In the past it was believed that the Black Death was brought on by the conjunction of three planets which thereby created a noxious atmosphere, and this belief came to be called the “Miasma Theory”. In medieval times it was believed that elves were to blame for hiccups. Sneezing was thought to put you at risk for accidentally expelling your spirit and thus it became customary to say “God bless you” in order to keep the spirit within. At one time having tuberculosis meant that you were a vampire. In some 19th century families one relative would succumb to tuberculosis and then be followed by others; therefore, it was popularly believed that this meant that the dead relatives were rising from their graves to feed upon and infect the living ones. There is no end to the examples of beliefs leading to the killing of those who are, in any way, different from the believer; sadly, this continues even into the present-day.
Just because we believe that something is so, and no matter how strongly we might feel this, does not automatically mean that it is so! The strength of our conviction does not guarantee that what we feel so strongly about is truth or reality. And yet, for some, there is no boundary between opinion and reality, as if a firmly felt belief is true simply because it is felt so strongly. And so we are, once again, back to feelings and their influence on the way in which we live our lives. I once heard someone say, “I don’t understand how it can be so dangerous when it doesn’t feel dangerous!” Feelings. Feelings can be caused by many things: Events, too much caffeine, too little sleep, chemical imbalance, and especially – ignorance! There is no benefit in our being ignorant, either about the world around us or about our inner world; in both cases, ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous since that ignorance influences how we live and interact with others.
Are we curious about what we don’t know, or do we think… no matter how subtly… that if we don’t know it then it is not worth knowing? Such an approach… that of “circle the wagons because we’re going to be attacked”… is guaranteed to limit our world and our understanding of it and of others. Ignorance is like blindness: How does one describe “red” to someone who has never seen color? Just because I do not see it does not mean that it does not exist, or that it is not so.
We live our life based upon what we believe; therefore, Belief… how I understand something to be… should be based upon actual knowledge, and not upon variable and untrustworthy feelings.