Here’s a quote from Kahlil Gibran
“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
Any thoughts on what that might mean to you?
Is it some kind of predestination? Are we setting ourselves up for our experiences? Do we see things in current happenings similar to past experiences?
In the book, “Point of Power” by Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck, He writes, “What I look for and what I think I will find is what I tend to find, not because it is inherently in the event or situation but because it is in my mind. I see, perceive, and experience my world through my thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.”
We see what we expect to see. Does it make you wonder what you were thinking!!??!!
Stepping into a Unity Church or Center is a good example. If all you have experienced is traditional Christion Churches, Unity is not what you would expect…especially when we get into the Service! It takes a bit to understand that we are not your Traditional Church…we don’t even like to use the word CHURCH because of the emotions involved.
There is a Hindu metaphor about a man who goes into his house just at dusk and sees a large snake coiled on the floor.
He reacts, of course, with panic and shock. His heart races, adrenalin pumps, and his reflexes kick in at once. He jumps back and instinctively reaches to turn on the light.
In the brighter light, he can see that what he had thought to be a snake is in fact a coiled rope.
We see what we expect. We talk about bringing the light to situations to see the truth many times. It’s a great practice and it avoids a lot of panic responses.
I’m a big fan of Melissa Ethridge
– she’s so talented – she sings, plays different instruments, and writes her own songs – that really impresses me.
One of the songs on her very first CD is called “Similar Features”. The song is about the break-up of a relationship and the new love interest of the person she’s singing about; seems this person has “similar features” to the one that just left.
Often, if we are distressed about someone who has left a relationship, we could see them in others. I recall ‘seeing’ my friend Fred’s face on many others after he was killed in a motorcycle accident. I guess it’s the disbelief that the person is no longer around physically. It’s that wish to see them one more time, wherever and however it may be.
It got me thinking about the people we see day-to-day. I have noticed that as I move along on my spiritual journey, I can see similar features on the people I pass by walking down the street, at the mall or grocery store. Someone I see very often reminds me of someone I know; could be family, friends, co-workers.
When this happens, I am reminded that we are all one. And it reminds me that the love we have for each other can be found in each and every one of us. It’s the Christ presence within, the God Source within us all and within everything in the universe.
And, according to Rev. Hasselback, it’s what we expect to see in others. IF we expect love and acceptance, that can be what we will experience. If we expect something less, we can experience that also. Our choice.
You have heard the story of a man entering a town and meet a man at the entrance…he asks him what kind of people lived there and the response is a question, “What kind of people where there where you came from?”
The man says, “They were unfriendly and selfish, never helping others.”
“That’s the same kind of people you will find here.”
A bit later another man comes up to the town and asks the same question and is asked the same question in return.
So, this time the response is, “Oh they were great, friendly and helpful.”
“Well, that’s the same kind of people you will find here too.”
Another example of you see what you expect.
Fear is a learned emotion. We react based upon someone else’s experience, such as a child being afraid of a thunder storm because their parent was afraid and showed their fear around their children. The children then expect to be afraid even tho they might not know why they are afraid.
I saw this same reaction in my dogs, now passed on over the Rainbow Bridge. One was afraid of thunderstorms and soon both were, even tho the younger one was not afraid initially. With both of them shaking in their paws, I didn’t know which to cuddle with first.
I’m thankful Zoe is not afraid…unfortunately, of anything…but people until she gets to know them.
Back to the Lesson…
Paul Hasselbeck says that when something happens, we would be better off asking ourselves’ what are we going to do about the situation instead of asking why it happened.’ Asking why, he states, keeps us in a victim role. But by asking what can I do about it takes us away from feeling helpless and turning to action.
So, for my dogs, I gave them Rescue Remedy to ease their stress about the storm and spend the time comforting them as the storm goes on outside.
And when so called disasters strike, whether they are floods, tornadoes, a tsunami, instead of asking WHY, we can go into action, whatever it is that we are capable of doing. It could be saying a prayer, sending funds or help packages, or actually traveling to the site to help. Anything positive will help the situation.
