I was talking today about astrology, religion and mathematics. Is that an odd combination? It’s not….in the days of old, mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, scientists, ‘men of god’ and artists were all called thinkers. Its about thought…pushing the boundaries of what we know and what we believe.
The question is what does one believe in? Human beings are fragile, delicate beings. We need a personal belief system. For a lot of people, it is religion. For some, it is their work. Or family. Or the love of their life. Object or person regardless, these are symbols of belief….our physical representations of the things that we hold true and which form the structure of our lives. Some people don’t use symbols…I like concepts, call me an abstract thinker. I feel fettered by physical objects and that includes human bodies.
Now belief systems…such very important things they are that they bear the load of our decisions, we are ready to kill over them. Every belief system has its axioms. An axiom, in mathematics, is defined as a fundamental assumption, which cannot be proved except by the system which is built upon it. Something like 0<1, which everyone takes as gospel truth. That is the foundation of mathematics and while in its loftier realms, there is an inquiry about this assumption and what if it weren’t true….people have explored alternate logic structures. But….all of these structures fall within the realm of mathematics, which itself stands as the foundation of such axioms. Hence, you need to believe an axiom for the system built upon it to work for you. You can question it but you run the risk of destroying your entire belief system.
There are things that you just cannot dispute if you want to believe in the things that stand upon them. There is God for instance. I know this is a loaded topic for most people and that is precisely what I mean. I have chosen to believe the axiom of an all-powerful entity that watches us from behind the scenes and governs our every move. But I cannot help questioning the sense in that. Which is why most religions fail for me.
If I choose to believe that the movement of planetary bodies can influence my behaviour, astrology works for me. Well and why not? It connects to the theory of planetary energies that influence ocean tides, the temperament of canine animals and even fertility cycles.
There must be some reason that the people who believe in the supernatural and reincarnation are also often the ones to experience near-death experiences, deja vu, powerful intuition and such things. And conversely, people who don’t believe in such ‘fluff and nonsense’ live normal, what-you-see-is-what-you-get lives. Tinker Bell from Peter Pan said….When a child somewhere says, “I don’t believe in fairies”, a fairy somewhere drops down dead. Yes, say you don’t believe it and the system vaporizes before your eyes.
What did Galelio do, after all, all those many years back but destroy an axiom that the world had held for far too long? And we all know what happened to him. I admire him, not just for his scientific ability but his willingness to destroy axioms. It takes courage. People don’t like giving up their axioms because it’s hard to watch things that you believe in shatter.
I seem to contradict myself sometimes. At other times, I seem to make a whole lot of sense. My trick is to watch the axioms. Someone said, “When in doubt, examine your assumptions”. Precisely. I’ll take that a step further and say, when you want to grow, change your axioms.
After all this while of playing around with axioms, I don’t feel that attachment towards ideas that I used to. In some way, I’ve also gotten disassociated from my ideas about my identity, since those have been axioms too. There is a certain power in being rid of belief systems. And there are losses……of identity, of passion, of fervour and yes, of feeling involved and even belonging.
Belief systems are like homes. And axioms are the foundations. I get to see a lot of new places. But not a home of my own.