Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ripping the Top off the Beliefs Box

One of my favourite topics. The box.

Out-of-the-box thinking, as we all (?) know, is thinking that doesn't limit itself to the known/familiar/well-tried, but that moves outward to take in new aspects, creative ideas and novel solutions in search of the more elegant, better result.

This is not to say that we have to spend all our time rejecting the good known solution in favour of being novel and innovative just for the sake of it, or even that the out-of-the-box idea is going the be the best idea. I think though, that what is key here is that out-of-the-box can be the best solution on occasion, if we give it a chance. However, by sticking to only the tried and familiar, we get ourselves into the rut of being blinded by familiarity and forget how to look for creative solutions to our problems.

In Robert Goerman's article about this, he states that "the best assumption to ever have is that any commonly held belief might be wrong". In a section dealing with how to get out of the box, he notes that being too close to your product/beliefs/group/organisation/church/club makes it difficult to see in a different way, and that it's key to listen to what others have to say, because they might have a new angle, as yet unexplored by you.

In her article "It's time to get out of the box", Connie Butler notes that the box is made up of attitudes, beliefs, ideas, choices and strategies that have served to diminish a person and make them limited in their thinking, talents and abilities. To live the best life possible we need to master the skill of moving into the unknown - this is scary - but that's where new opportunities and satisfaction are.

She goes on to mention the different boxes people create for themselves - in brief, the language box, familiar actions box, blame box (lack of personal power and responsibility) and negative expectations box.

I'm going to add as a separate box probably the most important in terms of it's potential to imprison us, and that is the Beliefs Box. It doesn't seem to be explicitly catered for in any of the others, yet our beliefs in who we are, what we will become, where we are now, our present and future potential, and our faith, are possibly the most key motivators to what we will do in our time on this planet, and where we think we will be going in the hereafter - if anywhere.

Almost from the time we are born, we are inculcated (is that a good word?) with the cultural/moral/religious/social beliefs of our parents, and taught the "socially acceptable norms" of the day. Most of us grow up with this set of beliefs and live out our lives in cosy acceptance of the status-quo. It's too challenging to take on societal belief-systems and run the risk of being ostracised, or worse, subjected to peer pressure to conform. But there are some of us mavericks who believe in opening up the box for ourselves and seeing what lies on the outside. In the case of the beliefs box, this has the potential to get very scary indeed, depending on our upbringing.

Take for example the belief of orthodox Christianity. Well tried, documented, the doctrine is in place with years of honing the right answer for the questions of the unbeliever. And what a bunch of questions and contradictions it throws up. So you lift the lid and peer outside this particular box, into territory where you have been told are the "heathens and unbelievers". Into territory where you have been told that if you venture, you will be going straight to hell. And Christians are told to "take every thought into captivity to Jesus", or somesuch nonsense - in other words "stop thinking - turn your enquiring mind off. Become a clone and a Jesus dummy".

If you don't believe in God - merely wake up and give your other belief systems a smack on the side of the head - dare to be different. Go out and look.

But if you do believe in God, you better believe He gave us the most fantastically powerful computer ever devised, and it sits almost unused on top of our shoulders. So powerful that geniuses function on about 15% of their brain capability. Most of the rest of us slum along on about 8-9% of our potential. And we are told to turn off our brain and shut up and believe what we're told to. The early Catholic church took all bibles out of the churches and vested them with the priestly class, "because the laity weren't capable of understanding the bible". Probably not - but it had nothing to do with the fact that we were all too thick. It had more to do with the fact that a bunch of early writings had been shoved together, certain contradictions had been spotted and some clever dick had decided to do a little original editing to strengthen their case - which of course only made the whole mess even more disjointed than before. And then they thought it might be a very good idea not to let anyone who was not directly under the control of the church, have any time to spend thinking about some of these anomalies and asking questions. Nobody likes a smart-arse. And if they still didn't succeed in quelling unfashionable beliefs, the church resorted to gently chiding her flock - with the Spanish Inquisition and their subtle methods of torture and death.

"But the bible is perfectly sound - I don't see any problems in it", you say. If you don't, then you haven't looked outside your beliefs box yet. Go and see really why the church has been threatening you with hell fire and damnation if you dare look outside. It's the normal bully-boy threat to scare you into submission and compliance. When you look at all the other major religions, and you will see many of the same ideas, but described many centuries before the advent of Christianity - so the latter is hardly original. And nowhere but Christianity will you find anyone condemning you for wanting to keep an open mind and believing whatever you'd like to. After redacting (diddling with) a bunch of disparate texts for around 1100 years to try to create the message they want to put over to their flock, the church has the absolute gall to insert a paragraph somewhere in the Revelation which in effect says "those who add or take away from this text are damned". What breathtaking hypocrisy - designed of course to keep the followers all mindlessly captive.

But Christians are masters of hypocrisy. They tell the world to love their brother as themselves, and yet they treat everyone outside their own limited denominational beliefs box as the enemy. They tell their flock that these people are cursed, or "of Satan", or "on the wrong path". It's the classical short sighted bigotry borne of supreme arrogance in their supposed correctness. How can they profess to love God (whom they have not seen), when they cannot love their brother whom they have seen? I suspect these people think their "brothers" are only those imprisoned in the same comfortable little box as themselves. Hello - Is it wake up time yet?

Why do all of the longest standing conflicts in the history of civilisation, have their roots in religious intolerance? Because we cannot stand anyone who dares to hold views contrary to our own. We want to dominate. It's always about power. Dog eat dog. It's so bad that we even have (Christian) Catholics killing (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland for upwards of a quarter of a century. Then we have (Christian) Americans jumping onto their modern war chariots and going to free the world from nasty Moslem oppression (I'm not a Moslem). Wake up and go and look at the preponderance of evidence about who actually brought down the World Trade Centre buildings - is a good start. It's always about money and power.

"We are the only ones who are right - and we're going to kill you to prove it". How arrogant. Get out of your stupid limited little box and start listening for a change - you may be surprised what you find. You see, inside your box, you can only see as far as the opposite corner. Yes, I know it's non-threatening and soothing, but it's probably mainly a lie. And are you happy living your life in a lie, or do you think that just maybe you would like the chance to become a spiritual adult, stand up and face the facts, and then move forward, knowing for the first time in your life you are truly, totally free?

Hey - far be it from me to "convert" you to anything - you're on your own, bud. But you're only here for a very short time, so you had better make good use of it. And when you die, make sure you're as clued-up on the real truth as you can be - there's no excuse these days.

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