I love reading spiritual texts and allowing the words to compliment and co-exist with my own spiritual foundation.
Reading the 33rd verse of the Tao Te Ching this morning caused me to pause. It says:
“One who understands others has knowledge; one who understands himself has wisdom.
Mastering others requires force, mastering the self needs strength.
If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.
One who gives himself to his position surely lives long.
One who gives himself to the Tao surely lives forever.”
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I used to believe reading anything outside the Bible (and as a Latter Day Saint, The Book of Mormon) would be harmful to my faith. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to differentiate what was helpful and what was harmful and I’d find myself distanced from everything I’d been raised to believe as truth, something I wasn’t interested in doing.
But lately I’ve been re-examining my beliefs, not just specific to religion, but the broader landscape of beliefs which inform my life and decision making. It’s amazing how many of the beliefs I hold are silent, they’re just THERE and I don’t even recognize them the majority of the time…and not all of them are helpful.
So I’ve begun digging deep, trying to excavate the beliefs hiding under the surface of my life so I can clean them off and take a good look at what’s true and correct, then decide what stays and what goes.
This takes time and isn’t always easy. It requires me to be in-tune with my feelings, something which does NOT come easy to me. It wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist regularly that I learned how to tune into the feelings and beliefs I was clinging tightly to that were responsible for my actions.
Big things like:
- In society, everyone receives the same treatment I do.
- Everyone is honest and considers the feelings of others when they act.
- All people who attend the same church I do are good.
- Going to church automatically makes you a good person.
- My husband can read my mind so I don’t need to tell him what I want/need from him
And small things like:
- It bothers everyone in my house when there’s a small piece of trash on the floor
- Sarcasm is a love language
- Everyone knows to turn off the lights when you leave a room
- Dogs have perfect souls
- Everyone knows if you clog the toilet, you need to plunge it, not just leave it clogged
Do you know how hard it was for me to even write that list? Seriously, it took me like 20 minutes. I’m so out of tune with my thoughts and beliefs and how they shape my everyday life, I wasn’t even truly aware any of these were part of me.
So I’ve begun setting aside time each day to journal about what is brewing under the surface of my life, what beliefs I’m holding on to which may need to be examined and ultimately let go of.
Another side of this which makes it more complex, is the brain fog I experience associated with my chronic illness. I have a very difficult time thinking of words for things I used to have no problem with. The agony of knowing there’s a word you want to use but not being able to bring that word to the front of your brain is excruciating. It makes writing and speaking a much harder task than it used to be. But I’m determined to push through that, hoping that maybe working that part of my brain will thin out the fog….but I don’t think there’s any promises there.
I think our world would be a better place if we all tuned into our beliefs and examined them a little more closely.
But since I cannot force anyone to do anything, I will focus on myself, and also modeling for my children this process, with the hope that they will grow into adults who are aware of the beliefs they cling to in their life and make any changes necessary for the betterment of their souls and humanity as a whole. We’ll see how that turns out…