Week 25 – Beyond Belief

“How do you understand what cannot be understood? All that you have learnt must be forgotten, but you cannot forget until you have learnt.”

Any course in spiritual growth is a course in letting go of perception about what we are and our illusions about how the world operates. We let go of our perception, and increase our awareness of who we are. Yet the tools which help us to grow, in the end limit us and need to be released. Our body is our tool for experiencing, our emotions help us to grow and develop, our mind helps us to intellectually understand and our belief system gives us trust and courage. Yet all these things, in the end must also go if we are to find our truth.

There are still subtle vestiges of how we were to put aside. We release the final vestiges of self image and fear. We have worked on releasing several aspects, our judgement, our self image, our striving, but we need to let go of the last vestiges, if only for a short time, to realise who we are. Self realisation is finally letting go of everything and revealing our true nature. We release our self image, the last vestiges of ego. We feel humility, no more important than a blade of grass.

We need to let go of our body, and our perception that we are a body. We need to let go of our pain. We hold onto our pain, the past and the future, there is only now. Our pain, our experience does not define who we are. Everything we have learnt to get us here only defines who we are not. We are not our body. The body enables us to experience, but we are the experience not the body. We are not our pain. Our emotions help us to feel, but they only show us what we are not. We cling onto these experiences because they have helped us to grow, but if we hold onto them then we still see ourselves in the past.

We let go of our need to intellectually understand. We cannot grasp the truth from a limited perspective. The truth cannot be described, only hinted at. We let go of the need to comprehend.

We let go of our belief system, because beliefs put a limit on what cannot be limited. We release our beliefs. We cannot limit what is limitless. Our image of what God is, or isn’t, limits us. We have to go beyond belief in order to experience truth. God is. God is not an image, a figure, a statue, a picture, a rock, not even a mental image. God is an experience.

We need to release our expectations. Our expectation of what self realisation is and what it isn’t. It is what it is. We need to free ourselves of what we believe we will become, how we think we will behave, once we have experienced enlightenment.

Finally we let go of the last vestiges of fear. Our self realisation is a step into the unknown. Are we afraid of what we might experience and what we might become? As we absorb into the energy we put aside that final remnant of fear and let it go.

Challenging Belief
“There is no proper way and nothing improper. While we hold to right and wrong then we cannot complete the journey.”

Within any spiritual tradition, or approach, barriers are created by the beliefs and tools that assist us in growth. These beliefs and tools become real, solid, because they are the foundation of experience and growth. Through these beliefs and tools we are able to experience the divine. They take us into a place where we can know that feeling. Yet the belief and tools also have the potential to limit us because they become a barrier to openness. We believe them to be true, we might even defend them. They become certainties as if they should be accepted as correct and normal by everyone.
Beliefs and tools are only useful as far as they take us and we must be prepared to challenge and even discard them, to go beyond them. Therefore it is always good to question beliefs, to maintain a state of doubt. Doubt is good up to the point where there is complete certainty and knowledge. When in doubt return first to the experience of the divine and then fall back on belief.
We go through a process of questioning fundamental belief. This process leaves a feeling of uncertainty, what has been solid is now loose. The whole question of divinity, unity and the seeming separation within spirit, leaves us feeling bewildered and lost at times, but this process is helpful in clearing and challenging fundamental belief.

Nothing is Outside
“When the palace is empty, the treasury is full. You cannot enter the palace to find the treasure. You can only find the treasure by leaving the palace empty“.

