Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What a Person Believes...Is

In 1969, a new TV show hit the airwaves called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby.  There was one episode that made an impact on me, and it wasn’t so much the show as it was the words that Bill Bixby’s character said.  I don’t even remember the story line, but the profound words were, “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 that are good.

It is so true.  It doesn’t matter what a person believes; to him/her it is their truth, and for most people, you can’t tell them any different.  They are right and everyone else is wrong.  It doesn’t matter what religion you are, what political party you belong, where you live, how you live, or your walk of life.  You believe what you believe for whatever reasons based upon your upbringing, your experiences, and everything you were taught.   

Many years ago, I attended a Native American Sweat Lodge (you sit inside a dome that contains extremely high heat and you sweat).  Afterwards, I was talking to the Ceremonial Singer and out of the blue, he made the statement, “There’s no such thing as right or wrong.”  I replied, “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 on various topics, but he continued to have a reply to everything I said.  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.  In other words, I changed my beliefs.  There really isn’t any such thing as right or wrong, good or bad; it’s our perception that makes it so.  Nothing has meaning except for the meaning you give to it.

Some people will argue that they have facts to back up their beliefs.  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. 

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.  Certain cultures were believed to be sub-human and genocide occurred to get rid of them (this continues in some countries today). 

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.  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.  Think about how some of your beliefs have changed over the course of your lifetime.

A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking and our thoughts can change, which changes our beliefs.  Johann Goethe said “Man is made by his belief.  As he believes, so he is.”  Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  The Buddha states: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think, we become.”  James Allen wrote a book titled “As a Man Thinketh,” which I would highly recommend everyone read.  (It’s available free at www.asamanthinketh.net.)

I totally believe that our core belief should be based on unconditional love and build from there.  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 (as long as they are not hurting anyone; they still need to be held accountable for their actions).  If we could just accept those who believe differently, think how much better we could get along as a people, a nation, and as a world. 

Even though life can be really rough sometimes, it’s our thoughts about those experiences that will make or break us. 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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