Lesson Learned

March 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

I wrote this post at the end of last year in response to a #reverb 10 prompt. It’s about my judgments and my efforts to understand and release them. Please do comment – if any of this resonates I would love to discuss, but please know that it’s not meant to offend or spark a debate on religion or belief.


Prompt: Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

I am not the open minded person I thought I was.

This may not have been the most pleasant thing to learn, so, maybe not the “best” thing I’ve learned, but arguably the most important. Realizing the depth of my judgments – from big things to common everyday things – is shifting my perspective slowly and deliberately. I had the thought the other day that if I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita and that’s akin to the Bible… Maybe it’s time to go back and read the Bible (my judgmental self gasped, “WHAT?!”) I haven’t so much as opened my Bible since I was just a kid and still attending church. I wonder if it is even still in the house (yep. It turned up while we sorting through the attic. I’m rather surprised it survived the force of my adult rejection of it’s God).

I’m serious about reading the bible – although it will take me time to get to it – and probably yet more internal discussions to appease my skeptic. And I am not aiming to offend if you are Christian, I promise I am not, I am just examining my feelings on these topics (out loud). What I object to about Christianity is the questionable application of values that I have experienced in my own life (Of course, most of us can say we’ve witnessed similar behavior from some Yogi’s, Buddhists, Vegans, Democrats/Republicans, and I have displayed it myself in my non-religion, and that makes me…. Yup. A hypocrite. Ouch.) Any values or moral tenets are subject to interpretation and there will be times when I disagree with the interpretation! I have reflexively lumped all of Christian faith in with the interpretation I’m finding fault with, which is hardly fair. Even and especially as there have always been people of strong faith in my life whom I greatly respect. If I am not respectful of their faith in spite of the points on which I might disagree, I am not respecting them.

If all religions are about love at their core, why shouldn’t I read the Bible? One of my favorite things about the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita has been the translator’s recommendation NOT to take their word as truth. And my new “friend” Krishnamurti (I still haven’t decided whether I think he was brilliant or a big asshole… Oops, there I go with the judgements.) says that as soon as the words are spoken/written, it’s not truth, it’s interpretation. Don’t accept what you are fed by an authority, seek out the truth yourself. That would be my interpretation of his words – so take THAT for what it’s worth! The message I’m getting from all of this is: Study, find what resonates, read other translations, hell, go learn the language and translate it yourself. My thought is that applying the same student’s eye I am using for the Sutras and the Gita to the Bible might give me a more objective view of Christianity.

A friend at work has a son who is attending Catholic school and is going through First Reconciliation soon. She is “hardly a good Catholic” (her words, not mine), and questions a lot of what she sees both in her church and in the larger Catholic organization, but her description to me of her discussion with her son and what the process is about (forgiveness, and ultimately, being able to give it to yourself) was very moving to me. It seems a shame to take a core concept like love and bury it in a bunch of dogma that is sometimes used to justify very un-loving acts…. And that right there is the heart of my problem. I have taken issue with the faith when I should be taking issue with an interpretation, and I am humbled to say that. And furthermore, though this part is still very much in the works for me, that the people holding fear-filled interpretations are also deserving of compassion.

Lest you think my dislike for dogma is blind to yoga, I have to tell you that I have had the same reactions to the yoga “stuff”. I freaked out a tiny bit when in Teacher Training we were told to chant OM as part of our sitting practice, even though I had already begun to learn more about the word and to appreciate it’s meaning (Really, it is not so different from the singing of hymns, except for the repetition!). Now, my head still occasionally balks at such concepts, because I have not completely released my fearful and stereotypical judgements of yogis – but my heart just loves it. It feels amazing.  And now that we’ve moved on to something else, and we aren’t chanting anymore, I miss it. Shhhhhh… don’t tell.

So, I am NOT the open-minded person I thought that I was. But somehow, in the simple (or, not-so-simple) act of acknowledging this, I can feel it beginning to shift. I’m working on it.

§ 4 Responses to Lesson Learned

  • SisuGirl says:


    I am entirely with you thru this entire post. In the past I have called myself a Christian. I still strongly identify myself as a Christian, if forced to make a choice. Yet there are times when I know that that identifier itself closes me off to many different aspects of open-mindedness and I know from my own practices that I am close to many different beliefs of most Christian faiths. It is a confusing mis-mash of faith, belief and interpretations and on my own road, I am trying to sort it all out without a title because I know, at the heart of it all, is simply a faith in a higher power than myself. And I need to have that.

    • Mel says:

      Thank you for commenting Tasha, you’re a valuable voice for this topic. I’m not comfortable with a lot of titles and labels either – and it’s reassuring to me to hear that someone who does believe in a higher power is still sorting things out. There have been times when I thought that belief would be, if not better, than at least easier than the mysteries (I can’t just let something go, can I? I have to think it to death!) For now, I’m working on getting comfortable with the questions and the fact that I can’t explain the basic things that I hold as sacred like love, forgiveness, humanity – with math (not, mind you, that I am a mathematician!!) I had to go look for this, because I think it’s so appropriate:

      Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day. -Rainer Maria Rilke

      I can’t say that I’m loving the questions, yet, but I’m working on the humility of knowing that the understanding is beyond me… And that really, love is enough, no matter how we phrase it.

  • Rhiannon says:

    This is really beautiful. It sounds like you’re speaking out of my own mind in parts of it.

    I think this kind of introspection is absolutely vital to help us all live more kindly with each other on this earth. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Thank you so much Rhiannon. You know, I was just reading your post on Going Sideways (LOVE!) – and it spoke to me for so many similar reasons. Some of this stuff takes a lot of time for me and I can’t approach it head on, I have to sidle on up to it. And sometimes I feel like I’m going around my ass to get to my elbow with some of this, but if that’s what it takes for me to get comfortable and move forward, it still works, right?!

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