Sunday, November 19, 2006

Original Beliefs?

Have you ever asked yourself how many of your beliefs were put into your mind by other people, and how many you originated all by yourself?

I’m willing to bet that the number of people in the world who carry around even a few independently generated beliefs is smaller than the number who are over 7 feet tall.

When I say “beliefs”, I am thinking mostly of religious and spiritual beliefs. “Other people” includes parents, teachers, friends, books, newspapers, television, movies, and anything else except your own original ideas based on independent observation and intuition.

It took me a long time even to ask myself a question like the one above. When I did, it was, “If I had grown up alone on a tropical island with no people, no books, no means of communication with the rest of the world, would I ever have thought of the concept of ‘God’”?

I know it’s hard to imagine a lush tropical island today without a luxury hotel and fusion cuisine, much less without people, but try. Based on your isolated experience with Nature and yourself, would you have discovered a concept you would have labeled the equivalent of “God” as depicted in the Bible?

In the unlikely event that you came up with a biblical kind of “God” entirely on your own, we have to wonder what Nature, and your mind, would have revealed to be that God’s characteristics and effects on you in this life and after death.

We also have to wonder if a dozen men and women growing up alone in a dozen other completely isolated places would have come up with similar discoveries.

I was born and raised in the United States, not in isolation, which is why my question refers to the Old and New Testament Gods that were presented to me while I served a term in the Baptist church. From the beginning I felt there was something wrong with the entire system I was taught, and I collaborated and prayed more from fear of God’s plentiful punishments than from positive beliefs. Then I began asking Sunday School teachers and the minister embarrassing questions and getting embarrassingly irrational answers.

So one day, when I was in my early teens, I asked myself a question: Would I ever, entirely independently, have thought of the existence of God if God had not been named and described to me by other people? I concluded that the answer was a definite, “No.” My first original realization: I felt very strongly that there was some single, unseen basis that underlay and supported everything in existence, and that it was nothing like the Christian or Jewish Gods. I soon called this universal creative and animating source “spirit” for lack of a better term – a “spiritual” essence behind the visible world.

Of course I was not the first person in history to come up with such an idea! I was just the first person in my own history to come up with it. When I was later fortunate enough to read the “Upanishads” I felt a burst of light and confirmation.

More about all this next time. . . Thanks for looking.


  1. The question which you thought of in your teens was similar to one I first thought yesterday!

  2. Fascinating post, and especially timely for me at the moment. I have a sense that there is something about being human that we experience ourselves beyond the physical, emotional and mental. Some call it Spirit or Essence or Soul, but the term doesn't really matter. There is *something*.

    So I suppose in the course of history there has been this attempt to define it, to put it in an understandable form, to create religions, and therefore to create God, in order to soothe fears of the unknown. So would we have this thought of God without having been told about the concept? Interesting question. Maybe we would, but I suspect it would be something indefinable, without words to express it in form, more of a sense.

    When one looks objectively at the God written about in the bible, you have to wonder why anyone would choose him as their God to worship.

    Anyway, now you've given me something to wrap my mind around in elaboration this evening. Thank you for this thought provoking post.

  3. This "blog", has some interesting ideas, expiences, that add wieght to the "knowing" that we connect to something Greater than what we see. The expalnations have always been with humanity, there for those who have "Eyes to see" and "Ears to hear", matters not if as in the varied religions of the world or personal experiences, philosophy, teachings of many descriptions lead us back to the one thought. We are of the universal mind and love and all that encompasses.We are spirit in the flesh.

  4. Carl, thank you for the inspiring comment. I hope you will contribute more of your wisdom in future comments.