to human relationships and our political and economic structures. I ask, you, what would a planetary society look like, that believed in this way? Precisely what we have created on earth: a fragmented planet divided into artificial nation-states that fight each other for scarce resources. Is this any way to run a planet? I think not. There are no “laws” of human nature, or of science, that we have not ourselves created. When we embrace new beliefs, we will also become aware of new ways of looking at the universe. Our limited scientific concepts will expand, as well our view of ourselves and what we are capable of. Perhaps we may even learn how to carve and transport 100 ton blocks of stone across the desert, just as our primitive ancestors evidently were able to do! Perhaps we may learn how to cure cancer, discover a way to extract energy from the vacuum, develop clean, alternative energy sources and, most important of all, learn how to cooperate with each other on a planetary basis to create abundance and prosperity for all. What is holding us back? Our own, largely uninspected, belief systems. When we allow “tradition” to bind us to old concepts that are no longer serving us, we experience the same old problems. We get into a rut that then manifests itself in similar experiences, and we then proclaim “laws” of nature and “laws” of human behavior. And of course, when something has gained such strong acceptance, it becomes even more firmly entrenched in our belief systems, perpetuating the cycle of stupidity. (The cycle of stupidity as in the war on cancer, terrorism, poverty, etc. all of which only lead to a perpetuation of the unwanted thing). Until we learn to accept change and break out of the box of our pathetically limited belief systems, the 21st century is going to look a lot like the 20th. And that would be a shame, because humanity has an unlimited potential. That potential is sitting right in front of us. We are like the dog and the invisible fence, believing that to change would result in some sort of unpleasant shock. But a belief in abundance, prosperity, and cooperation is just a collective thought away! It is time to launch a science of beliefs. It is time to dispose of widely-held, ludicrous, and limiting concepts of humanity. Let us expand our conception of who we are! Let us assume first that human beings are not biological robots, and that we can change what we think and believe about ourselves. A science of belief would look, not as Jung did, at the “collective unconscious,” but the collective consciousness. We would start by compiling a matrix of the widely-held and agreed upon beliefs of humanity. Are their common denominator beliefs that all human beings hold, cross-culture? Is there a relationship between human belief systems and the actions we take? If so, what is that relationship? What beliefs are particularly insidious or destructive? In academic circles, this entire discussion would seem ludicrous. As Eldon Taylor, author of “Mind Programming” says, “…a hotly debated issue among many academics today is essentially an argument for the absence of free will. There are many reasons for this. In recent years, numerous studies have demonstrated that the conscious mind only thinks it’s in charge. In fact, it appears that the subconscious is making decisions and the conscious mind is making up stories to explain those decisions…. Within the halls of academia today is strong support for the idea that humans are no more than ‘meat machines’—biological mechanisms programmed to behave in certain ways.” In this view of the species, a human being is nothing more than a stimulus-response mechanism; a mindless animal who can never rise above the impulses hidden away in the subconscious mind, and a slave to his or her own chemistry. How can the human race ever advance itself under the influence of this belief system? The answer is, it cannot. Individuals, in this view, will always be slaves. Therefore, if we actually want peace and prosperity for the human race, if we want to elevate the human condition, we will have to find another set of beliefs: beliefs that come from our higher, conscious selves, not the baser, hidden impulses of the subconscious, or environmental stimuli that have already been created from a world borne from this primitive and degrading set of assumptions. We need to create a new belief system for the human race: consciously and mindfully, and inspect the belief systems we already operate under. What do I mean by a belief? A belief is a collection of thoughts that one consciously acts upon. 99% of the decisions we make in life are made consciously. You want to change jobs so you submit your resume and interview, you decide to lose weight so you work out four times per week, etc. Let’s leave the subconscious to abnormal psychology and other professionals who deal with deviant behavior. A science of belief assumes two things: that human beings are conscious and capable of directing their lives, and that action follows thought. A set of actions may become ingrained or routine and may become automatic (and no longer consciously inspected, which would make them subconscious), but the genesis of any habitual pattern of behavior is always a conscious decision. You may become irritated with a co-worker and respond to him angrily, and continue to do so, which will lead to a habitual response. But the genesis of that response was a conscious choice. And you always have the conscious choice to alter your attitude and your behavior. Defense lawyers use the subconscious to excuse criminal behavior, using the defense of “temporary insanity,” and sometimes win their case. The human-as-meat-machine idea assumes that a human being is insane for the majority of their waking lives. Clearly, such an assumption is itself insane. We can and must do a lot better than that! To discover a belief just requires a little mindfulness, and the assumption that you are not a mindless biological robot, responding to stimuli from the environment. When you decided to yell at your co-worker, what motivated you to do so? “Well, he insulted me so I gave it right back.” What belief were you operating under? After a little thought you say, “I was taught that when someone hurts you, you have to hurt him back or you will be regarded as weak.” It’s readily accessible thought structures just like that which cause 99% of the actions on our planet, both bad and good. What would happen if we were to create a catalog of these beliefs, so that people could study them? We’d probably end up with a population that was a lot more mindful! We need to map the genome of human thought, just as we mapped human DNA. Once we have that map, we can look at the structure of human belief systems and change them for the better. An inspection of my own belief systems led to this (very abbreviated) catalog: “I have to work hard for everything I get” “Money is scarce and when you get some, you’d better hold onto it” “I’m not going to let anyone walk over me” “It’s easier to lie than to tell the truth” etc. etc. If you make a catalog of your own beliefs, you are likely to discover some real doozies! Many of these beliefs are simply irrational. But they are floating around in the collective consciousness of the human species, and are being acted upon every day. The human race has been operating from a completely uninspected set of beliefs that have been driving the course of human civilization – erratically – for 5,000 years. It is time for us to grow up and mature as a species, to stop fighting each other, and to put away our adolescence. The only way we can do that is to consciously compile and inspect the belief systems that we, as a species, are operating from. Unless we do so, we will continue to run around in the dark. Those who live mindfully are in control of their lives, and live much more happily and successfully. Those who do not drift aimlessly, just as the human race has done since the last ice age. If you have ideas how a project that would map human belief systems could be rationally structured, please contact Ken at kmaclean_at_ic_dot_net

1 comment:

karim said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Thanks,
Karim - Positive thinking