Of Old Gods & New Gods & the power of believing
“People believe, thought Shadow. It's what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”
“It doesn't matter that you didn't believe in us,” said Mr. Ibis. “We believed in you.”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
I love these quotes, they both evoke in me the image of an old guy patronizing a youngster, both staring at the starry night reflected on an endless, jet black sea, feet deep into scorching white sand, the last solid foot at the edge of the world. Such a powerful image, for such powerful words.
These sentences rule the scene of the famous tale of Mr.Gaiman, “American Gods”, where Nors Mythology, Americana and fiction melt into each other to mold a modern age “epic/tragicomic hero quest”.
The plethora of characters is enormous, colored and inspired by many of the pantheons human kind ever created; read it, experience it, because it is a one in lifetime travel through unexplored paths that lets you uncover many and more insights, you can't ask for more..believe me! It would be such a disservice of me to ruin it by summarizing the story, so i won't do it.
Let's focus instead on the entry quotes, words are clear here but the real meaning is cryptic and gives us the hint for some thinking.
- What does it mean “to believe”?
- What happen when we believe in something or someone?
- And what happen when, instead, we believe no more?
“To believe” refers to an action in which we focus our mind, our soul and all of our intentions toward a specific object, being it something, or a person, or a conceptn an idea maybe. It doesn't matter for it to be real, it doesn't matter if we can't prove its existence with facts, or studies.
Sometimes we blindly believe, just because we need to, some other times we focus ourselves onto something specific for a well identified and precise reason.
The recipient here is not the issue, the act itself is what must capture our attention.
The act of believing is like the act of the painter, the preparatory work in which the outline is being traced, leaving space for the artist to channel its creative vein onto filling it up with color and shades, to give substance to mere black and white lines. Believing, though, actually means contouring, coloring and shading all at the same time.
Believing, in its simplest form, is nothing more than the everyday “thinking”. Our mind sets itself on the object we believe in, or we think about, defines it, gives it properties, contours it, load the act with purpose.
See what we're doing here? We are “creating” something, an image, an idea, a concept.We are imbibing it with means, we're giving it value, we are giving it power.
Believing seems only a stronger form of focus, not so different from simple concentration itself; believing changes the colors or the shades, it doesn't change the act.
Since believing is a more complex and more elaborate form of thinking, i do not trust anyone who says “i don't believe in anything”. It's contradictory, it's simply not possible, just forming the word in your head to elaborate that sentence is “giving form and means” to the sentence in the first place. It's like screaming out loud “I'm not screaming!!”
In this new light i'd like to spend some words about prayers. We can think about praying as a “community-form focused thinking”. Keep on reading, and you'll understand why, in my opinion, prayers must be spared only for really important matters and not the everyday trivial things; it comes the juicy part, let's stretch things a bit more, let's try to exaggerate a bit..
“Quantum entanglement is the physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others.”
What does this mean, should we put it in very simple words?
This means that if particle1 and particle2 are in contact, they influence each other and this behaviour does not change even if we separate them and put them at many miles away from one another. Basically, the forces influencing the two particles keep manifesting even if we separate them; sounds crazy, right?
Now, what if these natural forces could be described as a really simple form of energy? And what if the same energy we put into our living, into our thinking, into our focusing, would be, in its primitive form, the same as that of those forces?
This means that with every thought, every cognitive action, we manifest some kind of natural energy and we focus it toward something, which is modified by it and, maybe, keep being modified by it even when we stop performing the act of thinking, or focusing, or praying.
So, can we put everything together in the same rusty cauldron and obtain the magic potion? I think we can.
I leave you with the pleasure, or discomfort, to connect the dots and, if you understood the implications of my tantrum, do not believe i'm crazy!
I think that Shadow (us humans) actually believed and i think that Ibis (the gods) stared back at him, believing in him, just because of this naturally created indissoluble bond.
It's not easy to wrap up my mind on something this big, branched and difficult but my view of the world exist in the midst of these written words; i feel myself in a jungle i don't know anything about, with just the gist of the direction to keep to find the exit.