We all hold a multitude of beliefs, ideas and opinions about our own lives, other people, ourselves, how the world works, responsibilities, the past, present and future, and so on.
A belief is a statement or doctrine that we have accepted or chosen to uphold as true. However, beliefs are not objective absolutes. They are often a result of choices made from a variety of possibilities. Some beliefs have been in our minds for so long that we don't even question them or even realize they are there in the first place. These beliefs have been places there by our parents, teachers, our culture, communities, religious leaders, the media, the government, scientific institutions, etc. These long held, deeply rooted beliefs are often unconscious and they inform how we perceive reality without our awareness.
Through meditation and mindfulness we can develop and deepen our awareness of who we are and how we feel by uncovering or exploring our unconscious beliefs. When we identify an unconscious belief we can then choose to keep it or replace that belief with one that better fits our experience of reality.
It is important that when exploring our beliefs, to pay attention to how we feel in the process. Sometimes it can be very uncomfortable or even feel threatening to challenge a deeply held belief. There is no need to power through or harshly rid oneself of a belief. Recognize the feeling of fear, anger, defensiveness and worry that arises. Acknowledge those feelings and allow yourself to question if there might be something to be learned at that moment. Enter this process with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Pause and start again when it feels necessary to do so. Keep in mind that we always have a choice to move forward, go back, or stop for a while.
One realm we have never conquered--the pure present. One great mystery of time is terra incognita to us--the instant. The most superb mystery we have hardly recognized--the immediate, instant self.
I am Myohye Do'an, a bhikṣu (fully ordained Chán Buddhist monk) and Chán Master. Here I share my thoughts and observations about living a life of compassion, attention and gratitude.