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A brief primer on beliefs

[ Jun 17, 2013 ] [ by Frank Mosca, PH.D. ]

The experience of believing is at the heart of what The Option Method is all about. Remember, the Method exists precisely because beliefs exist, beliefs in all and any forms of unhappiness that is of course. Identifying and challenging beliefs with the goal of releasing yourself from their grip is the goal and genius of the Method. It is what the dialogue is all about. That is why, hypothetically, the happier you are, the less the Method enters into your life as a formality. Bruce set up a “shortcut” to happiness which I cite at the end of my book The Unbearable Wrongness of Being. 

It goes as follows:  What do you want in this very moment? Happiness? Okay, then ask yourself if that is true? Yes. Okay then ask yourself: Do You believe You? Yes. Then you have your happiness right now!

Now that is fine when it is indeed true and that sequence actually aligns for you because that is the truth of you knowing the truth of who and what you are in reality in any given moment, in all moments of course when understood properly.  The question that is critical in that sequence, by the way, is  "Do you believe you?"  What you are actually asking is not about what you believe, but what you know.  The way to reveal this is to ask it this way:  "Do you know you?"

The shift from believing to knowing is the shift from unhappiness to happiness always. Why? Because happiness is the only occasion when a human can claim knowing and not merely believing. All believing is what we hold tentatively, even when we cling to it with a ferocity and tenacity perhaps unto death. But all believing can be supplanted by information which can immediately reveal to us the defects/deficits in what we are now believing and the unchallengeable [at least as we have to see/understand it of course] superiority of the new information we are receiving/accepting. Conversion experiences can be accounted for in this manner. But conversions can wax and wane as we know, as doubts about the truth of the experience may creep in because other information seems to subvert what we have formerly believed to be something we absolutely knew.

More commonly, changes in belief are much less spectacular. We believed that humans could never build a flying machine. People at the time of Wright wrote long scientific disquisitions on why the mechanics of flight made flight or a machine that flies impossible. [By the way the actual mechanics of flight are still not understood despite the fact our machines stay in the air. Not to worry we don’t really know why electricity works precisely as it works. Lights still go onJ] In less than a minute or so all that disappeared forever when their machine took off. Or as Bruce Di Marsico, creator of The Option Method, was fond of saying, “We all want what we want until we are offered what we perceive to be better.” Being offered a check for a million dollars would instantly be supplanted as a want if at just about the same time we were offered a check for ten million dollars. QED [quod erat demonstrandum or “thus is it proved”] as philosophers and mathematicians are wont to say.

So it would seem that what we believe is subject to rather easy disconfirmation. Well yes certainly when the evidence of our eyes or the quality of what we want is instantly changed by circumstances. If so then why do beliefs in unhappiness seem so intractable? Okay, they are so precisely because the stakes are so high! Now we get into the heart of the issue about beliefs in unhappiness. This also explains why The Option Method can never be logically disconfirmed as well.  What do I mean? Remember every belief in unhappiness, or system of beliefs in unhappiness [as cultures/religions etc.], attempt to supply/answer the deepest desire humans can have: the desire to be happy. All belief systems which include beliefs in unhappiness [there are no exceptions I know of, except for the Buddhist but that is another story] are actually attempts at creating a roadmap to happiness. If that wasn’t at the core of how they constructed it, then no one would be buying what they are selling. Bruce noted this, again, many, many times. So if a person is trying to answer that innate tug toward happiness that is alive in every human, and given its absolute fundamental importance to every human, it follows that the investment in a belief system purporting to give an answer to that desire would be enormous.

That truth is resident in the word belief itself, which in the Indo European language group is related to “love.” Take for instance in German the related word “beliebt” or that which is loved! That is part of the root sense of what belief is all about. What we believe is what we love! Now just try to separate a person from what they love. Okay now you get the picture of the enormity of the task at hand. That is why the world looks and operates the way it does. People love their beliefs, believing that they purport to provide the food to feed what they experience as their deepest need. The truth is that all systems, no matter how well intended to a greater or lesser extent keep their adepts at an unbridgeable [by that system itself] distance from the full fulfillment/acknowledgement of what they so intensely thirst for.

Now you can begin to grasp the incredible genius of Bruce and his Method. It was often almost funny how Bruce would say in the most apparently disingenuous, loving manner, that “the good news was that people “merely” believed in unhappiness.” That it was “merely” a belief. He of course meant that in two ways [he always meant things in a multiplicity of ways, never in contradiction with one another. Try to do that with anythingJ]. The first was with tongue in cheek to sort of “tweak” us and also so as not to make the task at hand seem too daunting. The second, and more fundamental sense, was that it was actually the best possible news. Why? Well, because if the universe were somehow set up so that all there was, was believing and never knowing, then all we would have were defective roadmaps based on ever changing probabilities and opinions. The Option Method would just be another such roadmap with the presumed defects and deficits of all the others. We would be awash and afloat in a universe of roadmaps with no possible real sense of what might constitute a portrait of the real terrain, of what actually is the case, ontologically, existentially.

 But as Bruce laid out, happiness is not optional. It is not a desideratum among a smorgasbord of desiderata, like a color: option is red, but blue will do in a pinch, or sometimes purple is better, or even gray for a particular day….ad infinitum. It is the ground of being, it is what we are, it is literally that without which we would not exist, there would be no being. That is why being/freedom/happiness are the same. Just as being is not “optional” among some other possibilities [i.e., you can only be or not be there is no other possibility], so happiness is not optional.

 Given that as a truth, it becomes the only condition that can be known, not merely believed in. Thus Bruce’s happy news that belief in unhappiness [the now understood condition of “non-being” or taking non being to be being—take a minute to take that in guys--] can only be a belief, not a reality and happily again therefore subject to disconfirmation. You just have to find a way, the most efficient way possible to aid a person in that acknowledgement. Thus the Method, questions that accomplish the most difficult but fundamental and compassionate task anyone can undertake.

But for the person applying the Method to self and others, it also invites you to understand why exquisite patience and compassion is the desired stance here. Those of you experiencing “resistance” within yourselves are simply experiencing the dread and even rage at the possibility of separating yourself from something you have loved, perhaps all of your life! Surrendering that is the ultimate gift to your self to be sure, but in the process there may be much kicking and screaming, much fear and suspicion, doubt and dread of what seems to be the unknown. And not merely the unknown but what may have been actually or by implication decreed to be the worst possible case: being happy when happiness has not been allowed and therefore being “illegitimately” happy.

Nothing will get you in trouble more quickly with yourself and your belief system than transgressing against that fundamental law: that acknowledging happiness all on your own, without benefit of clergy or ideological direction, is the royal road to “hell” whatever that might mean in your system. It is stepping in a zone where all the guideposts that you have accepted as real markers of how to proceed in this world, and have what your system defines as “meaning,” are gone. Every culture/ideology has as its ultimate weapon the threat of shunning, of separation. The warnings, as you approach what I call “volitional escape velocity” is that you are leaving what you love, what has served you for years, and most to the point you will be all alone with your so called happiness. No one will understand you, much less want to be in your company. You will be an outcast and be swallowed up by the unbearable wrongness of being the way you are not supposed to be[fetching phrase that, what do you think?].

Okay so that is a brief primer in beliefs, what they are, why they are and how they enter in to your personal journey and the journey you might seek to facilitate with others.

Happiness is being glad for who you are.

[ Bruce Di Marsico ]