Concise Inventory of Beliefs
In considering what we believe, a simple check list can be helpful.
The permutations of belief are many and diverse and can be truly staggering
to contemplate. Although the range of individual and collective beliefs is
vast, a concise inventory is possible.
The structural analysis of myths developed by Pierre Maranda (Mythology:
Selected Writings, Penguin Books, 1972) offers a framework for an inventory
comprising the components of all beliefs in the three formats of science,
culture and religion. Maranda proposed that all mythologically encoded beliefs
fall into fourteen categories that can be arranged into three groups or sets.
The definition of the sets is more or less self-explanatory.
See SPOT CHECK at end of list.
1. Beliefs regarding God, Deity, Divinity, the Holy or Sacred, all that is held to be
supernatural and invested with mysterious power
2. Beliefs regarding the human race, including its origins, its relationship to
God (1), the purpose of its existence, etc
3. Beliefs regarding the natural world, all that is not human including animals,
plants, the mineral world and the earth itself
4. Beliefs regarding love, the single most powerful bonding factor in human
experience; including love for God (1) or humanity (2) or nature (3); hence this
category refers back systematically to the preceding three
5. Beliefs regarding death, the single most powerful event that limits human
experience, including beliefs regarding survival after death
6. Beliefs regarding morality, the regulation of human actions, the capacity
to discern good from evil, right from wrong; including beliefs regarding free will
7. Beliefs regarding conflict, mainly due to violence enacted by human beings
but also including acts of nature
8. Beliefs regarding justice, the judgement of human actions and the process
of reward and punishment (Closely linked to 5: for example, the belief that
after death we are judged by God and rewarded or punished.)
9. Beliefs regarding the nature of mind, awareness, human versus other
intelligence; includes beliefs about the brain and the role of consciousness
in producing the world we perceive
10. Beliefs regarding suffering, pain, misfortune, all hurt and harm that
befalls human beings including that inflicted by other human beings
11. Beliefs regarding human personality, the ego, the personal soul
12. Beliefs regarding evolution, the complex of biological processes evident
all through nature; including beliefs regarding the possibility that human-like
life exists elsewhere in the universe
13. Beliefs regarding society and social development, including the notion
of progress, continual improvement, utopian conditions
14. Beliefs regarding happiness, pleasure, social reward, personal freedom
Scanning the list the reader may find that the mind by itself tends to select
certain items. It will slide over some beliefs and flash on others. A detectible
quickening of the pulse (the Heart/Bomb response) occurs when we are presented
with a belief that we hold with particular fervor -- or it could as well be said,
a belief that holds us with particular intensity.
Often when we "flash" on an item on the list, it will require almost no
time or effort to state what we believe regarding that item. This occurs because
beliefs that are truly dynamic, automatically determining our choices and our way
of viewing the world, operate subliminally, just below the level of conscious
thought. They are pre-formulated in the code language of the brain, installed in
neurolinguistic circuits. Normally we act from these beliefs without needing to
formulate them in a direct statement of any kind. For instance, we act on our
beliefs about the personal soul (11) or social reward (14) without a moments
consideration of what we actually believe regarding those issues. The belief simply
impels us. However, seeing the item of belief stated in a categorical way, as in the
above list, we may find that some items produce a distinct reaction, and we find
ourselves coming out with a verbal or mental formulation of the belief more or
Hence, the inventory functions as a CHECK LIST. You will find that some items are
of no interest whatsoever: the Heart/Bomb response is lacking. This indicates that
you do not hold any determining beliefs regarding that item, even if you think you do!
The beliefs that truly matter will always prompt a quickening in the blood. You will
want to say something about them, even if only to remind yourself what you believe
regarding the item that triggers this response.
Rare are people who will respond physiologically to all fourteen items.