5. Your belief reflects what you know and understand --------------------- Previous - Next - Contents

Awareness is multidimensional. Besides the dimensions of space and time it can include any or all of our senses, what we hear, we see, we smell, or what we feel on our skin. Some aspects of our awareness grow naturally, almost without effort, other aspects we have to work hard on to achieve.

For example I listened to music for almost 40 years without much increase of my general awareness of it. However during and after my 6 years of sustained study and practice at the Jazz College in Adelaide, my awareness level of music went through the roof. I could hear chord changes, which scales were being used, a microscopic sense of precise rhythmic time and pitch. When I listen to a concert I am sure I have a much greater awareness of what is going on than 99% of the audience.

When I am on the water with experienced sailors however I feel like a deaf and blind man. I have little idea of what the wind is doing, or the tide, the weather. Whereas the experienced sailor, even when not consciously focusing on it, will instinctively pick up even the slightest change in wind or weather, simply by the subtle change of motion of the boat or of a breath of wind he feels on the skin of his face. He too has gained this awareness level over a long learning curve and years of serious (usually competitive) sailing.

Your personal belief system (I include under this name all possible religions as well as agnostics and atheists) too is largely subject to the awareness you have of the world and universe around you and the way you see yourself in it. By deliberately broadening (enlarging) your awareness of these your belief system too will have room to grow.
In other words your belief system follows the Peters Principle :

it rises to the level of your ignorance, the extent of your awareness

Our understanding of the world around us will always be limited, as the true nature of the universe goes well beyond the limits of our human comprehension sphere of 3 dimensional space and time. Therefore your belief will be a reflection of your virtual world, just as my belief is a reflection of mine.
On this and some later entries I will describe my journey of awareness which have led to the belief I have right now. This of course is not necessarily my final position, because we continue to grow and change until the day we die.

Sinterklaas in Holland In Holland the first awareness and belief level you break through is as a 7 or 8 year old child. The belief in Sinterklaas ("St.Nicholas"). Sinterklaas arrives every year on his birthday (5 December) by steamboat from Spain, accompanied by one or more Zwarte Pieten ("Black Peters").
His task is to reward children who have been good (with sweets and presents), and punish those that have been bad (by putting them in de zak (large hessian bag carried by a Zwarte Piet).
This traumatic punishment is rarely dished out to a child, but an obliging school teacher is usually the subject (much to the delight of the children of course).
When I went to Primary school in Gorssel our whole school would march to a landing point on the river IJssel and await Sinterklaas' arrival there. It was a wonderful sight seeing him slowly steaming towards us on the boat. We all were of course very apprehensive about the Zwarte Piets with him. Once landed we all would march back in procession behind de Sint, who sat either on a white horse or was driven back to school in an open carriage.

The important demarcation line for us children was : did you still believe in Sinterklaas or not. This wonderful level of feeling "grown up" was usually reached at age 7 or 8. And once over the line, you were of course actively involved in maintaining and if possible even strengthening the belief of the younger children. "Careful what you say to him. He still believes in Sinterklaas!" we would whisper to each other.

Many years later, when I was doing my National service in Assen, my neighbour asked me to act as Sinterklaas for his children. He had hired a Sinterklaas costume complete with white beard for the occasion. In the afternoon I rode on my motorbike to Cafe van Houten to put on the costume. Of course I had to get also into the right spiritual mood and Cafe owner Jan van Houten helped and joined me with this part of my preparation by means of several beers.
Ramen with Karage chicken When I felt ready I crossed the canal via the foot bridge, my beard flapping about in the breeze and walked towards our street. I thought it would be a good idea to get in some practice before my final performance and knocked on several house doors along the way, causing great joy and happiness as I threw around plenty of sweets and peper noten ("pepper nuts" = small brown hard spherical cookies).
By the time I arrived at my neighbours house I was in supreme spirit and delighted my neighbours and children with my performance. In due course I walked back to the Cafe where Jan debriefed me extensively, with of course plenty more beers.
The next afternoon returning home in Army uniform on my motorbike the children all along the way waved and shouted to me "Hallo Sinterklaas!". I must have helped quite a few children across that important demarcation line that day.

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Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner