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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

Pyramid belief schemes

We have heard about financial pyramid schemes where it only works while everyone believes in it, collapsing otherwise. However, a lot of what we take for granted has exactly the same fragile basis.

In reality, all the institutions we hold as central to our civilisation are nothing more than shared belief systems, with their power only remaining as long as enough of us gives our consent to their existence.

Religion ^

Religions are formalised structured beliefs, along with a selection of practices designed to lock in those beliefs.

Religions provide a ready-made belief structure that can save us a lot of brain strain trying to work out our place in the universe.

The problems occur when too many believe that what their religion has is the only truth, or that everyone ought to believe in it, as well as follow its practices.

However, the core problem is that they are just belief systems, requiring everyone to believe in them.

They become dangerous when too many become reliant upon the power that having a lot of believers gives them, and has lead to many wars fought in their religion's name.

But many of these wars have had nothing really to do with the central tenets of those religions, but more to do with who inherited the power structures that resulted.

We have seen a lessening of the numbers of people following a religion, especially as revelations of abuse of power have become commonplace.

However, the reduction in aligning with formal religion has also seen more deciding their own set of beliefs, mixing and matching as they see fit from the plethora of opinions available.

Sports ^

For many, sport is so much a major part of their life, it is on a par with religion.

Unfortunately, sports organisations are exceedingly willing to foster the idea that their sport is essential to your life, and you to them.

Of course, they are only as important to you as far as you believe them to be. However, you, at least en masse, are very important to them, because if you stop believing in them, and a whole lot of others do the same, then they will cease to be, or at least at the level they want.

Sports organisations do the minimal community promotion of participation in the sport to keep up their supply of people to feed their merchadising machine.

The basic problem with spectator sports is that other than what belief you put into it, they are nothing more than a distraction, with no lasting benfit to you in real terms.

Now the same could be said of entertainment, but sports organisations are trying to set themselves up as more than just entertainment, but as something important to you and your identity. But they are not, and so are just making you empty promises.

Ideologies ^

An ideology is a formalised set of beliefs, usually applied in a politico-social context.

Our earliest ideologies were religions, but with the progressive decoupling of what we personally believe from how we can collectively cooperate as a society, political ideologies have gained more importance.

Parallel with this separation of religion from state, we have seen the rise of businesses as independent financial entities.

With the rise of business, and the power that businesses can wield, we have seen political ideologies spring up about how much power and influence such entities should be allowed to have.

We have capitalism which glorifies the power of business, and communism which decries that. Capitalism has morphed into conservatism, which tries to minimalise social concerns that can interfere with the free operation of businesses.

Unfortunately, the history of unbridled business power shows that they are generally untrustworthy, showing extreme willingness to sacrifice people for profits.

Of course, businesses are run by people, and therefore businesses become power surrogates for those people, widening their sphere of influence, hijacking as much of the political process as they can.

They use that influence to perpetuate an ideology centred on their own importance, thereby justifying their own self-indulgent lifestyles, at the expense of everyone else, and ultimately of society as a whole.

Countries ^

We are often implored to support our country ahead of ourselves, perhaps being labelled as unpatriotic if we not not wholeheartedly fulfilling all the expectations around deference to 'our flag and country'.

But how real is a country really?

A country is a defined area on a map, providing the ability of its inhabitants to decide what sort of life they want to build there. Its people may have had to fight for the land, though they often ended up appropriating others' land as part of the spoils of war. Europe's national boundaries have been redrawn many time over the centuries.

Whichever way a country came into being, while seemingly defined by its land, its real definition comes from the people who inhabit it, and what they believe about it.

A people's beliefs about a country will largely have been contexualised by the land and the depth of the people's connection to it, built up over many generations. Their attachment will define how willingly they will sacrifice themselves to preserve their sovereignty over it.

Out of their beliefs about their entitlement to the land, they will build upon it, and use it in the ways that they see fit. We can see how much those beliefs change the land by viewing satellite images and seeing how different the land can look either side of a border, depending upon what use the land has been put to.

However much the land changes, it is the beliefs that have defined the society, and the society has broadly defined what being a particular country means.

It is that aggregated belief in a country that is its strength, but it also defines its weakness, as when that belief is weakened, the sense of country is weakened, highlighting how much the definition of a country is really based upon belief, rather than a concrete reality separate from those beliefs.

Which is what makes it so strange that people think that the well-being of their country makes it more important than the earth, which is real, and does not depend upon our beliefs at all for its existance.

Unfortunately, it is this misguided aggregated belief in the superiority of a country that threatens the earth itself, and ultimately our life on it.

We need the earth to stay in its current narrow range of weather patterns for us to survive, but it does not need us at all, and can shift the weather to ensure its own survival at our expense. The earth will still exist, even if there is no life as we know it upon it.

Many are facing displacement from the land that they have been attached to, either due to war, or extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels. Many nations will cease to be due to sea levels, while others will have drastic economic consequences of loss of heavily populated coastal areas.

At some point, we will have to stop believing in the arbitrary idea of countries, and face the reality of our being one people on this one planet.

The truth ^

What many belief systems have had in common is a tendency to perpetuate themselves in preference to the well-being of the bulk of their believers. This has lead to the truth becoming of secondary importance, or even an embarassment.

It can be said that the truth is the only consistent lie, as it can never contradict itself.

Ideologies often start out as simplifications of the truth, but as they are pushed to explain more about the world, they either have to adapt to reality, or dismiss reality that doesn't fit in with their narrative.

Unfortunately, too often those who have accumulated power through the application of the ideology are not prepared to relinquish that power when the truth threatens it, and so we have seen people adversely affected by application of the ideology threatened and marginalised to prevent the truth being revealed.

However, the truth will eventually prevail, revealing the hypocrits that denied it, so it is better to bend to the truth than try to bend it.

Strictly following the truth is confrontational, as it means relinquishing cherished beliefs if they are at odds with the truth. In the end though, it is the path of least resistence, as knowingly living a lie is more stressful, but that has not stopped people trying their hardest to resist.

If you want the most stressfree life, choose to see the truth, letting go of ideologies that distort or deny it. Be flexible, changing as the truth directs you. Respond to the reality presented to you, and not your fears or preconceptions, as the latter will mislead you to the extent of your belief in them.

Live the truth, and be free.


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