Belief Series: (Part 2) – Category One – Experiential Belief
Experiential Belief: What We remembered to have Happened
Experiential belief is essentially memory. Memory consists of the mental record of things I remember having happened. These experiential beliefs consist of the things that I remember having seen, heard, tasted, touched, or smelled, as well as the emotions that I remember having felt (not what I currently feel.) They also include what I remember thinking, and even the core beliefs that I remember believing. However, my experiential belief is not my current core belief that I presently harbor, nor is it the reason that I feel what I feel.
Within the context of TPM, experiential belief is basically the contents of memory – what we remember from our past; the content of our recorded experiences (memories). It is merely the raw data that I remember —the content of the memory that was initially received through one or more of my senses and any and all thinking that I remember having thought. I believe it happened because it is what I remember experiencing. This kind of belief is established primarily through our physical being.
An example of experiential belief might be my recollection of going to the coffee shop and being waited on by a girl named Mary. I have the memory of her handing me a menu. I remember reading that their website was www.tpmcoffee.com. I also remember how she brought me coffee and then she spilled it into my lap; which scalded me. I remember feeling angry at her and thinking that she did it on purpose. I believe that all of what I remember is true because I can remember being there, in the coffee shop, reading the menu, smelling the coffee, feeling it burn me and remember being angered by it all. Because this belief is based upon what I have experienced, I believe it with “assurance and conviction” with absolute certainty.
Experiential belief is strong and steadfast
Because I believe what I believe experientially, no one, including myself, can convince me otherwise. This is because it is based upon what I have personally experienced. I have seen it, touched it, tasted it, smelled it, handled it personally; experientially. Therefore, I believe that what I remember is “true.” My experiential belief feels true because I know it personally and experientially. Because it is my experience I am fully persuaded that it is true. I know with complete certainty that I went to the coffee shop and Mary served me my latte.
No additional intellectual knowledge nor my own logic will ever override or dissuade me from believing what I know experientially, even if it is backed with accurate and corrective evidence. When I know something experientially, I cannot be talked out of it. No matter how hard someone may try to convince me otherwise, I will continue to believe what I have experienced. This does not mean that someone couldn’t convince me that what I believe to have happened was in fact not true, for that is possible. However, I cannot be persuaded that what I remember is not what I remember. My memory cannot be changed by coercion or willful choosing.
For example, if, shortly after, I learned that Mary, the girl who spilled coffee on my lap, was terribly sorry and embarrassed for accidentally burning me, I would likely no longer believe that she did it on purpose and would no longer feel the need to be angry at her. However, I would still REMEMBER believing that she did it on purpose and I would still remember that I felt angry at her. The experiential belief would be unchanged. I would still remember what I experienced.
Belief that originates in experience is the strongest form of belief we possess.
As stated, no one —not even myself— can talk me out of experiential belief. I am convinced, with absolute certainty, that what I remember is what I remembered to have occurred, because it was my experience. As stated, no one —not even myself— can talk me out of experiential belief —that is, what I remember to have happened.
For example: if you asked me where I attended grade school, I would say I attended Granbury elementary school in Granbury, Texas, in 1963. If you asked, “Why do you believe that?” I would say, “I was there and I remember it”. Of course, there are records of this being true as well: report cards and a school yearbook with my picture in it. But even legal documentation of the fact is not what brings me the most assurance.
What I remember is my belief about it. I remember my teacher, a few of my classmates and in particular, I remember sitting in class the day when my teacher announced to us that the president of the United States had just been assassinated in Dallas, Texas (just an hour and a half north east of Granbury). I believe this because it was my experience.
It might be possible for you to correct some of the information contained in my memory, but my memory of what happened cannot be changed. For example, I might remember my teacher’s name as Mrs. Samuel when, in fact, her name was Mrs. Salman. Even though you might convince me of the truth of her actual name, I will always remember believing her name was Mrs. Samuel. My experiential belief cannot be change.
Not All that We Remember is Accurate
It is important to note that no one has a perfect recollection of what happened in any given life experience. Not everything we remember is necessarily accurate or even true. It is only what we believe to be the truth based upon what entered our mind through one or more of our senses. If I thought I heard something, I will remember thinking that I heard something (regardless if there was actually a sound or not).
It is correct to state that we are generally accurate in our perception and we may know most of the truth in most cases. Therefore, a witness to a crime is still valuable in the court of law. Even if what we remember is true, it is not the whole truth. Five people witnessing the same train wreck will usually report five different accounts. The point is this: our experiential perception of an event – what we see, smell, touch, hear, or taste – is all we remember about what we have witnessed.
Our perception is a very limited view of all that occurred and is weighted heavily by the “lenses” of our senses, through which we viewed and experienced the moment. This perceived and remembered reality is the primary component of our experiential belief. In TPM the accuracy of the memory is not viewed as important in identifying the lie-based core belief that was established at the time of the event. It is not what we remember (memory content) that is causing us emotional pain, but rather how we interpreted what we remember to have happened. This is not to say that determining the accuracy of what is remembered does not have value, for in some cases it does. I am only saying that determining memory accuracy is not something that needs to be achieved or even can be determined during a ministry session.
Experiential Belief Produces No Emotion
When a person remembers some experience in his past and feels a surge of emotion, he will probably assume that what he remembers is causing him to feel what he is feeling. As logical as this may seem, it is not so. In TPM we use a catch phrase that says, “We feel whatever we believe.” It is not the memory itself that causes us to feel something, but rather our emotion is caused by the belief that we are using to interpret what we remember. A loose analogy to explain this might be a photograph of a life experience. No one would say that the paper picture we hold in our hand makes us feel something. The picture itself has no power to cause us to feel anything. However, as we look at the picture we may indeed feel something.
You might say, “The picture reminds us of the memory of the event which causes us to feel.” If indeed the memory causes us to feel what we feel, then why does the feeling change when we receive the Lord’s perspective concerning our lie-based interpretation of the event in a ministry session? Untold thousands of people who carried deep pain that would stir up when they might think about some memory, reported no pain after they knew the truth and yet, the memory remained unchanged. The reason is simply this: we feel what we believe and not what we remember. If the memory actually help any power to cause us to feel badly then there could be no hope of feeling anything but badly when we recalled the memory since we cannot change the past. However, this is simply not so. When we know the truth in our hearts, the pain will cease even though the memory remains the same.
We will discuss this idea shortly when we examine a type of belief that we call Heart or Core Belief.
Characteristics of Experiential Belief
- Is the memory of what happened.
- It is based primarily upon what came into the mind through the five senses.
- Is fixed and static.
- It cannot be changed by willful choice.
- It cannot be changed by others unless certain criteria is met.
- It has no meaning or interpretation ascribed to it.
- Does not produce any emotion