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'Belief' is quite an odd concept. It is an idea or impression which you trust without any logical evidence to support your faith. Quite often, a belief is a commonly-held world view, such as the world is flat.
There are always a number of assumptions underlying a belief.

Belief system

All cultures develop a system of values that are applied to meet a culture's needs. Our understanding of the values of a culture and our acceptance or rejection of those values is often based upon our own cultural belief system. A shared system of beliefs and values serve to systematically define a way of perceiving the social, cultural, physical and psychological world.


A belief system uses ideas to organise and define the way in which we perceive reality. These ideas are often manifested through interaction with others like parents, peers, mentors, educational material or society institutions.
In modern culture, belief in money, success, fame and celebrity is widespread. Yet if you gave a suitcase of money to a tribal community, it would be difficult to convince them that your faith in the power of money is grounded in reality. If the world stock markets crashed and banks failed, you too, would lose your faith in money.


Organised religion is a clearly defined belief system concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief.
Each individual religion has its own unique way of interpreting the relationship between humanity and existence.
Although most religions have very similar beliefs and principles at their centre, they are often in competition with one another for supremacy.


The unexplained was once attributed to unseen forces controlling our destinies. Greek Gods were believed to favour certain warriors and punish others. Superstition constitutes an unsubstantiated belief in the power of rituals and omens. In the past, many people died because such beliefs were so widely held.


To some extent, science has removed many people's faith in what they once believed. Yet, science is not fact. The scientific method is to assert a possibility and then set out to prove (or disprove) what you believe to be true. This is why the scientific beliefs of the 1600's are not the scientific beliefs of today's era.

Tai chi

Tai chi is not part of any belief system. Tao and Zen are not religious in the Western sense of the word; they do not have any bearing on the supernatural, deities or any kind of ritual.
A belief is something that has been given to you by somebody else. It is an idea. Tai chi is not concerned with ideas, but with reality.


If you adjust your structure, it becomes stronger or weaker accordingly. If you move in a particular way, you may or may not avoid a punch. Tai chi is grounded in substance. No belief is required.


The spiritual component of tai chi is not based on belief, but rather on observation and awareness. A practitioner learns to stop and appreciate the world in which you live, and to really look at the nature of the relationships around you.


By opening your mind and heart to the world you share, you become soft and receptive, caring and respectful. You see that there is more to life than your own petty concerns. This change of consciousness is not the product of dogma or assertions, or even logical argument and reasoning, but simply of seeing. This is not a belief.

Cord: Who are you?

Blind man: Whoever you think I am or want me to be, I am.

(The Silent Flute)

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Page created 5 March 1998
Last updated 16 June 2023