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dakini Sanskrit word for "sky dancer," a female tutelary diety, often of frightful aspect, who teaches and tests those on the path of Tantric enlightenment.

Dalai Lama Honorific title of Tenzin Gyatso (born 1931), the chief spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, recognized world-wide as Nobel laureate for Peace.

Among native Tibetans and many Westerners who embrace Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is recognized as the 14th incarnation of a persistent awareness believed to have been embodied in thirteen previous personalities. From its origins in the 6th Century BCE, Buddhism abounds with tales of reincarnation, some of them closely linked to historical personalities, but the ritual of enthroning reincarnate masters appears to date from around 1450. (Ngawang Zangpo, 19) The most recent example of this phenomenon is the reincarnation of Kalu Rinpoche, a revered lama well-known in the West, who died in 1989. In 1991 the Dalai Lama announced that the awareness of Kalu Rinpoche had been reborn on September 17, 1990 in a child named Poontsok Chopel, “magnificent one who spreads the Buddha teaching.” (Ibid., p. 46)

The belief in reincarnation is essential to all schools of Buddhism, even its most popular forms, yet the mechanism of re-embodiment is largely a matter of esoteric teaching. It is believed that certain lamas of high spiritual attainment can direct their reincarnations consciously and return to the human fold for the sake of assisting other human beings to achieve liberation. The way that deceased lamas navigate through the after-death states (bardos) and find their way back into embodiment seems to depend upon their being supported and monitored by a community of monks and masters who preserve a strict vigil during the 49 days usually allotted for the transition. The spiritually advanced man or woman capable of such a feat of conscious rebirth is called a tulku, meaning “altar, shrine.” This term implies the belief that the human person in whom the lama is re-embodied is like an altar-seat occupied by the presence of a higher, trans-human awareness. The Tibetan word kundun, meaning simply “presence,” was applied to the Dalai Lama in his childhood. Kundun is the title of the film based on the life of Tenzin Gyatso, directed by Martin Scorcese.

Upon rebirth, the reincarnated lama is sought by a specialized team called tulku-finders. Stories of how the reincarnated lama is able to recognize the personal articles of his preceding incarnation are common in Tibetan tradition, and taken literally. The stories seem to prove that the belief in this special process of reincarnation is founded on real evidence.

Western spiritual traditions such as Rosicrucianism also transmit stories representing the belief in the serial reincarnation of masters who deliberately reappear in different epochs of time to guide humanity and initiate social and scientific advances. (Lash, S)

Deadsea rolls

Declaration of Independence The formal statement drafted by the Founding Fathers of the American colonies, whose immediate purpose was to declare their political independence from England but whose larger purpose was to enshrine the guiding principles of the American way of life. Certain beliefs encoded in the Declaration have deeply affected the role of the United States in world affairs. Other beliefs about this document and how it came to be written are currently subject to widespread controversy.

The belief in a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness deeply informs the American way of life. If it be accepted that belief drives behavior ­ one of the primary assumptions of metahistory ­ then it is rather obvious that the belief in the pursuit of happiness drives consumer society. There is actually a compound belief operating here: the belief in the right to pursue happiness is compounded with the belief that consuming and owning will make people happy. Hence Americans widely believe they have the right to lay claim to a huge percent of the resources of the planet in order to pursue their notion of happiness.

deep ecology Social-philosophical movement defined by Arne Naess that asserts the value of nature independent of human uses for it.

More forthcoming.

default belief: A belief held due to lack of considering any alternatives.

Example: in Saudi Arabia all religions except Islam are illegal. Saudis who embrace Islam do so by default, lacking the possibility to consider any alternatives. All other creeds are against the law, so everyone is Muslim by default. The same situation applies for anyone born in a culture and country where a belief-system is universally imposed. Born into the Hindu culture of India, one is a Hindu by default. Born into the Southern Baptist culture of the American Bible Belt, one is a Baptist by defaulf.

Default beliefs are transmitted by tradition through family, school and church. In the world today, there is no country or culture that asserts the right to grow up without default beliefs being imposed.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

defusing belief: one of the three main of metacritique, the other two being assessing belief and dereasoning belief. See Defusing Belief .

dehumanization. The process of becoming less than human, or contributing to and or participating in anything that makes it possible for human beings to live at a diminished potential.

deism Belief in a creator god who does not intervene in creation by supernatural means and stands detached from human affairs (“paring his nails,” as one character irreverently says in James Joyce’s Ulysses). Deists believe that nature sufficiently demonstrates the divine capacities of the creator god who masterminded it and manifested it. This belief leaves open the question of how God might view human affairs; i.e., with approval or disapproval.

[This entry is being edited. What follows is a rough draft.]

Sophia is an Aeon, a dreaming god. Aeons dream and emanate worlds, but they do not always penetrate into the worlds they produce. In this sense, they might be compared to scientists of a wise and benevolent kind - if, indeed, we can imagine such scientists - who set up an experiment and let its run its course, without interfering in how it unfolds. To put ourselves in the minds of the Aeons, we must imagine that the experimental worlds they produce are more interesting if they don't intervene in them once initial conditions have been set up. Nevertheless, many mythologies do refer to the intervention of deific beings in the human world. We would do well to ask which of these stories are true and helpful, and which are delusional, or intentionally distorted by malicious scripting.

Sophia's involvement in her extra-Pleromic emanation is anomalous, a freak event. It comprises two aspects: a non-intentional plunge, followed by a redemptive return movement. Dreaming of how to projet a world all by Herself, Sophia departs from the vortex of higher-dimensional star-flux in the galactic core and plunges down and out, out and away, into the swirling elementary matter in the galactic limbs. This is the first descent described in the paraphrase. Then there is an intermediary phase, the second descent, in which She imparts animation to the world-process She has instigated. Then there is the ricorso or redemptive action in which Sophia, working through a special power that She endows in humanity, brings correction to the cosmic process She has inaugurated.

