tools you will need for the deconstruction of your beliefs

"Tools for Deconstruction" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Tools for Deconstruction” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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Haha. I should have added TLS in the cartoon (The Lasting Supper) because we are deconstructing and reconstructing all the time.

Losing your beliefs or changing them, losing your religion or changing it, losing your mind or changing it. Always difficult. It takes caution and skill to tear down a house. I’ve done it. It can be dangerous.

So… deconstruct. And do it well.

I’m here for you.



21 Replies to “tools you will need for the deconstruction of your beliefs”

  1. I feel another valuable approach is to stop believing in Belief.

    In many monotheistic religions, correct belief itself is considered deadly critical.

    Yet on introspection, we can all see that we are not a creature with a fixed set of beliefs.
    People don’t run around with a chest full of private beliefs.
    Instead, we have feelings and preferences and usually only after the fact do we form ideas to support them.

    So we can hold contrary, fluxing beliefs, changing daily.
    We only pretend to hold consistent beliefs.

    So any system based on beliefs is doomed to failure.
    Ironically, a Christian may give up their present Jesus beliefs,
    but then tries hard to form another set of new-Jesus beliefs or agnostic beliefs or universal beliefs or whatever, but they still have not escaped the perverse need to get the RIGHT beliefs.

    Questioning this reflex, may be helpful for some.

    What do you think, David?

  2. I agree Sabio. One of my favorite philosophers, Krishnamurti, says something that I really resonate with and I think is true:

    “If we had no belief, what would happen to us? Shouldn’t we be very frightened of what might happen? If we had no pattern of action, based on a belief -either in God, or in communism, or in socialism, or in imperialism, or in some kind of religious formula, some dogma in which we are conditioned -we should feel utterly lost, shouldn’t we? And is not this acceptance of a belief the covering up of that fear- the fear of being really nothing, of being empty? After all, a cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations, is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind. To escape from that fear – that fear of emptiness, that fear of loneliness, that fear of stagnation, of not arriving, not succeeding, not achieving, not being something, not becoming something – is surely one of the reasons, is it not, why we accept beliefs so eagerly and greedily? And, through acceptance of belief, do we understand ourselves? On the contrary. A belief, religious or political, obviously hinders the understanding of ourselves. It acts as a screen through which we look at ourselves. And can we look at ourselves without beliefs? If we remove these beliefs, the many beliefs that one has, is there anything left to look at? If we have no beliefs with which the mind has identified itself, then the mind, without identification, is capable of looking at itself as it is& – and then, surely there is the beginning of the understand of oneself.”

  3. An interesting comment about deconstructing and reconstructing. Derrida and his theories about deconstruction certainly have had influential ripple effects. Of course his ideas can just as easily be deconstructed and if there is resistance to that it makes a mockery of his ideas.

    What we are touching on here is a basic primal nature to belong and connect. Being influenced by social paradigms that have resulted in belonging for us then naturally we are attached to them and adverse to anything that us perceived as a threat to such belonging.

    We we reach a significant event that results in these paradigms no llonger working for us, we face inevitable tensions.

    When we open ourselves up to transitioning through this, we risk rejection and uncertainty. At the same time, we open ourselves up to embracing other paradigms which were previously perceived as threats. It’s always uncomfortable to have our preconceptions and assumptions challenged, but it is how out horizons are broadened and our ability for healthy dialogue with a variety of world views is enabled.

  4. Well, I agree with his views on the crave for identity — but unlike him, I don’t buy into the “real self” idea — that there is some real ME to see and understand and free. This is a type of New Age think people used Krishnamurti go market, no?

    Instead, I would be settled with no REAL me, no pure good thing and just settle into the complexity of life — inner and outer.

  5. Though I have read very little of him long ago, if I remember correctly, he was used by the Theosophists (source of much New Age Monism) and others, and he himself was not a family man but lived a sheltered privileged life safe from the vagaries of us mortals — even poor on personal relationships. Not sure.

    But I thought he still had idealized views of what was desirable — a sort of Monism or its own sort.
    But I agree with his aversion to belief itself. Our hunger for right thinking is not useful unless we are building rocketships, houses or dams. We we apply it to metaphysics, politics and such, we are usually in self-deception mode.

