When I was about 10 years old I walked into the lobby of a Methodist church, fearfully, rebelliously and excitedly, and waited. I physically braced myself as you do before a car crash. I stood perfectly still. Nothing happened. After a while I worked up the nerve to walk through the lobby into the sanctuary and stood there for a few minutes. Nothing happened. Finally I breathed and checked the place out.
What I had been waiting for was the wrath of a God I didn’t totally believe in anymore but was still very conditioned to. I had been heavily imprinted with the idea that going into a non-Catholic church was sin and God would get me for it. I had expected something like being struck by lightening.
Another ten years passed and I found myself being pro-choice because it was “what I believed in”. (I have always been very passionate about my beliefs and I would fight over them with you, just like today’s useless FB fights over issues). Looking back I can see how I became pro-choice and it was not my own doing. The Spiritual Mentors of that time of my life were pro-choice and I can see now how I could have easily gone pro-life in different circumstances. (I’m sure that I would have come to a pro-choice stance eventually. Almost sure.)
I think that until we have questioned our values we don’t really have any. We have rules. Some of the rules are so ingrained that we call them values but until we have looked at all sides and owned a perspective for our own, we are only rule followers (or breakers) not people with values.
Being ourselves, knowing ourselves, becoming ourselves involves reviewing all of our conditioning and deciding how we personally feel about it. Creating unity with others involves the same thing. Religion, patriotism, family, we’ve all been scripted with notions about these things, how they are and how they must be. It is only when we can ask the questions “What does this mean? What is the opposing principle? What do I feel about this?” that we can truly own our own values and grow into Unity with others whose beliefs will look much more different in the beginning than they do afterwards. Only by knowing ourselves will we know others and by knowing others we will better know ourselves (and we will always find, if we look hard enough that we have more in common with “the other” than we are different from them). This also grows compassion and an appreciation for our humanity and our divinity.
If you can take your most solid belief and hold it a mile away, listen to someone else’s WRONG opinion about it as if it might be true, and consider that opinion and how you might have gotten to that place yourself (none of which you have to admit out loud), you have the power to change the world and to be comfortable with yourself because your values will truly be yours (and they will change some over time even after you have studied them). This is what being open is. This is what being loving entails. This is knowing yourself.
You’ll do a lot better than I did if you can bypass the stage where you hate the people and institutions who gave you the “wrong” information. I started on this path when I was too young to understand it and it took me a long time to get it right. Love has to be involved, or at least compassion and when you are most resistant and defensive… you’re looking at the right stuff. You’re going to LOVE how you turn out. (Your family and some friends… maybe not so much.)
Namaste’ my lovlies.