Reflections on Conspiracy Theories

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories?

A: When we analyze conspiracy theories, we find there are several levels at work.

  1. Sensory gating or filtering – When you believe in a conspiracy theory, you only look at the sensory information that confirms your belief. You ignore contrary information that doesn’t support your belief.
  2. Emotional bias – This attaches negative emotions to beliefs that disagree with the theory you hold, and positive emotions to the beliefs of your own theory.
  3. Cognitive distortion – This minimizes flaws or errors in your own viewpoint, and magnifies errors or flaws in other views.
  4. Egoic defensiveness – You use denial, projection, and rationalization to support your own view. You criticize and blame others that don’t hold your views.
  5. Values deconstruction – This uses justification to support hypocrisy, lying, and unethical behavior required for you to embrace a conspiracy theory.
  6. Intellectual narrowing – This labels your own theory as unassailable. You do not give yourself permission to reflect upon or consider alternate viewpoints.
  7. Mythic worldview – This embodies the secret desires and fantasies that underlie the conspiracy theory. You might secretly wish to be seen as a hero, to be vindicated when people disagree with you, to be superior to others because you know the truth.

Several characteristics mark conspiracy theories:

  • Those who embrace conspiracy theories supplant facts with opinion.
  • They prefer untested speculation to careful analysis to arrive at the truth.
  • They make logical leaps without taking in the big picture.
  • They validate their mistrust and paranoia through believing in spurious narratives.
  • They follow charismatic thought leaders who advocate and disseminate conspiracy theories, and become true believers.
  • They ignore information that contradicts the conspiracy theory, and they cling tenaciously to information that upholds it.
  • They envision hidden or secret actors that attempt to hide the truth that the conspiracy theory purports to reveal, and that this truth is either unknown or is actively suppressed.
  • They hold that the conspiracy theory is a hidden truth that conventional sources do not believe in or condone, and they believe they must advocate for this revolutionary new truth.
  • They believe that those who hold an alternative viewpoint are ignorant or deceived. They may actively attack or demean others who hold other beliefs.

The Slippery Slope to Paranoia

Many conspiracy theories are steeped in paranoia. This progression to a paranoid mindset does not happen instantaneously, but appears to follow several steps.

  1. You come to doubt one element of a belief you hold. You make note of it, but do not reject the belief outright.
  2. You come to see several flaws or omissions in the belief you hold. This may lead you to investigate why there are discrepancies or things that do not seem to fit.
  3. In the course of your search for answers, you come upon the alternative viewpoint of someone who advances a conspiracy theory. You begin to study this material.
  4. At some point during your exploration of this material, you find a key idea that makes you believe that everything you formerly believed was wrong. This makes you embrace the conspiracy theory and reject your former view. This is the conversion stage.
  5. Once you have begun to view your old mindset is flawed, you begin to replace your former beliefs with the beliefs of the conspiracy theory. You begin to deny, justify, and rationalize these new beliefs if you are challenged.
  6. You become a “true believer,” and you begin to advocate for this new conspiracy theory. You may attend conferences advocating the conspiracy theory, publish articles about it, or post about it on social media.
  7. As you receive more pushback about the error or limitations of your conspiracy theory, you may retrench and hold the belief more tenaciously. You begin to believe you are under attack: that others are trying to undermine you, to persecute you, and to crush you. At this stage, you may begin to shift into full-blown paranoia.
  8. As paranoia begins to envelop you, you may become delusional. For example, you may believe that secret actors are attempting to silence you or eliminate you; your phones are tapped and your rooms are bugged; or government agencies are trying to arrest you under false charges to suppress your viewpoint.

The Erosion of Reality Testing

Those that embrace conspiracy theories may shut off aspects of their reality testing to adhere to their beliefs. Some of these pillars of reality testing include:

  1. Sensory evidence – You are able to verify that the information you are receiving is accurate. It is not the opinion or interpretation of someone else. You are able to validate the experience is accurate.
  2. Impartiality – You become emotionally open to listen to each of the voices of an argument. You determine independently what is true after listening to the different opinions.
  3. Introspection – You examine your own beliefs to ensure that you are rightly weighting each element of your belief.
  4. Vulnerability – You become honest about what you feel and believe, and you are willing to be corrected. You stop blindly defending your beliefs.
  5. Moral reasoning – You think through the consequences of holding a particular value—and if it is untenable, not founded in truth, you jettison it. You do not automatically introject the beliefs of the conspiracy theory unexamined; you look at the implications of adopting this value.
  6. Intellectual prehension – You look at different explanations and the evidence supporting them. You give yourself permission to examine other viewpoints and explanations.
  7. Uncovering motivations – You uncover your motivations for holding beliefs and viewpoints, discovering what you “get out” of holding a belief or adopting a mindset.

