(Quote from the Matrix)
Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
We all have ideas. Big, Small. Unique, Communal. Inclusive, Segregating.
Each idea we have builds on another and another and another. Before you know it you’ve gone from an idea, to a belief system. A belief system is a living mechanism an organic and organized entity created by you. It is a side effect of the natural human learning process of connecting ideas. You have built a network of ideas about yourself, about others, about what you are capable of and what is beyond your grasp. Some of your belief systems interlock with others and some stand by themselves, seldom used until the right circumstances arise.
There are two visuals that help when trying to think of belief systems. The first is a stack of blocks. Each block is an idea upon which another idea is supported. The foundation of the stack is required to support the other ideas above it. If you find a way to question a base idea then the belief system will fall apart. This represents a simple belief system. Most of our beliefs are more complex. An advanced belief system is more like a spiders web. Each connection point would hold another block of the belief system. They have, over time, become in interconnected web of ideas. You can challenge an individual block and remove it, but the web remains. Removing these belief systems are much more challenging because it requires overwhelming evidence that the system is faulty and an openness to change.
Whenever we come across a new idea we really have 3 ways in which we can process the idea:
Dismissal is the easiest. It simply involves the rejection or denial of new information coming in. If a new idea comes in we can always find a means to dismiss it. This is almost a defense mechanism. The idea doesn’t make sense. The premise is faulty. We can even find ourselves dismissing ideas based on the quirks of the person presenting them to us. I didn’t like they way she looked at me. His shirt was a funny color. What’s up with that hair?
Acceptance is harder but easy enough if it supports one of our belief systems. When we process a new idea and believe it has merit, then we must bring it into the fold of our belief systems. This is process of adding it to the stack of a belief system that’s comparable with it and compatible.
Revolution is the hardest, nearly impossible, and cannot be approached directly. Process 3, Revolution, must be approached through process 2, Acceptance. We do not directly jump into revolution. But what happens when we accept a new idea, but we find it completely incompatible with one or more of our belief systems? We are again faced with Dismissal or Acceptance. If we dismiss the new idea we are back to our original safety net of ideas. But if we accept an idea, then have to begin the painful process of dismantling and rejecting the faulty belief system it is coming in to replace. But this can be done.
Some of our belief systems are so deeply ingrained the revolution seems impossible. But at the same time we feel and understand that many of our beliefs hold us back and have a negative impact on us and the world around us. We must continue the subtle work that lays before us. We must continue to find the ideas that hold us back and do us harm and accept the truth, there is no spoon.