In the article „Thoughts on: frustration, worries and fear“ the tone was very somber. At the same time it had a wide range and many reactions. I don’t know whether I should be happy or dismayed by this. It is probably always the negative, scandalous and polemical things that people read, share and feel. Actually I think that’s a pity, but at the same time it is an indication of the prevailing mood and that looks rather depressed and worried.
I think this is due to the lack of inner convictions of the individuals in the society. If the individual has no differentiated inner convictions on central questions concerning life, death, illness, health, faith, science and society, then attitudes, opinions and moods can be completely reversed from one day to the next, whereby the individual is not really aware of this change.
But where does the change come from? If convictions are not anchored within each and every individual, then change can only come to us from the outside. And how does that happen? We don’t want to worry about life and death, because one is complicated and the other is unpleasant. This year, however, the fear of death from a „life-threatening virus“ is suddenly omnipresent. Death, which is an unpleasant marginal topic, is suddenly brought before our eyes day after day in the form of statistics. By whom are these statistics brought to us? By the media, politicians, the Robert Koch Institute and the health department.
Another topic that is rather unpleasant is illness. Now that the death figures are within limits, we are being prayed to on the same channels „infection figures“ which, thanks to a rhetorical parenthesis, are synonymous with „cases of illness“ for us. And those who are actually sick are a danger to the life and limb of their fellow human beings and must be placed under domestic quarantine. One placed oneself in the past flu seasons without shyness each winter into the rammed full courses and counted in the reason firmly to be once cold each year.
The topic of health has never really been discussed honestly in a society in which advertising is done for alcohol, child sweets, soft drinks, fast food and cheap meat. Instead, pharmaceutical giants are being supported in order to develop means and substances that mitigate the negative effects of a 40-hour work week with cola and canteen food until we are completely unable to work.
Vegetarian and vegan nutrition continues to be a special case, which is met with incomprehension and/or amusement every summer at the countless barbecue parties – I like to call them „meat orgies“. If the meat eaters are then times in the unternumber, they always affirm, frequently without being asked concretely that they would not eat actually at all so much meat. And if they did, they would only buy „the good“. I’m sure that the slaughtered calf was really happy when it was killed because it was at least white or knew what the sun and a meadow looked like.
For many, the subject of faith is conceptually linked with outdated traditions, the church or esoteric practices, which is why for the „reasonable“ citizen only „science“ can be the proclaimer of truth. People no longer „believe“, people today only „know“. But „science“ – for me the new, recognized form of religion – also only refers to a certain clique, which is the subject of discussion in established media, television formats, at universities and colleges.
However, few people know how scientific work, scientific discourse, statistics and surveys should actually be evaluated, because they do not have the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the „ivory tower of the intellectual elite“. For this reason, they are dependent on receiving reduced and processed knowledge from selected representatives – another external influence on a central topic that decisively influences our society and the global community.
These are therefore just the most central questions now and at all times, at which many humans do not have and also cannot have an own opinion, because thinking is taken away from them and the tools for it are not given to them also not to the hand. These topics are simply too „complex“. Therefore it is best not to think about them at all and leave them to the „experts“.
Moreover, they are increasingly deprived of the opportunity to create their own foundation of conviction. This begins with a purely functional school education, is continued by the guided public discourse, is currently experiencing its boom with the systematic censorship of uncomfortable YouTube videos and is finally sealed with the absolute and very changeable statements of non-democratically elected experts.
If I say it now, it sounds as if I am capable of it. And indeed I have certain inner convictions, which of course have also been formed by external influences, but which do not depend on individual central authorities such as newsreaders, YouTubers, politicians and scientists. These convictions have therefore been constant in their core for several years, which does not mean that I would not be able to revise old views if they turned out to be fallacies.
A central inner conviction, which has been formed through my study of Buddhism and Hinduism, is that there is no „good“ and „evil“ for me. I do not believe that a suffering action of a single individual arises from an „evil nature“. Therefore, I do not develop hatred and violence towards people who, in my opinion, do wrong things. This is my way to break the spiral of violence. For me, „violence“ does not only exist in the form of bodily harm to other people, but also in language, psychology and social exclusion.
That’s why I don’t believe that politicians, virologists, media makers, super-rich company owners and multi-billionaires are currently acting out of pure malice. I am convinced that they are subject to certain forms of delusion, to which we all fall victim to a certain degree: Greed, the desire for power, financial interests, ignorance and ego-thinking.
When a child takes away another child’s toy because he wants to play with it himself, he does not realize at that moment how at the same time another individual has suffered a loss and thus experiences suffering. It estimates its own well-being of higher priority, because it would like to play with it now just still much rather than the other child, the other child just does not know it.
