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HOMESpiritual Psychology

The Limits of Mental Beliefs

Published on December 4, 2018

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Though we have the power to create our realities, we do not live alone. We have to share reality with others. No matter how badly we would like to think three suns or moons into our sky there remains only one of each. No matter how powerful we are, and no matter what we believe, we have limited power to change the ‘shared reality,’ though it is true that the effects of our beliefs do have a consequence beyond our purely internal world. They impinge on the social environment and do come back to us in some kind of effect. No man is an island yet today individualism and separation codify human existence.

The truth will eventually be seen no matter what we believe.If what we believe in creates separations, forever we are denied entrance to the garden.

Werner Eirhart, the founder of EST once drew an image of a man sitting under the night sky. He said that the stars do not care one bit for our opinions. He was referring to the limits of beliefs. What does it matter to the stars what we think. Whatever we make important is going to be important to us, but that does not mean it is going to be important to someone else. For one person money is the most important thing, for another it is love.

Beliefs are important but not as important as we think. The truth of life exists beyond belief.

Whatever we make important is important because it will shape our lives. Of course everyone makes their personal beliefs important, and many would die or do violence in the name of their beliefs. There must be something wrong with believing so much in our beliefs that we judge, separate, condemn, and even do violence in the name of beliefs.

The secret is not to separate.

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The truth of life exists beyond our ‘belief’ of what is true. We can think what we want but there is a certain level of reality that is not touched by that.

The heart, which is connected to the whole, only holds beliefs which securethe vibration of the heart.

With the power of our belief, we cannot grow one hair on our head, or make the world stop turning. Meditation on the limits of beliefs can lead to humility.

As soon as you begin to believe in something  then you can no longer

see anything else.

– Pema Chodron

Our pure beings do not have to believe in anything. Our beings just love to be and our very capable of loving and being without sets of complicated beliefs. The more simple our beliefs, the closer we will be to the primal state of our pure being. Look at our beautiful, loving and happy children. Until a certain age they are very content and complete without beliefs. This is what Christ was talking about when he said to be like little children again. When people move away from their pure being and begin to identify too much with their beliefs they loose contact with the source of life. Though it can be said about belief systems that their truth lies in their usefulness, all beliefs become useless when they breed separation and arrogance.

When we identify too closely with what we believe we breed a form of self-righteousness that destroys the essence of the heart.There is no humility in our attachments to beliefs.To believe in something is one thing. To love something is something else.

People who are too closely identified with the universe of ideas and beliefs like to talk about things. Instead of creating intimacy through the sharing of feelings they gravitate toward discussions of ideas. Ideas have always tended to separate and the feelings of the heart have a tendency to unite people in a feeling of love, intimacy, and trust. Anyone who is inflamed in the head with their ideas has a most difficult time listening to feelings.

There are certain types of ideas that destroy the flows of open, honest, and vulnerable communication. Many religious ideas are of this type. For sure those types of ideas that lead us to believe that there is only one way to heaven, our way, lead us into the hell of separation from the collective of humanity. The earths major religions are basically obsolete simply because they bring separation, not love and union. Though there are beautiful beings who do find their way back to their hearts through following ancient religious pathways the fanatics remain the same. They separate through their absolute attachments to the meaning of their beliefs never knowing that concepts and beliefs are only mental models that hold little importance to the universe of being.

Today is still not the time for openhearted vulnerable communications and most families and organizations and online virtual groups still mirror this reality. In separation (the sharing of ideas) we remain alone meaning the heart does not get shared.

Empathy Breaking Concepts The Hidden Trap Behind the Best of our Concepts

There are several philosophies, psychologies and communication approaches that clearly state that we never "cause" anyone else’s pain or suffering. To many people this is an obvious fact that leads one to assume responsibility and control over their inner world. It gives added power to cut through emotional reactions to other people’s communications and behaviors but the question is, "Is there a hidden price?" Does it cover the full reality of human suffering and human interaction?

Both NVC and NLP share in this belief that seems true in terms of mental and emotional reactiveness. But it does not seem to represent reality on a being or physical level. It would seem cruel and violent to communicate to a person who is being tortured, at the moment it is happening, that the torturer is not "causing" any pain. What does not make sense to think that a man who sexually abuses a little girl will not "cause" pain in that little beings life. In reality I fear for our humanity with such beliefs that we cannot cause another pain. There is a delicate fine line between beliefs that help us take responsibility for our own consciousness and ones that reinforce the minds basic belief that we are all separate objects floating in space with nothing connecting the heart of one person to that of another. There is no doubt that the "way" we experience every situation has a direct cause inside of ourselves but this is no reason to annihilate all cause and effect in the social sphere of human reality.

Alex Censor, the moderator of NVC’s online group, wrote to me "It’s puzzling really to see how a perfectly useful concept (that one can learn wonderful things from being in adverse situations) can with the best of intentions end up being used to stimulate pain and disconnection." He went on to share a story about a friend of his who was pregnant with twins – after going to great medical extremes to get pregnant. In the 7th month one twin died still in the womb, and there was danger that would threaten the life of the second one. Needless to say, this woman was in considerable turmoil. During that time one of her friends said to her "I wonder what you’re supposed to learn from this?"