  6. Oh btw, David, see what you think about these related thoughts:

    I also have aversions to understanding what the Bible REALLY says.
    Or what the Qur’an REALLY says or any other such text unless taken lightly and academically.
    Because that is hunger for authority in a book. Your cartoons have often criticised this skillfully in the past.

    But likewise, to search after what Jesus REALLY said, or what KANT really thought, or Krisnamurti really meant and such things also seem a hunger to legitimize one’s own beliefs. First, it is usually a waste of time to try and figure out what they really meant (Philosophy and Religion departments keep themselves going for centuries with students who think that is important too — I use to be in both departments).

    We want to give our beliefs authority: a book, a famous person, quotes, famous leaders, celebrities etc. It is a clamoring to support our beliefs — an idea which we agree is problematic from the foundation.

    Ex-believers may give up on the authority of Paul or Jesus but next they look for it in Jung, Einstein, Buddha or any number of other sources. The identity may have changed but not the deep habits.

  7. Yes, but whether Buddha, Socrates or Krishnamurti agreed or not, I don’t care.
    I use to care.
    But not any more.
    See what I mean?
    And I don’t care if others know that great people happen to agree with any idea I may happen to have.
    You can always find someone to agree, eh?
    Everyone does it.

  8. Totally. And yes… this is why we have heroes. Even religious and spiritual ones. I remember when I first coined the phrase “spiritual independence” for The Lasting Supper, how offended people were. It’s wrong, they think.

  9. Right!
    You are excellent at making graffiti out of our foibles — a very precious gift.
    And you had/have lots of inspiration — yourself.
    You never hesitate to mention that — your own foibles, that is. And it is in the sharing that others take comfort. It is a gift.

    I wager my foibles are great than yours, but I won’t use this thread to brag! 😉

  10. I would pick up on the metaphor of the empty cup thought as being useful with no beliefs being the beginning of the understanding of oneself.

    Given that we agree about healthy dialogue with different worldviews and horizons broadening it is interesting to consider how this might all function healthily.

    If we as to understand ourselves then surely it is to be aware that we have this natural attachment to belonging and connection and aversion to anything that is a threat to that. So in being the “empty cup” we must do what is unnatural, to be willing to have core beliefs these powerful cultural infulences that give us a sense of belonging held loosely. So we must face aversion and be willing to let go of attachment, to do what is uncomfortable when the id would like us to do what is pleasant.

    In western culture one aspect of this is we delude ourselves if we ever think we are totally independent. Like it or not we have an interdependence, who we are being strongly influenced by factors beyond our own determination. Significant life events, place of birth, parental influence etc.

    Where we do have choices is what we allow our cup to be filled with and this is where I see things a little differently to the cup only being useful when it is empty. A good starting point yes but not the end, rather a means to an end. The cup being filled with good sustenance for the body being the function of the cup, fulfilling it’s usefulness. When the cup filled to overflowing, it filling up other cups.

  11. I think I have come to the acceptance of the futility of any kind of explanation being able to contain ultimate meaning, truth, or whatever label one wants to identify with. When one reads Solomon describing his recognition that all is vanity there is a certain amount of judgement to the word vanity. If we are going to identify love in the world, I think this idea of seeing the world without judgement is essential to the practice of love. When I first recognized that I was giving meaning to my world through a particular narrative or belief and there wasn’t really anything external doing that, I felt despair, mainly because I resented that fact. I feel like Solomon or whoever wrote “all is vanity.” resented that and passed judgment on that. I think humor and the ability to laugh at one’s sense of childish ego and its silliness is part of the acceptance and ultimate peace with the world. I think I’m a non believer at this point in my life because of the recognition of all the smoke and mirrors that go into sustaining the silliness we call religion. And I’ve stopped resenting the fact that I believed all that for so many years. I like it when I can accept that I don’t know and not resent it.

  12. I’m not sure I believe in heroes anymore, they all seem so fallible. I do think other people stimulate our thinking which often leads to new conclusions. When I added ‘reason’ to your list at the start of this thread I was thinking that new conclusions have to rest comfortably within your soul for them to have impact. I no longer grant authority to something or someone with whom I have no affinity. (I’m not sure I’m stating this clearly.)

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