It is similar with the neoliberal economic system: only there this blind premise, this fallacy, has been made into a driving, inner principle: Take it, otherwise someone else will take it. Keep it, for you know better than the others what to do with it. You must be the fastest, or you will fall behind and be eaten up by the others. These are the beliefs that are currently being sold to our society in clever disguise as „market mechanisms“, „competitive pressure“, „natural order“ and „innovation potential“.
When I talk to other people about these murky issues, the question often arises as to how I can deal with all these things. This is partly due to the central conviction formulated above. Furthermore, I am convinced that we as humanity have the potential to develop even better. I am convinced that the neutral state, i.e. the absence of suffering thoughts, actions and words, is happiness.
And happiness that is free from external conditions is real satisfaction. „The quick happiness“ has become a modern drug, which we get every day with sweets, sports, media consumption, games and drugs. However, if we manage to develop happiness even without these influences, then we have achieved satisfaction.
Now what is the difference between „beliefs“ and „faith“? From my point of view a „belief“ becomes a conviction, if you are able to support this belief with rational arguments in a discussion. So „beliefs“ have according to my definition the unspoken condition to be provable/provable.
In reverse, this means, beliefs need not to be proved necessarily. That’s why I call science in the popular sense faith, too, because not everyone can explain in detail why he or she represents this or that „scientific statement“. And if we do not quite understand something and yet regard it as „fact“, then it is a belief.
I personally do not see the difference between „beliefs“ and „convictions“ in the sense of a hierarchy. For me, „beliefs“ are no better or worse than „faith“. They are just two different form-concepts of „ideas“. A „belief“ is an individual and inalienable right and can have many positive but of course also negative effects on a person. But when the „belief idea“ is brought into a discussion, it is subject to dialectical principles. If the idea of faith withstands the dialectical test, i.e. the logical-argumentative discussion, it can mature into a conviction.
I for example believe in reincarnation, in the cyclical course of all life, because by this my belief in the principle of „karma“ becomes a logical and argumentativly holdable concept. Without the aspect „reincarnation“ the concept „karma“ is useless for me. If you want to read more about the term karma, I recommend this article. But if you now object, that the assumption of „reincarnation“ is nonsense, you ignore how science resp. the construction of a theory works.
Almost every theory makes certain premises, i.e. assumptions that are taken for granted. A theoretical concept is then built on these presupposed, partly already proven, but also yet unproven assumptions. For example, the theory of evolution is based on the assumption of the „Big Bang“.
So when scientists or licensed experts appear and pray the results of their studies to the lay public, then the layman must believe that the scientist or scientists have done their research according to strict scientific principles. Which these are, the laymen probably do not know in detail, why they are delivered to the interpretation sovereignty of the experts. I have called this „the dilemma of the layman“.
At the latest if then a second or a third expert appears, which reports an exactly opposite result, it depends alone on the faith of the layman, which result it regards now as „the truth“, because it has no possibility to reconstruct the respective way to this result.
This is why in the public debate on „Corona“, reports are often made not on a factual level but on a personal level. He or she disseminates „crude theories“, „deny“ or „relativize XY“ in order to present undesirable results that do not fit into the „Corona narrative“ to the layman as untrustworthy, not on a content level but on an emotional level.
The assumption that people who appear on television and in the major newspapers have a higher prestige and thus greater authority and a natural power of interpretation is still valid. Gustav Le Bon is also very outspoken about this:
„What particularly contributes to giving very great power to ideas spread by assertion, repetition, and infection is that they ultimately attain that mysterious violence which is called prestige.
Everything that has reigned in the world, ideas or men, has prevailed mainly by this irresistible power which the word „prestige“ denotes. […]
Prestige is in truth a kind of domination that gives an individual, a work or an idea over us. It paralyzes all our capacity for criticism and fills our soul with wonder and respect. Like every feeling, the one that occurs here is indescribable, but it is probably the same as the fascination of a hypnotized person.
(Le Bon: Psychology of the Masses, 1895, pp. 121-122)
The prestige of a person can be enhanced by the framework in which the person appears (we all know the feeling that people on stage and on television appear bigger and more self-confident, and when they stand in front of us, this illusion gladly dissolves). On the other hand, social position can give them natural prestige (mothers, teachers, the elderly, „educated“) or because they hold a certain office (civil servants, politicians). Sometimes just a uniform of some kind is enough to earn prestige with other people (soccer players, police officers, pilots, bank advisors). A young man has conducted an interesting social experiment that shows how servile individuals are when they feel that they are confronted with a kind of authority.
We do not usually imagine the person in authority brushing his teeth, going to the toilet, or the bread and butter falling on his coated side when he is drunk asleep in front of the coffee machine. We see in this person only a functionary similar to the cleaning lady in the office or the cashier at the gas station, only that these usually enjoy less prestige because no social prestige is ascribed to their activity. In my view, it remains questionable whether the cleaning lady who cleans your workplace every day does not play a greater role in your life than any party politician in the state parliament.