If you think that you might be embracing a conspiracy theory, you may wish to apply the pillars of reality testing to determine if you are deceiving yourself. We suggest that you hold the contentions of a conspiracy theory as an unproven hypothesis. Listen to facts pro and con, and be willing to reject the conspiracy theory if you cannot verify its claims.

Reflections on Judgment

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: The Bible says, “thou shalt not judge.” Can you shed some light on judgment?

A: It is important to understand the levels of judgment and when each is appropriate. There are seven major types of judgment:

  1. Critical judgment – This finds fault with others based on your internal standards of conscience. When your conscience is vitiated, this type of judgment may give rise to egotism, prejudice, jealousy, envy, arrogance, pathological narcissism, and fanaticism.
  2. Decision-making judgment – This looks at the pros and cons of different options and decides which one is best. This type of judgment attempts to guide you to make the optimal decision that will bring you the best results. Professional counselors facilitate you to use this type of judgment.
  3. Juridical judgment – This makes decisions about guilt or innocence and sentencing based on a review of prior case law, the evidence in the case, the accused person’s prior criminal history, and the assessment of his or her probability of committing additional offenses or fleeing if released to the community. This type of judgment establishes the rule of law. Judges make these types of decisions. Attorneys argue for the conviction or defense of the accused. Legislators at the state and national level generate new laws. Law enforcement places those who violate the law and are apprehended into custody.
  4. Righteous judgment – This examines the consequences of action—how your actions and speech will impact others and your self. When you use this type of judgment, you attempt to choose actions that are appropriate, prudent, circumspect, efficient, causing the least amount of harm—and ideally, actions that are kind, compassionate, and wise. This type of judgment dawns in those who practice the precepts of religion. If this type of judgment is applied for long periods of time, it develops good character and saintly virtues.
  5. Spiritual discernment – This enables you to intuit the different layers of your Superconscious mind through the brain center of your Soul’s essential vehicle, and to realize your Soul’s true nature. Employing this type of judgment ultimately leads to enlightenment. This type of judgment blossoms in advanced aspirants and disciples.
  6. Higher order spiritual discernment – This enables you to discern a nucleus of identity, ensouling entity, or spirit of the Transplanetary, Cosmic, Supracosmic, or Transcendental bands of the Continuum, and to identify with it. Those that reach the Mahatma stage on the Bridge Path gain access to the interpenetrating awareness, which enables them to discern the spiritual development of others at every level of the Continuum. This type of judgment awakens in advanced disciples.
  7. Ministerial judgment – This type of judgment reveals the essential nature of each individual, whom the Master selects to receive spiritual ministry. It discerns what types of attunements are appropriate for aspirants and disciples at their current stage of spiritual development. Initiates utilize this form of judgment.

Scripture condemns critical judgment, when it makes comparisons of others to spurious values. These comparisons to the inner standards of conscience include:

