Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a Person Believes...Is

In 1969, a new TV show hit the airwaves called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby as the father and Brandon Cruz as the son. I don’t remember the details of one particular show, but Bill Bixby’s character made a statement to his son that I have always remembered. He said, “What a person believes….is.” The magnitude of that statement didn’t really hit me until many years later when I began my spiritual journey and became an open-minded believer in all things.

It is so true. It does not matter what a person believes, to him/her it is their truth. Many people see only in black and white and whatever they believe is the only way. Everyone else is wrong. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, or Independent, where you live, how you live, or your walk of life. You believe what you believe for whatever reasons (usually based on your upbringing, your experiences, etc.), and that’s all most people need. Everyone who does not believe the way they do is either right or wrong, or good or bad.

In other words, everything we know is just that….a belief. I can already hear people disagreeing, but please stay with me. Let’s take a look at religions. There are thousands of different religions, all believing something different to varying degrees. The believers of those religions believe that their religion is the only religion. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Everyone believes that they are the ones who are right and that everyone else is wrong. This can also be applied to abortion, the death penalty, diets, medical practices, and so much more. Whatever you believe about that particular subject is just that….your belief.

Many years ago, I attended a Native American Sweat Lodge (you sit inside a dome that contains extremely high heat and sweat; it’s very spiritual). Afterwards, I was talking to the Ceremonial Singer and he made the statement, “There is no such thing as right or wrong.” I replied, “Of course there’s such a thing as right or wrong! Killing is wrong.” He countered, “What happens if that person had to kill to save himself, or a family member, or those at war?” We batted back and forth, but he continued to counter back. It took me a good two weeks of constantly pondering that statement before the light bulb went off over my head and I got it.

Some people will argue that they have facts to back up their beliefs. And I can guarantee you that there will be someone else who has facts to back up the exact opposite beliefs. That is one reason I take the title “expert” very lightly. For every expert on one subject, you will find another expert who can prove the exact opposite of the first expert.

Remember, we used to believe that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. People were put in prison or killed because of those beliefs. Women were burned at the stake if they used herbs for healing. Certain cultures were believed to be sub-human (including women) and genocide occurred to get rid of them (this continues in some countries today). All our beliefs to some degree have changed over the years. We were sure that those beliefs were actual facts.

So, just because someone believes something different than you does not mean that they are right or wrong. It’s just what they believe at this time in their life. I always tell people that I refuse to argue religion, politics, or opinion. Grin. If people want to share and discuss their beliefs, I can discuss with the best of them; but I will not argue and try to make me right and them wrong.

Once you keep an open mind in all things, it is so much easier to find the good in everything and everyone. It comes back to labeling (see previous posting). It becomes much easier to love and accept someone for what and who they are. You stop putting conditions on your love.

One more example that may hit home with many people… Every generation has their way of expressing themselves. When I was in school, we wore mini-skirts (just below the butt), bell-bottoms, hip-huggers, and were just coming out of the tie-die / hippie era. Before me, it was hoop skirts, saddle shoes, leather jackets, and slicked back hair. Elvis was shocking parents all over the world. Today’s generation seems to have gone to the extreme (at least to us older generations). Goth, body piercings, hair that sticks straight up and colored in a rainbow of colors, tattoos, music that is just loud noise… It’s hard to except today’s generation’s expressions because they are so extreme to previous generations. But we need to remember that they are doing the same thing we did when we were growing up.

I would really like to encourage everyone to open your mind to love. Unconditional love. Embrace the diversity that is in our world. We are all the same but different. Allow people to believe whatever they want to believe and respect their right to believe whatever that want to believe (unless they are hurting someone; then they still need to be held accountable). If we could just accept those who believe differently, just think how much better we could get along as a people, a nation, and as a world.

I would like to close with a quote I came up with several years ago. “Life is beautiful, life is good, life is what you believe it to be.”

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Am Not a Label

My name is Karen. Label. I am female. Label. I am blonde. Label. I am white. Label. Black. Label. Mexican. Label. Democrat, Republican, Christian, Muslim, good, bad, right, wrong, tree, sky, house, dog, desk, chair….. Label, label, label, label….well, you get my drift.

Just about everything in existence on the planet earth and beyond is given a label by humans. Call it a name, label, whatever. And for every label, we attach a meaning. The thing is, nothing has meaning except for the meaning that you give to it. Which means that in the realm of everything there is to know, nothing has meaning.

I can’t remember where I read it…it may have been in a Wayne Dyer book…but if you take the labels off of everything, you realize how connected everything and everyone really is. It’s all one energy. It’s all the same thing. It all blends into one another. After reading this, I tried it. I focused on everything around me, took the labels off, and it happened. Everything became a part of everything. Everything blended. It was kind of eerie, but at the same time, truly amazing. It only lasted for a minute or two, but it made a deep impression. It’s true. We really are one with everything.

So, why do we humans have such a need to put labels on everything and make everything separate from everything? I know, I know, if we didn’t put labels on everything, there would be complete chaos. Therefore, labels can be a good thing. So it must be the meaning that we put to these labels. The problem comes when the meanings separate us from the goodness of everything. The other problem is that everyone has a different meaning for the various labels.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that if people could really see, I mean really, really see how connected everything and everyone is, maybe there wouldn’t be so much hate in the world. Maybe we could focus on what we have in common, rather than our differences. Maybe we could actually find ways to get along and bring peace to the world.

If you take a sample from every single thing and person in the Universe and put it under the most powerful microscope, you would find that we’re all made of the exact same thing. Nothing. Yet everything. Energy. Magnificent, beautiful, glorious energy. Loving energy. All there is. I love the saying that the Universe is within each and every one of us. The Universe! It’s in everything and everyone! Do you not realize the grandest of who you are!?!

