Emerson reminded us, "The ancestor to every action is a thought."
Every night when you go off to sleep, you enter into what we call the dream state, also known as the dream consciousness. When you enter into dream consciousness, you leave behind this physical world and all of its limitations, and you enter into this world of pure consciousness, and you enter with no doubt. And as you enter into this world without any doubt, you open up a whole world of possibilities.
Now just imagine yourself in your dream, and in that dream you want to examine something in a room. Let's say you find yourself in a kitchen and you're sitting at a kitchen table in your dream. And as you're sitting there talking to whomever in your dream, you notice that on a shelf—let’s say about 10 feet away on the other side of the kitchen—there's a bouquet of flowers. And you want to examine those flowers and just look at them more closely to see what the petals look like and what the colors look like, and you want to have a real close sort of examination of them. You want to bring them up close.
Now in waking consciousness, if that were to happen to you, you would have to get up, walk over to the flowers, and examine the flowers, and you'd say, "Oh, I see. These leaves look like this, and, oh yes, here are the stems over here, and, oh, this little yellow piece is in the middle, and, oh, isn't that an interesting thing," and you would be able to examine them more closely.
But in your dream state you have something that is called intention. And with intention, you don't have to get up and walk over to the flowers; you just have the intention that you would like to examine them. And how do you get to examine those flowers in your dream state? You bring them to you rather than your going to them.
So, for one-third of your life, you have an absence of doubt, and with that absence of doubt, you have the ability to have an intention to do something, and then you bring it to you. Here's the sound that goes with that. You go, "Whoosh!," and there they are. The flowers are right in front of your face and you can look at them, and you didn't have to move. And then when you want them gone, you go, "Whist!"
What I would like to say to you is if you could enter waking consciousness with the same absence of doubt that you have when you enter dream consciousness, you might have the possibility—just might, I'm just throwing it out at you—that you might have the possibility to bring to you those things that you would like to have without your having to get up and go to them or move around.
The way to understand this, it seems to me, is to understand the difference between what you know and what you believe. A belief is something that has certain characteristics; a knowing has certain characteristics. I've identified five characteristics that differentiate a belief from a knowing.
Beliefs are handed to you. Knowings come from within. This means that a belief has doubt attached to it. A knowing has no doubt because it comes from within, from your direct experience.
A second characteristic that distinguishes a belief from a knowing is that beliefs will let you down in a crisis. Knowings never let you down. The reason that a belief is something that you cannot rely upon in a crisis is because of the doubt that is attached to it. And so it isn't reliable, whereas anything that you absolutely know—for example, how to ride a bicycle or how to swim—when a crisis comes along you will not be let down.
A third characteristic that distinguishes beliefs from knowings is that your beliefs are mental exercises. Your knowings are physical exercises. Your beliefs are located in the mental realm as thoughts that you constantly reinforce. These are strictly mental exercises that you constantly practice until they become your reality. That is, a reality based upon the doubt that is attached to these beliefs.
You may believe that people shouldn't wear jewelry in their nose. These kinds of beliefs will influence your conduct and cause you to judge others, until you change your belief and perhaps search out a nose piercer.
Your knowings are located in the physical domain, even though they originated in the mental. When you know something, it is a part of your total being, originating in the mental and residing in your complete being. That which you absolutely know with certainty—such as how to dance the mambo or ice skate or swim or ride a bicycle—is a part of your cellular being. It resides so deeply within you that it is in the cells of your humanity. That which you once only believed because it was given to you by some external person has now been transformed into a knowing. You may also have some beliefs within you that you actually treat as knowings. These include those beliefs that are so strongly ingrained that they act like knowings within you. Some of these entrenched beliefs may be judged by you to be knowings, but they really are not.
For example, you may believe that you have no talent for art, but somewhere deep inside of your consciousness there exists a tiny smidgen of doubt about whether it is really true were you to actually apply yourself in a new way. When you know something, it becomes your physical reality, and you act on this knowing at all times. When you merely believe something, whether it be a negative or a positive, you have a tiny, tiny bit of doubt connected to it, and that doubt becomes your reality. Beliefs are mental. Knowings are physical, though they originate as mental beliefs.
The fourth distinction between a belief and a knowing is that a belief will restrict you, while a knowing will empower you. The reason a belief restricts you is that there is doubt attached to it, and, therefore, when you go to act upon it, you do so sort of tenuously, and so there's a restriction, whereas a knowing, something that you absolutely know that you can rely upon, will empower you. It's the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Knowing about God is a belief. Knowing God is a knowing. And knowing about God usually means that you have some reservations—I'm not quite sure about all of this higher power stuff and I'm not quite sure about whether I do have a higher self. Whereas when you've learned to experience it—and that's what these keys to higher awareness are designed to do—then you absolutely know God, not just know about God.
The fifth and final characteristic that distinguishes a belief from a knowing is that your beliefs are all transitory, while your knowings are eternal. Just think about some of the beliefs that you have today and how they've shifted over the years. Remember how many people were shocked to see men wearing long hair and earrings? I can remember working in a high school in the inner city of Detroit, and a young man came in with his hair real long and with earrings on, and they expelled him from the school and told him to go home and get a haircut and to stop dressing like a sissy.
Today, the very same people who suspended him are wearing those same kinds of jewelry and have their hair quite a bit longer than they did in those days. And now you watch on Sunday afternoons the National Football League, and, in the interviews, you see these big, burly mastodons of masculinity with their long hair and their earrings protruding from their helmets.
So our beliefs about things are very transitory. and they're shifting all the time. But what you know is there with you forever.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Dyer’s Nightingale-Conant program Freedom Through Higher Awareness.