Living the WELL Life

Freedom From Within - by Simon Brown

Friday, April 08, 2011

This is my first blog on this site and I want to introduce myself with a blog that best describes my approach to life and will put all of my future blogs into context. I love to feel free and the easiest place to do this is in my own mind. I feel I have the choice to either shackle myself to certain beliefs or choose to give myself the freedom to have thoughts, knowing that they are part of my own journey through life and as such they will change and evolve.

The freedom I give myself encourages me to be creative, imaginative, and playful. I can live a life where anything is possible. The beauty of this is that my world becomes so much bigger. Instead of imprisoning myself in other people’s beliefs I can make my own discoveries and explore life in a way that I develop my own insights.

The ideas of freedom and non-belief were well described by macrobiotic philosopher George Ohsawa who explored how a philosophy that encouraged us to think for ourselves and enjoy freedom from beliefs could be supported by eating nature whole foods.

The idea of non-belief is embedded in Zen Buddhist thinking. We can think of non-belief as developing an endless curiosity. Practically this could be interpreted as asking more questions and not looking for answers, so we enjoy the process of exploration, relishing our own discoveries and being fascinated by our own revelations.  For me the idea of non-belief applies to man-made ideas, concepts, dogma, principles, theories, doctrines and ideologies rather than self-belief, feelings, intuition or any kind of spiritual connection.

We could claim that all man-made ideas are human’s best attempts to explain and rationalize our universe, however, none that I have found work consistently or all the time in every situation. They are not universal truths. Even something as simple as 2+2=4 only works some of the time, try with drops of water and 2+2=1. When it does work, say by adding the weight of the drops of water, it is an approximation in real life, as the water and weighing machine will be changing during our experiment.

We know that humans have gone from thinking the earth was flat, to round, to being the centre of the universe, to orbiting the sun, to being on the edge of the galaxy. Similarly we have moved from Newtonian science, to Einstein and relativity, to quantum physics, probabilities and beyond. All that we hold true now may become obsolete.

Here are some thoughts on how beliefs affect us personally.

Does One Belief Exclude Other Thinking?

Once we take on a belief is there a risk that we will find it harder to accept a contrary belief at the same time? We could argue that the more beliefs we have the smaller our world becomes as we narrow our options for other possibilities. Do we become imprisoned by our beliefs and does this confine our freedom to explore? Are we left with very small self-constructed boxes to think in?

Do Beliefs Get in the Way of Intuition?

If we take on too many beliefs, do we overrule our intuitive feelings if they do not match our treasured beliefs? If we have an internal database of all the foods we have ever eaten and a deep biological knowledge of how these foods affect us, what happens when our body cries out for a certain food to address a nutritional deficiency and it is not on our version of a healthy diet? Rather than develop our intuition and creativity in general, do beliefs stunt this powerful side of our beings?

Can Beliefs Make Our Minds Smaller?

Should we be walking along a busy shopping street and a pink elephant fly across we would see it, but most of us would not register it in our minds as a flying pink elephant because it is not within our belief system. If we had a young child with us he or she would jump around looking at it as, for a young mind, pink elephants are possible. This asks the question that as we take on more beliefs, are we imprisoning our minds into narrow channels of thinking? Do we loose out on all the amazing, wonderful, beautiful, mind-blowing things that are going on outside our beliefs?

Is It Possible That Beliefs Stunt Our Development?

When we take on a belief do we then stop the inquiry, the search, the discovery and halt our own development? If for example I believed that eating macrobiotic foods would solve all my problems and I just ate macrobiotic food would I still make the effort to work at forming better relationships? When we take on a belief do we tend to close that subject and just start using it rather continue the process of evolution?

Do We Need to Believe in Something to Do It?

For me the greatest pleasures in life come from music, art, film, fiction, food, friendships, sex, love.....and yet none of these require any conceptual beliefs.

Are Beliefs Delusional?

As man-made concepts do not accurately reflect absolute reality, beliefs often are delusional and if those beliefs are deep-rooted we may even ignore reality and favor our pet theories.

Why Have Beliefs?

There must be a reason we like to find things to believe in otherwise why would evolve that ability?  The most common and researched advantage of a belief is the placebo effect. If we believe an herb tea will help us recover from an illness about a third of the people in sample will show signs of improvement from that belief alone. That belief might be strengthened by some kind of theory. It then becomes a point of discussion as to whether we need to believe in something external or can we simply believe in ourselves to get that placebo? Do we need the concepts?

Beliefs can also work against us. We can develop nocebos where if we believe a food will make us ill and then eat it we may increase the chance of becoming ill.  I think we all might have experienced difficult times and it’s the beliefs that help get us through.  But do problems build up if we then cling on to those same beliefs later?

How Does this Affect our Life?

Where does non-belief leave us? I think non-belief is the essential counter balance that can reduce the risk of becoming dogmatic, conceptual and even fanatical with our use of different ideas. Non-belief can help us be imaginative, creative and intuitive. Perhaps most importantly, non-belief encourages us to explore life from our own heart and not experience someone else's belief system.  For me, this is the golden nugget in this beautiful philosophy.


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