When I do presentations about ancient mythology, people often find the stories quite comical. They chuckle when I say that people in ancient times treated these stories as the truth. They can’t believe that the great minds of ancient Greece, like Plato and Socrates, treated Zeus and Athena as real. After all, Athena was supposedly born out of the head of Zeus. How could that be possible? Zeus carried a lightning bolt. Clearly these impossibilities render the stories fiction. And yet, most people recognize that there is a strange sort of truth within fiction; and there is a strange fiction within reality.
So I ask them how they feel about Adam and Eve. “Oh those are real people,” some respond. “But Eve came out of Adam’s rib” I reply. “That is clearly not possible.” Most people display a puzzled look at that point. They never saw it that way before. They can’t argue with my logic. But why does Adam and Eve feel true while Zeus and Athena seem entirely mythological?
What this example demonstrates is that our minds see the stories and legends of other people as myths. But our stories, the ones that we’ve been told since we were infants, appear to be completely true. Our mind leaps over the lack of logic as easily as stepping over a puddle. We treat the stories as history; and we speak of the characters as real.
Our personal illusion (or complex of beliefs) is created when our young minds (many say prior to seven years of age) believe virtually everything they hear. Children are small and relatively helpless, and everyone is an authority to them. From the small child’s point of view, everyone knows more than they do. So whatever they hear is accepted without question. Discrimination or questioning doesn’t come into play until later in life.
In addition, the small child’s mind is mostly in the alpha (or hypnotic-like) state. That is why it is not uncommon for a child to treat their teddy bear as a real, emotional being. It is why young children often report seeing ghosts or angels or have imaginary friends. But as our mind moves into the beta (normal waking) state, we label those early visions and ideas a figment of our imagination. Thus, we take something that is very real to a young person and label it unreal.
Hopefully, you can see by this illustration that reality is personal. And what is real can become unreal with the mere addition of a label. Likewise what is unreal, such as a pain in the body, can become a very real disease capable of producing death based on a diagnosis or label. The power of the label is a function of the level of authority possessed by the one administering the label. The difference between a curse and a cure is a function of the level of authority of the labeler plus the label assigned.
Once the mind accepts a belief or myth or label as true, we see proof of its truth in our world. People often die on schedule after being given a diagnosis with a specific time line.
But let’s get back to Adam and Eve. Once the story of Adam and Eve is accepted as true, we feel that we have to work hard to get what we need and want. We see God as punishing. We might feel that we get rewarded only when God feels we deserve it. We search for ways to become deserving and good. If the authority who gives us the formula for good is convincing, we will put their formula in our mind as a system of beliefs. When we obey it, we will get the expected reward. When we disobey the formula, we’ll get the expected punishment. It is quite simple. They tell us that they got the system from God, but how do we know that? We don’t. We are making this person’s beliefs our inner authority, our personal version of God.
For some this is not a bad thing. They may find the system that they accepted as true quite easy to follow. They may enjoy the other people in their life who follow the same system. But for others, the system that they feel was bestowed upon them is toxic. They follow it only because they can’t find their authentic voice; and they feel like a fraud. They don’t enjoy the company they keep; and they feel imprisoned by a false god that they don’t understand.
The fundamental human mistake is that we assume that what is right for us is right for everyone. If often comes from a very good place. We desperately want to help others find their way. But whether or not they believe us is mostly about our level of authority with them. If we are not a trusted authority for them, they probably won’t accept our belief system. We try harder and louder, especially if it is someone we care about. And they resist more and more. Why? Because they can see that we are merely offering a belief. What is completely real and true for us doesn’t look any more true for them than carrying your pink rabbit’s foot around to bring good luck. In fact, if a parent or other authority gave them the rabbit’s foot, your highly sophisticated and logical belief system will sound like a bunch of crap.
Now do you see the anguish that a world of people with different beliefs create? The person with the strong belief system wants desperately to warn the world of the problems and disasters they see. But those without that belief system don’t see any problem. The person with the belief system looks like negative Nancy raining on the nonbeliever’s pristine parade. And rightly so.
Now let me be clear. Many people have beliefs, and they deny that they have them. That is not who I’m talking about here. That is another subject for another day. I’m talking only about beliefs that we admit we have and believe to be completely and unarguably true. In fact, they are not true, but they are very, very real for those who believe them. Those beliefs have formed a powerful illusion, a dream exactly like a dream we have in sleep, loaded with sensory and emotional power.
