On The Power Of Belief (As To Believing Or Not, Do Not Hesitate)
Beliefs are powerful metaphysical forces. Irrespective of spiritual, political, ideological and ethical origins, they govern our lives and direct us into navigating the universe.
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it.
The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
– Franz Kafka
In the same way that naming something creates it, believing in something means bringing it into existence. The strength of beliefs, of ideas, is among the most valuable things we possess. It’s the source and the potency of everything toward which we can aspire in this lifetime.
Even while avoiding the “transcendental” in arguing for the power of belief, multiple factual accounts attest to the pervasiveness of the phenomenon. One example is the well-documented power of placebos. If one believes that a substance will help one to feel better, whether it’s an aspirin or a lump of sugar disguised as aspirin, the mind, through the exercise of belief, will infuse one with a feeling of well-being that ends up being palpable. Another example is among the most day-to-day, but also powerful parts of reality: language.
Naming as belief (and creation)
Language, as a vehicle and as the materialization of our convictions, is full of words that are used in careless and imprecise ways. A careful review of the nature of words can generate essential reflections on the power they have over both what we believe in and how this affects our lives on all levels. The Polish-American scholar, Alfred Korszybski, considered the father of General Semantics, developed a therapy to cure psychosomatic diseases by simply clarifying the meaning of certain words in the dictionary. Such is the power of words. Such is the power of what we consider to be true, and what we believe.
In a universe of possibilities and not of absolute facts, belief is a radical vote of confidence that one may deposit into something else. It’s practically impossible to check the truthfulness of everything we believe from every possible angle –even if one’s beliefs are backed by science. The fact that every belief is based on an element of faith can’t, therefore, be entirely ruled out. That faith is transferred directly onto the bearer, empowering him or her. Faith may move mountains, as the saying goes, but the raw substance of the will to move mountains is evidently belief in something –irrespective of any rational or analytical evaluation.
One need only review human history, especially the attitudes of the outstanding figures there – revolutionaries, thinkers, and innovators – those who’ve been shaping reality by transcending the limits assumed up to their own times. No doubt we’ll notice that the solidity of their beliefs is one common denominator among all of them. In short, it’s confidence in what they believe.
The act of believing
A first, primary step toward believing in something (anything) is simply the disposition, collective or individual, to validate that belief. There are things which are, which exist, and which we consider true or, perhaps, as real. Reality is built on a collective agreement and a system of beliefs ranging from the most intimate and personal, to group beliefs, country-wide beliefs, regional beliefs, and world beliefs. If we think about it, these beliefs move the world. Perhaps they’re even the fundamental engine of our species. When belief is validated, then it’s followed by trust and the commitment to support the disposition with will and all that’s entailed therein: intention, energy, and action.
The world then is determined in the end by both the humble and powerful, by simple and monumental acts of will, in the act of believing. Because believing in this way is also to create the world.
*Images: 1) Sumarkvöld við Reykjavík (Summer Evening in Reykjavík) by Þórarinn B. Þorláksson (1904); 2) Utriusque Cosmi by Robert Fludd
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