0 Can an understanding of the nature of belief and conditioning help prevent terrorism?

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Hi – My name is Manoj Krishna and in this blog I want to explore a new way of tackling the problem of terrorism, through self-enquiry and an understanding of the nature of belief and conditioning- which is the same in all human beings.  I am sure we all wonder what makes a person who can be loving to their family and friends, suddenly forget their humanity and think it is justified to kill people.

Many acts of terrorism are committed by people who believe in a particular ideology or belief. It is a complex subject. Though we talk of ourselves being Hindus, Christians or Muslims, we seldom stop to ask, what is belief? Could we say that a belief is a set of ideas that we think are true, but are not yet proven as facts? If it was a fact, like the earth is round, we would not need to believe in it.

Our beliefs fulfil many of our hidden psychological needs. They make us feel secure, bring us the comfort of belonging to a group, make us feel important and give us a sense of identity – so we become attached to them and accept them without questioning. If they are challenged, we feel personally attacked. We also accept the authority figures of our particular belief system, and do not question them -  thus allowing our thoughts and feelings to be manipulated by others.

Our attachment to our beliefs divides us from others who have different beliefs.

How do we come to acquire our beliefs? This is where the process of conditioning come in. All our experiences from childhood are stored in our memory. We call this our conditioning and that dictates our thoughts and our actions. Many of our beliefs are acquired from our environment, often without our awareness or consent. Once they are established in our minds,

we identify with them, say they are our beliefs, and want to live by them and defend them. We never question how we came to acquire these beliefs, because we are not aware we have been conditioned.

We think we are individuals and in control of our thoughts and actions, but that is not always true. Our hidden psychological needs and our conditioning may push us to become attached to a belief system, without questioning it. If an authority figure in that belief system then tells us to go and kill someone, we may do it without thinking, especially if we are unhappy or angry in some way.

This is not to say that beliefs are good or bad – just that we should understand the process behind them, so we never forget our basic humanity.

So what can we do? Since the problems lies in the way people think, so the solution must also begin there. We need to educate people not just about the world around them, but also about themselves and the nature of belief and conditioning. We need to be able to question our beliefs and our attachment to them and realise that we are conditioned by our environment. This ability to question ourselves and understand how our minds work, brings its own intelligence. This intelligence would never allow us to be manipulated by other to kill people. This is explored in more detail in the book Understanding Me, Understanding You and on this website, which are part of the non-profit human enquiry project. Please take the first step and find out for yourself.