When I look at this year’s developments, the discourse dynamics, the defamations, the restrictions on freedom, the complete disregard for findings already identified, the reporting and the confusion of people, it may sound almost macabre to want to speak of hope.
I am still doing pretty well at the moment. I do not have any economic problems yet and I am about to graduate. So there is hardly any reason to complain. However, I see the global society rushing towards a universal crash that will affect everyone, no matter where he or she is at the moment. We are currently experiencing the bubbling of the volcano before it erupts, the ebb and flow of the big bang, the rolling of the dark clouds on the horizon.
Many may be wondering now and asking themselves what I mean by that. But this is probably due to the human characteristic of closing one’s eyes to dangers that do not yet exist acutely. In addition, we are so tense and distracted that to think in this direction would require too much time for an unpleasant activity.
Others see these things very clearly or are already experiencing financial bottlenecks, threatening insolvencies and a drying up of their industry (event technicians, artists, musicians, etc.) Due to the laws on short-time work and government loans, however, these fires are still smouldering underground and are therefore not noticed by the wider society.
How can one still have hope in such times? This is exactly where faith comes into play. At all times and in all cultures, it was the beliefs that people developed for themselves to justify apparently unjust and terrible developments, as well as experiences beyond their horizon of experience. Whether it is the belief in a higher power, in the prevailing political leadership, in capitalism or in cosmic laws: man needs faith to draw hope from it.
That is why faith and hope are so closely intertwined. If we lose faith in something, a world view often collapses and the hope contained in it flies like a bird out of a broken glass cage.
If we attach our faith to material and transitory things like money, political systems, individuals, or relative things like the science of justice, then disillusionment with that faith is likely. For money has no value of its own, political systems can disintegrate, individuals can die, science has no central institution that knows the one truth, and justice is always dependent on the perspective taken.
That is why people more often cultivate forms of belief that are linked to supernatural, immortal and infinite things: God, the soul, the universe, the spirit, natural forces, etc. For rigid materialists these are invented concepts that are not „real“. However, they forget that many things of the material world get their value only from man-made, i.e. „invented“ concepts.
Thus a crown does not automatically make a person a ruler, but we do associate the crown with the nobility, and the one who wears the crown exercises the rule. A cheque or a contract is merely a piece of paper with certain wording. Nevertheless, for some of the papers described, one receives the right to a house or to a certain amount of money. However, this entitlement arises solely from the invented concept of „contract“ or „check“, which is shared and accepted by a certain group of people. If, on the other hand, we try to use a contract for the right to an Amazon region to get the indigenous population there to leave, we quickly see how much power such a piece of paper actually has. A bulldozer or armed forces are the real instruments of power.
The average citizen of the West thus believes a myriad of things that we take for granted, although many would claim not to be „believers“ in any way. We must even believe in many things, otherwise, for example, companies, state structures, party systems, the economy and team sports would not function at all and would immediately vanish into thin air. But we believe in the existence of shares, democracy, national borders, money and rules of the game. And that is why they become reality.
For this reason it is just as legitimate and logical to believe in the existence of heaven, soul, reincarnation and karma. The only difference lies in the number of people who regionally profess one or the other faith. The whole world believes in money. Also the existence of national borders is a globally spread belief. The belief in reincarnation, in the soul or in heaven, however, is rather regionally limited. Harari, the author of the book „A Brief History of Humanity“, therefore calls all human ideas that do not arise directly from the evolutionary force of nature „myths“.
However, every belief unites one thing: it gives us hope. With the money in our bank account or in our pockets, we hope to get a loaf of bread from the Becker. We hope that we can still go to work tomorrow because we believe in the company where we are employed. We hope that the house or room in which we live will still be available to us tomorrow because we believe in our rental or ownership contract. Likewise, we hope our souls will be saved if we believe in heaven and hope that we will be born into a better form of existence because we believe in reincarnation.
What am I getting at? To mock or even condemn and hate someone else for his faith, no matter in which direction it may go, is an act of self-deception. We deceive ourselves because we ourselves believe in a great many things. Even the most materialistic atheists are often very dependent on unbelievably many concepts of faith, whereas the goal of a practicing Buddhist, for example, is to break away from all concepts of faith.
Even ascetically living monks of the Christian faith try to break away from their earthly concepts of faith in order to come closer to the divine power. So from my point of view it is rather the „believing“ people, whose faith is very simple and in that – from this point of view it is actually the religious people who are the least believing in total.
Now not everyone has to become a monk or nun. But a tolerant attitude towards any concept of faith is a proof of insight and clear-sightedness in one’s own world of experience and trade.
Come into peace and acceptance, then the inner struggle ends. And if the inner fight ends, then at some point the fight in the outside will also end!
by Marco Lo Voi
This the english translation of the article:
Gedanken zu: Überzeugungen, Glauben und Hoffnung