What is real and not real? That is the question. Reality is the perception of the world that people share. That is the point. In spirituality we imagine and generate an alternative reality, based on experiences and feelings. There is undoubtedly an alternative perception of the world that is equally valid and which will be proved to be true, a new and alternative perception of reality.
Spirituality populates this alternate perception with fantasy, everything is made up and made real to support the experience and feelings. This made up world is seemingly real, alive and the basis of belief. Yet now it becomes a fantasy. This fantasy has helped us, the perceptions supported us. They are aids to growth and help to make solid what is only conceptual. Yet there comes a point when the perception and fantasy are more a blockage than assistance.
Here we are now, trying to move beyond a perception of an alternate world that is colouring our vision. Angels, archangels, divine masters, Buddha, Jesus, Kwan Yin, crystal energies are fantasies that colour a world for a purpose. It is important to realise deeply that these serve a purpose, they assist, but also they need to be let go.
It is strange because these fantasies seem more real when they are recognised as merely fantasies. They are based on real and direct experience. The qualities of these beliefs are based on subtle but different experiences. We give a name to them, a symbol and realism, but more importantly we place them outside of us, into a holy and untouchable place. They are real and direct experiences but we make them into a fantasy. To deny the fantasy is not to deny the credibility of the experience. Indeed by denying the fantasy the experience becomes more real and direct. It does not go away, it comes closer. By denying the fantasy, the experience becomes more real. Yet this can only be done when we are ready. It is only when we are ready to be open to direct truth, when we are ready to cope with the responsibility and ownership.
Again a paradox and opposite, all these fantasies are based on external perception. The images and symbols are not outside of us, separate from us. When we are ready to give up the fantasy we accept responsibility that these experiences are not outside but within. Yet, here is the paradox, this is not true. When we are ready to let go of the fantasy and take responsibility we must also be ready to let go of separateness and a separate perception. The energy is not inside us, the experience is not inside or outside because we as a separate being do not exist. We are the experience, not the body. Here is the rub, we take responsibility yet we need to give responsibility for everything. We are like a gnat’s breath, nothing at all in the magnitude of reality.

Everything is Inside
We search inside to find who we are. We look in the mirror only so we can see what is inside. Yet when we discover ourselves, we are not this body this mind or emotions. There is nothing here to look inside.
We are the energy that flows through the body, what then is to look inside. Once again our perception changes, we are the energy, the energy is everywhere. We look inside to find the truth about ourselves yet when we find it there is no inside. We are everywhere, limitless. There are no boundaries, no inside or outside, just the unbounded nature of existence.
In Spirit nothing is separate, so all the qualities of Spirit, of angels, archangels, ascended masters are within us as part of Spirit. They are not outside or separate. Yet the very essence of Spirit is not contained or limited by our body. So no Spirit is inside us, it is everywhere. Our personal sense of spirit is not within us at all, but Spirit is merged with the body to experience and for a while seems to be within but really it is not contained.
When we draw in Spirit, it is not an external spirit that we draw in but our spiritual selves, that is, who and what we are. Spirit, my spirit, angelic spirit, Holy Spirit, descend into us, there is no separate spirit and no separate God.

No Consolation
What if God does not exist, does it make any difference? What if there are no angels or archangels does it matter? What if the divine energy of Christ and Kwan Yin are made up to help us, does it matter? The answer is always no, it doesn’t matter. What if there is no afterlife, no heaven, no bodhisattvas does it matter? Does all this work become pointless? Do we try to change and persuade people to reinforce our beliefs? Does it matter? The answer has to be no. If the answer is anything other than no, then we are using them as a consolation, a pretence, to justify and support what we do.
Is there a God? We truly experience an oneness and we recognise the creative ability that can be tapped into. Therefore it seems that God is true. But if God isn’t true does it matter, does it lessen the experience? This is not a question of right or wrong, nor just a question of interpretation, this is fundamental. If Jesus, God, Kwan Yin, Michael, Raphael, Reiki guides and many others do not exist does it matter? These are just interpretations we put on experience, to justify and share our experience and to help others to learn. As this they have validity but they are just interpretations. No consolation is accepting the experience in its rawness without the need to play mind games and interpret, to be here now, to go with the flow.
No support, every buffer is removed, no angels, no masters, no significance for anything. We look at the spiritual images and their meaning is meaningless. Christ, Kwan Yin, the Ganges, candles, stones and crystals, nothing has meaning, nothing exists. There is only rawness and the rough surface to lie on. The rough surface is us, unprotected by belief.
There is still part of us that believes that objects will cure and solve this. Clear the clutter, not of objects around us, but the clutter of the mind, the ego and beliefs. Here is the real clutter that we give value and meaning to.
All the books and nothing to say, there is no truth in teaching or words. They all lead different ways. There is only us, direct and raw, because there is no buffer or beliefs to pretend with. This is how it should be. We have given everything the meaning it has for us. We choose to face the world without any buffer, no consolation. The buffer is not needed.
We may not believe in angels and archangels, masters and guides but we do believe in the support. The image we give this support may be made up, a consolation, but behind this pretense is a real presence that supports and guides us. We give it a name in order to involve it, but no more names or lies. Is the belief in it just a pretense? No, support but is it real? The experience, guidance, direction and growth are real.
“No Consolations” what does this mean? No back up, no pretense, present moment awareness without any spiritual content, this is a strange concept, as it seems to be denying something that is real, but perhaps that is the idea. What seems to be real is not absolute i.e. we use the pretence to arrive at an idea of what truth is and give that value. In present moment awareness we are not only being present and alert but we give the experience no value, other than as an experience. This means that we do not give the experience an image, no connection to something, no divine presence, no guardian angels, no spirit, no energy, no God. It is just as it is, plain and raw, a direct experience. We do not try to give it a pseudo belief or a pseudo science, just plain and raw.

