We may think we have a personal belief system, but if we scratch the surface, unless it is based on our own experience and direct apprehension, it is just one more set of ideas that someone came up with a long time ago and everyone around fell into. Then, if it is based on “belief” instead of direct knowledge, it is based on a supposition. We suppose something to be true when it is a belief. We don’t really know it. We observe, and based on our imperfect knowledge, come up with a plausible explanation.
For example, human sacrifice, was part of many of the ancient belief systems. People thought that was their personal belief. If a human was not sacrificed, the sun would not rise in the morning. It was believed to be important and necessary to kill adults, children, and babies to make sure the sun rose. Of course, now we know that the sun doesn’t “rise.” It is all a matter of the rotation of the earth and where we are on it, in relation to the sun. The sun is always there, just where it always was.
Then, as time went by, the belief about human sacrifice and the sun rising changed and was replaced by other beliefs. All beliefs are stories we have made up to make sense out of life or to get what we desire. But all beliefs are not based on any real experience—only on lack of it and lack of knowledge and actually the fear of the new and real.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says,
“Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing.”
Beliefs are about, “This is right because people told me so and I haven’t figured it out for myself.” They are what have caused so much human turmoil. Animals have no such belief systems and are much more peaceful because of it. Especially when people start killing each other over their belief systems, which are based on conformity, illusions, and delusions that make them feel better for the moment. They can see all Christians as devils or all non-Christians as bound for Hell. And it is all based on unexamined ego patterns, shaped by fear and ignorance.