Some beliefs, like a catechism, are handed down as a prescribed description of reality to be memorized, recited, and believed. Other beliefs assemble inside our minds as we strive to understand why things happen as they do. Beliefs are descriptions that create order and ascribe meaning to our world. Once a belief sets in, whether through the internalization process of socialization, or through some introverted process devoid of outside messaging, beliefs themselves become hardcore “facts” in our minds. And these believed facts are highly impervious to change.
Beliefs constructed in childhood, at such an impressionable time of our young ego’s development, can take up residence in our minds for a lifetime. Our beliefs, positive or negative, become our security blanket; they keep us safe and familiar as repetitive thoughts that comfort and guide us through the maze of life.
Ironically, the belief “I am ugly” can be as equally comforting as the belief “I am beautiful,” from the point of view of inner security. Security rests upon a known, familiar, redundant, predictable interpretation of reality. Consistent beliefs, positive or negative, build stability.
If one has held a lifelong belief that “It was my fault,” the liberating realization that “It wasn’t my fault” can feel more destabilizing than liberating, as it sends us into a deconstructed free fall of feeling that there is nothing safe to hold onto. This free fall, however, is a free fall of the ego alone. Ego is not Self. Ego is a part of a greater self, a Self to which it must awaken.
In Hindu philosophy the Atman is the true Self, the inner Buddha or Overself of Buddhism, the inner Christ of Christianity, the inner Nagual of the shamans of Ancient Mexico, the inner spirit in all of us. The ego is a functional tool of Atman, the tool of conscious discrimination, the decision maker that aligns action with right action. Right action is action in alignment with truth, with Atman. When ego uses conscious discrimination to deconstruct a false belief, ego goes into free fall, because the world it clings to is outed as a world of false beliefs, which must be surrendered.
Ego must allow the truth of Atman to manifest. To do this means relaxing defenses once dearly needed to construct a “safe world.” This construction is now identified as an anachronous artifact, a young ego’s construction of an illusion needed to create safety. The ego must allow itself to be reborn with Atman in the true nature of reality. This is the real meaning of being twice born—first time as an infant that grows an ego identity through accumulated beliefs, but more importantly grows an ego capable of conscious discrimination.
This exercise of conscious discrimination by ego leads to the collapse of its false beliefs and the birth, however traumatic—and all births are traumatic—into the Self, into the truth of the Atman. This is consciousness and Self reborn in second birth. This is the ultimate goal, to be twice born, with the opportunity for growth in this world, as enlightened Self.
In the canal,