For a long time, in my head, I wrote and rewrote my own mental essay entitled, “This I Believe.”
A little over a year ago, I wrote a poem called “This I Believed”:
I used to believe in heaven above and hell below.
Fate and flawless soul mates.
Manifesting my destination.
I’ve believed in Brahman and Atman and Santa.
Holy Mary, Mother of God.
One Truth, Many Paths.
To each her own.
Now I believe in Life.
What I see and hear and experience.
I believe what I read—sometimes.
I’ll believe what you tell me, if it’s true.
I strive to release those dearest beliefs clutched close.
Still, I cherish a few.
Above all: I believe that this human birth is precious.
that every living being deserves freedom, happiness and health.
that impermanence can be the vilest enemy or most loyal friend.
that we are here to inspire and enlighten one another.
I believe in magic and miracles, like the ability to be and breathe.
in giving unwrapped gifts of humble kindness
in inviting love under the covers with me.
in the infinite supply of creativity in the world
in the power of love, good music and a warm cup of tea.
~ Michelle Margaret Fajkus
As revolutionary philosopher Jiddhu Krishnamurti teaches, beliefs separate us and erect unnecessary divisions around us as individuals and exclusive groups.
“Belief is not reality. You may believe in God, but your belief has no more reality than that of the man who does not believe in God.
Your belief is the result of your background, of your religion, of your fears, and the nonbelief of the communist and others is equally the result of their conditioning.
To find out what is true, the mind must be free from belief and nonbelief. I know you smile and agree, but you will still go on believing because it is so much more convenient, so much more respectable and safe. If you did not believe, you might lose your job, you might suddenly find that you are nobody. It is being free of belief that matters, not your smiling and agreeing in this room.”
Life is a continual process of identifying all the many ways in which we label ourselves and letting those labels continually drop away.
“I see that, as a human being, I am the result of innumerable influences, social compulsions, religious impressions, and that if I try to find reality, truth, or God, that very search will be based on the things I have been taught, shaped by what I have known, conditioned by my education and by the influences of the environment in which I live.
So, can I be free of all that?
To be free, I must first know for myself that my mind is conditioned, that is, I must be fully aware that I am not really a human being, but a Hindu, a Catholic, a German, a Protestant, a communist, a socialist, or whatever it may be.
I am born with a label, and this, or some other label of my own choosing, sticks to me for the rest of my life. I am born and die in one religion, or I change from one religion to another, and I think I have understood reality, God, but I have only perpetuated the conditioned mind, the label.
– J Krishnamurti
Practice: With a partner, sit facing each other. Each person will have 2 full minutes for their turn. (Use a timer.) Partner 1 will close their eyes and say as many times as they can in two minutes: “I am ____.” Fill in the blank with any word that describes you. Partner 2 just looks at them and listens, not speaking. Then switch roles.
Reflect: What are some of the labels we put on ourselves? What labels does society give us? Our family? Our friends? How does identifying with these labels help or harm us?
Our beliefs and labels are deep seated and pervasive in our psyche.
Letting go of them is neither quick nor easy. If you agree that it’s time to move beyond needless divisions and toward greater interconnectedness, make it part of your daily practice to acknowledge and surrender attachment to beliefs.