From Believing to Knowing: The Trip of a Lifetime

Reading Mark Manson’s long-winded but well-considered treatise, Why We All Need Philosophy, got me thinking: Are the Pathwork teachings—and in turn, my Phoenesse books—essentially a philosophy? Perhaps. For according to Manson, “Philosophy is the inquiry into our understanding of reality, knowledge, and how we should live.” Indeed, that describes the Pathwork teachings to a T, and believing isn’t part of the program.

Shifting from believing to knowing.

As he skillfully weaves together a brief history of philosophy, Manson touches on the work of David Hume, who “demolished the idea of cause/effect and or the assumption that we can predict anything at all.” Since the reality of cause-and-effect is one of the basic tenets of the Pathwork Guide’s teachings, this piqued my interest.

“Bear with me here,” writes Manson, “as this might sound insane. Hume said, logically speaking, that it is impossible to prove that anything will occur in the future, no matter how often or how regularly it has occurred in the past. If the sun has risen in the east every day for millions of years, that still doesn’t prove it will rise again in the east tomorrow. It simply makes it insanely probable that it will rise in the east.”

Which raises the question: Can we imagine a time when people relied on believing the sun would rise each morning in the east?

We no longer believe “the sun rises in the east.” We’re the ones in motion.

This is actually hard to do, because we no longer believe “the sun rises in the east.” That’s simply not what’s going on. We now have proof—thanks to some very smart people who built a little rocket ship so we could go see for ourselves—that in fact the Earth is turning and the sun is sitting in a relatively fixed position. We’re the ones in motion. And as long as this planet keeps spinning, we’re going to see the sun again tomorrow morning.

So not once has the sun actually ever “risen”—even though it appears that way to us—and now we know the truth of the matter. In the case of sunlight, then, we have a collective knowing about how this works. There’s nothing we must believe. Cause-and-effect are solid.

Admittedly, a lot of water has gone over the dam since Hume rocked the world with his suspicions about cause-and-effect. But let’s be honest, how many of us still think the link between cause and effect is shaky? By show of hands, how many believe we are living in an unfair world?

The Truth About What We Believe

Manson goes on to say that one thing the world’s great philosophers have uncovered is that we can’t believe everything we believe to be true. Here again we are facing a basic tenet of the Pathwork teachings, which walk us through understanding how we’ve come to have a flawed sense of the world.

Part of the problem is that our conscious mind—which is the mind of the ego—operates like a steel trap. It latches onto an opinion and won’t let go, whether the perspective is fully valid or not. Because the ego is caught in duality, we think winning is everything; being right is akin to surviving. So we double down on our all-too-often faulty, fixed positions.

From its limited perspective, the conscious human mind lacks awareness of the bigger picture, which includes all the hurt and misunderstandings we’ve stuffed into our unconscious mind and slammed the door on. It’s this piece about the unconscious that so many are blind to.

We can start to slowly excavate our own inner landscape.

When Descartes landed on his preeminent realization, “I think; therefore I am,” he was equating his ability to think, to proving his existence. Yet ironically, it’s what we unconsciously believe that’s responsible for our many trips around the sun, where our job is to surface what we’ve lost sight of.

Fortunately, the key for unlocking whatever’s stuck in our shadows is never lost forever. And once we start to use the proper keys, we’ll open to this realization: We’re sitting on a pile of untruthful ideas that have gotten lodged in the dark contours of our unconscious. It’s not “out of sight, out of mind,” as we might like to believe.

By doing our personal work of self-knowing, though, we can start to slowly excavate our own inner landscape. And that’s when we’ll discover something truly revolutionary: This is the source of all our conflicts. Here are the untrue conclusions we’ve drawn about life, and here is the old pain associated with those beliefs, and so here is the magnet attracting more of that same pain. Which means, then, here is the way out.

Shifting Our World View

Unfortunately, we won’t have a once-in-a-lifetime epiphany and be all better. We’ll need to dig into all the nooks and crannies of the whole ancient city that’s buried down there. But if we persevere—if we unearth all the faulty bits of immature logic and find every uncomfortable feeling we’ve been avoiding—we’ll come to an entirely new view of this world.

Every disharmony in our lives always begins within us.

Then we’ll move from believing we could someday be happy and free, to knowing freedom is our undeniable destiny. For we’re not meant to be miserable. But with so much discontent hidden in our unconscious, it can’t be otherwise.

Sorry to break it to you like this, but cause-and-effect is alive and working well, and it doesn’t miss a beat. Every disharmony in our lives can be traced back to its origin: It always begins within us.

This is a truth that is ironclad. In fact, cause-and-effect is as reliable as our knowing the sun will be on our side again tomorrow. Because that’s how this world works. Just as our own darkness—locked away in our unconscious—is the very cause of our existence as human beings.

–Jill Loree

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