So what does this prove? First it proves that an illusion produced by the mind appears just as real as our authentic state of being. Our mind doesn’t care if it is holding truth or falsehood. It’s job is to produce what it holds in mind on the screen of life. But in my experience, when the mind is holding truth, life is infinitely better.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if a story is historically true or just a made-up myth. Both have a similar affect on our mind, especially during our early years when our imagination is so malleable. When we hear any story, whether it is a novel or a news story, we create reasons, beliefs, or lessons that we now hold within our mind as potentials or realities. The stories shape our view of the world. And in time, we will see whatever we expect to see. Some of the things we believe we will see in our own life. Some things we will see in the lives of others. But the complete world we see is a reflection of our mind projected out into the material world.
Our mind can’t distinguish between true and false. If it is told to accept something as true, it obeys. So, we come to accept as true those events that fit into the world that our mind accepted as children plus the additions we consciously made later in life. Most people don’t discriminate. They accept whatever an authority says. If the doctor says they have a disease, they believe him or her. If the pastor says they sinned, they believe the pastor. This submission to authority is labeled as good; and one who actually discriminates and challenges authority is usually called a rebel (or a heretic or traitor in earlier times).
Real truth has no opponent. If someone is labeling us bad or wrong for challenging them, it is highly probable that they are defending their illusory false world. If they think that we should do something, they are sharing their false world with us. The true world has no shoulds. These people with highly complex and rigid beliefs aren’t bad; they have just lost the ability to discriminate between true and false, real and illusion. They are victims of those who came before them. But in the ancient world, truth had nothing to do with reality. This is why someone like Zeus could be true even though he was not real.
The ancient definition of truth was a quality or experience that would be considered normal for the supreme and perfect God (often symbolized as the sun). The mortal humans and demigods lived in the false or illusory world. Gods were immortal and perfect. They could do anything from manifesting food to wiping out a city with a lightning bolt. They used their power only to keep the world true and pure. That which was true was left alone. That which was false was destroyed. This is a perfect definition for effectively managing our minds. Our true Self was designed to accept what was beneficial and to reject what was not. Mortals were limited in life span and ability because they didn’t have discrimination. They accepted beliefs that were not true. They didn’t have the eyes to see their perfection, their errors, or their proper path in life. Given that definition, Plato and the other Greeks spoke quite logically when they gave Zeus the status of a real character.
I suggest that a new definition of truth is needed — something that works for the modern mind. We can move out of mortality into the immortal god-like place that the ancient ones understood. But we won’t do that by rising above our beliefs, denying them, or putting in even more. We need to return to the time when truth and God-like were the same. That was the time when there were no beliefs.
But most find this difficult to do because the mind of God is so foreign to our life. Our beliefs look so very real. People have told us what we should do to please God. God, has in fact, fallen in most people’s eyes. For many, he has human characteristics of jealousy, fear, and anger. Even Zeus and his cast of characters seemed to have fallen into mortal demise. They became seduced by the food, sex, and wine. They started to war with each other.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I have chosen to define truth as ideas or thoughts that work for everyone. Anything that divides, or is win-lose, I label false. And that works very, very well for me. Instead of creating more beliefs (more lies), I spend my day stripping away the beliefs that I’ve accepted throughout life. And while I’ve deleted hundreds or thousands, I’ve not found one yet that I wish I had kept. I’ve still got a way to go, but I’m not quitting. The rewards are just to amazing.
All religions meet at the place of what some call the perennial philosophy. It is the place where all agree. Ideas like unconditional love and peace are part of the perennial philosophy. They work for everyone. It is the place of win-win. Anything that doesn’t fit that test, I let go. And I always find that the beliefs that don’t fit the win-win test can be let go. It might not be easy to let them go. They are often tagged with lots of emotional debris that I must feel and endure to set them free. But once they are gone, my mind feels freer. I have original ideas and crisp, clean thoughts. I feel much more like my Self.
This definition in and of itself is win-win. That which is true cannot be let go. It is perennial. You can’t let go of your unconditionally loving nature. You are that. You can’t let go of your peace; you are peaceful. You can’t let go of freedom; you are eternally free. You can’t let go of the real God. But you can let go of man’s illusory projected god with his or her nasty rules and punishments. You see, letting go is a practice that you can’t mess up. That is why it is win-win.
As I travel the world, I share stories with people that are labeled myth by most. They are labeled that way because modern man, with all his knowledge and beliefs, can’t understand how they could be true. I used to think the same, but as I shift my mind into win-win and only accept beliefs that support the world instead of just my self, I find that the myths look more and more like truth. The characters come alive; and they demonstrate how our thinking and our beliefs create our reality. The reason we cannot understand the past is that we can’t step into the sandals of those that preceded us. History, in truth, is a greater illusion. The ages of war, suffering, and pain are our nightmares created from beliefs that see endings in an eternal world; and if we can awaken from the nightmares, see them for the lies that they are, and let the lies go, they will disappear in moments. The world will return to that perfect, perennial place where all separation disappears and only that which is true and good for all is real.