“I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.”
--William James (American Psychologist and Philosopher, 1842-1910)
Christian missionaries had gone to Ethiopia, but were required to leave by the Government in power at the time. They left behind some Gospels. When they returned some years later, they found not only a flourishing church, but also a community of believers amongst whom miracles like those mentioned in the New Testament happened every day. There had been no missionaries to teach them that such things were not supposed to be taken literally. They created miracles because they had never been told that they could not. There were no scientifically trained missionaries to tell them that miracles only occurred in the first century of the Church’s existence, or in special circumstances if a highly trained priest is present.
This sort of case – and there are many others - gets straight to the heart of the role of belief and expectation in our lives. Is there one fixed external reality, and we are no more than puppets dancing on cosmic strings? I’ve heard many people say that. Just recently the Editor of Psychology Today said that he felt that everything in human behavior could be reduced to genes, learning and reflexes. I must respectfully disagree. Free will is not an illusion, and our hopes and expectations have a massive impact on the structure of our lives and our reactions to the events that will come our way.
How many things are you failing to achieve because of fears or negative expectations?
Some people might describe the Ethiopians as unsophisticated. I would not: these good people can teach us something that many of us have forgotten.
Clean up and focus your expectations, ensure the purity of your intentions and see what happens in your life.
I’ve put just a few quotations below. I selected them for this reason: as you look at them, see how many are directly relevant to your life.
Do any of them give you ideas about managing your own life? If not, you may like to have a look at/listen to Healing, Meaning and Purpose or the articles and podcasts that I shall be posting this month.
“Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science.”
--Henry David Thoreau (American Essayist and Philosopher, 1817-1862)
“Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those we believe in.”
--Willis Harman (American Scientist and Late President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences; 1920-1997)
“It is one of the most common of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.”
C.W. Leadbeater (English Clergyman and Theosophical Writer, 1854-1934)
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
--Arthur C. Clarke (English-born Writer, 1917-)
“Only if you reach the boundary will the boundary recede before you. And if you don't, if you confine your efforts, the boundary will shrink to accommodate itself to your efforts. And you can only expand your capacities by working to the very limit.”
--Hugh Nibley (American Scholar in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-2005)
“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you
came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
--James Baldwin (African-American Writer, 1924-1987)
“Give yourself the freedom to explore the possibility of life without limits. Goals are dreams with deadlines, a means to an end but not the ultimate purpose of life.”
--Glynis Nunn (Australian Heptathlete, 1960-)
“Imposing limitations on yourself is cowardly because it protects you from having to try, and perhaps failing.”
--Vladimir Zworykin (Russian-born American Physicist and, in 1923, the inventor of the “Iconoscope:” the first television camera, 1889-1982)
“Divine wisdom is inexhaustible; the limitation is only in the receptive faculty of the form.”
--Henricus Madathanus (German Philosopher, Alchemist and Co-Founder of the Fraternity Rosae Crucis, 1575-1639)