How to Know in a World of Believers

Photo by sasan rashtipour on Unsplash

“He who has known himself has already achieved knowledge about the depth of all.” ~The Book of Thomas the Contender

When we are born, we become an immediate recipient of external projection. We are either coddled with hope or greeted with disdain, expected to live up to expectations, or guided to repeat failures. Not only are we told how to act, but how to think, and from the very start what to believe. If we are fortunate, we are reminded to nurture our own minds and trust our innate intelligence, but more commonly we are taught how to avoid embarrassment. This is highly subjective of course, as our caretakers range from domesticated well-doers to heartless materialists, and on the bleaker end of the spectrum institutionalized systems or the cold chokehold of the streets. 

This crash course to existing creates a diverse landscape of beliefs. In ignorance, most of the world goes on to confuse their beliefs with truth, but beliefs by definition are opinions. What is also unfortunate is that people label facts as truth, when facts are merely statistics or records that are subject to persuasion, the either purposeful, or inadvertent exclusion or modification of relevant information, or are lost in translation – what can be equated to “broken telephone.” Due to the aforementioned, people become confused, and when confusion is present, it always opens the door for deception. 

The only way to protect ourselves from the Trojan Horse of belief is to opt for wisdom. When we abandon wisdom in exchange for belief, we are rejected in return to greet our detriment alone, the very thing we were avoiding. It is indeed a paradox that by creating meaning around figments of the imagination to have something to believe in, we continue to feel isolated even when surrounded by believers in common. Yet and still, we remain paralyzed by the false assumption that the voyage to seek the truth will be a much lonelier place for us and so we opt for inaction as it is more palatable than to endure the shame of failing at finding ourselves while at the same time losing everyone else. 

The truth is that the path to knowing and wisdom is difficult and often tormenting. You will be put to the test for certain, but just like an orphan goes on a mission to find their biological birth parent unsure of the reception, so you must go on the mission to reunite with yourself. It is true wisdom comes at a great price, yet once you join the dues remain free. For this reason, anyone that has experienced wisdom has a duty to speak until those that believe also come to know:

Knowing vs. Believing

  1. Don’t believe anyone, ever. Know them. – People show you who they are, that is if you take the time to observe and get to know them without projecting your hopes, desires, or motives in place of the reality of what is. When you know someone, you know what they are capable of good or bad, and you are not susceptible to living in delusion or denial. If you don’t take the time or energy to really get to know someone, you will be forced to believe them, which means they are already controlling your experience. If you ignore what you come to know in exchange for belief, looking for further proof, you are doing so at your own demise. 
  1. Know a person’s character rather than believing a narrative (either yours or theirs), and you will never be in disbelief. – Often people say, “I just can’t believe they did that!” This is quite mystifying because it didn’t take any evidence to easily believe the converse. Rather than believing, it is to our benefit to see things coming. The better we are at anticipating the actions of those around us or within our environment, the more readily able we are to positively impact the world. If we allow ourselves to be at the whim of what we believe, we are susceptible to constant setbacks or being caught off guard by others, unable to focus our energy to create and build things with meaning.
  1. Don’t believe facts because someone told you they are true. – Anyone that has worked in science or marketing for that matter, knows that data can be manipulated to achieve the desired outcome. This can be based on sample size, demographics, and a plethora of other criteria. Besides the point but relevant, one day I saw an athletic brand doing a Frontal Attack (Marketing term) on a competitor via an Instagram ad. I often read comments for the wealth of comedy and random information and happened upon a woman talking about how unkind the ad was, unnecessarily offended. But someone that had studied marketing could identify that they were leveraging a textbook strategy; therefore, not emotionally influenced. The same can be said for deciphering information on any media platform. if you are a learned Botanist and nightly news gives false information out to their viewership about plants, you will know immediately that what you heard was not true, but a statistically significant portion of the viewership will believe it because they do not know what you know. This applies to our personal relationships just the same. We can want to believe in something so easily that we fail to see what others know. Study strategy, study how you are susceptible to manipulation, and most of all ask in which ways you are looking to delude yourself by ignoring your intelligence.  
  1. Ask yourself often, “Am I being basic?” – Per Urban Dictionary, to anchor the nuance with today’s times, being basic is characterized as someone who is a total follower; a person that cannot make their own decisions or think for themselves. If you only believe information or knowledge that comes along with a logo, a false persona (reputation), or follower base, you are more than likely, basic. The same goes for believing everything you were taught in school or church I am afraid. Believers (followers) don’t seek the truth because they don’t have faith. They doubt their sovereignty and the ability to be fearless. They live under the thumb of bogeymen and die there too, contrary to what they would have others believe. Basic people are also often distracted and entertained by external stimuli, failing to distinguish themselves from the show they are entranced by. The Roman Empire was infamous for their blood sport and theatre which were a way to keep citizens and communities distracted (entertained), persuaded into autocracy through fear by suggestion and adrenaline addiction. Entertainment is a synonym for diversion.
  1. Blind trust is respectfully reserved for the blind, not the ignorant. – There is a popular saying that goes, “It is like the blind leading the blind,” in other words, those without sight attempting to lead others who too, cannot see, which is what happens most often when we believe. In our haste to turn a blind eye, we miss the glaringly obvious reality that the evil leading the blind is monumentally worse. Just like the frontal attack in marketing doesn’t care if it is mean, those that leverage you for their benefit don’t care if you are sad, jobless, or left destitute for that matter. Know that sociopaths infiltrate movements and places of power, even under the guise of good causes. This is a sweet spot for them and has been evident in foundational psychological research which has assessed the tendency for this trend in both historical and present society. Breadcrumbing the destitute or lost is entertainment for such characters. Sociopaths also permeate the hearts of weak believers through contrived intimacy and flattery. All we have to do is observe how it turned out for those lured in by the charm of Jeffrey Dahmer (technically a psychopath), but do remember, one doesn’t have to literally eat men to be a maneater. 
  1. The worst place to be in life is to not know what to believe and be unsure of what you know. – It is obvious that the only way to know something is to find it out. We can either decide to know what is in our capacity to know by seeking knowledge and wisdom, or we can wait for the unforgiving wrath of her abandonment to show up through hard lessons. Our personal regard is only one facet of how we interact with the pursuit of knowledge. For example, if we believe ourselves to be unworthy of love, there is no truth to be had, only created experiences that further support our belief. Another aspect of our relation to wisdom is our propensity to avoid acting on the knowledge we have gained. As Haile Selassie put it, “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
  1. Know thyself, but remember what you think you know, might just be a strong belief unbacked by any wisdom whatsoever. – How to tell the difference, let me reference the following quote, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know,” Aristotle infers that a) you stop believing because you grow wise to your own ignorance and b) seeking knowledge becomes a lifelong endeavor and will always lead you to seek the truth. People don’t seek the truth because when they find it, they might have to do what is difficult. They may have to admit they were wrong, naïve, they may have to change their behavior, make tough choices, change jobs, relationships, or more serious consequences that involve life or death. When you do know yourself, however, you know you aren’t at risk of believing, you know that you are never alone when wisdom walks with you.
  1. Lastly, don’t be so ignorant to believe you know it ALL. – People that know anything have the understanding that knowledge is infinite. Know what you know and focus there. Make it relevant, make it just, make it resonate with your higher self and your heart. Always keep seeking, and always stand for truth. More importantly, if you don’t know something to be true, do us all a favor and stop being the truth police. 

If the above sounded a bit harsh, let us inspect some basic language and common pretexts of believers to clarify further:

Common Phrases

  • “Benefit of the doubt.” There is doubt (I don’t believe, and I don’t know) but am still believing anyway and going to opt for giving someone a benefit for no sound reason.
  • “People change.” Yes, but they change on their own accord and then give you evidence by making serious amends and substantial long-lasting behavior modification that is not contingent on your acceptance of them. In summation, they do not change because you give them another chance to slight you through blind trust.
  • “It is better than nothing.” (Lazy) No. I think we can all agree that we have all dated somebody where nothing would have been exorbitantly better than the something that experience represented. Have some standards, aim high, and for the love of all that is holy, stop disgracing yourself now!
  • “I just don’t know what to believe!” I am sure you have heard this one. We have all been there. Don’t believe anything, seek knowledge and wisdom. Undisciplined people find wisdom’s demands too hard and don’t have the determination to meet them.
  • “I choose to see the best in people.” That is the same as saying that many different wavelengths of energy do not comprise our light spectrum because you believe it so.
  • “I believe they meant well.” You are free to believe whatever you want, but only another knows what they truly intended. The meaning you place on something to believe in it is not the same as what it means.

Thus, it turns out, to know anything, we must first quit our relationship with belief systems. Unbeknownst to most, what one chooses to believe only reveals their own lack of wisdom, it doesn’t prove another’s ignorance. Beliefs are energetic prisons that inhibit freedom from tyranny, either our own or another’s. In a dualistic world, it is not negative or pessimistic to seek understanding of what lurks in the dark, it is wise. So, seek the truth and build your constitution, but to do so you may first have to call bullsh*t on yourself. 

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