I wish everyone could come to realize their magnificence and how we are all connected. Once you come to that realization, unconditional love takes over. You treat people more kindly. You treat yourself more kindly. You want to be of service to your fellow beings (animal, human, nature). You want everyone in the world to get along. You want peace.

The next time you look at a label, consider the meaning that you are giving to it. And remember that in the grand scheme of things, it has no meaning except for the meaning that you give to it. It's your choice. Choose kindness. Choose unconditional love. Choose compassion. Choose peace. It’s all a choice.

Namaste

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hello? God?

God. Who is this person, deity, presence, power, being, that all religions talk about?

This is probably the grandest and most difficult question anyone could ask on their spiritual journey. Most people you talk to have a very clear idea of who they believe God is to them. I have to add “to them” because everyone has a different idea of who they believe this all-powerful being is. And to most of us, it is just that…a belief. How can I say that? Because every religion and every person has a different description of whom or what they believe their God is, and every one of those believes that their God is the one and only God. They may also believe that everyone who doesn’t believe in their idea of who God is…is wrong, and possibly even going to “hell.”

I know this is a difficult subject to discuss because most people are very steadfast in their belief systems. It either is or it isn’t. Most will back up their beliefs with quotes from the Bible, but even then, it is only their interpretation of what they read in the Bible. Again, how can I say that? Because people can take the same Bible quote to back up their beliefs, and another person can take that same Bible quote, and interpret it in another way to back up their very different beliefs.

So, who is this God that everyone speaks of? Heck if I know. I’ve been searching for that answer all my life. I do know that my beliefs about God have changed drastically over the years, which means my black and white wasn’t very black and white as time went on.

Did you know that the word God came from the Saxon word for Good? He/She goes by many names. Each religion tends to use a different name describing their “God.” So, who is right and who is wrong? To be honest, I don’t think God cares a hoot what you call Him or Her. And He doesn’t care how you personally see Her as being.

As I stated earlier, my beliefs about God and religion have changed drastically over the years. In my earlier die-hard born again Christian days, I believed that God was an old man, sitting up in the sky wearing a long beard, robe, and threw down lightening bolts if you did something wrong. He was a mean old man who was very judgmental, and watch out if you did something wrong! I feared this God. I was afraid of living and I was afraid of dying. I pretty much lived in fear all the time. I believed in Satan and that he was always out to get me. I used to have the most frightening nightmares about the devil chasing me and trying to get me. I also believed that I always had to be suffering for Jesus, and if you weren't suffering, you weren't a good Christian. I even remember sitting in a dentist chair thinking, "I'm suffering for Jesus! I'm suffering for Jesus!" (Believe it or not, I knew other people who believed this and would think the same thing while sitting in the dentist chair. Sad, huh?) (I think I also need to make it clear that my beliefs had nothing to do with my parents. They raised me Baptist, but never pushed any beliefs on me.)

In the early 80’s, I became so discouraged and disheartened over religion, all the disappointments, fear, guilt, etc., that I stopped believing in anything. I hated God, I hated myself, and I didn’t want anything to do with either.

It was about that time that I had gone into a bookstore, and as I was looking around, I came across some books written by Shirley MacLaine, and they seemed to be calling to me. Yet at that time, there was no way I was even going to touch one of her books because I just knew that if I did, God would strike me down. But they kept calling to me. I hesitantly picked one up (while watching for those lightening bolts!) and read the back. It must have taken me about a half hour to finally work up the courage to buy one while looking over my shoulder for the devil the whole time. I read it. Then I read another and another until I read all of them that the store had. What Ms. MacLaine taught me was to keep an open mind in all things. That was probably one of the greatest gifts of wisdom I’ve ever learned. After that, my spiritual journey snowballed and I have been gaining so much wisdom and knowledge since then.

I no longer believe in a mean, vengeful God. And I no longer believe in Satan, the devil, or hell. I believe that God is pure, unconditional, perfect love and nothing else. As so, how could She create something so evil? I do not believe that He is a He or a She, but is genderless. (When the Bible was written, it was written in extreme patriarchal times and women were considered almost less than human; therefore, God is considered a He throughout.)

I believe that God wants nothing but the best for us, and that God is in everything good. She wants us to be happy, to be healthy, prosperous, and safe. To know our real magnificence. Just think of all the decisions WE make to create our lives otherwise. Man creates evil. Man creates the diseases, the starvation, the crime… We were given the gift of free will, so we reap what we sow. (And no, I do not know the answer as to why babies and young children have diseases, other than they chose to experience it before coming here. I also do not believe that God gave it to them.)

I also believe that God is within each and every one of us. Not out there sitting in some cloud. God is in each of us and in all things. If I would have to pick out an image of God, I think I would choose Morgan Freeman from the movie “Bruce Almighty.” I just loved his interpretation.

And I don’t always call God…God. I usually use Universe, or Divine Spirit, or sometimes Gus (God, Universe, Spirit). I went through many years after falling off my spiritual high horse where I couldn't even say the name God.

I also believe that we all came here for a purpose, and that whatever we are going through, is part of that purpose. I believe that we decided before we even came to earth what we wanted to experience. We chose our parents, when and where we would be born, when and how we would die, and what we would experience in life. And those experiences are based on the choices we make here on earth.

Am I right? Not necessarily. But this is what I believe is right for me at this time in my life and it is right for me. There is no way I would ever tell someone else that they have to believe the way I do. Whatever you believe is fine. It is your truth at this time in your life and that’s okay.

I love the term Namaste. It is a Sanskrit word which means: "I respect that divinity within you that is also within me.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone in the world could respect the beliefs of each other and accept them as part of our diversity? Maybe we could even learn to love each other unconditionally, and possibly even work towards world peace!

So, my friends, I end this long session with Namaste. And peace be unto you.

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