What Is My Belief?

I’ve heard that one of the stages along the path is the point where you are 100% confident that Vipassana is the technique that will take you to the final goal of liberation. Since I’m not even sure exactly what liberation is, I am obviously a long way off from reaching this stage, but what line of thinking got me wondering what it is that I do believe.

I know that Vipassana helps me to connect with my true self, or pure self. As I’ve meditated, I’ve slowly been able to feel more clearly the metta within me. I know that Vipassana leads everyone in the same direction. Everyone I know who meditates regularly is living a healthier, more moral life than they did before. I know that I value the wisdom that grows from looking inside myself.

Where things start to get a little blurry is when I consider “leaving it to dhamma” to guide my life. I’ve heard this phrase many time, and I often think about “trusting dhamma,” but I’m not sure I believe that dhamma is guiding my life. There’s an intellectual hold up for me. I can understand how meditating is helping me think more clearly and act more confidently, but in order to let go and trust dhamma to guide my life I must believe that meditating is impacting the forces outside my body for the better. For example, the right job, the right people, or the right situations will always present themselves when the time is right.

Now I’ve definitely experienced circumstances where everything just seems to fall into place or the right resource just seems to appear out of no where, but I can’t believe that this always happens. I’m afraid to stop trying to make things happen in my life because I don’t want to miss my chance or opportunity to do something. Opportunities seem rare and I don’t want to miss mine because my head is in the sand. Maybe someday I’ll understand what I’m supposed to believe in. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

7 thoughts on “What Is My Belief?

  1. “Now I’ve definitely experienced circumstances where everything just seems to fall into place or the right resource just seems to appear out of no where, but I can’t believe that this always happens.”

    No, it does not happen all the time even when you are meditating seriously. Whatever force is translating itself into sensations right now, it will attract the right/wrong person/resource and make you enjoy/suffer. If I throw sand grains (because that is all i got right now) no ants will come to eat them. Read the story about mogallanna’s death (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel263.html#ch10) as an example to understand the concept.

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  2. Hi Ryan, I’ve been enjoying your posts!
    Your thoughts here really resonate with me, and I deeply relate to being afraid to “stop trying to make things happen” in my life. I’ve been working for years now with the idea of just sticking to my practice and letting things manifest, but it’s really scary to let go of control (or the illusion of it)!
    My will has to be really strong to get myself to practice sometimes, but when I do I notice how it cultivates in me an underlying steady softness and grace, and whenever that is there things really do manifest. The more I let my practice work on me, the more positive, exciting ‘choices’ appear in my life. Now, totally counting on that manifestation would be a whole other level–maybe that is faith?!
    Thanks for the opportunity to think more about this and to share!
    Alex (your neighbor in Carrboro, NC!)

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  3. I was in a similar bemused disposition. For better insight, read the Upanishads and the Gita. It makes it clearer – intellectually – as how exactly this “game” is played. God is everywhere, all things are him but we too are God. The right situation will *always* show up granted you have faith and trust in dhamma (or God) – whatever you wish to call it. He is Infinite so do not wonder about limitations.

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  4. small small things, the way one walk, talk, behave irritates me. keeping equanimous in such things and be happy would be one step near to liberation for me. There would be many such external objects/incidents from which I may get disturbed.

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