Tag Archives: Belief

An Analysis of “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill: Part III, Chapter Three – Faith

FAITH AND WEALTH

In this chapter Hill asserts that Faith (or belief) can be used to manifest wealth. When a person has faith or belief that he will be wealthy then he is convinced of the truth of this reality. If a person lacks the faith in the outcome of wealth then the outcome will not manifest itself. Therefore, having the faith that one will be wealthy is (according to Hill) an essential hurdle to overcome in order for one to be wealthy.

Hill describes the mechanics as to how this plays out. He explains that a person’s conscious mind is the entity that must have faith or hold the belief that the person will be wealthy. This faith is what communicates to the subconscious mind to take action in order to bring this about. The subconscious mind seems to be responsible for generating ideas which it then feeds back to the conscious mind in the form of plans for achieving this wealth. The subconscious mind also communicates with Infinite Intelligence in order to create the plan to achieve the desired wealth.

When FAITH is blended with the vibration of thought, the subconscious mind instantly picks up the vibration, translates it into its spiritual equivalent, and transmits it to Infinite Intelligence…

The term “Infinite Intelligence” seems to be Hill’s conception of God. Hill does not get very specific as to what this God’s nature is and whether it is consistent with the Christian conception of God. However, Hill does speak positively about Christianity in “Think and Grow Rich.” For example, in this chapter he states:

Christianity is the greatest single force which influences the minds of men. The basis of Christianity is FAITH, no matter how many people may have perverted, or misinterpreted the meaning of this great force, and no matter how many dogmas and creed have been created in its name, which do not reflect its tenets.

For this reason, it seems likely that Hill’s idea of Infinite Intelligence, although perhaps broader conceptually than a personal god, is not ultimately in conflict with the Christian notion of a personal god.

CREATING FAITH

If a person does not initially possess the faith necessary to achieve his goal of attaining wealth he must create this faith. Hill suggests the technique called auto-suggestion for this purpose. Essentially, auto-suggestion is the conscious mind making the decision and causing the body to act on this decision to repeat a phrase (or mantra) stating that the faith exists over and over until the mind (both conscious and subconscious) comes to believe the truth of this phrase.

FAITH is a state of mind which may be induced, or created, by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind, through the principle of auto-suggestion.

Hill seems to have great confidence in the power of mantra to instill an actual belief in a person’s mind. From personal experience I have not found mantra repetition to instill actual belief. Often when repeating a mantra or affirmation I observe a secondary thought process which works to undermine the belief being affirmed. Perhaps I simply have not repeated any specific mantra enough times in order to create the belief. My mental jury is still out as to this assertion.

[Y]ou may CONVINCE the subconscious mind that you believe you will receive that for which you ask, and it will act upon that belief, which your subconscious mind passes back to you in the form of “FAITH,” followed by definite plans for procuring that which you desire.

In a sense what Hill is describing is the conscious mind attempting to fool the subconscious mind in order to cause the subconscious mind to communicate with Infinite Intelligence for the purposes of achieving a desired result. The implication is that the belief does not originally exist but rather is created through a misdirection. The question that comes to mind is whether this is an ethical process. Convincing the subconscious mind to act on a belief that does not exist seems to be an act of self-deception. I presume the person who commits this act of self-deception must be ethically on board with this act in order for it to be effective. Hill does not address this issue, however.

MIXING EMOTION WITH THOUGHT

Hill also asserts that thoughts which are mixed with emotion are made more powerful by these emotions for the purpose of manifesting desired outcomes. Moreover, the three most powerful emotions for this purpose are faith, love and sex.

ALL THOUGHTS WHICH HAVE BEEN EMOTIONALIZED, (given feeling) AND MIXED WITH FAITH begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent… The emotions of Faith, Love and Sex, when mixed with any thought impulse give it greater action than any of these emotions can do singly.

ALIGNING BELIEF WITH GOALS AND ACTIONS

It seems to me that Hill’s conception of faith in the process of manifesting wealth is overly complicated. Let us put aside the obvious questions as to how Hill could possibly state with authority the process whereby the conscious mind communicates with the subconscious mind, and how the subconscious mind in turn communicates with Infinite Intelligence. Perhaps Hill thought the act of conceptualizing the process would make it easier to believe in  the function of belief.

In my opinion what is important here is that when a person is trying to obtain wealth his beliefs must be in alignment with his goals and actions. When the mind is working at cross purposes it will naturally undermine its own efficacy. Put another way, if a person holds two inconsistent beliefs (e.g., he believes he desires wealth but also believes he does not deserve wealth) the act of trying to reconcile these beliefs will siphon off energy that could otherwise be put to use in obtaining that wealth.

