Saturday, September 17, 2011

NO, BUT I'M RIGHT!

Throughout time, clashes over spiritual beliefs have been responsible for more cruelty, suffering and murder than anything else. It is baffling that people are willing to hurt and butcher one another simply to prove that their concept of God is the right one!




I used to think that I was different, and always considered myself to be a tolerant and fair person who was above such nonsense...until last week, when I found myself swept up into a disagreement with a friend about some differences in our spiritual beliefs and practices. We argued via email. It was a sad and stupid disagreement that probably destroyed a beautiful friendship.


Curiously, my friend and I actually hold spiritual beliefs that are nearly identical. It turns out that this isn't unusual.




The folks we love to hate in the name of God are often those who have beliefs that are close to our own. For the most part, we don't waste our time rampaging against people with religious views that are alien and weird compared to ours. No suicide bomber is going to try to prove his point by blowing himself up in the marketplace of an obscure New Guinea tribe who worships tree gods.


No, we turn to our neighbors when we want to wage religious wars. The most horrific acts of violence are inflicted upon people who almost believe the same things we do. That's when we really get upset. Look at the conflicts between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East, or the bloodshed throughout European history between Protestants and Catholics. Christians, Jews and Muslims, who have battled one another for centuries, share many core beliefs and even honor some of the same spiritual figures, like Abraham and Moses.


Back to my friend: I was furious that something as sacred as my connection to that which I choose to call God had been judged and found lacking. Even after our e-conversation ended, my mental chatter continued. Loudly. A tape-loop in my mind replayed the specifics of our differences over and over again. I defended myself mentally against what I perceived as his attack and, in my imagination, let him know, point by point, precisely how wrong he was. How dare he criticize my relationship to the divine??!!??


I was the one who was RIGHT, doggone it! My thoughts churned faster and faster with all the reasons I was right. My spinning mind kept me awake that night, and continued pestering me the following day, driving me to distraction. 


And then I remembered a little saying I heard once:


The mental hospitals are full of people who were RIGHT!



Oh. Oops. Wait a minute.


There seems to be something inbred that demands that we win at all costs, especially when it concerns our spiritual beliefs; perhaps it's a survival technique dating back to our hominid days on the savannahs, or a way of determining who is the alpha of the pack. Hoping, however, to be vindicated and proven right is definitely not a path that leads to security or peace of mind in today's world


One of my friends has a motto. She used to be a long-distance truck driver, and she learned this on the highway. She is an amazing, loving person who lives by her motto. 


It is a great motto. Think of the suffering, both on an international and a personal level, that could be escaped by adopting it:


I would rather be kind than be right.



     (c) 2011, Mary Elizabeth Raines

See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newest novel, UNA, available in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Do you believe that the energy of your thoughts and emotions have power?

Many of us mistakenly believe that certain circumstances warrant being filled with misery, anxiety and worry--that these sodden emotions are the best way to show compassion.

If you were gravely ill, however, who would you rather have at your bedside: someone who stood wringing their hands and crying about the devastation of your illness, or someone who chose to smile and laugh as they projected positive healing energy around you?

Being positive doesn't mean stuffing our negative emotions or going into denial. It is not just wise, but necessary, to acknowledge and feel pain. When sad feelings have been honored, however, we then have a choice. We can perpetuate the misery by hosting thoughts filled with worry and fear, or we can move into happier states.

I used to fret about the sad state of the natural world--the plants and animals that had no ability to protect themselves against the destructive forces of humankind. A wise friend suggested that my fretting was only adding to the layers of despair and pain surrounding the planet, and recommended that the best way I could help, at least on an energetic and emotional level, would be to find more opportunities to experience joy in my life! I loved that message!





Another wise person, an older Quaker woman, told me that prayer is not just those times we set apart to converse with the Divine. 

"Our connection to God doesn't stop when we say amen," she said. "It's not just those few short minutes that count. Every thought we think, every feeling we have, and every word we say is a prayer. Our very lives are the prayer. And God answers prayer!"


"If you really want to help the miserable of the world, don't be one of them." Sonia Choquette, Author


See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newest novel, UNA, available in paperback or Kindle.

About Me

My Photo
Mary Elizabeth (Leach) Raines is the author of the novel, UNA, as well as several other books, short stories and plays. Many of these can be found on Amazon.com. She is also a hypnosis instructor, the director of the Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training. She is a columnist for an international hypnosis magazine, and she teaches qualified individuals in past-life regression and guided imagery. Mary Elizabeth attended New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she was a piano performance major. She has also pursued independent film studies at UW-Oshkosh. She has won awards for a short film she directed and wrote, a screenplay, and a stage play. She is the creator of the popular Laughing Cherub hypnosis CDs. In her free time, Mary Elizabeth creates fractal art, cooks, paints, dabbles with computers, gardens organically, and keeps bees.