Whatever has attention placed upon it has a tendency to persist and perpetuate for the person or people placing the attention. If you place attention on positive things, encourage them, and attempt to build, that which is receiving the attention has a tendency to come about. Conversely, if attention is placed upon the negative such as disease, "mental disorders", crime or immorality, even with the intention to stop it or inhibit it, it tends to also persist and perpetuate, because it is receiving the attention. This is another reason why attempting to destroy things tends to fail. The attention upon the undesirable thing acts to make it persist. This is an observable fact. Understanding this requires looking and being honest with what one finds through one's own observation. You will never deduce this by "thinking", logic or reasoning. "Thinking" is primarily playing with concepts in your head, whereas as "looking" is simply observing what is. Of course, most people "think" so much, and "think" so chronically every second of every day, that they are quite incapable of calmly setting anywhere and accurately observing what is sitting there right in front of them.
Materialism, Modernism, and Science
While this previously mentioned situation of indoctrination into any time period's limited and unique set of views does exist for all people, at all places and in all times, it exists in a unique way for the "educated", and especially for the "highly educated" people. This presents an interesting situation where the graduates of the "best" schools are considered to be the smartest, brightest, and end up as leaders of government, medicine and industry, but who also ironically suffer from the greatest inability to break out of whatever the current professional and cultural framework is. True, part of their unwillingness or inability to question their own beliefs stem from the basic profit motive. They benefit financially, personally and socially by believing and practicing what they do. But they also usually believe it too. This becomes very important when certain views, ideas and beliefs are incomplete, biased, wrong or harmful to people and society. This situation exists today, in many areas, at the beginning of a new millennium.
Today the general cultural and professional framework is "humanism", "materialism" and "science". Everybody "believes" it, has been indoctrinated into it, but especially the "elite", "very rich" and "highly educated" endlessly promote it and adamantly believe it. When I say "science" I do not mean the "scientific method", which is an intelligent way to determine the validity of anything. The word "science" refers here to the various disciplines and fields which have arisen from the purported use of the "scientific method" in the social sciences such as psychology, psychiatry, sociology, economics, and politics. People have an almost mystical connotation attached to the word "science". It is not dissimilar to the religious feeling of faith. It seems to explain all manner of things to most people, while generally they don't have the slightest understanding of what makes something "scientific" (i.e. based upon the strict application of the scientific method involving proper theorizing, testing, model making, observation of results, adjustment of theories, and so on). The currently established results of supposed science in the social sciences such as psychiatry and sociology, while having very little to do with any honest scientific method and filled with incorrect basic axioms, opinions, and biases, are accepted as part of modern "science", and anything falling outside of their strictly defined domains are viewed as "not science", "quackery", "weird" or plain "wrong". Smart advertisers attempt to attach the idea of "science" or "scientific" to their products and ad campaigns because they know how most people unconsciously favor anything presented as "scientific" (whether it truly is or isn't).
In this essay I will attempt to show that these "modern" ideas and views about reality are no superior to any other worldview that has existed at any time throughout history, despite the arguments of their proponents. This is not an easy thing to do because people generally are quite rigidly "stuck" in their current worldview of reality. A major characteristic of the people who hold a "worldview" (which we all do in some way and to some degree) is that they are quite unable to view reality from outside their clearly defined and meaningful framework. The person holding the modern worldview believes it completely, can look back in history and can easily discuss the errors of past worldviews, but cannot notice that he or she is also just another "believer" in a similar type worldview. Although differing in content, one's modern worldview functions in exactly the same way as all those they look back upon and correctly criticize and find fault with.
If you are a college graduate, you are probably thinking that this doesn't apply to you. Actually, this applies to you completely. And this is even more true for the graduates and Ph.D.s of Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, and so on. Now, if you are a graduate of one of these, then you are probably now smirking, and condescendingly thinking to yourself how incorrect I must be. Please read on, if you have the strength of character, any sense of truth left within you, and the slightest ability to question your own basic views and assumptions about reality.
Ideas versus Reality
The majority of people, especially "intelligent" people, think in terms of unique concepts, specific ideas, and numerous abstractions. That's fine and as it must be. Everything has a name, or a label; things are categorized into types and generics based upon similarities; perceived differences in quality and quantity enable us to keep things separated from each other (at least in our own minds). Realize this is primarily a "mental" function that we humans as minds apply to reality around us, and has little to do with "reality" itself. The world of abstraction, concepts, ideas and meaning exists only inside of your mind. It has no independent existence anywhere else.
