Practice What You Believe
I teach that attitude and emotions are really important for good health, physically as well as mentally, for emotions are both the constructive and destructive forces of any body. What is also important is that we try to practice what we believe. When we believe a certain thing, and we do something else, we are committing a spiritual error. Some would call this sin, which simply means that we are off the mark; we are not doing what we know is the right thing. If we know a thing to be true and we attempt to do it, no matter how hard it is, we are back on track, and our lives improve.
I explain to my students the harm of gossip. It is very difficult to refrain from speaking negatively about someone else, yet I challenge you to try to adopt this practice in your own life. It is natural to talk about others, but I challenge you to talk positively about others, instead of negatively. Instead of looking for fault, look for a blessing. I remind people of the parable about Jesus and the dead dog. Jesus and his disciples were walking down a road when they came upon a dog that had been dead for quite some time. The disciples were disgusted and commented about the ugly sight and smell of the carcass. Jesus, however, knelt down and examined the animal and remarked, “Yes, but look! It’s got beautiful white fangs!” The lesson is to look for something good, even in the worst situation. There is always something good in every scenario, no matter what.
How many times have you heard, “as a person thinks, so shall they become”? Certainly, what you eat, you become. Why can’t the same be true, for your mind? Many of the sleeping prophets have said the mind is the builder. What does that mean? It means simply, if you know something is right to do, you do it. You do not adulterate your mind by not doing it, or avoiding it. If you cannot tell the truth, then don’t say anything. When you have a suspicion or hear gossip, or you jump to a conclusion, refrain from condemning or judging someone else, by making an off-handed comment. Try not to speak in absolutes or exaggerations. All too often you will hear someone making claims about “everyone” saying something, when you know that it’s impossible for “everyone” to think the same way.
Instead, try to say what you believe, and what you have experienced. You do not need to rely on some imagined authority of “everyone” believing what you are claiming. You need only speak from your heart about what you believe is the truth. In this way, instead of talking about others, you are talking about yourself. If you attempt to do the right thing every day, and put yourself forward in the best light, you are finding your spiritual path. Will you stray from the path, from time to time? Of course, you will. You may interpret the actions of another as a transgression against you, and allow it to steal your peace of mind. But it may be a misunderstanding. Remember the Lord’s Prayer: we ask for forgiveness of our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Think of the power of that. Instead of being provoked into anger or sadness, attempt to go to someone and ask why they did what they did. You might find out it was a mistake or an error. Maybe they were retaliating against you for something they perceived you had done. In that case, it is their problem, because they didn’t come and make peace with you first.
When you know something is right, attempt to do the right thing, to find your inner way. It works well with good things as well. When you’re happy and you like somebody, go and tell them! “I really like you” or “I like to be near you.” Compassion is a two-way street. It might come back to you, too. When you find somebody in need, assist them, because some day, you will be in need as well.
When you start to look at the spiritual beliefs you have, you have a lot going on for you. The implementation of your beliefs is your graduation. All you have to do is be in the company of good people, people of like minds. When you sit down with people who are happy and upbeat, you start to feel better, happy, calm, safe, loved. Positive energy is pretty contagious. There is a well-known quote that “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared!” Powerful statement!
Remember, you are a spiritual being. The steps you take are simply the steps that you know are right to take. When you make a mistake, or when more information comes to you, and it improves what you know or improves your truth, then follow that. There will always be more truth. Try not to have hard opinions.
The lesson is: to find your inner way, simply do the things over and over that you know are correct to do, and attempt not to deviate from that path. This is the hard part. It’s much, much too easy to criticize somebody or to point a finger, or to find something wrong in someone, if they believe differently from what you believe. You may face bias and prejudice, but so does everyone who is following the spiritual path. These criticisms are in the minds of other people. Try not to condemn others; try to compliment them, and you are complimenting yourself. Don’t let other people’s thoughts, worries or pain come from their mind and be put in your mind. Don’t let what is in other people’s minds come into your mind. Look for the good that is in others and recognize it in yourself as well. It’s a huge discipline and a huge lesson.
What you hold in your mind makes your future. What you decide to do in this moment makes your future. All the decisions you have made in your past have brought you to this point right now. If you don’t like where you are, then start making better decisions. Make changes in your life. Be better, whatever that means to you. Always be helpful.
This article was based on a lecture given by Douglas at Many Mansions Spiritual Centre on February 24, 2013.