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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Belief inventory

When we are little, a lot of stuff gets stuffed in our heads. Since we start out as little more than inept monkeys, that makes a lot of sense. Someone has to show us how all this human stuff works.

We start out with the basics: what to touch, what not to touch, how to communicate, what to eat, what to drink, how to pee and poop. All very useful and necessary stuff.

Somewhere down the road, we are taught a whole bunch of stuff that we are suppose to believe. If we’ve been raised half way decent, some morals and ethics have been poured into our empty empty little heads. Often that comes with a religious framework of some sort.

Of course, the whole belief thing is reinforced by our community. If we grew up around people who hate or love something, we pick that up too. We might grow up believing in democracy, or theocracy, or the Republican party, and Santa Claus . . . wait, maybe only Democrats believe in Santa. Republicans believe in Satan.

So there we are, many years later, our heads no longer little and no longer empty. We are all grown up and totally programmed. You do know you’ve all been programmed, right?

Here’s where the belief inventory comes in. Grownups can and should self program. Once in a while we should examine our beliefs and see if they still make any sense to us. Just because it might have make sense to our parents and grandparents doesn’t mean it’s still useful to us. Conditions change.

I’m not saying that you have to throw out all your programing. Be aware that it is programing -something poured into a blank mind. Once you assess your beliefs, then you can see if there is any basis for them. Maybe all you’ll actually do is monitor your beliefs to see if they are still useful. If a better belief comes along, you might want to consider going with that.

My dad surprised me when he changed a long held belief that he grew up with. Dad was raised in a strict Catholic household. Now in his 70s, he suddenly believes in reincarnation.

I said, “Dad, where does that come from?”

“From nature,” he said. “Everything in the world is reused. Plants are eaten by animals. Animals die and fertilize plants. Nothing is ever destroyed, only changed. Now I can’t imagine God making a whole new soul just because some chick gets herself knocked up. He’s going to take one that’s not being used at the moment and recycle it in a new body.”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s wrong. The point is, he changed a long held belief. (much to my surprise.) In his old age, this new belief somehow brings comfort to him. It’s useful and doesn’t hurt anyone.

Before you laugh too loud, take inventory of your beliefs and see if they are still useful, or even believable.



  1. General patton held this belief.Sounds as good as any ive heard with less profit motive.

  2. Think I'll be scratching my head and pondering the answer to that subject, till the day I die.
    Seems to me that any other answer would be vanity speaking. IMHO

  3. Personal beliefs that comfort ones mind, whether useless or unbelievable to anyone else, are harmless. Actually, they can be quite helpful to that individual. If your dad's new belief helps him, that's all that matters. The harm only comes when true believers of anything feel compelled to force others to believe.

  4. I've been doing just that for many years now, and am surprised to see the changes in me on reading my old blog posts from years ago. I reckon I'll probably say the same thing a few years from now : )

  5. At my age, there are blank areas opening up in my brain, so it can be filled with new ideas. That is, if I can remember them.

  6. I believe it very natural for an older person, like your father, to change beliefs. It gives them comfort, knowing the end is near, that it's possible to continue in some form in the afterlife. At sixty, I know it helps me. Good for him.

  7. I used to hear 'what comes around goes around' when I was a kid, but have come to realize that Karma truly exists. If you treat people badly for no reason, you will be treated badly as well. Being generous with people you know (even strangers) will pay off in the future, you just don't know it yet.

  8. hey six bears - i found you through Stephen's post about you today. he said that your post was a good read and i agree. i will add you to my blogroll as i have read through several other of your posts and you look like good people! and i will catch up on all of your previous posts over the next few days!

    as to your dad changing his beliefs - i think that, as others have already said, when we start to get older, if we have brains, we start to question the programming that we have been influenced by, and start de-programming. i am glad that your dad is comfortable in his beliefs, regardless of what they are.

    but like Anonymous said above - i, too, believe very strongly in karma. and i was raised by a Jehovah's witness and an atheist. and was baptized as a Salvation Army Protestant. and attended sunday school, junior soldiers, senior soldiers, brownies, girl guides and pathfinders until i was 15. i am currently studying the bible over the phone with a christian fundamentalist who lives in missouri.

    that's probably enough blathering eh? i do believe exactly what anonymous said - and most religions teach the same thing whether they call it karma or not.

    do unto others...

    this was a lovely post and please tell your dad how much interest it has stirred up here.

    and thank you Stephen for pointing out another place for me to visit and learn!