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Birth of Beliefs

I have been examining a set of beliefs I hold lately and have run into a question I haven't been able to answer. I'm wondering if anyone knows what (or even if) Buddhism has to say about the subject. I'm trying to find the source of some very specific beliefs and it would be helpful to know when beliefs first form. I know how they form, but are we capable of creating beliefs from the moment we are born? Infancy? At some later developmental stage?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    This article may be of interest, though I don't know if it answers your questions....

    yagr
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 29

    "Creating" beliefs? IDK. But in the debate about "nature vs. nurture", in the study of personality development, I think there's a 3rd option or source that they're not taking into consideration: past lives. I think some of us (all of us?) come into the world with very subtle past-life memories, that may manifest in different ways: perhaps the child has a value system that didn't come from any family or caregiver, or institutional influences; or exhibits certain unusual interests or gifts/talents at a very early age, or harbors odd fears, and so on.

    I don't know if this is relevant to your inquiry, OP. Maybe food for thought.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited May 30

    To add to @federica's article. There is a lot of research now showing how our beliefs are precognitive and intuitive and that our reason is more like a lawyer that then finds the arguments to support our intuitions.

    There are four people I've heard talk that I think relate the idea best, Jonathan Haidt, Joshua Greene and Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler

  • yagryagr Veteran

    I was trying to keep this general, but it appears that my question was too vague to be of much value. Over the years, I have found many maladaptive beliefs that I hold. I have found it useful to go back to the origins of those beliefs and examine the cause, which usually allows me to reject the belief. i.e. what were the thoughts, feelings, sensations, that led to the belief.

    However, this particular belief that I am looking at is going back further than any I have ever examined. I'm looking for a starting point for my search.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Basically, when we are young we go according to what we are told by our elders (parents, teachers, grown-ups in general...) until we reach a point where we become more inquisitive.
    And we begin to ask, to challenge. I cant begin to relate the times I have talked to children, and at one point some child, in maybe a begrudging manner, has, after a pause, said "Well MY mum says...." and throws a spanner in the works, contradicts my explanation, or tries to destroy it completely.
    They want their mum to be right, and anything that distorts that mind-set, upsets their trust; their very existence, even.

    It's a tough thing when having placed our faith and credence in our elders, and trusted them to guide us honestly, we discover that they too are usually flying by the seat of their pants, and their pedestals begin to crumble....

    Sometimes we can't exactly remember or pinpoint the jarring of a belief, or tenet, or principle we held as rock-steady. The circumstances elude us.
    But I'm not sure that is even necessary...
    Sometimes, what is better, is to take our current understanding, our revised view, and be thankful we have that now, instead....

    Kundoperson
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I'm sure many of our beliefs about the world are built before we are able to form lasting memories or rationally process the world. I find that the beliefs that are with us today have an emotional base, they feel a certain way that lies below the thoughts and reasons we give to them. Maybe the only way to get at something that goes way back is to deal with how it makes us feel now and the rationality we build up around that.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Explorer

    @yagr said:
    I'm looking for a starting point for my search.

    It is said that cyclical transmigration is without conceivable beginning. If you like reading, you can read this in Buddhist literature a few times stated, just google "without conceivable beginning buddhism" and you will find a few scriptures, Mahānidānasutta etc.

    But not everything is solved by quotes and reading.

    yagr
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I think thats true, that not everything is solied by quotes and reading. Even if you were to start digging into developmental psychology to try and find out when our earliest beliefs form, it won’t necessarily help you except as a visualisation aid.

    I think it’s better to sit in meditation and let these kinds of questions sit in the mind, and see what comes up. Often you will realise some connection or insight that will carry things forward.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited May 31

    It's difficult to say as the roots can vary. They can come from biology or upbringing. From things we've been taught to things we've picked up through repetition or example and constant exposure. And in Buddhism, there's the idea that our actions in previous lives can also contribute to the ways we think, as well as the beliefs we have or gravitate towards (which is part of the the whole "a beginning point is not evident" idea mentioned by @Vimalajāti). Basically, in conjunction with biological factors, what our minds get fed becomes the building blocks of our thoughts and beliefs and personality. All together, this process likely falls under what the Buddha called papanca, and rather than search for a specific beginning point to such biases and outflowings of thought, the Buddha teaches how to more skillfully rewrite ours patterns of thinking via the eightfold path and eventually liberate ourselves from them altogether.

    federicaperson
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited May 31

    @yagr said:
    I have been examining a set of beliefs I hold lately and have run into a question I haven't been able to answer. I'm wondering if anyone knows what (or even if) Buddhism has to say about the subject. I'm trying to find the source of some very specific beliefs and it would be helpful to know when beliefs first form. I know how they form, but are we capable of creating beliefs from the moment we are born? Infancy? At some later developmental stage?

    Say your parents gave you your name Yagr. Before being named there was no Yagr who now becomes a person. Once a year, they celebrate Yagr's birthday and so this "person" begins to accept that he/she is one "year" older.

    So is Yagr Year 20 (lets rename him Rgay) the same as Yagr Year 1 or has "Yagr" grown up between year 1 to 20? Why do we give new names to monks instead of using old names?

    “Beings are conscious of what can be named,
    They are established on the nameable,
    By not comprehending the nameable things,
    They come under the yoke of death.”

    http://christopher-ash.com.au/ayeartolive/tag/kalakarama-sutta/

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