Putting action, the what in place instead of why, keeps us in a positive frame of mind instead of negative.
Hasselbeck says, “the good news is that we create our own reality, our own life experiences through our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. The bad news is that we create our own reality our own life experiences through our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. Knowing this we can assume our power, the power God always intended us to be.”
Assume your power…we fail, maybe are afraid to step into our power. Isn’t that the essence of Marianne Williamson’s quote about “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure….”
And we are reminded of the 12 Powers we ALL have and just need to bring into consciousness.
That song leads me into another thread of thinking….being so alike as Melissa states in her song, why are we so against each other?
I’ve been focusing on using my Powers to resolve my prejudices. Yes, I have prejudices….everyone does. Take a moment and look into your heart, being ‘brutally honest’ as Dr. Phil would say, with yourself.
Prejudice is defined as – preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
Can you honestly say you are not prejudice, at least a little?
Here are a few items that might stimulate your thinking…
• Some people will not buy a Japanese car because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
• After 9/11, anyone who looked Middle Eastern was looked at suspiciously and was often the victim of prejudice.
• Some landlords will not rent to a gay couple. And we now know some bakers will not bake for them either.
• Hallmark, the card company, has swapped the word ‘gay’ for ‘fun’ in the song ‘Deck the Halls.’
• Some people assume someone is gay because of the way they act.
• The hobby retailer Hobby Lobby has been known to not sell Jewish menorahs.
• Some parents will not approve their offspring marrying anyone of a different religion.
• Some corporations hire women but do not promote any of them to supervisory positions.
• It is sometimes assumed that someone who is physically disabled is also mentally disabled.
• White people don’t think White Privilege exists.
Got anyone thinking?
“The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self – to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.” Barbara Brown Taylor
Another way to check yourself is to be conscious of your reactions to people and situations. We are attempting to be more conscious anyway, so why not add checking our prejudices at the door along with all the other things we are working on.
Carolyne Mathlin suggests we should ask, “How can I love more?”
What is typically underneath that question is a desire to understand more. Love doesn’t change. It is something that is the very essence of who and what we are.
Understanding is a bridge to living love. The more we understand, the more we are able to feel and express the love that is already present.
We can and DO make up many stories based on limited, external information, from all parts of our lives. Our call is to go deeper. The more we understand, the more we can feel the love that connects us all.
There are many ways to inquire as a way to develop understanding and ultimately love. When you are seeking to build understanding, the important starting point is to be pure in your intention. Start with the awareness that this is a soul in human form that has a story, with hopes and dreams, challenges and struggles. When you start with that, you start from a place of connection with them that is beyond personal beliefs.
Mathlin then suggests we, be curious. Ask questions in a welcoming, open tone; welcoming because you want to be invited into their world; open because there is room in your awareness for what they have to share.
“Tell me more?” is a great way to encourage someone to let you into their story. The more curious we are, the more we can stay open to viewpoints outside our own worldview, ultimately building understanding and an ability to love more.
We live in a world where we can become isolated, limiting our connection with anyone different from ourselves. The more we see each other in the various expressions of humanity, including all the different reasons people believe what they do, the more we will love. The more we feel understood, the less we need to defend and attack the other.
Learning more about someone else and why they believe what they do doesn’t take away your power or your voice. It simply informs you more. Understanding another doesn’t mean agreeing; it means you care enough about someone’s intrinsic value to see from their perspective.
It’s not about understanding with an agenda to change them. It’s about the intention to love them wholeheartedly.
As you venture out into the world or even sit down to a family meal and find yourself struggling to love someone, stop. Take a few cleansing breaths. Connect with them and then seek to understand. Prepare to be open to, even surprised by, the possibility of loving more right then and there.
And thus we can know, from Robert Frost “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
And knowing this, we can also know, It’s not the world that needs changed its what we think about the world that needs changed. And then life goes on.