When you call an actual physical tree a "tree", the word or concept is assumed to "be the tree", but it is not anything of the sort. In fact you know very little about that tree you might be thinking of or looking at. You have no idea of the number of branches, texture of the leaves, color of the buds, depth of the roots, thickness of the bark, operation of mineral nourishment, photosynthesis and on and on for a tremendous variety of the trees characteristics and functions. You may have ideas about it, but they are vague at best. Even more to the truth, even if I gave you a full day, you would still not "know the tree". You could strip off bark, slice into stems, dig for roots, observe leaves under a magnifying glass, and count spring buds, but in the end, you wouldn't have achieved the goal of truly "knowing that tree". You wouldn't understand the "pattern" or "active agency" which resides in a seed and acts to manifest as the tree and keeps the tree functioning as tree, just as that specific tree and tree type, and nothing else, throughout its life.
We mainly see and experience things, at an often very superficial level, give them and the various relationships among these things "names" or "labels", attach personal meaning and significance to these various things, and happily go about our business.
Most people think in terms of symbols and labels for the objects and relationships between the actual objects of reality. They take the "idea" to be the thing and work mentally with these concepts about the things of reality alone, usually paying little attention to how closely these concepts or ideas accurately relate to actual observable things. These concepts are usually far from equal to the actual realities they involve and correspond to. And sadly, most people never actually deal with reality or other people directly because they never can get past dealing with their own unique and generally severely limited "ideas about" reality and other people. Do you get the difference? Its a big difference. People's ideas about reality (names, labels, concepts, abstractions), and there own personal meanings about all these things, have much more to do with what is going on in life than any actual understanding of the true nature of the various things or some supposed "objective reality". Add to this the fact that much of what passes as "knowledge" is intentional or unintentional misinformation, and the entire situation becomes very difficult to confront. This requires further explanation to adequately get across an idea of just how wide a gulf exists between "things" and the "ideas about things" which all people connect and attach to these things.
Some examples will serve us well.
1) A man recently had an argument with his wife. He is thinking continuously about how rotten she is, how she cheated on him, how she is so uncaring, and what he plans to say to her. He has all these "ideas" going round and round in his head. He never really looks at or understands her. In fact, he never has in the four years he has been with her. He understands and thinks with his "ideas" about her, or how he conceives her to be. True, there is some relationship between what he thinks her to be and what she is and does, but there is also much which is purely of the nature of "ideas" about her that are vague, generalized, exaggerated, and also just incorrect. There is a huge gulf between the two, what she really is and what his ideas are of her. So when he gets home, he yells and verbally attacks her, and still never looks at or sees "her". He sees her through his own unique set of ideas of what he conceives her to be and what he imagines she should be. Its like his ideas, concepts, beliefs, and notions (i.e. his general viewpoint) act as a filter to his perception and experience, only allowing him to see and experience a small aspect of her (which may not even be a true aspect at all). We all have this going on to some degree about everything we live, see and experience.
2) A college student is studying basic electrical circuits. He has read all about "current", "voltage" and "resistance". In a lab experiment he sets up a simple circuit with a battery, some wire, and a resistor (an electrical component which inhibits electrical current flow). When he connects it all together, he takes some readings using a voltmeter, ammeter and ohmmeter. He then sees how the voltage, current and resistance are all related. He smiles with his new understanding of electricity. What is really going on here? He never "saw" a voltage, or a current or an electrical resistance. He never touched or heard any of these. Even today, nobody really knows what electricity is. Theories continue to change, but always, and at any time, these are just theories about phenomena of perception and experience. Some people think we, as a civilization, are moving "forward" and "advancing" the theories about the world around us, are getting "closer and closer to the truth" about electricity, energy and reality. That's wrong. That's totally wrong. There is rarely any advancement. There is only change and differences in human concepts and notions about reality. What there is actually is just another theory, and it is no better and no worse. It is simply just an alternative mental construct, set of ideas, concepts, or notions. Over the past 10,000 years the entire universe has stayed basically and exactly the same. The only change has been man's ideas about it. The world here on Earth, including the form of civilization, has changed only according to Man's ideas about himself and the world.
The idea about the thing can never and will never be the thing itself! All ideas and concepts must, of necessity, fall short of the thing itself. The only way to truly understand something or to truly know something is to be it, and to be it completely.
