Most arguments or disagreements center around beliefs. I know this well.
My brothers and I, like I said, all agree on nothing.
I don’t believe that was a good movie.
I don’t believe he’s a good director.
I don’t believe he would make a good president or is a good president.
I don’t believe God is like that, or exists, or loves those people.
We, as humans (myself included) often worry about losing our beliefs. What does that mean?
Some people feel the need to defend their beliefs, some people feel the need to attack and criticize beliefs. What does that mean?
I suppose the great thing about beliefs is that they are certain. We can easily quantify them and measure them. Do you believe like me? Yes or no. Are you in my tribe or not? Do I trust you? Are you like me? Should I be around you? Are you smarter, dumber, more liberal, more conservative?
What do you believe?
The dangerous thing is that, sometimes, certainty can be a cage. Beliefs can be a trap.
There is a saying, “Those who know, do not say; those who say, do not know.”
Carl Jung said his definition of reality is “that which affects you”.
Apparently, if people believe that a wine is an expensive wine, their brain will tell them that the wine tastes better. Their belief affects experience. Researchers have seen it in MRI machines. (After talking with some Alaskan fisherman, I’m convinced Copper River Salmon is the same phenomenon - it’s all in my brain.)
So beliefs matter.
Paul Coutinho says that if someone proved Jesus never existed, he would still die for the myth because in the East, “experience that affects life is truth”.
This is all pretty radical in the way that it forces us to confront what we believe, why we believe, and, maybe more importantly, what and why we experience.
I enjoyed this wine can be a more intriguing conversation than this wine is better.
I’ve found that conversations about beliefs are always much less interesting than conversations about experience. They are also much more uncertain, and thus, less argumentative and, thus, more instructive and helpful and unifying.
A story, it seems, is always more moving than an explanation.
A myth, it seems, is always more inspiring than a formula.
Human experience, it seems, is more meaningful than religious beliefs.
Making an effort to move conversations that center around beliefs to, at least, the beliefs that affect experience, if not the experiences themselves, seems to move conversations to more beneficial places.
Sadly, we hear more explanations, formulas, and religious beliefs in terms of God, than we do stories, myths, and experience. I think that’s a problem.