Do you exist apart from the stories you believe about yourself?
I found I cannot claim existence apart from the beliefs I buy into. I found that just as the thinker is the thought, the believer is the belief.
The evidence for solid, separate existence is compelling – and true, relatively-speaking. It’s just that we forget we aren’t separate from our beliefs; we believe we ‘own them.’ But the owner-thing turns out to be … another belief!
Unless we’ve acknowledged and questioned our beliefs – including the ‘real me’ one – we tend to think they are non-negotiable and rock-solid. However, we cannot unstitch a belief without simultaneously disappearing the believer.
Perhaps that’s why it’s such a touchy business to enter into dialogue or self-inquiry about our non-negotiable beliefs and assumptions. Yet on the other side of the terror of self-extinction lies the peace that we seek – the peace that passeth all understanding.
4 thoughts on “disappearing the believer”
Very true! – clear-sighted (re beliefs and believing)
the problem with belief/believing, and the “certainty” based on it, is that doubt is the other side of the coin, and is always lurking around the corner.
The philosopher Descartes entertained the doubt whether ‘he’ did in fact exist; he wasn`t sure of the implicit belief to that effect (hence the Cartesian doubt); he thought alright (cogito), no doubt about that, but that did not give assurance… so he had to have recourse to (a) God, who could not deceive him – the devil could do so, planting doubts in his mind, even that of his own existence. One can say that he played too much with ideas, thinking, the mind… and the devil (which was likely a mere rhetorical devise). Philosophy is also entertaining.
Why did Descartes not simply say, “I breathe, therefore I am”?, whatever the meaning of ‘I’ he thought to be. He could also have thought, “what is it that exists, is?”. But then Western philosophy had to go that route, for reasons that only God knows.
Somehow this comment of yours slipped below the inbox horizon dear AM – sorry. It’s a fascinating observation.
“the problem with belief/believing” is indeed the spectre of thinking’s default duality – we can’t have one without the other.
I agree – philosophy is wonderfully entertaining – and instructive too. Did you ever see that cartoon of a man suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s sitting in a wheelchair, with a speech bubble over his head? The bubble says “I think, therefore I am.” In the next frame, the man has disappeared in a puff of smoke…
“What is this?” is the bottom-line question for yours truly. I suspect I’m a recycled Zenner.
ML, from your reply, I am not sure the second binomial came through clearly in my comment – that was where my emphasis lay, though the first also obtains; believing/doubting are also inseparable, as you and everybody else will know, or admit.
As to the end part of the cartoon (very funny!), this could refer to a theory of creation in the Advaita tradition which is intermediate between creation as such and no-creation, and which advances the explanation that creation (the world of objects) is the product of the mind (it would have to be a universal Mind): the world is created simultaneously with being perceived. Thus, no thought equals no mind equals no objects (including the thinker’s body). One doesn’t need this theory to see the humor of the cartoon. Apologies for this unnecessary and un-funny explanation. am
I love your comments dear AM, necessary or not, funny or not! You always deepen and broaden the view – what a treasure of traditional knowledge you are.
“…the world is created simultaneously with being perceived” – yes, isn’t this one’s undeniable experience?
Thank you, bowing, smiling