  1. Your “egoic standing” – These are judgments you make about your status and how well you are doing compared to others. When you are doing well, this type of critical judgment allows you to feel superior to others. You might, for example, consider yourself to be wealthier, more intelligent, more beautiful or handsome, physically stronger, or more sophisticated or cultured than others.
  2. The criteria of prejudice – In this perspective, you compare others to negative stereotypes you learn about them—you presume that each member of this targeted group has these same negative characteristics. This type of critical judgment breeds hatred and intolerance; it breeds acts of discrimination, injustice, and violence.
  3. The criteria of jealousy – Through this filter, you consider that another person is a rival for the affections of someone you desire. It leads you to perceive only the negative characteristics of your rival, and you may attempt to sabotage the other person’s efforts to have a relationship with the one you desire.
  4. The criteria of envy – Through this lens, you feel you are inferior to others because they are wealthier, more beautiful or handsome, have a partner who loves them, are more famous or have greater adulation from others—and you want these things for yourself. Envy drives you to adopt a variety of defense mechanisms, including viewing what others have as flawed or defective (sour grapes); justifying your own station in life as virtuous; adopting passive aggressive stances in your relationships with these people; or finding ways to criticize or “bad mouth” them to others.
  5. The criteria of arrogance – When you regard others from this standpoint, you not only feel you are superior, but you also feel justified to bully, harm, or destroy others’ person, property, or reputation—especially when you believe they are competing with you for something you want. Arrogance may lead you to justify criminal or violent acts against those who you don’t like, or who oppose you.
  6. The criteria of narcissistic entitlement – When you adopt this attitude, anyone who doesn’t love you, obey your every wish, agree with your every decision, or remain perpetually loyal to you—you suspect them of being a traitor, you immediately belittle them, and jettison from the circle of those who currently entertain your favor. Mental health professionals refer to this behavior, when it is pronounced, as pathological narcissism.
  7. The criteria of demonic rage – Those who demonstrate this radical stance so strongly believe in their political or religious ideology that they hold—that if others do not follow their belief system, they are judged to be evil, and can be persecuted, tortured, or killed. This type of critical judgment underlies the mindset of the political or religious fanatic, the hate group follower, or the terrorist.

When you are able to activate your higher wisdom faculty that operates righteous judgment, you will begin to uproot these types of critical judgment. You will replace these negative character traits of critical judgment with:

  • Humility
  • Gratitude
  • Caring for others
  • Considering what is for others’ highest good
  • Kindness and helpfulness
  • Acceptance of others’ diversity and difference
  • Tolerances of differences of belief and opinion
  • Understanding
  • Forgiveness
  • Mercy

When you deconstruct your negative, critical judgment mindsets, you replace it with virtues. You begin to rehabilitate your character and purify your conscience. The scripture you cite admonishes you to work form the platform of righteous judgment, so you can engage in this ongoing project of character transformation, thereby turning your vice into virtue, your ignorance into wisdom.

To facilitate this healing of your conscience and rehabilitation of your character, you may wish to contemplate each of the virtues listed above, and identify how you might express these virtues in your relationships with others. The meditation of the pairs of opposites in our intermediate courses—the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program—will help you develop these virtues.

It is important to understand that this scripture is not asking you to abandon discernment, to not administer the law if you are a judge, or refrain from making optimal personal choices—it is asking you to root out the negative aspects of critical judgment and replace them with wisdom and virtue.

You also need to be clear that not all forms of judgment are negative: it is the negative attitudes of critical judgment that you must remove.

Reflections on Power

By George A. Boyd © 2018

Q: I have come across a list that Hubbard posits are the twelve conditions of life. It struck me that Hubbard places power at the top of his twelve conditions. One list of these conditions, as Jenna Miscavige-Hill remembers them in her book, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology™ and My Harrowing Escape are:

  • 12 – Power
  • 11 – Power change
  • 10 – Affluence
  • 9 – Normal operations
  • 8 – Emergency
  • 7 – Danger
  • 6 – Non-existence
  • 5 – Liability
  • 4 – Doubt
  • 3 – Enemy
  • 2 – Treason
  • 1 – Confusion

How do you view this formulation?

A: Hubbard’s highest position on the twelve conditions is power, and the ability to increase one’s power. The application of power takes the following forms:

