To a non-believer, this sounds like self-hypnosis. Being materialists, they cling to the old formulation: "I'll believe it when I see it." But no one ever claimed that God or higher intelligence or the creative principle in the universe was tangible, like a rock or a tree. Gravity isn't tangible, either, but once the human mind decided to look for it, gravity became evident. God is subtler than gravity but just as evident, and just as dependent on knowing what to look for.
To be clear, James' belief is not the fervent belief of the religious fundamentalist who uses desperate literal interpretations of scripture to mask his insecurities and limited experience of the divine. This is the pragmatic belief of a working hypothesis applied toward improving one's life.
Therefore, I don't think it's time to give up on believing. Quite the opposite. Belief is a step ahead of hope. Hope can be desperate, empty or false. But when you step beyond hope into belief, you do something both real and positive. You say, "I believe in something, so let it appear." In other words, you open yourself to knowledge, which is what everyone wants. Belief is a halfway house. It opens your awareness to a new possibility, and then you find out whether God can actually be known. We have countless saints and sages to tell us that God can be known; and with all their combined doubt, atheists, materialists and skeptics cannot prove that God is unknowable.
The whole issue depends not on religion versus science but on James's insight that the mind allows Nature to reveal itself in greater depth the deeper we are willing to look. I find great encouragement in that insight and thought it was worth sharing. We can all benefit from James' sort of pragmatism, which says God should be adopted as a working hypothesis, even when doubt exists, because as evidence emerges to support our belief, we will succeed in living better in this world.
Deepak Chopra??is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller,??Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on??SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
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