Correction is required in the cosmic order because Sophia's initial Dreaming was skewed.

When the term first appeared in 1564, deism was associated with the views of religiously minded people who opposed Bible-based religion. Later, it became synonymous with the label of freethinker. In his Dictionary of 1755, Samuel Johnson defined the deist as “a man who follows no particular religious but acknowledges the existence of God, without any other article of faith.” Politically and ethically, deism has been associated with movements that tend toward religious tolerance, the idealization of the natural capacities of the human species, and the promotion of free speech and political liberty.

Many of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States were deists who debated how to keep religion out of government. Thomas Jefferson, who compiled his own Bible from selected passages in the New Testament, rejected the supernaturalism of Christianity and viewed Jesus as a teacher of morality rather than the incarnation of divinity. George Washington firmly advocated the separation of church from state and struggled to keep any reference to Deity out of the Constitution. When questioned directly on his views by a diplomat, Joel Barlow, then American consul to Algiers, the first president responded flatly: “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Curiously, the question had originally been put to Barlow from a Muslim leader in Tripoli. This shows that at that early date some religious leaders in the Arab world were closely observing the formation of the new nation, perhaps comparing it with their own version of fundamentalist theocracy. (EP 2, 334)

The debate continues today, with fundamentalists insisting on the central role of religion in government. Like Ronald Reagan before them, Presidents Bush, pere et fils, play up religion strongly and adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially the passages on Armageddon. Deists view the Bible as a fallible text contrived by priests for the purposes of controlling the populace. See also theism.

deliberated belief: chosen by a process of considering and evaluating options. Synonymous with aligned belief.

Example: Christianity is a religion embraced by billions but rarely chosen by anyone. Choosing requires alternatives to choose among, and alternatives have to be deliberated before a wise, heartfelt choice can be made. This rarely happens in the adoption of beliefs, especially religious beliefs.

The intelligent effort required to deliberate beliefs may account for the fact that most humans passively accept the beliefs imposed upon them, yet this explanation is paradoxical. If beliefs are so important, so deeply held in the heart of the believer, how can we allow ourselves to adopt them blindly rather than by careful deliberation? If what we believe is so important. why do we acquire our beliefs so superficially?

Metahistory proposes that these troubling questions can be explored, although not perhaps ultimately resolved. Exposing reflex belief and dereasoning are two potent metacritical tools that may allow to get to the bottom of paradox concerning the rarity of deliberated belief.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

dereasoned belief: deprived of its original properties by the process of dereasoning, i.e., isolating the conditions and reasons for holding a belief and thus reducing it to its inherent truth value, if it has any.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

dereasoning: The process in metacritique in which we separate the reasons and conditions for adopting a belief from its truth value. This process, comparable to pulling taffy without getting it stuck to your fingers, is demonstrated in Socratic Sessions #1.

The process of dereasoning beliefs suggests an analogy to the chemical process of denaturing. To denature a substance is "to modify (e.g., a protein) by heat, acid, etc., so that some of the original structure of the molecule is lost and its properties are changed." (The Penguin Concise English Dictionary, 2002) Normally we encounter beliefs (both those held by others and by ourselves) in a mature state, exhibiting a coherent form like the structure of a molecule. The components of a belief include the conditions in which it was acquired and the reasons for holding it, the how and why of believing. To dereason a belief is to break down and separate these components so that its properties are changed. It is the same belief, but denatured, dereasoned.

Metacritique proposes that only by looking at dereasoned beliefs can we determine their intrinsic truth value. In practice, this may not always be possible, and we may be left in total ambivalence regarding the truth of the belief under consideration... Nevertheless, the best chance of arriving at the truth value of a belief, if it has any, is by dereasoning it.

desacralization: the process of separating from the Sacred or from Sacred Nature. Also, the process of losing the sense for the presence of non-human and supernatural powers both in the world and within the human psyche. See also mythic dissociation.

description The essential purpose of a story or narration: namely, to describe human experience and so preserve the lesson inherent to that experience. (This definition proposes that all human experience is or can be a learning process.) More often than not, an event or action is described in a way that incorporates certain belief toward the matters being recounted. Metahistory is a method of looking at modes of description to see what beliefs they carry.


dissenting belief: deliberately opposed to conventional and established beliefs.

Example: the belief that it is patriotic to resist certain policies of the US government emerged in America during the invasion of Iraq. Dissenting belief often comes into play on the rebound, in direct response to a situation, so it initially displays a negative or reactive character.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

doctrinal belief: based on predefined dogmas or doctrines. Contrast to intuitive belief.

Example: that the essence of life is suffering due to the impermanence of all things is a doctrinal belief of Buddhism. This is close to textual belief because the belief is not merely inferred and does not arise from an interpretation, it is directly stated in the written texts of Buddhism.

A belief may be doctrinal and not textual. The Old Testament presents the story of the Fall, telling how the primordial parents Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Jehovah. In the 4th Century CE Saint Augustine proposed the doctrinal belief that the entire human race inherits a moral flaw due to the sin of the first parents. Strictly speaking, this belief is not textually stated in the story of the Fall, but beginning with Augustine it has been assumed that the OT narrative encodes this belief. Hence a doctrinal belief is an interpretation of a story, but a textual belief is directly stated in the story. Textual belief is also doctrinal, because it forms part of the doctrine of the religion, but doctrinal belief is not always textual.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

dynamic belief Any belief that that carries deep conviction and motivational power, as distinguished from conjectural belief, mere suppostion or subjective opinion. Also called core belief. All beliefs are dynamic in the sense that beliefs drive behavior, but the motivational power of may be blind and compulsive.