Of these limited choices, perhaps each one could at moments come into the foreground of awareness, influenced by where one is in life, a temporary mood, or core beliefs and values. We each have our own unique life trajectory. One person may need belief, another may not identify a need for belief. While I think behavior imposed from the outside has a role, ultimately, behavior I think flows naturally out of insights about who we are, and how we want to treat others the way we would want to be treated. I can’t think of belief without also encouraging doubt and questioning. Eric mentioned love, if i could pick any ingredient to be the most beneficial for the future of humanity, cultivating and fostering love and kindness would be it. The other ones perhaps can be more easily corruptible by for example serving self or group self-interest, misinterpretation, or fostering exceptionalism.
Some may not need the belief at all to feel like they belong. For example, a person who received a lot of love and encouragement early in life would likely feel sense of confidence and trust, and feel more belonging. Another person who did not have secure attachment early in life may not feel that trust so easily. Some would consider belonging, feeling at home in their family, or their local church, temple, their sports team, or in-group. But is this belonging in the deepest sense? We see wars in the larger world everyday fought on the premise that “my group” (an extension of me and mine) is better or more entitled to this or that resource, or even to existence than “your” group. More close to home, we see the “my group” (could be status related group, could be church group, could be corporate club, could be “99% group”, etc), is better, smarter, or more entitled than your group. It gets really easy to dehumanize once you set up this us vs “them”, subject and object. My guess is that the earth and many of its inhabitants are quite literally getting worn out from the consequences of limited in-group identification. As long as our ideas of belonging are conditioned by very rigid and concretized ideas of subject and object, self and other, my group versus your group, the earth and all who depend on it, are in trouble.
True belonging in my view is the realization that we (all sentient beings) are, while utterly unique, all like brothers and sisters on this precious planet. In other words, we are all way more intimately interconnected than is suggested by the separateness and alienating messages we grow up with and are bombarded with. If you were to see a tree, and you saw branches of this same tree fighting amongst each other, as though they were not from the same root, it would not make any sense. Yet, human history is a lot of that fighting amongst branches. Those branches are us, we allocate a lot of resources on fighting each other, or defending our separate self-images, yet we all come from the same root. Some just call this root, this great mystery by different names. If the branches gave up on fighting each other, and instead worked together, more of the discord can transform into a harmony, like each unique instrument realizing they are part of an undivided whole, and contributing their unique talents, or instruments a beautiful symphony.
Sicco Rood began exploring spiritual ideas in his teenage years and was drawn to those who followed a path of understanding, kindness, compassion and non-separation. This led him to Zen Buddhism and the practice of meditation. Rood is an active member of the Zen Center of Spokane.