Imagine this scenario:
A person named Garret is suffering. You might even say he’s depressed. So, because our culture believes that suffering is a sign of dysfunction (belief #1 in our scenario), that suffering must be fixed (belief #2), and that certain people can be trained to help other people fix suffering (belief #3), Garret seeks the counsel of an expert who has been trained to help people in this fashion.
They meet. First step? The expert attempts to figure out why Garret is suffering—there has to be a why (belief #4). The expert then goes through a checklist of possible reasons (each reason represents another belief in itself). Garret is suffering because . . .
a. Of the past
b. Of the future
c. Of his conditioning
d. Of his biology
e. Of his circumstances
f. Of his thinking
g. He thinks he is his thinking
h. He thinks he should follow his thinking
i. He thinks his feelings are caused by outside stuff
j. He thinks his sense of well-being being depends on outside stuff
k. He doesn’t know that he can only feel his thinking in the moment and not outside stuff
l. He doesn’t understand the mind
m. He’s not positive or confident
n. Etc., etc., etc.
Garret then identifies with one or more of these reasons (belief #5), and he and the expert then work through methods or processes (belief #6) to help him overcome this diagnosed cause of his suffering.
But let’s take a huge step back.
Following the beliefs of our culture is what led Garret to the expert in the first place. And if that wasn’t problematic enough, now the expert (who, while well-intentioned, is also a victim of belief) has now presented Garret with potential causes for his struggle that didn’t even exist for Garret until he met with the expert.
In other words, using reason j above as an example: Garret now believes that “he thinks his sense of well-being depends on outside stuff,” even though, prior to this meeting, Garret had never experienced his sense of well-being depending on outside stuff. The thought had never crossed his mind!
A belief leading to a belief, leading to a belief . . . a never-ending search outward.
Bottom line? Belief can be diabolical.
Rather, when presented with someone’s perspective on any issue (even an expert’s)—explore this perspective.
Is it accurate?
Does it align with your actual experience or is it merely a belief?
Just because an expert, or our culture, says something is true does not make it so.
And one last thing: When it comes to suffering, we’ve been following belief for long enough.
Could it be that prolonged suffering simply stems from the belief that feelings have a cause, require a cure, or indeed can be cured?
I’d say the answer is yes.
But, please, don’t believe me.