More Bang for Your Belief

I recently returned from a really powerful retreat experience in the hills outside San Diego—the Illumination Intensive. Four and a half days of sitting across from another person, looking deeply into his or her eyes, and giving and receiving the instruction, “Tell me who you are.” No watch, no cell phone, no iPod/Pad, no Internet, and no other conversation besides that question and the answer.


In the course of responding to the instruction, a lot of stuff comes up. As the retreat progressed and I worked through it, I found myself getting mellower and mellower and more and more entranced with the individuals sitting in front of me, the beauty of our surroundings, and the pervasive sense of the interconnectedness of it all. Each person, each flower, each rock, each bite of lunch, each fly, each dust speck, each light beam from the setting sun seemed utterly suffused with the same gorgeous godstuff.

Now, I mouth inspirational reflections to that effect fairly regularly. However, this time I felt like I had anchored it at a much deeper level. And as I looked at things from that belief perspective, I found my mind quieting and my heart opening. I became more present. I wasn’t concerned about goals, conflicts, deadlines, plans, success/failure. All uncertainty and risk and concern for the future or regret about the past seemed flimsy and irrelevant in the face of the undeniable beauty before me Right Now.

It seems to me that’s a perspective that can be deliberately chosen and consciously cultivated. To the extent that it is adopted and empowered, a lot of the smaller hurts, injustices, and traumas that occupy our inquiries and therapies just naturally lose their hold on us and drop away—‘cause we’ve got Bigger Fish to Fry. Imagine if your first, most habitual thought was that your alarm clock, the Dalai Lama, your dog, the moonrise, the surly checkout cashier, your garden, your boss, and even the extra pounds around your middle all were direct reflections of divinity or the amazing bounty of the Universe. How would that change your moment-by-moment processing of your world?

Certainly, it can be useful to rummage through our big rolled up Balls of Hurt, pulling on strings here and there in order to make some headway. Or, just maybe, we can look for some big leveraging beliefs that can unravel large sections with one tug. And that can be a force multiplier, because many of our little beliefs and judgments are off-shoots of (or supports for) our Big Beliefs and Judgments. The person who fundamentally believes that Life is a Struggle and the one who truly believes (and lives) that Life is a Beautiful Dance can pass within inches of each other on a crowded sidewalk, and yet live on completely different planets.

In assessing your belief cache and deciding what to take on and what to let go of, perhaps it makes a lot of sense to Go Big.