Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Belief Creates

Though we could argue the possibilities of many realities for the purpose of this knol, consider this: that we recognize two different kinds of realities, that which is determined by the laws of physics, and that which is determined by our own perceptions. The first is physical reality; the second, personal reality.

Most human beings really only operate from a perspective of personal reality. The saying, "seeing is believing" is the motto of many people, but, the truth is, they have it turned around. "Believing is seeing." But until one's reality slips, it's almost impossible to understand that.

What do I mean by a slip in reality? That's when something happens that shows the flaws in the perceptions. I once firmly believed I was alone in a room, but I wasn't - my best friend was also there. She had to say my name again and again before she could break through my belief, and when she finally did, I saw her appear before me, dot by dot - and realized that I had, literally, been looking right through her! She had told me earlier she wouldn't be there - and because I had completely believed what she had said, she wasn't.

That was the day I began to understand just how much belief affects how we perceive things.

What does this mean for all of us? It means belief controls our senses, and controls how we handle information within the brain: What we are willing to let in, and what we are willing to send out. This concept is stated in a theory called Morton's Demon.

Morton's Demon is an expression inspired by a physics concept called Maxwell's Demon and applied to a psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias. All people tend to weigh judgments and thought perceptions according to their belief system, always leaning towards justifying or rejecting information according to their beliefs. The demon of Morton's idea is a "gatekeeper" that, according to the person's beliefs, either allows or bars information from entering the brain. I would give this demon more power than that: I have seen that such a demon can rewrite information, not just reject or accept it. It is a fully working editor of our reality, to the point that, in some instances, it can create a fully perceived reality that is not there at all.
How far can this concept go? How can we know? Our beliefs rule the evidence. I would say that, at the least example, that it means we all create our "angels" and our "demons"; that those of us who believe in supernatural things will see positive and negative forces or actions expressed in supernatural form, manifested as things we believe in, and those who don't believe in such things, will not see them at all. But it's not that simple: Someday, physics will prove that information carried by energy does involve some sort of consciousness we can't yet fully understand, and that the psychic senses that so many feel are only psychological belief systems are actually there to pick up physically real broadcast information, not just the things we believe in. But until then, it's a tangled web. We all have our beliefs, and we make our decisions, and perceive our personal worlds, according to them.
Belief, at its best, should be something that enhances our perceptions, not removes them. All I can advise is believe responsibly. Believe well. And try to understand that if you have a belief that does not work for you, that causes problems for you or others, you do have the choice to lay it aside. You may be stunned to find that what then appears "before your eyes" is something good that you never considered at all.

[reprint of one of my Knols]

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