When I first started writing about the levels of consciousness, I intended to explain how erroneous worldviews—in my example, racism—correspond to the Hawkins scale. Clearly, someone who is racist is lower on the consciousness scale than a person who is reasonable and accepting of all people. They are stuck at the levels of fear and anger.
However, as I wrote the post, it didn’t quite fit together. I still intend to highlight a few of the unconscious beliefs that add up to such a worldview, but before that, I feel the need to explain a few things about the nature of belief itself.
Racism is a belief about skin color and its relationship to character and worth. It is erroneous and has historically led to tremendous suffering. If we see this and are averse to suffering (as most people are), we can quickly dismiss the position of racism as bad/wrong. No disagreement there.
Here’s the missing piece that must be understood before we can proceed to examine the relationship between beliefs and consciousness levels: All beliefs are false.
A belief can change. A belief is a mental position, and if we fancy ourselves open-minded, our mental positions should be flexible in the face of contradictory evidence. If you pay attention to psychological research, you know that it usually doesn’t work that way. Most people tend to simply look for things in the world that affirm their already-held beliefs. This is called confirmation bias, and it’s one of the basic things we’re taught to be wary of when undertaking a scientific project.
Reasonable people know that it’s silly to cling to old beliefs in light of new evidence. Somewhat hilariously, though, this is what they tend to do: Just as quickly and rigidly and angrily, they take up the belief that “people are stupid.” With little self-awareness, they’ve fallen into the same trap as those they find so dull, for now they hold the mental position that humans are stupid, and of course they go around looking for evidence of this, just as people who are delusional look for evidence of their delusions. This chain of mental events occurs all the time.
So, if we are open-minded, our beliefs are flexible and subject to change. If a belief can change any time, why would an open-minded person hold any beliefs in the first place? What is their function?
And the answer is that beliefs give us a sense of safety and identity, and until we’ve become comfortable without them, these things seem very important. Beliefs of any kind actually put us in an unstable place. They set us up for argument and confusion and cause us to go around looking for things to keep our beliefs in place.
That is to say: Beliefs keep us ignorant of the Truth.
When I tell people I do not hold any particular “beliefs,” they either think this is impossible, or they find it frustrating.
It hasn’t always been this way. Before my moment of awakening, which I will devote a post to at some point, arguing was one of my favorite things to do. I loved to argue over any and everything, because winning arguments made me “smart” and “right” and I had been conditioned to believe that being smart and right were the things that made me worthy as an individual. I had to constantly prove my worth to myself by finding ways to be smart and right. It was exhausting. The whole mechanism ultimately existed to hide my tremendous fear of being worthless, which millions—if not billions—of people also live in fear of. I’m sure I missed out on many enlightening conversations and definitely a lot of joy because of that fear.
The glory of honestly having no beliefs is that you actually see the world as it is, rather than through your layers of opinions which are constantly seeking to be reinforced. This is crucial to helping yourself and everyone around you, if you so choose.
Here’s a question I’ve received a few times after stating that I don’t have beliefs: How do I know what to write about? If I don’t “believe” this stuff, why am I putting my time and energy into communicating these things?
And the answer is frustrating to those who demand outside evidence for everything: There are things I know because I’ve seen them. I do not believe them, because belief changes. I know them. I know them cold—as cold as I know that I love my family and that I care about animals and that I’m really into Rihanna right now. I know these things as sure as you know you breathe oxygen. I can’t precisely show you what I know in the outside world because these things come from within, like everything does, including the ultimate truths. Every individual must discover what they really know for themselves, and should not be confused by the outside.
The difference between knowing something and simply having a belief is that true knowing requires no defense. I am not here to defend what I know, only to speak it. If anyone finds my truths to be disagreeable, I don’t mind. It is only the ego which feels the need to defend beliefs.
Furthermore, engaging in argument reveals that neither party is entirely solid in the positions they claim to hold. If they were, why would they fight? Debates actually serve to show how flimsy people are in their positions and to highlight the ego’s constant need for inflation.