Defining Our Beliefs

By Andrée (Dee) Cuenod

How do we see ourselves and all in existence, as material, separate and mortal or as spirit, One and eternal? Our various belief systems answer that question differently, and in that fact lie the major differences in our ways of approaching life, our worldviews.

SPIRITUALITY VS. MATERIALISM

Those who say we are separate material beings dominate our Western culture and have brought about deplorable world conditions. Those systems that say we are eternal spirit beings existed before Christianity did its best to eradicate them, and now hold keys to renewed ways of living and resolving our world problems. These differences, I believe, constitute the most crucial issue today, one we must address before we can create a better world.

The old materialist worldview provided a backdrop for wonderful growth experiences and was completely appropriate for our needs throughout the previous millennia. Now, though, it no longer works well for us.

Materialism

Materialism is self-centered and says that everything is separate and fighting to survive, so features self-interest, competition and conflict. Advocating that humanity is the pinnacle of life on Earth, it allows humans to abuse other Earthly inhabitants rather than ensure the well-being of all life. Materialists say matter is all that is natural and this current single physical life is the only reality; we all, everything on Earth, began life here, with no prior existence, and many add: no after-death existence. This view is held by atheistic scientists, certainly, but also by most fundamentalists of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Spirituality

Spirituality says God consciousness is all there is, and everything is spirit, energy; matter isn’t real, only seemingly so. Nothing is separate at the consciousness level; all is interrelated, interdependent and holistic: the One. This in one form or another was part of the esoteric teachings of all ancient traditions and spiritual philosophies. It is held today by Eastern traditions, aborigines worldwide, and spiritual metaphysical teachers, and it has been proved true by quantum and noetic sciences. Seeing all life as a single unit, with each of us as an aspect of the One, spirituality emphasizes unconditional love, harmony and well-being for all. Spirituality knows that what affects one affects all in some way. It puts our heart on equal footing with reason.

GOD IS ONE

Religious traditions worldwide have, at their esoteric core, taught that “God is One.” But, different teachings understand it differently. Fundamentalists of the Abrahamic religions take it to mean there is one separate, supreme Being who is God (monotheism). The more spiritual of most other traditions—ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, sophisticated and primitive—while often treating the sun, elements, animals and their heroes as embodiments of deity, know there is only One. Everything is that One. If they have many deities, they see them as expressions of the One. That One is not a being but is the “ground of being”: the basis of everything. The One is God (monism).

This seems to be the defining difference in beliefs worldwide; and a huge difference it is! Abrahamic fundamentalists would probably agree with a Hindu proverb of Bhakti yoga that puts it: “I don’t want to be sugar, I only want to taste sugar.” They don’t want to be God, they only want to worship God.

Jimmy Davis and Harry Poe, give a beautiful explanation of these two differing perspectives in Designer Universe:

We may think of the artistic expression of the potter who fashions a lump of clay into a beautiful vessel in which the mind of the artist skillfully takes shape in physical form. We may also think of the creative expression of the dancer whose body moves gracefully into a thousand different shapes before the dance is done. The monotheism of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity involves faith in the potter, while the monism of Hinduism involves faith in the dancer. The pot and the potter are separate, but the dance and the dancer are inseparable.

Hinduism here can be seen to represent spirituality generally.

Our Beliefs Create Our Reality and Worldview

By Andrée (Dee) Cuenod

As he gazed at Earth on his trip back from the moon, astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced a shift in consciousness and “understood that the major crises of our times are due not to aspects inherent in the external world, but to flawed and inadequate worldviews.” After retiring from NASA and the Navy, he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) to address this issue as part of an exploration into the nature and potential of consciousness.

Noetic scientists have since discovered that what we believe creates our experience. This has been one of my basic truths for many years, and why I focus on our beliefs as what must change if we want our world conditions to change.

Our beliefs make us individually who we are. They affect how we perceive and face our world from day to day and define how we view ourselves, resulting in how we treat our neighbors, other cultures and other beings. They influence our political, economic and social concerns and values. They determine whether we consider the world population a global unit or separate pockets of people and creatures different from us and not our concern. IONS researchers studying this issue add:

People’s worldviews therefore influence every aspect of how they understand and interact with the world around them. Worldviews profoundly impact individual and shared goals and desires, shaping perceptions, motivations, and values both consciously and unconsciously. Worldviews inform human behavior in relationships and choreograph individual and social reactions and actions every moment of the day.

Since our personal beliefs form our individual worldview, we cannot merely correct the flaws in our worldviews; we must change the beliefs behind them. We need to realize that the damage we’ve done to our world, to its other creatures and to ourselves results from the self-centeredness of our predominant worldview. And if we want to resolve our world problems and improve world conditions, we need to replace our old materialist beliefs with radically different, heart-based beliefs. We have to take responsibility. And, if we don’t like what we see in our world, we change it, in part by, as Mahatma Gandhi told us, being “the change we want to see in our world.”

Our Western culture’s dominant worldview formed over the last two millennia through fundamentalist Abrahamic religion, and has been solidly molded in the last three centuries by fundamentalist classical science, the orthodoxy. Although religion’s and science’s fundamentalists view life on Earth very differently, they are both rigidly materialistic and espouse essentially the same self-centered, materialist worldview.

Our culture is running amok, with a few, driven by greed, dominating and controlling the many, and a large share of the many striving to become part of the few, wanting to enjoy the luxurious life style of the few and misguidedly believing personal power and wealth measure success.

Those fundamentalist beliefs gave us a false picture of ourselves and life on Earth, having us believe we are separate, mortal beings in competition for limited resources and fighting to survive. We need now to understand that we are eternal spirit beings enjoying physical experience through interactions with true loved ones, whether seeming good or bad.

We are moving onto a different path, and those old perceptions can’t satisfy our new needs. It’s time to wake up to who we really are and see life and everyone with whom we share this life differently.

If your beliefs aren’t fully heart-centered, and perhaps focus primarily on your personal happiness, maybe you could think about finding some new beliefs. I suggest you think about changing your beliefs from materialist to spiritual. Then, and truly only then, will you find the happiness you seek, while caring for all fellow Earth inhabitants as well as Earth herself, as One with you.