  • Earth – the exploitation of its resources to gain profits
  • Animals and plants – exploitation of living creatures to fulfill human needs and to make money
  • Religion – development of a religious cult; exploitations of followers for money and sex; and to fulfill the leader’s narcissistic desires to be loved and worshipped
  • Body – Control of the bodies of others through intimidation and demands for obedience; those who are disobedient may be subject to violence, torture, imprisonment, or death
  • Intimate Relationship – Enslavement of his or her partner; control through emotional and physical abuse; using partner for sexual gratification and fulfilling of his or her needs
  • Customer relations (sales) – Views others as sources of money, he or she uses any means fair or foul to make the sale—lie, cheat, and deceive if necessary—the only thing that matters is to meet and exceed sales targets and enrich his or her self.
  • Career – Become an autocratic boss who drives employees to meet goals; readily fires those that he or she doesn’t like; uses employees for sex; frightens and intimidates them to demand their loyalty, obedience, and silence
  • Finances – Achieve money at all costs through any means fair or foul; use legal loopholes and surreptitious means to hide money from taxation
  • Organization – The leader has absolute control over the organization through policy and direct command; no dissent is tolerated
  • Government – The government is a dictatorship; the leader exerts control over all aspects of the country through the military, police, and secret police; the leader suppresses any dissent of criticism; he or she may muffle the press, imprison or disappear those who do not obey his or her directives
  • Perceived enemy – Destroy the enemy without mercy; ruthlessly pursue the enemy until he or she is utterly vanquished; crush the spirit of the enemy so he or she will be obedient and servile

Q: Then gaining power is not the highest aim of life?

A: This perspective of placing power, as his highest objective, places Hubbard in the same mindset as the Occultists and dictators of the Lower Astral Plane. It is not surprising, that those who adopt this mindset often turn religion into a cult, with their central aim to exploit others for money; those who enter the political arena with this mindset become demagogues and authoritarian leaders.

If we view the keynotes of each level of the Continuum from the Middle Subtle to the Soul Plane in the Planetary Realm, we find that Hubbard’s call to power is most typical of the Lower Astral Plane:

Level of the Continuum

Keynote

Middle Subtle

Obedience – Following cultural norms, and religious and moral precepts

Lower Astral

Power – Gaining power and wielding it over others; forcing your will on
others

Subtle Illumined Mind

Protection from dark forces – Using Soul force to counter dark magic

Biophysical Universe

Harmony – Living in harmony with the earth and cosmos

Abstract Mind Plane

Control of mind – using mind to control athletic performance, make discoveries and innovations in science, augment creative expression in art, pursue truth through philosophical inquiry, to overcome personal obstacles, and to manifest what you desire

Psychic Realm

Development of psychic powers and metaphysical ministry – activate your psychic
abilities and use them to help others

Wisdom Plane

Development of wisdom – gain wisdom, practice forgiveness and understanding

First Exoteric Initiation

Faith and love – establish faith in God and follow his guidance; read the
scriptures; express love, charity, and kindness towards others

First Mesoteric Initiation

Devotion and purity – draw nigh to God’s presence; develop virtue and holiness;
minister the Holy Spirit to others

First Esoteric Initiation

Knowledge of the Mysteries – gain insight into symbols and archetypes; identify
the hidden truths and teaching substanding ancient faiths

Second Initiation

Power united with love – activate the Mighty I AM Presence, speak the Word
with love to set others free, to empower them, and to motivate them to achieve their highest potential

Third Initiation

Love united with wisdom – develop the innate abilities within each person,
make the personality into an instrument for the Soul, align your life to carry out your Soul’s purpose and to fulfill your Divine Plan (spiritual destiny)

Fourth Initiation

Illumination, Grace, and Compassion – receive the Light of Illumination to remove
ignorance and gain enlightenment; become an instrument for the Grace and compassion of the Masters; express your highest genius to uplift humanity

Fifth Initiation

Mastery – Gain mastery over each vehicle of consciousness and use your love,
wisdom, and power to serve others spiritually

We suggest that gaining power as your ultimate aim— as Hubbard advocated—is not a very uplifting or noble goal. We encourage you to examine the keynotes for each stage of your spiritual journey and aim to incorporate each of these higher objectives and fulfill the high calling of your spiritual destiny. Renounce the will to power; embrace love and service, and you will become an instrument of the Light.

 

The Seven Stances of Light Ministry

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: Are there other forms of Light Ministry than the type you do in the Light Sittings?

A: Yes, there are seven major types across the Seven Rays. These are briefly described below.

