Belief about ourselves often defines how we view ourselves and others and how we conduct our lives. If we invest in a certain belief to bolster fulfillment and happiness, do we fool ourselves? Perhaps not. However, such a question might not be easy to answer. What do we have a belief about? Is it about a false sense of self that takes us away from steady, quiet being and towards unchallenged gratification and frenzy? What do we think constitutes happiness? While, it does take some exploration to head towards an answer to such questions, perhaps one thing is certain. That we look for freedom, period. Freedom from the trap of uncircumvented emotions, feelings and restrictive psychophysical states. In order to look for freedom, we need to define what constitutes it’s lack. That we are constrained just by existing as a certain form is easy enough to understand. We seek not to get injured or burnt and to be free of pain. Such suffering is unavoidable, and surprisingly, could be the very arena where we can test the efficacy and applicability of any belief we might have about freedom. In one way or the other, we are all restricted. Pain and illness never actually leave our side and the very freedom that we think we are owed creates even more cages in which we lock ourselves. Actualization comes despite restrictions and how we view restrictions can be the single most important determinant of how free we are. In that context, belief becomes important too. In the face of unmodifiable circumstances, our belief can either keep us trapped or lead us to fulfillment.
Say, we get up one morning not having slept well, tired, burdened by unsavory thoughts. An unpleasant state, we feel irritable and seek resolution. We realize that we are not free, and this lack comes not from the circumstances we find ourselves in but from our perception of those circumstances. We can take recourse to many ways to feel better including work, responsibilities or some form of sensory gratification. Experience however shows us that each of these methods, while being temporarily effective do not create the conditions for lasting freedom or happiness. Belief can change the appraisal of perception and if adequately aligned with reality can sever our dependence on the usual distractions and activities we give so much weightage to. A particular circumstance leads to an assessment of whether it is pleasurable or aversive. This judgement is made in the context of our ability to marshall the bestowments of the situation we find ourselves in towards the attainment of any purpose we hold dear or our predilection for a certain feeling or existential state. Is belief also a construction superimposing on this bare perception? If it were, could belief better help us not be incessantly swayed by what we found ourselves amidst. Is it possible to believe that our interpretations hamper rather than facilitate the flow of spontaneous being?
Belief that our interpretations are redundant can help us to let for instance, the seen be seen and the heard be heard, and nothing more. There is a likelihood that some might consider this a negative state. We feel beauty and love, we see, we feel, touch and hear and conclude that it is these experiences that give meaning to our lives. If we look closely, we might realize that the objects of our sensory apparatus, which essentially means that whatever we look upon with any of our senses are bereft of any characteristics. Our mind colors external objects, gives them a label, colors and flavors them and we decide that some of these objects or phenomena are desirable and some not. What we do not pay attention to is that it is our mind that ascertains quality and the subsequent affinity for a certain object. If we were aware of this process and did not seek to modify perception, how would our lives be? We would probably be at peace and be freer! Something beautiful would be the same as something distasteful. We would be unaffected and our responses would not be destructive. It is the aspiration towards values like goodness and compassion and beauty that likely determines how rich and satisfying our lives are, not the capricious assessment and responses towards the multitude of objects and phenomena that we seek out or happen to come across.
Experiences do not shape our lives. It is perhaps the reason behind our desire for the kind of experiences we seek out that determines the course our lives take. Purpose likely determines freedom from the captivity of circumstances and if we can try and believe that this can come from unembellished, bare perception coupled with the wish to view all phenomena as a source of insight that helps decipher what we truly value, we continue to move towards unraveling our personal purpose without getting trapped by the inevitable succession of experiences that come our way. Phenomena are then neither interpreted or sought out. What overlays perception is erroneous and bare perception itself inescapable. The point is not to get waylaid by what we conceive and keep moving with bare perception towards a life that is driven by our values. Belief that conceptual constructions are redundant and that purpose and values can be effectively served by spontaneous and uncontrived being can help a lot in our journey towards freedom.