I have found that developing a personal mission statement (as advocated by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) is a very effective technique to ensure one’s beliefs, goals and actions are aligned. Without a mission statement a person is left to make decisions on a case by case basis. Whereas, a mission statement can always be referenced to determine whether a decision is in alignment with one’s beliefs, goals and actions. Of course creating a mission statement requires a person to first contemplate his goals and beliefs.

CONCLUSION

I found this chapter to be muddled and overly complicated. Personally, I think it would be far more effective to say that a person’s beliefs must be aligned with their goals. Repeating a mantra to create a belief that is not aligned with other concurrently held contrary beliefs will be either not possible in the first place or will create opposing internal forces that will fight each other. This will leave the person feeling conflicted and will make him ultimately ineffective. By contrast, creating a mission statement that outlines a person’s goals and beliefs will work to clarify what a person actually wants. He will then be in a better position to discard those beliefs that are not aligned with his goals thus making him more likely to achieve them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Psychology

The Requirement of Beliefs Part II

pxA few posts ago I explored the topic that some religions require belief in order to receive or achieve salvation. The word “salvation” can take on different forms depending on the religion. For this reason, I am using the term loosely in the present context. Having personally been brought up in the Roman Catholic form of Christianity I approach this topic from that perspective but really my question as to why this belief is required is not strictly limited to Christian dogma. In the blog post I specifically referenced chapter 3 verse 26 in The Book of John which reads, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” To properly explore this topic it is first necessary to examine what a belief is.
Beliefs are essentially ideas or thoughts in the mind. Accordingly, the question behind the exploration has to do with why would the gatekeeper of salvation care whether its adherents experienced these thoughts called beliefs? If the gatekeeper of salvation is divine and not dependent upon any external factors for its existence why would it be so interested in this one particular external factor? I suppose one answer to the question is that the belief is for the benefit of the person trying to achieve salvation and not for the benefit of the divine dispenser of salvation. But John 3:36 expressly states that not believing brings about the “wrath of God” which implies that God has some stake in this thought called a belief existing in the mind of that person seeking salvation. This could be metaphorical language but that is not at all certain. As such the question remains unanswered.
It must be understood that I am not questioning whether these beliefs are valid. I am simply questioning why these beliefs are required. If the comment section of Part I is any indication, this distinction seems to be difficult to understand for some people. Interestingly, the personality type represented in the comment section seems to be very threatened by any exploration of this topic. A perusal of the comment section of Part I of this blog will provide examples of this. For questioning this requirement of belief I was accused of hating God. My question was rephrased as an argument on my part that hating God should carry no consequences and that the actual consequence for making this argument (that I did not make) was my own annihilation. These counterarguments (made against an argument I never made) were written in sporadic ALL CAPS which gave the impression that this commenter’s emotions were raised and that his emotion guided his rhetoric. Also notice that the emphasis on the counterargument was not the merits of the requirement of belief itself but rather on how I was wrong as a person for even asking the question. Another interesting point is that this accuser denied John 3:36 even expresses a requirement for belief in the first place. I think any reasonable person would read this passage to require belief in the Son in order to have eternal life. Moreover, the passage also clearly expresses that if this requirement is not met then a punishment will be meted out. But the commenter seemed to argue that interpreting this passage as expressing a requirement was somehow in error although he did not clearly articulate a logical foundation for this point.
Mind you, I do not want to engage in another pointless debate with this person because I have been down this road so many times on this blog and it is indeed pointless. Accordingly any comment he posts will be deleted. The only reason I brought him up was to provide an example of the egoic push back this question receives. This quality of being threatened when beliefs are questioned seems to be emblematic of the ego. The fact that the ego seems so invested in belief makes the requirement of belief for salvation questionable in my mind. Let me be clear. I am NOT questioning the validity of beliefs or really whether the reason for the requirement is sound. I simply do not understand the reason why this requirement exists and am exploring this lack of understanding by articulating the thoughts that come to mind as I explore it. (I have no illusion this distinction will be meaningful to everyone who reads it).
I think it can be argued that questioning beliefs or faith can lead to a deepening of beliefs. An unquestioned belief has a shaky foundation because it has not tested itself against the facts that may disprove it. As such, the unquestioned belief has no defenses to these facts. However, a belief that has been tested against facts that might disprove it has been inoculated against those facts. But really, this argument is just intellectual play. It is the reinforcing of beliefs (which are thoughts) with other beliefs and thoughts. It becomes circular after a while and brings a person who engages in this sort of thing only so close  to the truth. So again I arrive at the question, why is there the requirement of belief and why are there those who are so egoically invested in keeping this requirement unquestioned?
There are examples of Saints who have questioned their beliefs. Saint Mother Teresa wrote on numerous occasions about how she questioned her beliefs. Saint Thomas the apostle of Jesus also questioned belief without direct proof. Jesus castigated him for this when he said “…Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Again we see this emphasis on belief and from the same gospel to boot. Interestingly, in the Gnostic tradition, Thomas is revered for his questioning attitude. Equally interesting is the fact that Gnosticism was declared a heresy by orthodox Christianity.
So the question exists. Why is there a requirement of belief for salvation? Moreover, there also exists a force which is interested in blocking this question. Why this dynamic exists I do not know. But I think there can be no sin in asking a question. I think this is true because logically, no amount of questioning can undermine the truth for the reason that the answers to these questions (if truthful) should only serve to reinforce the truth. I suppose one could counter argue that by asking questions and receiving false answers one could be misled to a dangerous place. But if that is the case, then these unquestioned beliefs are robotic and lack authentism. If God requires belief then I have to think that He would want a whole hearted belief that has been tested and found to be true as opposed to a belief that was adopted for no reason or because the believer was socially pressured into believing.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Requirement of Beliefs

