Life beyond beliefs
“Doing well in life decides my self-worth.”
“Live in the present moment.”
“Follow your feelings.”
“Do not postpone.”
These are some of the beliefs that have had a profound impact on my life. Each of these beliefs was operational at different times in my life. Like a software program they influenced my thinking and how I lived my life. Until I discovered that life can be lived without beliefs. Let me explain.
“Doing Well In Life Decides My Self Worth”
This was the unconscious belief that ran my entire academic and professional life. I was worthy if I excelled at what I did. Since studying was pretty much what I did, my endeavour was to excel academically. It did not matter, or rather I never gave it any thought if I enjoyed what I studied. Neither did anyone ask me about it.
When I qualified as a Chartered Accountant I was overjoyed at the achievement, only to be depressed at my first work assignment. My qualification and the work I did got me social recognition, but no personal joy. I derived joy from the perception of my success by others.
“Live In The Present Moment”
When I heard this sentence for the first time it hit me with great force. It was my first foray into spirituality through a 5 day wellness program. I strived to follow this wisdom. It was easier to be in the present moment when I was associated with spiritual activities. My professional life stressed me out, and applying this wisdom to my work as a financial auditor was almost impossible.
Nevertheless I did my best to live in the present moment by trying to enjoy what I did and having a daily spiritual practice. At this point of time I was conflicted about what I wanted to do with my life. I felt pulled by the opposing forces of spiritual and corporate life.
“Follow Your Feelings”
This belief erupted in me with great force. I had suppressed my emotions in the name of being a spiritual person for very long. I now wanted to satiate the inner child. All my life I was trying to please others or gain their validation either through working hard or trying to be a better person. Now I wanted none of it.
Rather than try to silence my mind, I allowed whatever was buried within to come up without any censure. My life was lived on the simple principle of pleasure and pain. I avoided pain and pursued pleasure. But a life built on pleasure is likely to come crashing down, sooner or later. So did mine. It again left me wondering how I must live my life.
“Do Not Postpone”
‘Psychology For Every Man and Woman’ was the first self help book I ever read. I was a teenager in college and it influenced me deeply. It spoke about cultivating the master habit of not postponing things. I practiced this diligently for 2 weeks and felt on top of the world.
When my life built on following my feelings crashed, I decided to discipline myself. This time I did it because I saw value in it. And the belief I followed was not to postpone things. Following this belief religiously helped me to cultivate satvic habits and achieve far more than I could have ever imagined. This continued for a few years until I had a breakdown and simply couldn’t apply this belief to my life.
Living Without Beliefs
Living without a belief is like living in empty space. It is not a space most people are accustomed to. Beliefs, good or bad, ground us. Or rather they give a sense of certainty to our mind. A belief tells us who we are and how we must live our life. Often our beliefs are unconscious.
All beliefs are borrowed from the outside world. We believe our parents, friends and teachers. We are influenced by religion, culture and social values. We are the sum total of what we believe. No wonder when difficult life circumstances challenge our beliefs we push back with all our might or break down.
There is only one thing in the world that is not a belief. It needs no proof. It can never be refuted. It is always constant.
No one can refute that they Exist. That they are Conscious. That they are Alive.
Everything changes in our life from physical appearances, life circumstances and mental beliefs. I AM is the only phenomenon that never changes.
So this time when my operating belief crumbled and my mind could not find any other belief to latch on to, it dissolved into I AM. This may sound esoteric, but it’s the simplest thing in the world. Wherever you go you take your existence along with you. Rather than focus our attention on your thoughts and dissipate your energy, take note of your existence.
You can do it at this moment. Notice your breath. The movement of your body. The sensations within. The touch of wherever your hands are resting. The sounds around you. All of this indicates that you are alive. This is not a matter of belief. This is life. And you are that Life.
Beliefs are always pushing us to become something. When we drop all beliefs, ideas and concepts, we reside in Being. This may feel extremely threatening to the mind initially, cause its very existence depends on beliefs. These beliefs are the operating systems of our mind. They are the mental framework by which we view life. They tell us who we are and what to do.
But if you care to notice, your vital life functions of respirations, digestion or circulation are not run by beliefs. They function on their own. If some mysterious intelligence can give you life and run this Universe, cannot that same mysterious intelligence run your life for you?
It is unlikely that anyone will give up their beliefs after reading this article. We give up beliefs only when the price for holding on to them is far more than letting them go. And even when we give up a belief we replace it with another. It would be worthwhile to ask yourself what belief is currently running your life? Articulate it and write it down in a piece of paper. If you feel torn between two beliefs write both of them down.
Expressing your beliefs creates distance between you and your belief. Every now and then sit silently or lie down and surrender your body and mind to the Universe. Notice the empty fullness of Existence.