Geniuses such as Einstein or DaVinci probably had their moments of "becoming" the object(s) of their contemplation. They, for a moment, saw it all in an instantaneous flash of total understanding, and thereafter spent thousands of hours trying to put into words and communicate to others what they had seen in that brief moment of illumination. Einstein probably was a photon, speeding through space at the speed of light, feeling space bend as he neared large suns, experiencing catastrophic amounts of electrons changing potentials and bursting free as mass converted to energy. It is interesting to note that religious mystics undergo the same problem when they attempt to communicate what they experienced when they "became one with the universe", "one with God", or "one with their Self" (not much difference between these actually ). Possibly, instead of spending all their time trying to communicate what they saw and experienced, they might better have spent their time teaching others how to gain the ability of "being" other things, relationships and energies at will. Although, most likely few ever realized that this is what occurred in the first place. People could then "understand" by their own personal direct experience. This would solve many problems with communication. Of course, if we could all do that sort of thing all of the time then there would be no use for communication or much of anything else.
3) Maggie is walking home from school thinking about how her Grandma promised to make a cake with her after school today. She imagines getting the eggs, cracking them into a bowl, pouring in the milk, adding the sugar, mixing it all up, pouring it into a mold, and finally placing it in the oven. There is much activity occurring in little Maggies mind. We all have extensive activity occurring within our minds. For all of us, to some degree, these various thoughts, ideas, notions and imaginings are mostly pale reflections, in vividness, detail and continuity, of past, present or future external realities. Memories are remembered, the present is considered, the future is decided upon, feared or looked forward to. Sometimes these are detailed, but more often than not, these are part verbal (i.e. mental talking to oneself using the symbolic labels we each have given everything we find around us) and part faint imagery. All of this is continually parading itself across the landscape of our inner mental space. It is an interesting exercise for anyone to try to spend 10 minutes a day for a week or two attempting to quietly observe, without interfering, the nature and content of one's own mind. Obviously, what I am discussing here is something different than intellectual mental "concepts" and "abstractions", and falls more under the realm of imagination and fantasy. While this is true, my point is to get the reader to view in another way just how an "idea" or "thing of the mind" is not the thing it refers to, and often is of much less quality, quantity, character, detail and vividness than the objects and relationships of external reality the ideas correspond to or are supposed to describe and define. Maggie may not be thinking in words or language at all, and may be simply picturing out the entire anticipated event. This can be totally devoid of conceptualization as an intellectual process of thinking with ideas.
What any human mind does do completely though is attach meaning, significance and purpose to everything it finds around itself and involves itself with. There is no meaning outside of any individual's own creation of it. The creation of meaning and the attachment of significance to aspects of one's life, and inner and external reality is a function of a mind. Only a mind attaches meaning. Meaning doesn't reside in anything "out there". It is bestowed upon things by conscious thinking entities alone whether the object of the bestowing be one's personal hobby, business, family, friends, club, government, cite, county, state, country, investments, goals or religion. This may seem heretical to some who are strongly religious, but even if God, Christ, Buddha or Mohammed is ultimately the most vital and real thing in the universe, this is meaningless unless a specific individual mind considers it to be so.
Meaning is created and given to things by Man alone. Only conscious, aware beings do this. Attaching or bestowing meaning is a function of consciousness. It is a function of an aware mind. It is not a physical or biological process. Human beings should learn to begin paying attention to what he or she believes in, and attaches purpose and meaning to. It is not all accidental, fixed, environmentally determined or a matter of natural personal genetics or social evolution. We each have a choice and it is our own complete personal decision alone what we decide is important, and should receive our meaning and purpose. The idea of "values", what we each value as important, valid, desirable, right and wrong, comes into play here, and the establishing and maintaining of values is another function of a mind. Ideally, one's choice of meaning and value is a conscious and self-determined activity. This is often difficult though, because there are so many forces about us attempting to sell us on their own unique set of beliefs, purposes, meaning, values and opinions. Also, there are only a limited number of pre-packaged belief systems (interconnecting and reasonably consistent systems of meaning, belief and concepts) generally available for the public's acceptance at any time and place within any extant reality (such as any fixed location on Earth).
4) Exercise 1:
Purpose: To get an "feel for", direct experience of, or awareness of the difference between being or knowing something and thinking or knowing about it with concepts and ideas.
