Expansive and Extensive

by Christopher Lovejoy on September 9, 2021

I subsist and persist on a field of finite possibilities, outside of which a field of infinite possibilities expands and extends in all directions, and on these fields of possibility, I cannot help but tap and tune and taste a special power that is common to everyone alive, awake, aware, and alert.

This power is special because it conjures objects in consciousness that cast shadows ~ objects like values, beliefs, desires, and motives ~ so, for example, if I persist in holding fast to the belief that I am worthy, then this shadow cast for contrast becomes inevitable: I am not worthy.

A principle is yet another object in consciousness ~ a principle like energy flows where attention goes ~ which also casts a shadow for contrast: energy flops where attention stops, and so, if I cease to focus my attention on a question like am I or am I not worthy?, what happens?

Truth be told, there’s no telling how many beliefs I hold in consciousness. While some beliefs seem to hold little if any significance for the quality of my life (“I should always answer my phone”), some can, and do, impact the entirety of my life (“I cannot be happy because of ___”).

Now you might be thinking that shadows are bad, but consider the shadow cast by the belief “I should always answer my phone”, thus: “I should never answer my phone (when I’m in the midst of doing deep work).” Here, with a simple qualification, a shadow acquires significance.

The shadow, “I cannot be happy because of ___”, leads to the light of “I can be happy in spite of ___.”

Are you beginning to sense the potential for treating beliefs as malleable ~ as putty in your hands? Did you also get that a belief that seems to have little if any significance for your life can, if tweaked with the appropriate qualification, suddenly assume much greater significance?

Beliefs are potent objects in consciousness, not only because they open up possibility spaces for making relevant and significant choices in life, but because they can all too easily close down these same possibility spaces. Beliefs can be shaped as we see fit: “with enough presence and promise, purpose and passion, patience and power, I can be sovereign in my beliefs.”

But what does it actually mean in practice to say that “I am sovereign in my beliefs?” given that every single one of us is at risk of drowning in a sea of misery and mediocrity saturated with all manner of dubious beliefs that obscure the valuable and desirable beliefs that favor life?

Let’s explore and examine an all-too-common belief, a belief that every single adolescent (and adolescent at heart) who has ever lived and loved on this planet has harbored at one time or another: I’m not worthy. Believe it or not, a lot can done with this simple declaration of belief.

Let us count the ways . . .

I’m not worthy can be muted: “wait, what? I am worthy by divine right!”

I’m not worthy can be transmuted: I do not feel worthy, but this feeling is fleeting when I give it time and space

I’m not worthy can be disputed: “I am worthy, and here are a few reminders of this: ____”

I’m not worthy can be explored and elaborated to realize a benefit: “I typically do not feel worthy when I ___ (lose my temper), but this ____ (loss of temper) is nevertheless acceptable to me when I realize the fact that it can ____ (sometimes serve a healing function or pre-serve a personal boundary)”

I’m not worthy can be transmuted and forgiven: “I do not feel worthy because I ___ (neglected to ___)” followed by any one or more of these expressions, sincerely expressed: “I love you; I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you for ___ (calling me out on my neglect)”

I’m not worthy can be ____ (fill in the blanks): “I ____

Beliefs are ubiquitous, but can nevertheless be circumscribed with the aim of processing them more efficiently. In what areas of your life do you harbor strong beliefs? Areas to explore include self, life, love, time, money, success, work, play, needs, desires, feelings, urges, impulses . . .

I believe that I am ____ (full of shit) / in what ways am I ____ (full of shit)? what’s the opposite of being ____ (full of shit)? could I embrace this opposite: ____ (full of love and light, full of awe and wonder, full of the lust for life) without insisting on it and thereby casting a deep, dark shadow?

I believe that life is ____

I believe that love is ____

I believe that time is ____

I believe that money is ____

I believe that success is ____

I believe that work is ____

I believe that play is ____

I believe that needs are ____

I believe that desires are ____

I believe that feelings are ____

I believe that urges are ____

I believe that impulses are ____

I believe that ___ (status, honor, wealth, power, wisdom, happiness, excellence, freedom, discernment, improvement, enhancement, contentment, enjoyment, fulfillment, enchantment) is/are ____

With these deceptively simple sentence stems, I invite you to be a constant, careful gardener of belief, cultivating and elaborating on the good ones and weeding out the ones that threaten to strangle and suffocate the ones that actually serve your life, your love, and your lust for life.

In view of this invitation, keep in mind that knowing and believing are two very different states of mind: that is, if I know, I need not believe, but if I believe, I do not know, and may never know. Regardless of not knowing, believing can still serve this vital function for living and loving your life to completion: to compel you and propel you towards realizing your own cherished notion of happiness.

A more advanced way of shaping belief, however, is to release the grip on what I call “the entitlement to betterment,” which would go a long way toward coming to terms with what is known as “the most common negative emotions” ~ boredom, frustration, exhaustion, indifference.

The entitlement to betterment is to believe that (a) “expansion is superior to restriction” (even as restriction serves to highlight expansion by way of contrast); that (b) “contentment is superior to enslavement” (even as enslavement serves to highlight contentment by way of contrast); that (c) “prosperity is superior to poverty” (even as poverty serves to highlight prosperity by contrast).

This entitlement to betterment is ancient ~ seemingly integral to human biology and psychology ~ and, today, highly destructive in all sorts of ways, adversely affecting all manner of relationships, but strangely, one could still easily ask: is entitlement not superior to belittlement?

Is betterment not superior to curtailment ~ or debasement?

With no entitlement to betterment, what would become of hierarchy, struggle, and competition?

In the absence of same, would one not be more inclined to forgo, forgive, and forsake judgment?

With no entitlement to betterment, what would this do to enhance my relationship with Life? What would this do to my appreciation of diversity? What would this do to my freedom to be? What would this do to the insistence that We are One, rather than the persistence that we are many?

Here’s a belief: we came here to Be Many as much as we came here to Be One.

I remain diverse in my beliefs, even as I remain everchanging in my beliefs.

Before I explore belief in more depth, I now invite you to be a True Believer.

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