The second twin survived nicely, and many months later, when this woman was telling about her friend’s comment and how shocked she was, she said,  "Well, what I learned from that was never to say something like that to someone who’s in a situation like that."

In the introduction we introduced an idea that said we have feelings and feelings about our feelings. We are totally responsible for our feelings about our feelings but there are things people do (things that happen) that create (stimulate) feelings to arise in our beings. Those feelings can represent pure physical pain or can represent a hurt to our being. What we do with those feelings is what is under our ‘eventual’ control as adults.

In my discussion with Alex about this he agreed "It’s certainly not a great idea, or a compassionate practice, in the middle of someone else’s suffering to point out that they are responsible for it." And he said in relationship to an accident when he was younger when a car ran over his foot "Yes, I felt much physical pain after that accident. And, yes, surely that person who ran through the light was responsible for that PHYSICAL pain. I also experienced much suffering (worrying about whether I’d ever be able to walk properly again, etc, etc.) There are two things here: There’s the physical pain, and then there’s the mental suffering that we commonly layer on TOP of the physical pain. I have learned that I MAY have to feel physical pain, but I do NOT have to suffer. Suffering is something we generate."

Alex is making a separation between physical pain and other kinds of pain. It is my feeling that people can suffer a direct blow to their being, not just to their body. Deprive love from a child or sexually abuse them and their suffering goes far beyond the physical. Yes we do generate much of our suffering but all? Many of us do have great Gordian Knots to untie inside of ourselves and some of us might just be able to slash the knot quickly like Alexander the Great did. And though in the end it is our responsibility to do that concepts and discussions about cause does not make the hurt go away all by itself.

I do not think any of our beliefs, ideas or theories of what we think is right and wrong matter much to a little girl or boy who is being abused. The young are vulnerable and defenseless and as such they can be hurt or caused to suffer and they are not yet responsible for it until they grow older. There is just a level of life where all concepts break down.

Alex believes that we cannot cause another suffering but he clearly states that we can be responsible for it. What he is concerned about is to cultivate in himself and others is a type of consciousness that leads to a great deal of control of how we react to others’ actions. He doesn’t want to encourage others to use statements like "you cannot cause another suffering" as a way to ignore others’ pain or concerns. Even Marshal Rosenberg, Alex’s mentor and the founder of NVC, the one who wrote that no one can cause our suffering admits that people behave in ways injurious to themselves and others and injury ’causes’ pain.

There are painful realities in life. Yet we do have control of how we react and relate to it. We can remain calm and serene even when surrounded by all the hang-ups, conflicts, contradictions, violence and abuses of being that surround us. In a communication discipline called Creative Conflict, developed by my mentor Christopher Hills, was the principle, YOU ARE WHATEVER DISTURBS YOU; which means you have to take responsibility for what is going on in your consciousness. No matter what the cause, when we are suffering, it is a relief to know that the disturbance is happening in our own consciousness and we can thus effect change on our inner world. Some people react upon hearing a principle like this and it does sound similar to no one ’causes’ our pain. The difference between the principle you are whatever disturbs you and the philosophy that one person cannot cause another suffering is the difference between separation and oneness. This first principle of Creative Conflict assumes that life is a mirror and that there is a subtle link between all beings. When we are disturbed we do not need to declare where the cause is. We just need to realize that there is something that needs mastering or changing so we can return to equilibrium. The original cause can be a violent event in our life but after the fact our suffering and experience is our own that only we can deal with and master. But in our intimate relationships we have to work many things out together and without the togetherness of cooperation, many kinds of pains do not get worked out. There are times when we just have to transcend ’causes’ and look at the whole picture together.

The question is can we be hurt? I think beings can and do hurt other beings. I feel compassion for all hurt beings, and their struggle to get out from under the hurt. Sometimes that is heroes work and the work of a lifetime for some hurts are so deep it is a wonder when someone transcends it. Yet there are people who profess, with this no one can cause you to suffer, that you cannot be hurt. These people do not know or understand the separation they are making in consciousness from one being to another. They are the ones who separate themselves from other peoples suffering and perhaps from their own.

Are emotional reactions really completely separate from an external cause? I agree they can be separated. And at times they really need to be separated. But are they separate? When we look at the hologram of life or at quantum physics we begin to understand that all events are connected in a very direct though often subtle way. We can take responsibility for our entire inner world of experience, for all our thoughts, feelings and experiences and still not separate from others in the environment. In my personal life it is separation that causes me the most suffering, separation from love and from my wife when that happens. Going to bed, for instance, when we are separate, is painful. She is not causing me suffering when we go to bed separate from each other. It is the separation itself that I suffer for. My need for love and intimacy and tenderness, which is frustrated by the sense of separation, causes suffering. Yes she herself might be separating, from her own heart and that of mine and that could be causing or creating the entire drama or stage on which ‘our’ suffering and conflict is occurring. And it is only when we bridge the gap that is separating us that the dark clouds part and the love light and joy return.

Also when I separate from my own inner wisdom and divine guidance I suffer. When I do not listen to that small inner voice I slide off into the weaker aspects of self and my suffering reminds me of this fact.

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Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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