Declutter The Mind

There is something wonderful in downsizing and decluttering, as the popularity of such figures as Marie Kondo can attest. It’s cleansing, refreshing, revitalizing. It refocuses you. Getting rid of the old, the useless, the soot and baggage of life… it can give things new meaning or at least reveal lost meanings. It gives clarity.

In the process of tidying the household and material things, people often learn more about themselves and find a more authentic way of living.

That’s all great.

But here’s the thing: you can also do this with beliefs.

You can tidy-up your mind.

You can weed cluttered ideologies, prejudices, and biases from your garden. You can take those very important things that you use to guide your life — your beliefs, your religion, your politics, your philosophy, your bliss — and declutter them just as easily as you do your closet. And they mean so more when you do.

The problem is: people are afraid.

People are afraid, especially with things like their religion, to attempt any weeding of the garden because they think it is blasphemous, irreverent. In fact, the powers-that-be not only enforce that fear, they ritualize* it, they feed upon it. The extreme destination of this type of fear ends up in hate and violence, as seen most blatantly with cults and mobs.

Another fear people have is that by doing housecleaning on their beliefs, their beliefs may get damaged (or disproven). This is false. It is also self-damning for unhealthy and weak beliefs.

But don’t be afraid. It is actually quite beneficial to tidy up your beliefs. It is a very mature, responsible, reverent, and sacred thing to do.

By cleaning off all that soot and baggage you are connecting to the core, the pristine wisdom that your beliefs teach you. Take the Golden Rule, for example — it needs absolutely nothing to make it any better or clearer.

A related example: Jesus’s teachings — they are beautiful, simple, clear and direct. Everything else attached to them is just noise. Or Buddha’s teachings — their perfection in outlining the human condition suffers nothing when you throw out koans or meditation. This may sound too simplistic, silly even, but then you remember that in every religion, every single one, most followers follow the noise and not the message.

So that noise is exactly the problem. It’s clutter. It is centuries and centuries of organized religion piling one thing or another upon simplicity. The clutter of ancient times has little use in modern ones. You can throw it all out and the shining message of your religion is freed.

The point though is this: the clutter is YOUR problem, not your beliefs’.

The noise is usually bias. It is bigotry. It is racism. It is misogyny. It has nothing to do with the beauty of the original message. It is a person’s or a group’s manipulation of an original message to make it fit their tribalism, their prejudice.

Again, you find noise is tacked onto belief and thought everywhere — religion, politics, even social mores.

Almost every important issue we are dealing with right now can be remedied by tidying up belief, by weeding out bias and detaching from blind hate. To put it bluntly: by minding our own business and being kind.

Most things you make out to be ‘issues’ are only so in your mind. They are your biases. They are not issues of the ideologies they are attached to. Your religion doesn’t care anything about gay marriage or what women wear. You do! Your politics doesn’t care anything about race or women’s reproductive healthcare. You do! These things are YOUR hang ups!

You protect your biases by wrapping them in your beliefs. You hide them behind your religion; you justify them with your politics. You then defend your biases by falsely assigning their noise as necessary to your beliefs. Any criticism of that noise then becomes ‘an attack’ on you beliefs. It is a cycle of selfishness.

The noise is you. The clutter is yours.

You are holding your beliefs hostage to promote your biases.

Once you remove or even downsize your bias, you free up your beliefs, you free up your life, and you free up everyone else’s.

Downsize, declutter, clarify, revitalize… it’s not just for sock drawers.

*the mysterium tremendum or “holiness” of religion does not require a man-made ritual, despite the edicts of organized religions.

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Jerry James

Jerry James

husband, father, RN, music lover, kindness fan