Belief in God
“To approach God you must believe in God. To attain God you do not have to believe in God.”
Do we need to believe in God? The more we deepen into our spiritual self, the less that the question has any importance or value. In fact it is not the value of the question that has no importance but the value of the belief that is unimportant.
While faith in a universal life force, or Supreme Being, an all-powerful creator, or whatever our definition is, may be useful up to a point, but there comes a point at which the question of belief becomes irrelevant.
Whether God exists, or not, It does not care or need our belief. If God exists then It exists regardless of our belief. If God exists as a truly, all embracing aspect of infinity, then It has no need for praise or glory. It just is. So any need for belief in God is a human need, it is a need to find supporters for our way living and supporters for our belief system.
The path, the way, the approach to God becomes so rewarding in its own right that whether or not we have faith in God and Heaven, this seems to be the most fulfilling way of living. The unifying experience of oneness with the universe, the satisfaction of selfless action, the removal of desire, the acceptance of life’s journey and the creative ability are all so valuable that they cannot be given away or lost. None of these rely on any particular belief system. They are experiences of which all human beings are capable, irrespective of their beliefs. Belief in God, or in a particular concept of God are not needed to have these experiences or abilities. Yet it is also true that faith in God is usually necessary to get to a state of desiring and developing these experiences.
The need to have others share our belief system supports us in our growth, but also we need to reach a state when our own belief system is enough without others to support it. We need to reach a state of independent belief, or even beyond that to a state of lack of need to believe in anything.
We may use our belief system to help us to grow, but eventually we have to give away our need to believe and our need to be supported in those beliefs. It is not that we have to stop believing but we stop having to need to believe. There is a God or there isn’t a God and it doesn’t matter. Our faith, our path, our strength is so great that we do not need to be supported by a belief system. While this sounds contradictory, it is not. We have enough experience of our fundamental nature that we have no need for support of any kind. While our belief has sustained us to this point, like a crutch, we can now walk unaided.
Our spiritual experience sustains us. While we have that experience we can return to our belief system to regain the experience, but the value of the experience is enough. To reach our destiny we have to give away our attachment to everything and that includes our attachment to our belief system. It does not mean that God does not exist, it means that we do not need to have that belief in order to be at one.
Even when we give up our need to believe, even at the point when belief in God is not necessary, then all the support we have been given, all the Spirits that have guided and supported us are still there. It is strange feeling. There is no need, there is no doubt. Nothing changes because the belief system, in the end, gives us nothing, there is no doubt. Whether we believe in it or not it is still there, the experience and the qualities of whatever we felt we needed to believe in are still there.
If we had absolute proof in the existence or non-existence of God would we behave any differently? There is no correct answer, but when we reach self realisation the answer is no. A belief in God, or otherwise, is not necessary for self realisation, yet it might be a valuable tool in the process of getting there.
It is important to go beyond our own belief system, so that the belief system itself no longer limits us. Whether we believe in God or not is a question of belief, and as long as any belief is helping us to grow then it is serving its purpose. But ultimately every belief system has its limitations in that the very need to believe in something and therefore not to believe in its opposite takes us to a state of duality. Eventually we need to arrive at a point where we can let our own belief system go. It is a point when the belief or not, makes no difference to the action, that is, what we do in our life no longer depends on our belief. We are so clear in what we do, in how we feel, in who we are, that it is no longer a question of belief.
Whether God exists or not will always be a question of belief. Whether we ascribe the experiences that we have to the existence of God or to our own experiences is just a belief system. The experiences will be the same, whatever we believe. We will experience our expansiveness, a feeling of limitlessness, a state of bliss and it doesn’t matter to what we ascribe those experiences. Those experiences are so real that being there helps us to dictate our actions. These experiences are so powerful that they bring with them a state of humility, in recognition of the weakness of our human being. The experience is connection and equality. It is the realisation of self. Yet whether we ascribe it to God or not depends only on our background, our beliefs and our definition of God. The experience is beyond belief, it does not matter what we believe in it will always be the same.