04 May Beliefs That No Longer Serve Us – May 5 2020
Although we known nothing of [the Yoga Sutra’s] author save the name Patanjali, we can be certain that he was devoted, along with countless predecessors, to the eradication of suffering. Because he believed that human suffering stems from an ingrained but reversible tendency to misconstrue reality, he undertook a painstakingly thorough analysis of how we know what we know. It is this inward journey, made accessible to all, that is so universal and inspiring, and it is Patanjali’s trail that we attempt to retrace step by step, […] on the path to freedom.
Chip Hartranft, from his translation and commentary
of The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
It was Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In the world of consciousness, this examination is as important as any other ‘spiritual’ practice we may have. Even meditation itself, the most powerful tool at our disposal, will perform to its fullest capacity only if accompanied by an insistence on knowing the workings of our own mind.
This universe will present itself to us as we expect it to. Not in every way, of course – I cannot with a thought stop the rain or prevent the death of a loved one – but there are so many ways our expectation helps to determine our experience. If I expect to be disappointed in the way you love me, there is very little you will be able to do to please me; and if I expect to have a hard time at work today, I will find it extremely difficult to enjoy myself. The opposite is true in each of these examples as well.
In addition to paying attention to our expectations, it also can help to ask ourselves where do our beliefs and expectations come from? From our own experiences? And if so, are they still valid? Have they come from our childhood and the way we were taught to seek love in our home? Have they come from our parents, and if so, do we follow them because we wish to have the life our parents had, or are we just unconsciously continuing something we’ve always done? Have they come from our church, and if so, are they the words of the Master – Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha – or are they someone’s interpretation of those words and beliefs?
Meditation helps to break up the fossilized ruts of thinking, feeling and behavior that we can fall into. And then we get to choose:
what kind of life do I want for myself, and do my beliefs allow for me to have that life?
what kind of life does my God want for me, and do my beliefs allow me the freedom to seek that life?
if God is everything, and I am at one with that everything, how is it possible that God would, or even could, want for me anything other than joy, abundance, freedom, comfort and ease?
To ask these questions is to start down the road to change. And as we move toward a more full experience of life and an expectation of the joy of living, life and its joy will respond by moving toward us.
Today I will notice my reactions to the world, and I will ask myself if they come from my own ideas of the world, or from somewhere in my history. I will question those reactions that cause me or others pain or difficulty, and I will adjust my reactions accordingly. I will ask myself, ‘can I expect joy?’