Your patterns of thought, existing bodies of knowledge, beliefs, predispositions, etc. are the 'stuff of your mental universe'. We are always subject to the power of our mental inertia. The waves in our mental oceans can never be magically stilled, and are therefore always impacting our new beliefs, even when we become scrutinizing adults. It is simply impossible to 'wipe the slate clean' and start over. These effects remain with us throughout our entire lives. Even the beliefs that we later discard are difficult to completely negate, and leave their own residual effects.
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The Existential-Epistemic Spiral-Meaning Our central beliefs shape and guide us, but the staggering synergistic power of our dynamics working together creates an existential centripetal force at the core of our being-meaning. Nothing affects us like meaning. Meaning is everything, the cumulative effect of all dynamics spinning inside of us. It generates and sustains our identity, creates stability and purpose. It drives our choices, shapes our feelings, and guides our morality.
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If we want to use a physical analogy, a more accurate one would show that many of our beliefs are like boulders pushed off from the top of a mountain. The boulder tips, and the thousands of contours of the mountainside, along with any trees (or lack thereof), its hardness, etc., react to the shape, size, and contours of the boulder itself. Rainfalls alter how much cushion the earth gives when the boulder slams into it and how much trees and shrubs will bend before breaking. All of these variables mix and, based on its bounces and rotations, the boulder lands in a very specific spot at the bottom. In many ways, this is how we form many of our beliefs-by countless, unique mental influences pushing us this way and that.
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Real life issues are not mathematical equations. We're not calculators crunching numbers. We're humans sorting through complex, multi-layered issues, and we're doing so while enduring the (sometimes profound) personal effects of our conclusions. While we want to be reasonable, we are inexorably pulled in the direction of our oldest mental habits and by our deepest life-impacting needs. We're repelled by those ideas which can jeopardize our comfort, safety, and happiness. We can try to be fair, but all the while we are fighting against our needs and fears. There are things we don't want to be true (or false). Our lives are built on certain beliefs which, if disproved, could wreck us. These are the truths that we 'can't handle'.
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How does evil arise? Where does it come from? We think of malevolent men- murderers, rapists, tyrants-and somehow believe they are different creatures from us. They are not. All evil men were once innocent babes, once lovable children. Men make choices, some consistently bad. But those who choose the worst kinds of evil were typically guided into it.
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Hell, he now understood, went beyond simple torture. Hell inflicted agony with intermittent reprieves to maintain the hope of peace. Hell was not endless dark, but rare rays of sunlight to keep one's eyes longing for their bright beauty. Hell forced hours of suffocation beneath the freezing water with times of release to keep one accustomed to the joy of breath, to let needful expectation be repeatedly stabbed by deprivation.
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