Details: Choose any simple object such as a glass, cup, key, wrench, cigarette, etc. You can choose anything but keep it fairly simple and small. Look at it for a few seconds. Consider its size, shape, color, weight, location and texture. Think about these things. Consider its similarity to other similar objets of the same type. Think about these similarities for a few moments. Consider how it is different from other objects in the area. Think about these things.
Spend a few moments thinking about how your "ideas" about it are actually ideas only and not the thing itself.
Now, simply sit there, look at the object, and perceive it. Allow it to fill your attention. Wallow in it to the exclusion of all else. Just look at it. See it. Perceive it. If thoughts intrude upon your awareness, either thoughts about the object or entirely different thoughts, gently stop them by withdrawing your contribution to the thoughts. Don't resist, fight or try to force the thoughts to stop. Comfortably cease having the thoughts and continue to be there with the object. Allow the object to pervade your attention to the exclusion of all else. Perceiving, observing and looking are very different from thinking and conceptualizing.
If you do this for awhile, or even for a number of days in a row, you will come to have a better understanding of the difference between "ideas about things" and the actual "things". There is a huge difference. You won't ever truly understand this through talking about it, thinking about it, or imagining about it. Only direct personal experience can supply the awareness of the difference. In this exercise you must use your attention and awareness, both sadly under used commodities, and not your ability to think or conceptualize. These are very different things. There is a limitation with all words, concepts, discussions, book reading, and intellectual endeavors. While these do all have their place and purpose, and we couldn't really get along without them, these do not and cannot ever impart complete understanding of anything. If the reading, thinking or discussing doesn't encourage and prompt you to look and perceive actualities out in the world around you or in your inner world, then they are really useless. While this is completely true, it is not taught, much less even mentioned in a practical way, within the confines of what passes as "modern education". "Reason" and "thinking" reign supreme in official modern academia. These two things are only parts of any mind, and lower in function than awareness, knowing and looking. Reason and thinking both involve concepts and ideas only. It largely involves playing with significances about things, with the thinker rarely realizing that the concepts and ideas never are or can equal the things they supposedly refer to. The concepts and ideas can approach the thing or relationship they refer to, but for most people, most of the time, the gulf between the two is tremendous.
Any philosophy student, or professor, would gain much by honestly doing these exercises, as he would come to a better personal understanding of the difference between thought and reality, and their relationship. Numerous philosophy courses, book learning, and intellectual gymnastics cannot supplant direct experience. The intellect has its value and use, and it is beneficial to exercise the intellectual muscle. Subjects such as logic, mathematics and philosophy are great for this, but most people involved in these subjects take them much too seriously, and don't realize they are simply playing mental games with words, significance and meaning. Most philosophers forever remain mental and intellectual, and never figure out or know there are ways to directly experience all they argue about and pontificate over. Of course, if they did this they would all be out of a job. No one would take them seriously, and considering the results of most modern philosophy this would probably not be such a serious loss.
This is the value of certain techniques of Yoga, meditation, Scientology, visualization and even practical magic. They can deliver direct experiences and the resultant knowledge doesn't depend upon words, intellectual concepts or ideas. Some of these methods actually address entirely different aspects and functions of the human mind, aspects and functions that are completely ignored by the extant western subjects of psychology. Sadly, too often these subjects are tied up with various religious ideas and metaphysical absurdities that are, in fact, not necessary to an understanding or application of the basic ideas, and this tendency alienates many people before they ever have a chance to get started with these subjects.
Purpose: To get a further distinction between mental ideas and actual things.
Details: Choose a sign with a written word on it, or write a word on a piece of paper. Do the same exercise as explained above. When you reach a point where you cease to see any meaning to the words and the letters themselves become nonsensical forms, then you have achieved an experience of the thing separate from your own ideas, significances and notions you have attached to it. Notice that initially when you look at a word or a sign, the interpretation occurs instantly. You may mentally speak the word in your mind or perceive it automatically with whatever meaning the letters or symbol has for you. You do this with everything around you and this involves an incredible number of associations between things and your own personal definitions, meaning and significances relating to these things. If you do this exercise until completion as described, you will have a very good idea of just how much your own ideas contribute to reality, and how little is actually there by itself. This may take 10 minutes, an hour, weeks or months. If you say, "it didn't work", it only means that you failed to do it until it did. Those of you who are more intellectual, worship reason, and tend to rigid conceptualizing will have a harder time at this. Reason, intellect, and conceptualizing are necessary, vital, and useful, but they are only part of a much larger picture of what a human mind does and is capable of. Too often, the products of reason are assumed to be all there is. Reason applied to a detailed examination of the physical universe gave us materialism. It's only a partial understanding utilizing only a partial aspect of any mind.
