Lets view the belief system as analogous to the body.
It is made of an imperfect arrangement of components.
It is subject to intrusion by external pathogens, (bad ideas).
The belief system is made up of a myriad of ideas. For most of us this is a somewhat loosely organised conglomeration of prejudices, hunches, social conditioning and the results of contemplation.
Our belief system, as is the body, is constantly bombarded by intrusive influences. For the body it is toxins, viruses and bacterium etc.
For our belief system we have similar.
The intrusions that I wish to address are the Religious/Quasi Religious Thought Constructs.
These infections are like a virus in that they co-opt the host into promulgating the infection.
As with other parasitic diseases, these infections can lead to a whole raft of strange behaviors that are often detrimental to the host, but serve the needs of the infective agent.
We, who wish to free our fellows from the thrall of these”diseases” must seek the “anti-viral” that can be safely introduced to the population to “cure” them.
Meditate on this.
A driver for change (and control) is Religion and to varying lesser degrees, Quasi-religious thought.(Communism Fascism Capitalism etc.,)
At best they call to the better aspects of our humanity, at worst they are a vehicle for thought control.
We can see in our current milieu various groups motivated to extremes by their belief systems.
An interesting case is the transition of the militarist republic in Rome to the Roman Catholic Church. Rome was stretched militarily and financially and this pesky bunch of trouble makers (Christians) were gaining popularity. Despite persecution, they refused to go away. In fact it only seemed to encourage them.
Somewhere in the workings of the Imperium, someone made an interesting observation. These Christians were highly motivated and followed their leaders willingly. A much easier and cost effective way of controlling the population than military force.
So the Imperium converted to Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church was formed. It effectively contracted out military and judicial control to the Feudal Lords, but demanded allegiance and tribute, and largely kept control of the flow of information and storage through the monasteries.
The reality of the working out of all this of course was a little messy at times, but the pattern held relatively unchanged up until the enlightenment, and is still a powerful force in the world.
Imagine the power when the vast majority of the population BELIEVE that you hold the keys to Heaven and Hell. See the Papal Seal. The Beehive looming over the Crossed Keys.
I suggest that one, if one can,go have a look at the Vatican. Check out St Peters and the Vatican Museum. The walls are covered in the glory of the Popes. Scenes of Kings Merchants and Peasants bowing to the Clergy. Vary few religious scenes. Interesting. And every old Roman building insight has the Papal Seal on it.
Of course there are many good and sincere believers in these religious organisations, but the propensity of the participants to willingly hand over their power and belief to what are always hierarchies led by one who claims God’s (generic) Ear. (Insert deity or Ideology of your choice) has set you free, now here is what He/it tells me you must do. A bit scary!!
When one sees the rise of Fundamentalism in religion and /or Quasi religious thought (Ideologies). Hold your nose. There’s a stink coming. And reason has left the building with the air freshener.
The Pursuit of Happiness
The Pursuit of Happiness is the “anti viral” that we need to cure the Religious/Quasi Religious thought constructs that have “infected” our collective belief system.
Happiness/pleasure/relief from discomfort is a basic biological tool of life to train/evolve the organism to it’s environment. Pleasure good. Pain bad. This effect works through the whole of our being. Not just the physical aspect, but also the emotional and mental, etc.
If one is hungry, food will make one happier
If one is cold, warmth will make one happier.
If one is poor, money will make one happier.
If one is powerless, influence will make one happier.
What happens when one is well fed,clothed and sheltered, has sufficient or even excess funds, and one has influence, and is still not happy? Will more of what one has already make one happy? It will not!! Running faster in the wrong direction will not get one to ones desired goal. It is counter productive.
So what else is there in this diseased belief system. There is still Love. I’m not just talking about the love of/for another person, wonderful as it is, I’m talking about the Love that opens our eyes to the wonders of all of life. The Love that gives appreciation of that which we already have, the astounding gift of consciousness in an infinite Universe. The Love that shows that both Giving and Receiving, the out breath and the in breath, are needed for Life. We get what gives us life from the in breath, and we remove, that which if held on to would poison us, with the out breath.Without this Love, we suffer.
Now I’m not suggesting this from some gushy fuzzy headed concept. This is an aspect of our reality as real as gravity. If one keeps ones attention on the unhappiness from what one is lacking then one enters a negative feedback loop that inevitably leads to destruction. If one keeps ones attention on the happiness that comes from what one already has, then we enter a positive feedback loop that leads to Continuous Happiness.
The reality for most of us is somewhere between the two extremes of the distribution, but the principal remains. To focus on the good will inevitably lead to greater Happiness and understanding. The focus on the bad, fear etc, will inevitably lead to greater suffering and delusion.
With the Knowledge and Understanding gained through the effort to keep ones attention focused on the good, we “inoculate ” ourselves against the infective thought constructs. We start to see the individual strands of thought that have been combined to create the construct. We start to understand how these thoughts influence us in our daily lives. We start to see that there are other combinations and intentions that are possible. We start to find the light. We start to cure ourselves of the delusion and discover the freedom that has always been there waiting for us to choose.