In the brilliance that is the English language, "beyond belief" means both astonishingly good and incredibly bad. Which is rather appropriate for an article about belief.

BEYOND BELIEF

In the brilliance that is the English language, “beyond belief” means both astonishingly good and incredibly bad. Which is rather appropriate for an article about belief.

The word “belief” is flung around equally as a compliment and an insult, depending on the circles you move in. In religion, to believe is to be admired. In personal development circles self-belief is an achievement, but limiting beliefs are a problem. In science, belief is considered bad practice, the equivalent of drawing a box half way through an equation and writing “then some magic happens”. And among those explorin g non-duality, it can mistakenly be seen as akin to a devil.

Why?

Because “belief” has two meanings that butt heads. And the word has mixed positive and negative connotations, depending on usage. If we mix the meanings, the connotations and the usage, we can generally get in a right pickle.

Belief meaning one: To take as true.
Belief meaning two: To have confidence in.

Within the non-dual teaching, we have it easy. We set out, very early on, that what is true is that which does not change, the ultimate nature of reality, Awareness itself. And nothing–no-thing–else.

But this is not a topic of belief, it’s actually the answer to the simplest of questions–so simple it’s often taken to be a riddle: “What do you know, with reference to nothing other than yourself?” The answer is “I know that I am”, or a variation of the same.

In the exploration of “I am”–in introspection, logic and experience–we find that which does not change, we find reality, we find knowing presence, we find Awareness, we find our Self.

We also discover no evidence for any other self. But we find plenty of thoughts, feelings and actions on behalf of an imagined self that we take to reside within a body. We’ve taken this imagined self to be true, despite having no evidence for it. In non-dual teaching, we may call this belief.

In fact, to take an imagined self as true, with no supporting evidence, is bad science, is the only possible limiting belief.

But what about everything that is not Awareness?

There is nothing that is not Awareness. If you take as true that there is something outside of Awareness, that is the subject of religion. Not a problem, but not a topic for today.

But what about this world of things: people, relationships, situations, circumstances, events, places, objects. The stuff I see, hear, taste, touch, smell, think about? So what if the essence of all things is Awareness?

Here’s where the second use of “belief” comes in. To have confidence in. We have confidence in many things.

I have confidence in Murphy’s Law that the toast will always land buttered side down. That gravity will still be working tomorrow. That my wooden desk didn’t turn into a salted pretzel while my back was turned. That the person who goes to sleep is the same one that wakes up the next day.

Just consider all the unseen processes and people you have implicit confidence in, just by making a short car journey.

There’s zero requirement to consider the things of the world as truth, in order to have confidence in their general coherence. And if we learn something new, our confidence can shift.

Why do I suggest not mixing up these two meanings of “belief”?

Easy. If you come to me as a teacher of non-duality, it makes sense to have some confidence that I will share the teaching in a way that supports your exploration, that doesn’t distract you with my personal agenda, and that will hold you to the path when you doubt yourself.

But it is totally unnecessary, unhelpful and unproductive to take what I say as true. Explore for yourself. Ask all the questions. Ensure that your understanding is constant, reliable and real, in introspection, in logic and in experience.

Keep it clear, and it’s all pip and dandy.

TL;DR:
Belief meaning one: To take as true.
Belief meaning two: To have confidence in.

  • There’s zero requirement to take the things of the world as true to have confidence in their general coherence.
  • To take an imagined self as true, with no supporting evidence is the only possible limiting belief.
  • What is true is what direct exploration yields: that which does not change, the nature of reality, Awareness itself.

What I’d like you to have confidence in is that truth is directly accessible. That’s beyond belief.

With Love,
Sara

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