Uncovering Conscious Experience beneath Ideas, Beliefs, Opinions, and Values
By George A. Boyd © 2017
One of the challenges of the modern seeker is discovering what is their actual conscious experience apart from the ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and values that create a secondary conceptual and perceptual filter over their inner witness. The first thing the seeker must do is to differentiate the content that is arising in the mind and to recognize it. The thought things of ideas, beliefs, opinions, and values need to be identified for what they are—as you withdraw your attention from these cognitive layers of the mind, you are able to awaken as the conscious witness of mental content, and achieve mindfulness and conscious presence.
This article came out of a dialog I had with my Higher Self in two separate sittings. The first question and answer session drilled down on defining what are ideas, beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and values. The second session focused on the difference between facts, opinions, and conscious experience.
Here’s the dialog:
Q: What’s the difference between on idea and a belief?
A: An idea is an image that encapsulates meaning. It combines visual models, verbal statements, and a written explication that describes and supports the idea.
A belief is an internalized verbal statement that:
- Makes a judgment about truth or falsity of an idea
- Give arguments why something is true or false
- Stores information related to the belief that reifies the contention why the statement is true or false
Q: How is an opinion different than a belief?
A: An opinion is a belief you express verbally—you state your belief aloud or communicate it through writing.
Q: How is belief different than attitude?
A: Attitude is the physical and emotional expression of a belief. What you believe often becomes charged with emotions, and shows up as certain facial expressions or postures that communicate the belief non-verbally. For example, people who are self-righteous—who believe they know the final and absolute truth, based of their reading of a scripture or other authoritative book—will hold their body in a certain way; and they’ll express their beliefs arrogantly and condescendingly.
Q: How is a belief different than a value?
A: Values assign rules or standards for making judgments. Values commonly condition beliefs. For example, if you hold a value that sex outside of marriage is wrong—if you believe in that value, you will affirm it, and you will attempt to act in consonance with that value. When your behavior matches your values, you will experience integrity; if you act counter to that value, you will experience inner conflict.
Q: What is a fact?
A: A fact is something that our senses and reason determine are objective reality—something that exists whether we believe it exists or not. Facts are objects you can detect through your senses or instrumentation: for example, you can extend your physical senses to view extremely tiny objects through a microscope.
- Facts are measureable.
- Multiple witnesses can verify them.
- They exist at a specific location in the physical universe.
- They can be observed at a specific time.
- They are documented through written accounts or photographic, audio, or video recording.
- The person experiencing the fact has intact and normal sensory, perceptual, and cognitive functioning—for example, a person under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug could not be said to demonstrate intact and normal sensory, perceptual, and cognitive functioning.
- It can be represented as data that can be analyzed, calculated, computed, and communicated to others.
Q: In our modern contentious political environment in the United States, there seems to be a discounting of facts based on beliefs in a certain political ideology. Factual reporting of statements of witnesses is labeled fake news. Facts are ignored or cherry picked to support a particular agenda. Facts are discredited if they do not agree with political or religious orthodoxy. What creates this phenomenon?
A: The facts are what they are—regardless of whether someone chooses to consider them or not. Science attempts to uncover facts and verify they whether their hypotheses about these facts are accurate.
On the other hand, these political actors hold strong beliefs that support their values, which they express as opinions. These values and beliefs are primary; they will cling to their beliefs even if the facts do not support them.
Opinions appear to operate in several ways:
- You form opinions about what facts mean, and what they imply.
- You decide whether a fact is real, or whether it is an artifact or optical illusion.
- If you have political or religious beliefs, you may decide not only if the fact is real, but also if it is right or wrong, or if it is good or evil.
- You may decide whether a fact is relevant, or whether it can be ignored. For example, a biochemist detects glucose in a cell, when he is searching for the presence of a specific protein. He may note the glucose is there, but he will ignore it, because it is not relevant the protein he is seeking.
- You decide if a fact fits into mental category, schema, or classification, or not. You decide whether a fact should be included in a discussion of a topic or not, or whether or not it is germane to a dialog you are having.
- You decide if a fact fits into an ideological, political, or religious belief system’s doctrine or not.
- You decide whether a fact is important to you personally or spiritually, and whether or not you need to take action.
Typically, opinion type 6 heavily influences these political actors. Their doctrine is primary, and they reject any facts that do not fit in with it. This system of beliefs filters their perception, and forms a mindset through which they view reality.
These perceptual filters, or mindsets, operate in most people. These mindsets may not be founded upon political or religious beliefs, but they do lock people into a particular perception about what is possible and who they can become in the future.
Q: How is it possible to become conscious? It seems most people are completely entrenched in their mindsets and belief systems, so they cannot see any other viewpoint.
A: To become conscious, to become aware and mindful, you have to transcend the field of mindsets, of the nested array of values, beliefs, opinions, and ideas that form them, and collect your attention.
When you are established in conscious experience, you observe:
- Your body position and movement in the present time
- The environment around your body and become aware of what your senses are experiencing in the present time
- The physiological activity of your body and your experience of your muscles, organs, and other tissues in the present time
- Your feelings and emotional reactions in the present time
- Your thoughts arising in the present time
- The different identity states of the ego and the thoughts, feelings, actions and perspectives each identity state embodies
- The memories that arise in response to different stimuli
As you go deeper in meditation, following the thread of consciousness to deeper strata of the mind, you eventually encounter the three immortal principles—the attentional principle, the spirit, and the Soul. When you reach these essences and come to identify with them, it shifts you out of the mindsets and belief systems that captured your attention. You wake up within. You experience that you are separate and independent from these gossamer palaces woven from belief and you are the conscious witness of all that occurs in the mind.
We teach the method to isolate your conscious experience and direct it along the thread of consciousness in our beginning class, the Introduction to Meditation program. We teach you how to awaken your conscious essences in our intermediate classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program—and how to use them to transform your spiritual potentials.
We encourage you to reflect deeply on these different elements of the cognitive strata of your mind, and learn to isolate your attention from the ceaseless cascade of thought things that separate you from your naked awareness that exists behind this river of thought. Then you can shift from being locked in the hypnotic absorption of mindsets and belief systems and become a conscious being.