Belief can be regarded as a teaching or a doctrine that has become accepted. It is something that one has decided to make one’s own. It signifies the acceptance of other people’s opinions without subjecting this teaching or doctrine to the scrutiny that it ought to be subjected to.
In spiritual matters, it is a matter of general knowledge that we are all responsible for our actions and that each one is in the end responsible for himself and that he alone will have to face the consequences of his decisions. If other people’s opinions have been accepted and we act solely on this basis and base all our decisions on teachings that we do not fully understand, then it appears as if we have made a bad bargain indeed.
There is nothing wrong in belief. It may even be the right belief but because we do not fully understand it, it becomes difficult for us to really act in a manner that not only benefits us but also our environment. We are not convinced of the belief, we have not thought it through to see whether it is actually right or wrong. If right, we deprive ourselves of the vitality which arises out of conviction and at the same time all our actions would lack the power of conviction and of volition which alone allows us to produce works which go beyond the earthly and which can benefit us in our journeys in the Beyond. As a result, we do not really make any spiritual progress. We do not retain any of our experiences within our spirits because we have deprived ourselves of the knowledge which must accompany belief. This combination of belief and knowledge is what leads to conviction, which leads us to engage in actions which outlast the earthly.
If the belief is wrong, not only do we have all the disadvantages enumerated above, we have the added problem of having gone astray. The consequences of this can be very disastrous. As human beings, we have been given the ability to use our intuitions to examine whatever matter is brought before us. If these matters fail to harmonise with our intuitions then it is better to disregard these beliefs, if they do not ring true to us then it is much safer to ignore them. But then how many of us know how to use our intuitions?
We use the intellect to judge spiritual matters. Is it then surprising that we go astray? It is all a question of being able to weigh these matters with what is within us and to see whether we are comfortable with them. This is the only instrument that is able to assess these matters. The intuition is an instrument of the spirit and as such is in a position to judge matters of a spiritual nature. The intellect on the other hand, is derived from the World of Matter and as such is only meant to assess matters of an earthly nature.
For thousands of years through the domination of the intellect, most of us have ignored our spirits and have forgotten how to use the intuition. We have learnt to use the intellect for every single one of our decisions and as a result disaster has arisen because we have used the wrong implement. We have made so many mistakes as a result of this and this explains the chaos we have in purely human matters. We have used the intellect to devise our laws, our religious rules and so on.
We must first learn to acquire spiritual knowledge. It is only this that can help us to fill in the gaps so that our beliefs can become conviction. Spiritual knowledge allows us to experience Creation and whatever may be happening to us and around us with open eyes. Through this, our former beliefs can evolve into conviction. Spiritual knowledge helps us to experience Creation which ultimately allows us to move from our tentative beliefs into real conviction. As an example, I may belief in God but this is not the same as to say that I am convinced of it. These are two different matters if we take the time to think about this.
To be convinced of the existence of God, we must have experienced Creation and everything in our surroundings in such a way that it silences all doubt within us. For this to happen however, we must have enough spiritual knowledge or enough knowledge of this Creation that allows us to experience things with open eyes, consciously. This allows us to see deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Creation and allows us to see for ourselves that indeed it is true that God exists. Through this, the beliefs that we previously had will now evolve into conviction. We know it, we have experienced it, we have seen it. And not just in this case but in everything. The first step must be the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and the ability to weigh matters for ourselves with our intuitions.