Biography of a Believer

The Long and Winding Road

Get born. Adopt your family’s values. Go to their church. Believe in God. Take a course in college, or see some shit in Iraq or Afghanistan. Realize God doesn’t exist. Rebel. Trade in your family religion for capitalism and atheism. Head into the workplace. Make a bunch of money. Get that house. Get that new Mercedes SUV. Get stressed out. Quit your job. Opt out of society, man. Take up spirituality. Join a yoga studio. Become a yoga teacher. Build a nice crystal collection. Move to Kauai to find yourself. Do psychedelics. Discover that your parents were right about God after all! God 2.0. Move back to your hometown. Re-embrace capitalism out of necessity. It’s not so bad. Go back to church. Have a family of your own. Make sure you don’t make the same mistakes your parents did. Invent new parenting mistakes. Then watch your children do to you what you did to your parents. Try to control them. Push each other away. Love them anyways. Try to give them sage advice. Watch them not follow it. Just like you didn’t follow it. Throw up your hands. Romanticize your high school years. Have a drink. Have another. Become an addict. Hit rock bottom. Join AA. Realize you aren't, and never were in control of shit. Surrender to a higher power. God 3.0. Look and sound like a wacko to your kids. They’ll still come for Thanksgiving. Watch them trying to teach their kids, and laugh your ass off. Justice at last! Get a terminal diagnosis. Be in denial. Declare war on cancer. Fight hard. Surrender to God, but not really. Pretend to surrender to God, he’ll like that. Fuck that. Back to fighting. Fight until you’re exhausted. Get sad. Really sad. Watch everything you’ve ever done or loved slowly slip through your fingers. Lose your ability to walk. Lose your ability to sit. Lose your ability to feed yourself. Lose your ability to remember. Pain. Beg God for mercy. No way out. Checkmate. God 4.0


On the surface, this is a pretty bleak narration of a life. I admit, on the surface life can appear pretty bleak. But the bleakness is only as deep as your thinking about life. In other words, all negative emotions arising from this biography are born from our judgements about it. 


Your conclusions rule your emotions. Concluding is a deeply rooted habit of the mind. The habit of concluding is a deep and subtle hubris. Can you hear the hubris in your own cleverness?


“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” -Jalaluddin Rumi


When you look back at your life, do you think you could’ve done it better? Before answering that question, first answer this one: At any point in your past; given what you “knew” at that time, could you have done it any differently than you did? Could you have known any more than you did? 


In fact, the moment you’re done reading this, you will go back to believing that you should’ve done it differently. Just notice the compulsion of the mind to do this. Just get that you are owned by this compulsion. The compulsion to conclude whatever it is that you’re concluding. The compulsion to believe in whatever it is that you are thinking.. 


Notice that you believe you should’ve known better. The ego believes it should know. In fact it believes that’s it’s job to know everything and to always get it right. To always know. 


Looking back at your life, it should be abundantly clear that you grew from everything that happened to you. We can now see that you needed to believe exactly what you believed in order for you to move past that belief and onto the next one. How else could it be?


We can see that our biography is a constant evolution of belief. A belief is born, lives, dies, and then gives rise to the next one. Usually the next belief is just a little truer than the last. 


Reflecting on this pattern can do a lot for us moving forward. For starters, we are awestruck by our own hubris. Always thinking we had the answers when clearly we were naive beyond reason. 


With this realization comes a deep humility and the birth of real wisdom. To greater and greater heights we fly, and our horizon expands to the point where we begin to see the curvature of The Great Mystery and The Great Beauty that we call “life”. 


Life is a constant graceful unfolding. It is the birth and death of conclusions. Even suffering is grace because it ferry’s us beyond our limiting beliefs and onto greater expanses of being.


“This is how we grow: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.” Rainer Maria Rilke


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