If you continued down this path, with methods and techniques I haven't the time to delineate, you could probably reach a point where you could recognize and completely experience how all reality, as you experience it, in every way, is completely and only dependent on your own viewpoint, notions, and convictions about it. This wouldn't be an idea, or concept, but a practical experience. It would be above the intellect, actual, true, and not hallucination or imagination. It would probably be termed mystical, but actually is simply the case of you being there without all one's own personal mental associations about everything you see, have seen and will see. This is the goal of certain techniques of meditation although even these subjects themselves often err by attaching themselves theoretically to ideas of God or cosmic consciousness. This can result in a tremendous personal experience of awe, clarity, expansiveness and understanding. But there is really nothing mystical about it. You would have just suddenly found yourself in direct communication with things without any attached personal meaning or significance to or about these things. This can include your experience of a small pebble, a stick, a leaf, a sun or the physical universe from one end to the other. It can also include the experience of your own mind, awareness, or consciousness separate from all objects and associations with the objects of usual experience. Any thing can be the object of such direct experience or awareness.
The goal is not to forever destroy all meaning and significance in one's life. This has often been the approach of various Eastern religions, to deny self completely and all one's personal mental involvement with all inner and outer reality. But doing this can be very therapeutic and can deliver to one a first hand experience and knowledge of how large a part each person's individual mind plays in the creation and experience of their own personal life and perception of reality. The aim is to enable personal control over one's own mental activity, a control that is all but non-existent today and has been for the majority of people throughout human history.
5) Ask most people the question, "why do things fall to the ground?", and they respond, "because of gravity". But ask them, "what does gravity mean?", and they tell you, "well, the law that things fall". The word "gravity" means, to most people, "things fall to the ground when released from a higher position". The label or term "gravity" is defined as meaning, "things fall to the ground". FACT: Things fall to the ground because things fall to the ground. That's really the understanding, derived from direct personal experience, most people have. Gravity has the definition of "things fall to the ground". The "label" gravity imparts a sense of understanding to many people, which is quite non-existent. People think that making up some invisible force called gravity sufficiently explains why things fall to the ground. To this day nobody anywhere has the slightest clue why things fall. The truth, based upon perception, is that things fall. All else is make believe, theorizing and cute games of imagination. People can even talk about this, thinking they actually are discussing something. In fact, they are only playing with words and meanings. Do you see? The truth is that we each experience things falling to the ground. That is what we truly KNOW. But any explanation or understanding is largely and primarily only in our minds. It's a concept of something which really explains and perceives little except what we already directly experience - things fall when dropped. Concepts and the actual realities they relate to are rarely equivalent, and more often than not, are quite different.
The educated scientist will argue, "but the real theory of gravity involves mass and the attraction power of large masses". Maybe he will also someday figure out that however advanced his notions, ultimately it is only an "idea" about something he experiences. There is a true reason why gravity exists, and why everything else exists as it does. I discuss this in detail below.
There are many concepts we all hold about all types of things which actually are only definitions, yet we each believe ourselves to possess "understanding" because we have "named", "labeled" and "defined" something. In the middle of December In New York City someone says "it's cold today", and a friend responds, "of course it is, it's Winter". They each think they "understand" something. Winter is defined as a time when it's cold. Of course it's cold! Billy falls off his bike and hurts his knees. His mother explains, "oh you just had an accident", and both Billy and his mother feel better. But "accident" means having something happen which you didn't plan which usually has bad results. Again, it's talking and thinking in circles about nothing. And we even get emotional responses from this mental and verbal charade! A man robs the corner store and a group of people discuss how "he is just a criminal". They all "understand". But a "thief" is by definition a criminal. Where's the actual explanation or understanding? I could give hundreds of examples. Life is riddled with this type "thinking". There can be more in depth understanding of causes, but this is rarely the case. It tends to be very superficial, incomplete and largely arbitrary regarding any individual's dealing with the objects (or concepts) of life and reality.
