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A new insightful blog entry from the Metaphysical World of GhoSt Augustine team member Dr. Harry Stafford, professor of Human Consciousness Studies and Founder of Haunted St. Augustine – our Paranormal Investigation Tour. After taken his PhD at FSU and Master of Divinity at Harvard, Dr. Stafford has been studying and educating in metaphysics, human consciousness studies and parapsychology for decades.
The history of human culture is a history of beliefs. It is a history of beliefs
enacted in the norms and structures of societies. On a cultural level we can call beliefs
worldview. Science entails a worldview. So does religion. Of far greater significance,
however, is the worldview that is uniquely our own – the beliefs that inform our
existence, our self-image, our view of the world, our expectations and goals.
Beliefs are the assumptions we make about what is true. They define our
expectations and interpretations of the world, our actions, reactions and interactions. We
so take for granted many of our beliefs that we do not even recognize them as beliefs.
Maturing, evolving, awakening as spiritual beings – whatever term you choose
for the spiritual path – inevitably entails exploring our beliefs. We must learn what they
are, and how they help shape every aspect of our existence, especially the awareness of
Each of us is born into a framework of beliefs – a given family or caregivers,
a particular location within a larger society. Initially to a great extent our beliefs are
undeniably shaped by others. Even so, each of us is unique, and the beliefs we assimilate
or internalize become uniquely our own, bearing the stamp of our own identity.
Because our beliefs frame our self-image and shape our perceptions, they
become to a great extent self-fulfilling prophecies. They not only sculpt the shape of our
own identity, but our entire experience of others and the world. Because we take most of
our beliefs for granted, they are like lenses we do not know we are wearing. Beliefs that
work, or seem to work, we rarely question.
Another way of putting it is that we become the channel of our beliefs, their
living embodiment. Indeed they affect our bodies and our health, as well as our state-of-
mind, and the faces we present to the world. Therefore understanding our beliefs, their
source and effects, is crucial to becoming conscious and free. Understanding beliefs is
vital to any spiritual path. First we must recognize what beliefs are and are not.
Mistaking beliefs for knowledge curtails our growth. In the Medieval world,
Europeans knew – that is to say they believed – that the world was flat. That belief
blocked simple perceptions and calculations that proved that the world was round. On
a personal level, if I assume that I am an uncreative dolt, evil by nature or just average,
each of these beliefs will attract plenty of reinforcement. More sadly any such belief will
block the experience of my own divinity. Whether on a cultural or personal scale, we
must recognize that beliefs are not the same thing as knowledge.
Beliefs, then, are assumptions that need to be examined. This is our right and our
responsibility if we are to grow. We must determine what beliefs we wish to shape us,
and we alone can expose these beliefs to the test of effectiveness in making us whole and
Secondly, attachment to beliefs is not the same as devotion to truth. Beliefs are
patterns of thought and awareness. Rigid beliefs are shapes that imprison us as surely as
a physical jail cell. Truth is alive. It is dynamic, fresh, unfolding. Truth requires that we
remain alive, dynamic, fresh, unfolding.
Practically speaking, though the origin of beliefs is usually complex, they exist
in layers – like an onion. You may envision concentric circles as we consider this. The
outermost layer includes widespread assumptions, beliefs held by most of our species.
Examples would be the belief in linear time, or the objectivity of a material world made
up of separate things – things most of us take for granted.
A second layer of beliefs are those held en masse by societies though they
are not universal. This would include most religious beliefs, as well as beliefs such as
“democracy is the best form of government.” Traditionally, gender roles are another
A third layer, now getting closer to the center, are beliefs held in more intimate
circles such as our family of origin, an orphanage or similar institution, or perhaps a
specific parochial school. Often these beliefs are largely unconscious, like patterns
of wallpaper that have been in the same house for generations. These beliefs may be
expressed in mantras such as “we are the Smiths (fill in what name you will) and the
Smiths always . . . You fill in the rest.
Even closer to the center are beliefs that surround our core, beliefs we hold about
ourselves. These include our assumptions about our gifts, or ungiftedness, our roles –
husband, wife, child, parent, sibling, “oldest,” “youngest.” Often we act out specific
roles for the family: the rebel, the black sheep, the good son or daughter, the thoughtful
or unthoughtful one. These are the most intimate of our beliefs, and if we are not aware,
often the most unconscious ones – that is, base level assumptions that go unquestioned.
These are the beliefs we most need to recognize, to address, and to process. Why?
Because they are not the core of our being. That distinction belongs alone to our spiritual
Beneath all layers of belief is the truth of our own being, not reducible to beliefs
or even words. It is our essence – that which arises from the source of our being itself,
always unique and fresh. Call that source what you like – God, Spirit, the Universe,
Being, All That Is. Whatever you call it, it is the core of our being, and we do not want
to hold any belief that blocks that core, impedes its presence, or curtails its expression
through us. Even seemingly positive beliefs can become slogans or mantras that
substitute for direct spiritual encounter.
How do we encounter our own spiritual center? Throughout history, one way
is meditation, though there is no single format for meditation that works for everyone.
In general meditation helps us release all the ordinary contents of consciousness, to get
beneath the habitual self so to speak – or at least our familiar or ego self. Then we may
begin to experience directly our own timeless core, the perfection from which we each
arise and the freedom that is rightfully ours. I release all thoughts, feelings, and images
as they arise, and open myself to the still center of my own being.
© 2013 Harry C. Stafford

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