  1. The Destroyer Ray – this Light Ministry of the 1st Ray seeks to destroy entities that give rise to evil. This is the “battle of good and evil,” fought on the Astral Planes.
  2. The Enlightenment Ray – the 2nd Ray Light Ministry uses seed thoughts and contemplation to change perspective, patterns of thinking, and limiting or erroneous beliefs. It seeks to open a conduit to the Illumined mind and establish the aspirant in the state of enlightened mind.
  3. The Ray of Divine Mercy – Light Ministry of the 3rd Ray receives Light directly from the Masters and ministers it to others through anchoring the Light in their Souls, their nuclei of identity, and/or connecting their personality with the Soul through the minor attunements. This is the form of ministry that disciples of Grace-Bestowing Masters in different spiritual traditions typically practice.
  4. The Ray of Divine Unity – the 4th Ray Light Ministry emphasizes attuning people with their inner Divinity, bringing about the state of Oneness and Wholeness. This seeks to lift people from distress into peace. The universal prayers of Buddhism—e.g., “may all beings transcend misery and suffering and find peace and Nirvana”—tap into this Light Stream.
  5. The Ray of Sevenfold Healing – 5th Ray Light Ministry utilizes different bands of energy to bring about healing. These seven octaves of healing are (1) electromagnetic and atomic, (2) etheric [life force, or prana], (3) emotional [Holy Spirit, Divine Love], (4) Mighty I AM Presence [ministry of the empowered Word], (5) mental [contemplation of seed thoughts, radiation of the thought streams from the Masters], (6) higher mental [activation and downpour from the Illumined Mind], and (7) Light of the Nirvanic Flame, which conveys spiritual healing and Initiation. These seven streams promote healing of physical and emotional distress.
  6. The Ray of Miracles – 6th Ray ministry invokes Angels, Saints, Ascended Masters, Masters of the Hierarchy, or the Divine through prayer to bring about healing and resolution of negative conditions through the Omnific Power of the Light. This is the form of ministry that is commonly used in religious groups.
  7. The Manifesting Ray – 7th Ray ministry dissolves karmic issues, empowers the Soul to re-create new life conditions, improved relationships, prosperous enterprises, and political and social movements that transform society so that people’s needs are met.

We encourage aspirants and disciples to familiarize themselves with each of these ministerial stances, and to be able to minister from more than one perspective, to expand their capacity to become instruments of the Light.

We suggest that certain aspirants and disciples have a resistance to moving out of their comfort zone of the platform of ministry of their Soul Ray. However, if they are able to do so, it will greatly expand their capacity for spiritual service—the ability to operate as an instrument for the Light, and be a conscious co-worker with God and the Masters to respond to the evocation of humanity.

In Mudrashram®, we readily embrace more than one of these platforms. Our Light Sittings are a variety of 3rd Ray Light Ministry. We use the perspective of the 5th Ray in our Healing Workshop One and Two. We utilize the rudiments of 7th Ray ministry through the techniques we teach in our meditation classes—the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program; this is also the foundation of the change and transformation we bring about in our coaching programs.

Each of these ministerial platforms has their place in the working out of the Great Plan. It will be valuable for you to learn a variety of ministerial types to carry forward your Soul Purpose and participate with others in the redemption and uplifting of humanity through the widespread dissemination of the Light.

Getting Untangled from Delusional Beliefs

How People Get Tangled Up in Belief Systems and How They Can Get Untangled

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: How do people come to believe such strange things? Like there are people who seek to confirm the prophecies of The Bible, and believe that these point to current events? How could you verify something like this?

A: You could begin examining promised prophetic outcomes and see if they actually come true. This would entail:

  1. Write down the prophecy you are studying. Identify the concrete events that could indicate the prophecy’s promised outcome has occurred.
  2. Note the key descriptors as measurable events. For example, does the prophecy say there will be earthquakes? Fires? Famine? Thunder and lightening? Wars? Will the seas turn red as blood?
  3. Set criteria for what constitutes a fulfillment for the prophecy. This should be significant. There have been nearly continual earthquakes, thunderstorms, and wars since the days when the prophets lived. There have been periodic famines. What would make these occurrences salient to indicate that this event was fulfilled?

For example, would you only consider earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or above? Would you only consider a famine if 100,000 or more people died? Would you only consider a war significant if 10,000 warriors on both sides died? How many square miles of the ocean would have to turn red for you to say that they outcome was reached? It is important that you decide what is the cutoff for you to consider each factor.