6) Racist, oppressive religious activities and domineering nationalistic movements all suffer dramatically from these same problems where reality has little to do with what the members of these groups think about it. The bigot sees thieves in every black person. He never correctly sees that black people, like any people, have the same usual goals as anyone else - happiness, success, peace of mind, love and respect. "Mind" has no color except as it considers color to exist as a thing of importance. The bigot uses all types of "logic", theories and rationalizing to make "his case" against other races. It is all just so much arbitrary conceptualizing, most of which has nothing to do with observable facts.
The Inquisition Priest believes in God, Satan, demons, possession, witches, and all sorts of absurd notions. He is convinced he is right, and he is going to ensure everyone else follows exactly what he demands. So he declares the heretics, has them tortured or murdered, "saves souls", and even "feels wonderful" about the great job he is doing cleansing the world of unrepentant sinners. He believes this and so did many others. At the time most people were incapable of "seeing outside of" their current social, religious and cultural framework.
Nazi Germany, about 50 years ago, convinced a large population of a major "educated" European country that Aryans were superior, that certain others were inferior, that it was their duty and right to bring forth the "Ubermensch" (superman), and murdered millions of people in the process. Ironically, much of the German psychiatric theories of genetics, eugenics, and heredity, which provided a good part of the Nazi ideological basis for genocide, exist in modern times under the guise of modern psychiatry. They are also now again leading to human oppression, but in a different and veiled manner.
People always think they are right, and that they themselves, as part of the "modern world", possess the correct worldview, and are immune to deception and the propagation of faulty views and beliefs. If they don't consciously think this, they at least unconsciously take it for granted. But it is occurring now, and it's also just as true, as in the past, that a majority of the ideas believed and promulgated are equally flawed and destructive. This modern view exists under the name "materialism" generally, and under the names psychiatry and modern psychology specifically as relates to Man and his capabilities.
There is MUCH to any person's ideas and understandings that follow this same pattern. Words, labels and ideas about things impart a false sense of understanding, making an otherwise complex universe appear somewhat ordered and sensible. We do it to the world around us - it doesn't do it to us. We each have quaint notions, over-simplistic ideas, and exceedingly generalized concepts, which we place upon everything we see and experience. I should give more examples of this because most people have a real difficult time recognizing how and where they do this, and that they do it so often and chronically. But I will leave it up to you to take a look and discover for yourself where your own ideas have much more to do with arbitrary notions than with any actual objective reality. This isn't necessarily bad, although a casual examination of human history provides many examples of where the results have been bad. Once you realize that it's pretty much arbitrary what you decide to think and believe, well be daring, and choose wonderful and great ideas to forward and relay to the rest of the world. And don't accept the mediocre trash that passes daily through the hallowed halls of official academia and the mass media. Dare to break free of the current mold - it's a stiflingly rigid and lifeless mold.
Of course, also realize if you choose notions which others can't relate to at all, that they will place you outside of "normal reality" and consider you crazy or at least very eccentric. People react in funny ways when you believe things they can't get any handle on. Your best bet is to loosen them up a little so they won't react so badly every time they encounter different ideas and beliefs from their own.
The current world is characterized by a glaringly obvious inability to tolerate different or competitive convictions and beliefs in others. Everybody is frantically trying to sell something to everyone else. Many believe their own notions to be superior, and that everyone else should also hold the same beliefs. This is an interesting gauge of the planet's level of "spiritual or mental progress". The "higher" or more "advanced" a person or planet gets, the less they or it cares what other's think and believe, and the less interest they or it has in demanding that others conform to their own unique ideas, whether these be religious, political, social or otherwise. This is also a general measure of "sanity".
The universe stays pretty much the same within the framework of human life, and human history, and the only real variations which exist, and which also explain every situation at any time throughout human history, are the variations in individual and group ideas, notions and beliefs. It is Man's own strongly held beliefs and convictions, about everything and anything, which make the world what it is. It is not, and never has been due to love, God, the Devil, aliens, war, politics, economics, religion, or anything else other than the IDEAS individual people have held about these things. Becoming aware of this inner world of ideas and beliefs, gaining some personal control over it, and encouraging others to do the same would benefit us all. It would strip various manipulators of their power to manage and control mass belief, because more of us would be aware of how belief works - it's formation, acceptance, change and destruction. For too long Man's inner beliefs have been controlled by external forces, either by accident or by purposeful design. It's time for Man to begin controlling his own beliefs and convictions himself. You will have beliefs and convictions regardless; why not take some control and responsibility for them? But doing that first requires a good understanding of the mind and the nature of beliefs and conviction.