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Perceptions and Beliefs

I am re-reading a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book. I have read this book many times. I really love it and it has such wonderful information for everyone today no matter what your faith or religious views. It opened my eyes to quite a few things I had not considered in the past.

He speaks about perceptions and beliefs. We acquire beliefs all through our life. Many times, we don’t even recognize that we have these beliefs. For example, being a good boy or girl. We accept the idea of what a good girl or boy is, does, believes, behaves, and acts. Later, beliefs are taught to us by our schools, our churches, and our governments. In today’s times not everyone holds the same beliefs.

Perceptions are how we perceive our world. If you perceive the world as a hostile place, you will see hostility, crime, and lawlessness. If you perceive the world as basically good with a few bad characters, then you will see the beauty of the world and each other. Our perceptions can create beliefs and vice versa. Also, perceptions can validate our beliefs. If all you watch is the evening news or one of the many news stations you are likely to get a myopic view of the world. Issues are slanted to one side or the other, regardless of the truth or the whole story.

Ruiz writes that all people need to be aware of their beliefs and perceptions. We tend to judge people very harshly because of them. We tend to judge ourselves even more harshly for our perceived failures and deficiencies. This leads to ethnocentrism, racism, ageism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and all other forms of discrimination and fear. We develop depression, anxiety and become suicidal.

A good example, and one that does not cause too much pushback, is when I lived in the country near Houston. I had many friends in Houston who would say, “Why do you live out THERE!” Obviously, said with a lot of judgement about “country folks”. However, when I try to explain the peace, beauty, quiet, serenity, and the joy of being able to have a garden, chickens and fruit orchards, I am met with sneers. “Better you than me!” This made me feel lesser than I am. After all, aren’t country people stupid, sloppy, ignorant, drunks, and slow? If this is your perception of country folk then you will transfer all of those beliefs on top of me when you know I am from the “country”.

I believe we need to look inside ourselves and see what perceptions and beliefs are there. Are they working for you? Turn off Fox and MSNBC. Consider OUR accepted beliefs about others: Jew, Moslems, foreigners, Arabs, Africans, African American, LGBTQ folks, Asians, Latin Americans, etc. These beliefs and perceptions are tearing our country apart.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you!”. No exclusions. No exceptions. Think! Rev Robert Rice, Church of Natural Grace 5/15/22


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