  1. You would find known historical instances of each of these factors that match the descriptors and that meet your criteria. So you would find all historical instances of earthquakes greater than 7.0 magnitude and notice if the other outcomes of the prophecy coincided with that factor.
  2. Calculate the statistical correlation for all of the factors matching the criteria and come up with a summated correlation for all factors. Apply an appropriate statistical test to determine whether this summated correlation is significant.
  3. Note which historical instances have the highest correlations, and whether these values are significant.
  4. Then consider, do any of these significant correlations provide definitive proof the prophecy has been fulfilled?

Since multiple historical events can be said to meet the outcome descriptors described in scriptures, it becomes a difficult task to identify which of these similar outcomes the prophet was actually predicting. Similar patterns of wars and famines might have occurred once or twice a century.

So does the prophecy seem to relate to captivity of the Jews in Babylon? Does it point to the Roman occupation of Judea? Does it indicate the period of the Fall of Rome? Does it refer to the Crusades? Does it suggest the battles of the American Civil War? Is it describing the events of the early 21st century?

Since the patterns are similar, believers could point to any of these events as “fulfillment of prophecy.” So in every generation, if these prophecies are correct, you have many of the markers to suggest the end of the world is nigh.

Q: Many Christians, Jews, and Muslims interpret the symbolic materials in their scriptures literally. As a result, they have projected apocalyptic, doomsday scenarios on current events. These events appear to them to confirm their beliefs. Can you speak to this?

A: There are several issues with interpretations of symbols. We go into these issues in greater depth in our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?.

Literal interpretations of symbolic or archetypal images contained in scripture—particularly those that describe doomsday scenarios—are problematical. These concerns include:

  1. Symbols may not refer to any actual event or person. While originally they may be extrapolated from experience and envisioned as events of the future, it is not possible to objectively know what the prophet had in mind when he or she had the revelation in which this symbolic content was brought forward into awareness.
  2. Symbolic or metaphorical interpretation creates meaning from symbols or archetypes. Each symbol can become a container for widely divergent meanings—there is no consensus on what any symbol actually means.
  3. Symbols can become objects for projections of wishes, hopes, and fears. These emotional projections can be displaced on a current event that appears to fulfill an apocalyptic vision. For example, if the believer strongly desires the Christ to return, these events that match the signs of the prophecy foretelling his Advent evoke powerful yearnings.
  4. Symbols can enable the powerless to feel they have power. When people do not feel they have the power to change their current circumstances, they may look to archetypes of a Messiah or Warrior King to vanquish and punish those who oppress them. An avenging Deity may use Its Mighty Power to destroy the wicked, and to reward the powerless. For example, St. John’s virulent anger at Rome is thinly veiled in his visions of an angry God, who sends his Son to judge the world in “The Book of Revelations” in The Bible.
  5. Symbols convey the miraculous. The outcomes of many prophecies require that the known laws of physics be violated: For example, the corpses of the dead will be miraculously resurrected on the Day of Judgment, or believers will vanish from the world in the Rapture. In many cases, fulfillment of prophecy needs to have a magical, miraculous, or supernatural intervention to come true.
  6. Symbols give substance to the irrational or fantastic. Many symbols and archetypes are encountered in the unconscious mind. They embody desires, wishes, and fears—but also potential knowledge and abilities. Until they are integrated, however, symbols are mysterious and inscrutable.
  7. Mystery spawns speculation. The inherent mystery of symbols and archetypes invites conjecture about their meaning. Since none of these theories can be tested or validated, explanations of what symbols mean can take the form of elaborate conspiracy theories, recounting a mythical retelling of history, legends and stories of the future Advent of the Messiah or Prophet, or tales of the impending end of the world. Until the esoteric meanings of the symbol reveal themselves to the Soul, wild speculation prevails.

Q: What happens when you believe this way? When you interpret symbols in this highly speculative fashion?

A: You misunderstand and misinterpret the meanings of the symbol. As a result, you experience:

  1. Delusion – your misunderstanding of the symbol leads to mistaken belief.
  2. Denial – Once you have decided that you have the true interpretation of the symbol, you refuse to consider anything that disconfirms your belief.
  3. Projective identification – You look for confirmation of your belief in events. You distort the data to confirm what you believe. You filter your perceptions so that you look for any evidence that validates your belief. You attempt to convince others of the truth of your belief.
  4. Conviction – You hold these beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. When others attempt to question your beliefs, this only makes you hold this belief more tenaciously. You may feel someone is attacking one of the core tenets of your faith.