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36

IMG_0523I always thought the Christian requirement of belief in Jesus in order to achieve eternal life is a bit strange. There is something about it that just does not seem right. People hold beliefs because they have direct experience that forms or affirms a belief or because that belief was culturally taught or imprinted upon them. A belief is simply something that someone holds to be true or false. A belief is not the same as the thing that is believed in. As such why would God or Jesus require a belief in them in order to satisfy them? It seems suspicious to me.

Put another way, truth is truth regardless of what I or anyone else believes. If God exists why would He demand my belief in Him? It is not as if He would cease to exist if everyone stopped believing in Him.

Moreover, requiring belief without providing evidence is unfair and suspect. Why should anyone be held in contempt because they chose not to believe in something for which they felt they had no evidence to support? To do so seems awfully unfair, arbitrary and spiteful. This seems to be the standard that an alcoholic parent might hold their children to. “Believe that I am an honorable person even though my example shows you otherwise and if you do not believe me to be honorable you deserve to be punished,” sayeth the alcoholic parent. I find it hard to believe that a true and loving God could endorse such an interpretation of John 3:36.

If we are to examine the quotation from John 3:36 with specificity, he tells us that “[w]hoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” He then says, “…whoever rejects the Son will not see life…” The word reject seems strong here. A rejection sounds to be more than a question (although some might interpret it that way). So in this sense there may be room for a person who questions their belief to also have eternal life.

This one passage has been interpreted differently by different Bible versions. Almost all versions speak of a person “believing” in the Son of God. One version substitutes “trusting” which essentially means the same thing. The versions differ, however, in their interpretation of “reject.” The terms vary between reject, doesn’t obey, believeth not, refuses to believe, disobeys, and is not subject to. There is a difference in meaning between the words believe and obey. The former is a mental activity. The latter means to act in accordance with or follow the commands. I suppose one could argue that to obey the Son of God requires a belief in Him but again there seems to be room for interpretation.

But we cannot fully escape the problem that the statement seems to require belief (or obedience) without evidence. These acts could be said to describe faith. But it is a faith under the threat of punishment. The way I normally think about faith is that it is a voluntary activity. It is a gesture of trust and not something that can be threatened out of someone. That would be more like an ego act of self-preservation which I suppose is more in line with the “obedience” interpretation.

I imagine this exploration will be uncomfortable for some Christians. John 3:36 clearly requires a person to hold a specific belief in order to obtain eternal life. It is unclear whether the questioning of the belief is grounds for damnation but that does seem to be a very viable interpretation. It would be difficult to force a person who does not hold a belief to simply change their belief. The mechanics of belief do not seem to work this way in real life. I do not think John would make an exception for someone who simply professes to believe something without actually believing it. Although he might make an exception for someone who convinces himself through psychological repression that he believes something he does not.

Finally, I would not be honest if I did not express a certain distrust in the plain meaning of the passage. I question the motive behind it. Why is John so interested that I believe something that he must threaten me with punishment in order to get me to believe? Why does he want me to hold this belief in my mind (the most personal of spaces). Could there be some ulterior motive? I can think of several historical instances where governments have punished belief in order to keep its citizens in line.

I fear I will not come to any satisfying conclusion on the subject. Obviously the plain meaning of John 3:26 seems at odds with what I actually believe. I am not saying that I do not believe in the Son of God. But I am saying that I question the requirement of believing him for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I am no religious or biblical scholar so of course take what I say for what it is worth. I am simply trying to articulate a question that has stuck in my mind for some time.

