(English version of the original Nepalese language post आस्थाको दासता)
It is understandable that the level, type and extent of our thought and understanding are modeled and formed by the accumulated knowledge passed on to us by others and also acquired first hand through our own experience. When such layers of thoughts keep piling up in us, their contributing views, instances, concepts and precepts get so petrified that they take the position of our strong and immovable belief system. So far there is no harm because it is perfectly normal and natural for anyone to learn from their own and from others’ experiences. But when people develop an attitude of arrogance by considering their accumulation of knowledge as very big and tend to show that they have reached the pinnacle of learning, thereby ceasing to learn anymore, then we see belief based fights growing in our society.
No boundary can limit the expanse of truth and its ever growing novelty. But the people who have been blinded by the deceptive and arrogant thought of having got hold of the unlimited truth by their handful of knowledge, display their ignorance in expression and action. In doing so, without even realizing it, they are already in the slavery of their own belief. We tend to promptly resist the physical and visible slavery around us. Even if we may not be able to express our resistance openly against the compelling slavery from a power much stronger than us, our minds continually resist it because human by nature are free beings. But when a person has converted the pile of accumulated knowledge into a solid belief, there is no thought of resisting the slavery of such belief, because there is no realization of such a slavery. The story of the famous poet Kalidas is contextual here, where he was found to be cutting the very branch of a tree on which he was sitting, without realizing his imminent fall along with the branch. Such absurd behaviour is found to be normal for those with philosophical attributes and those who have acquired an unmanageably large volume of knowledge, because their thoughts are always hovering much above the basic level of normal thought pattern.
It is necessary here to see the clear difference between slavery to one’s belief and slavery or bondage due to one’s belief. In the cruelty of our society, especially when there is a series of social and/or political changes taking place, the powerful ones impose social discrimination or even set up judicial provisions to confiscate the basic rights of those people who hold on to a belief system that is different to that of the people weilding state power. They are prisoners due to their belief. It is imposed forcefully on them by an outside power. But in the slavery of belief, the person is strongly bound by his own belief systems, inculcated and established by the self acquired knowledge and thoughts. The person does not even realize the presence of that bondage. And does not even see any truth in the thoughts and advice of any other person. It has a blinding effect in the mind of such persons therefore, is a blinding belief. The increasing acts of extremism being frequented in the contemporary society are the outcomes of the lopsided philosophy and destructive work plans of people who are under the slavery of such blinding belief. We might be tempted to attach the issue of such blinding beliefs with the large scale terrorist activities of huge hypes and find it easy to think that it is of no concern to the general public like us. But that is not so. Those highly publicised visibly damaging acts of terrorism get automatically disapproved by the civic society. The purpose of this presentation is to bring home the existence of a different type of extremist activities which quietly infiltrate our daily life, without any noticing, due to the blinding beliefs which have scrupulously enslaved us. If the reader can see its damaging effect on the areas exemplified below, this will facilitate to see other affected areas as well, thereby help to find out ways to break free of such slavery of thoughts. It may be a good exercise to begin with our own state of mind.
How open are our thoughts, views, value system, belief, precepts on different subjects and things of mind and action?
Are we listeners or find enjoyment in hearing our own voice?
When did we last find a welcome aspect in the thoughts presented by someone else – how many days, weeks, months or years?
When was the last time you genuinely enjoyed a song presented by a junior artist?
When you get up in the morning, what is the first thought that engages you?
When you face your students or juniors today, do you desire to know their queries or do you want to enrich them with all that you know?
There can be an ever growing list of such queries of self reflection and inner-viewing. In summary, do you experience a thirst to learn something good and new at every situation you encounter? Or do you always look for a chance to give a piece of your mind to whomever you meet?
The inquisitive thoughts of above mentioned natures can reveal for ourselves, whether we are open to convincing improvements on our set of beliefs, thereby getting closer to the truth in its perfection, or we are holding on to a strong stand that our present set of beliefs are already perfect and there is no space for improvement on it. Is our belief system helping us to move towards more and more peaceful and satisfied living or are we living under the heavy burden of the slavery of our own set of blinding beliefs?
The targets of the extremism developed in the person under the spell of blinging belief are even from their own family and from the different groups of people in their own society. Those who don’t give any value to the advice of their family members, having no ear for other people and always wanting to win their argument, are the people who always breed enmity and strife. Such tendency is seen working in professional, social and religious groups as well.
If we live with an attitude that none of us has already mastered the whole truth, there are many things yet to learn and if we develop an attitude of always seeking to learn from outside of us, then for certain, our personal, family and social lives will be practically easy, pleasantly beautiful and spiritually at rest.