If you begin to hold many mistaken beliefs with conviction to level four, you may construct a mindset that progresses—from powerful conviction about one to five tenacious beliefs—to a comprehensive array of dozens of distorted beliefs. As you become more entrenched in this impregnable castle of beliefs, you may shift into an authoritarian worldview, and ultimately to outright paranoia. These deeper layers of warped belief construction are:

  1. Armoring of the heart – You create a “belief bubble” that encapsulates your beliefs, and projects an apocalyptic worldview—you have the belief that the doomsday scenario described in your scriptures will come true. You may hold that because you are a believer, you will be saved from the horrible things that are predicted to befall those who don’t believe the way you do. This may also take the form of elaborately constructed conspiracy theories in those that don’t embrace religious belief systems.
  2. Authoritarian worldview – Once you have constructed your fortress of unquestionable belief, your nexus of beliefs may shift into an authoritarian worldview—especially if you believe that others are actively challenging your beliefs. In this mindset, you take a black and white viewpoint: you may believe that the devil has deluded those who don’t believe like you do; they will be doomed to hell; and they are worthy to be ridiculed, persecuted, punished, or exiled. In this mindset, you commonly try to impose your beliefs and values on others.
  3. Paranoia – When you progress to this stage, when others begin to question your beliefs or criticize you, you begin to perceive you are persecuted or victimized. You may in fact be persecuting and victimizing others, but you aren’t aware you are doing this—nor are you aware of your intolerant, arrogant, and condescending attitude towards others.

Q: I have observed these stages of belief construction in other people—and I’ve caught myself going here as well. How do people untangle this cocoon they have woven out of their beliefs?

A: You unravel these knots of belief through applying strategies that deconstruct them. These methods include:

  1. Be willing to experience the world as it is without the filter of beliefs, metaphors, or symbols. The practice of mindfulness, being present and aware, helps you do this.
  2. Accept that people hold many alternative perceptions of reality. Seek to understand why they view the world differently. Studying the different strata of the Great Continuum of Consciousness and finding the different identity states that people embrace will assist you to understand this phenomenon.
  3. Take ownership of your projections. Notice if you are using symbols or events to project your desires on other people or the world. Tools such as process meditation and the Mandala Method help you trace your beliefs back to their origin, which gives you the option to re-own them and modify them.
  4. Use contradictory or conflicting evidence to arrive at a greater truth, a more complete theory that includes other viewpoints. If you hold truths hypothetically until you can fully confirm them, you will avoid the trap of tenaciously holding erroneous beliefs. Be willing to question what you believe as you gain new evidence. The Synthesis Method is a valuable tool for resolving conflicts between beliefs—it allows you to find a higher standpoint that allows you to integrate both perspectives.
  5. Dissolve your bubble of belief through experiencing your intentional consciousness (attentional principle), your loving heart (spirit), and your transcendent being (Soul) directly. Experience your body, your vehicles of consciousness and the levels of your mind directly, and relate to the world and other people from your authentic spirituality.
  6. Seek empathy, understanding, and compassion for your Self and others. Cultivate humility and recognize you do not have all the answers—you continue to learn and grow. Also allow others to discover their own truths. Don’t impose your beliefs and values on others. Share your discoveries in consciousness if they ask you about them.
  7. Take ownership of how you persecute and harm others and stop doing this. Take responsibility for your own actions, words, and thoughts. Stop blaming others for your shortcomings and failures; strive to improve yourself. Deconstruct the mindset that makes you believe you are under attack: embrace the beauty, harmony, and perfection of the universe as it is.

We suspect that if those who hold these rigid belief systems of apocalypse, hatred, and conspiracy would utilize these steps, much of the political and religious strife in the world could be dissolved. We are not holding our breath that this will happen any time soon; but employing methods like this to deconstruct these mindsets would relieve a lot of the turmoil in our world today.

We teach methods one through five in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

Those who want to go into these topics of belief construction and deconstruction in religion, cults, and terrorist groups more deeply may wish to acquire our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? You may also enjoy our public webinar series on Cults and on Judeo-Christian religion.