 

37 Comments

Filed under Religion

Beliefs Separate

A Facebook friend posted this article entitled 18 Spiritual Teachings That Will Alter Your Mind and Improve Your Life. The fourth item on the list reads:

Beliefs separate.

Since absorbing this fundamental teaching via J. Krishnamurti, I have strived to let go of beliefs and labels. I am not a Catholic Buddhist liberal American yogini. I am a human. You are a human. Now we can relate.

Are beliefs and labels the same thing? They both tend to place limits on the concepts. A belief is something I hold to be true. A label is a name I give to something. Once I fix a label to something it does tend to define it for me so in that respect the label becomes a belief. And a belief tends to become a fixed point of reference. I put it in a box and no longer question it. I can then use these boxes to construct my theories about the nature of reality. In this sense beliefs and labels help me to navigate this unfathomably vast and complex reality that I inhabit. In that way they are useful despite their limitations.

In the religious tradition in which I grew up (Roman Catholicism) beliefs played a central role. As I understand it belief is required for salvation. I always questioned why this was so. In other words, why would God care whether I believed in him or not? It is not as if his existence depends upon my belief. Or does it? I still label myself a Roman Catholic and I recite the Nicean Creed every time I attend mass. I do think about whether I truly believe all the points in the creed. Honestly I do employ a level of doublethink to say the creed and not feel hypocritical. Ultimately I guess I do not believe that beliefs are what is really important when it comes to religion. I am sure Michael Voris and Admiralbill would disagree with that statement but that is their belief and our different beliefs are what separate us.

There is also some crossover here with the idea of creative visualization. If I believe something is true then I can visualize it and perhaps that brings it into being.

To the point of this idea that beliefs separate, if I believe something and someone else believes something else then there is a point tension. I have not read anything by J. Krishnamurti but I am guessing this is the point that he is trying to make. If you and I cast aside the importance of belief then we eliminate a great deal of potential conflict. In the same respect if we both believe the same thing and there also is no conflict. But there is a conflict with others who believe something different. So with beliefs there is always the potential for conflict and separation.

I still come back to the idea that beliefs and labels are probably necessary for me to navigate reality. It is simply too vast and complex to take in as a whole on any meaningful level. However on a one-to-one basis conflicting beliefs can become problematic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Psychology

What is the purpose of religion from God’s perspective?

No blasphemy or hubris intended, but if I could put myself in God’s shoes I wonder how I would then look at religion. My first observation would probably be that there are many different types of religions with differing views as to what I am, my nature, what I like, dislike, how I have structured the universe, what I do with souls after people die, etc. It seems that many religions take the point of view that they have it right and everyone else has it wrong. Further, because the others have it wrong they will face eternal damnation after death. But, if I’m God I would be thinking how could those people down there possibly know which set of beliefs is correct? There’s the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Upanishads, the Book of Mormon etc. all claiming divine inspiration (some to the exclusion of others). There are faith traditions claiming authority to interpret these books and thus my will. But how could I possibly hold someone responsible for being born into the wrong faith or being confused or not entirely sure about their faith? Let alone, would I really care about the difference between Presbyterianism and Methodism? If I don’t show myself to man and haven’t shown myself to man in many generations can I really fault him for questioning whether I exist, let alone the specifics of my true nature? Can I really find fault with man for wondering if a text written thousands of years ago is relevant today? Life seems hard enough without all these extra pressures.

Would I really want man to believe anything because he feels guilty not to? Why is it so important that he believes in me anyway? And if it is so important, why not just show myself to him? People only follow a particular religion because other people told them to (initially). Perhaps at some point they come to their own particular appreciation or connection to that religion, perhaps not. If I am going to play this game where I hide myself and then become displeased that they don’t believe in me, is it really moral of me to hinge their eternal salvation upon whether they do or do not believe in me? This really seems like a situation where I am fucking with man and if I am a loving God why would I want to do that?

This life I created is some kind of test or amusement park. Maybe those who live down there were bored with living up here with me in the celestial realm and wanted something a little more challenging.  Is it enough for me that they long for some relationship with me. Maybe we have been separated and they are trying to find their way back to me. Perhaps I am not in a position to help them. Perhaps I agreed not to. Perhaps we entered into some sort of binding contract before they entered into life.

Can I make a rock so heavy that I cannot lift it? Does this question deny my omnipotence or does this describe a limitation of the language used to describe me?  I know, my thoughts are not your thoughts but perhaps there is some point of intersection.

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion, Uncategorized