In an attempt to come to terms with how our minds actually work, I have been fascinated by on aspect of Metaphysics, namely the nature of knowledge. Know as epistemology it endeavors to understand not what we know but how we know or believe something to be true.
The Four ‘R’s are discussed in prior blogs and the book. In brief they are 1] RECEPTION–what we absorb from our culture through media, family instruction, schools, religion and other societal influences. It may be subtle or overt. It is a form of ‘brainwashing’ and begins even before we are consciously aware of it. It is the most powerful and persuasive source of our beliefs.
2] REASON–what we would perfer to consider a great influence on our beliefs, but frankly is much less than we realize. We can clearly make every effort to rationally analyze the ‘facts’ of reality and then choose what we want to believe. But in truth our emotional mind exerts more influence than our rational selves.
3] REVELATION– may be the source of religious and spiritual ‘knowledge’. It applies to ordinary individuals who feel that they have acquired an advanced form of wisdom from a ‘higher’ source.
4] RESONANCE–this may be the sum total of all other sources of belief. It just feels ‘right’ with us and therefore we adopt it and attempt to live by it.
5] RESPONSIBLE BELIEF–the Fifth and perhaps least well defined. The term implies that we can take Responsibility for what we believe. We can examine several options and literally choose what we believe. It is not strictly based on reason although we would like to believe so. It is important to realize that our choice of belief, hopefully based more on rational consideration, even evidence rather than blind faith, will greatly influence the quality of our lives.
Our beliefs are our paradigms. They are the fundamental basis upon which we organize our thoughts and feelings. For example, if we are deeply religious, we may see all events as ‘God’s will’. They may allow us to tolerate suffering far better than someone whose paradigm of belief dismisses religious thinking as primitive and irrational. On the other hand, some religious belief describes non-believers as ‘sinners’ who deserve to suffer. They may also deny the obvious facts of existence as clearly demonstrated by science–evolution for example. Clearly any paradigm which confuses irrational religious fundamentalist dogma with reality cannot be condoned.
A scientifically trained agnostic or atheist will seek no higher spiritual meaning for life’s challenges. Their paradigm known as scientific materialism only recognizes a physical, material basis for existence. Any suggestion [or even evidence] contrary to that paradigm cannot be considered. There is nothing after this life. There is no greater purpose to suffering. There is only chaos and chance. This may or may not affect the quality of their contentment or happiness.
Someone whose metaphysical paradigm includes a spiritual dimension to reality [SDR] not clearly defined by any one religion may find understanding even in the seemingly unexplainable sadness that accompanies life itself. Fear, loss, tragedy can be seen within a greater context of many lifetimes in which a nonphysical aspect of Self, the soul, returns time and again in order to learn lessons of love, compassion and transformation. They embrace the knowledge that science offers, knowing that science is a process and is capable of self-correction. They see spirituality in evolution as well. Our awareness and knowledge will never completely comprehend the unknown, but 21st century science seems to be confronted with the same challenge.
My personal journey has led me to embrace a paradigm which recognizes this SDR. The basis of this belief is not blind faith or even a ‘leap of faith’. That is not an approach which I could comfortably accept. However, my experience with EEA [extraordinary experiences of awareness] which includes deep personal interviews with those who have had the NDE, ADC, apparitional encounters and medium experiences have left me with no doubt as to their reality.
Armed with the evidence which I have accumulated, I can freely and rationally CHOOSE a paradigm which incorporates this basis for belief. It is truly a healing choice.