Blogging about beliefs, and the importance of choosing them for oneself, brings to mind a question I’ve been asked for the past 20 years — as the founder of a business that provides access to authentic divination systems. And it is a question that reveals something about the fuzzy way humans think. It has been generally directed to me by businessmen as to whether I “believe in” divination — the I Ching, Astrology, Tarot, Numerology. As in, “Do you really believe in this stuff?”
I’ve just never understood the sense in the phrase “believe in”, which is what I consider the fuzziness part. Many people seem quite proud to say they “believe in God” or “freedom” or “love”, even though they cannot define what they mean by any of these things.
A belief is a series of thoughts that form a conclusion about something or the way something works. They are not just symbols, or dreams of the imagination. To “believe in” something, anything, is to give mental power to that symbol. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this, but it is certainly not a commitment worth fighting (or dying) for.
Nevertheless, symbols have powerful and passionate effects on the subconscious mind — and people get riled up about defending their particular favorite symbols. Talk radio, Rush Limbaugh and the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world make a fortune stirring up outrage, day after day — which can lead to violent acts by some of their listeners — getting people riled up about the supposed defilement of some sacred symbol (the flag, anyone?) — all for the sake of higher media ratings. (I think this kind of rabble-rousing is really anti-democratic.)
Symbols, which represent feelings or fantasies, are not beliefs. Being passionate about the simplest of ideas does not make them more profound, or developed enough to be considered “beliefs”, whether you profess to “believe in” them or not. This takes us right back to the importance of consciously choosing your own beliefs (as well as how the fuzziness of language can support the fuzziness of thinking).
My answer to those businessmen? “No belief is required to benefit from divination. It’s like meditation. Try it. If it works (in the case of divination, to stimulate your intuition to think outside the box you were in), it has done its job. You don’t have to ‘believe in’ anything.”