This I Believe

Hal - Nashville, Tennessee
Entered on January 30, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50


I believe that we are spirits in a material world and that we are each here to have a unique experience of life. We are here to learn lessons, and in the process we will experience both joy and pain. The pain and struggle of this life are teachers, they are not meant to punish us, but to point us and help us grow. I believe that we can and do sometimes choose to suffer needlessly, but never without benefit.

There is something much deeper than religion and theology and this is what I want to reach for. The thing that makes this universe spin is not at all concerned with our ideas about theology or religion. I believe that Jesus and other great teachers were trying to tell us things that we just didn’t get. They showed us a masterful Picasso and we have spent 2000 years trying to figure out the pigments in the paint. There is a profound lesson for us in the fact that Jesus was never a Christian and Buddha was never a Buddhist.

I know that the news on my TV represents only the worst of the worst and I choose to not ever confuse that with “How Things Are.” Despite it all I believe that people are basically good, that the world is a good place to be, and that our fear causes most of our problems. Human nature is no different now than it has ever been and wherever there is fear there will be strife and conflict and even killing. I believe that the answers to these problems really are spiritual and that change will come one person at a time.

Beliefs can be a circumstance of birth, but knowing is a different kind of animal. Our beliefs are handed to us from the outside from the time we are small. But our knowing we bring with us, it comes from the inside. Our knowing is inexplicable and a much better guide to living. I can tell when someone knows. When the Dalai Lama is asked “what is the meaning of life and how can I achieve Peace?” he laughs and his eyes sparkle and he replies “I don’t know.” I can tell that he has a pretty good idea. I know that he knows something. When I watch the TV evangelists explain it all, it is clear to me that they do not know. I often think that we would all be much better off if we just stopped pretending we know and completely embrace the not-knowing. To look up at the stars and say “I Don’t Know” and there it stops- seems like a perfectly good answer to me, and the most sensible of all. As the Persian poet Rumi said in the 13th century, “Sell your Cleverness and purchase Bewilderment.”

If I had to pick one sentence as a guide for how to live my life, it would be “Be Kind.” To Yourself and to all others. After all, if I really know that We Are All One, how could I be any other way?