Sunday, April 25, 2010

Who agreed on this?

I often sit in contemplation. In those contemplations at times I will take my inventory as to “how I am doing.” Am I being “good?” Do I believe the “right stuff?” How is my spirituality? I guess I just inquire into the “Tony state of the union.” I hope I am getting a passing grade. I like to think I am.

That being said is recently I picked up a new book to read. Every day during the week I pick up my son from his school, and at times while waiting in the Stop-drop-and-go line, I like to have something to pick me up and I often opt for the book that polishes my soul after completing a day’s work. This time it was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Now I have just started it. I am not even into the first agreement yet. However what I found profoundly interesting is the concept of “agreements” he touches on in the first chapter. He brought to light the concept of an “agreement” being a collection of thoughts or beliefs that were accepted as truths, practices, and or belief systems that are embraced as the accepted norm. These can be anything from societal laws, religions, as well as behavioral standards. This I found interesting.

What I pondered was that the inventory I was taking upon myself was based upon agreements others made in times past. Those agreements of what is considered “acceptable behavior” was bestowed upon us all as necessary parameters of how we should think and act to be accepted.

People once came together and through a primary deliberation, or simply by trial and error of what worked for those agreeing at the time, created a standard. Often times these standards, memes if you will, remained indelible and unchallenged.

I can see how laws and certain parameters of conduct are worthy of this untouchable status. Flexible or wavering standards of acceptable behavior in a populous society could lead to anarchy if the laws were open to personal interpretation. However, I reflected back on when I would wonder “how I am doing.”

When I look at certain things I believe in, I often ask “whose” truth I am seeking. If something does not fit or feel right, how far should I follow into self-doubt or even animosity for trying to conform to behavior that is causing me doubt or pain? At what point do we ever hold any ownership in what we do, feel, or believe? Who agreed this is how I am supposed to feel?

Am I being “good” enough; “strong” enough? Am I doing what a “man” should do? Whose interpretation is this? Who sits in judgment of this behavior other than my Creator? When I do not believe in the same manner as you, am I wrong, or are you? Are we both? Who agreed on this? Should we then become separate because our beliefs differ? Are we wrong or are we simply disagreeing?

When my kids ask me, “Am I being good Daddy”, I say yes! I say it not from the benchmark of their behavior complying with a certain set of criteria set forth in the agreements of others who came before me. I say it out of love. Their shortcomings and behavioral indiscretions we can work on together. We can appreciate the light in each other as our differences bond us as actually being the same. I will not participate in teaching them to judge others by an agreement I did not agree to.

Good, bad, right, wrong, and everything in between are subjective. In general, I think all when left up to our intuition, spiritual cultivation, and just the deep “knowing” we have inside us, we probably would “agree” on most of what these terms would mean and the behavior that would wisely support it. Those who do not agree with us will find others who agree with them. Therefore, we agree to disagree, and those we disagree with will find others who agree with them to disagree with us. This just makes my head hurt.

I find what works for me is just that–what works for me. I study, I pray, I research, and I try to live on the greater side of good, as opposed to the lesser side of evil. I ask God to “show me what I need to see.” I pray for patience, love, compassion, and acceptance of others especially in the face of our differences. I find I would rather work on my own inventory as opposed to focusing on my interpretation of the deficits in others.

I just thought it was funny that I had an epiphany that all I was trying to seek, be, or become often times was an agreement made by others in the past, and continued perpetually onward, often without question when we became of the age and maturity to ask what works for us as individuals.

I don’t see myself “challenging” many things as opposed to pondering them. They way things are are not intolerable. I just do not feel as awkward when I question some behaviors and viewpoints I have had or have had imposed upon me. I will not feel guilty if I look into “why” I do or do not believe in things. All things, not just behavioral or spiritual, but simply why we do some of the things we do.

I will try to stay more connected to the gut feelings and little voices in my head. I think that is the real me trying to be heard. Even if I comply with certain things, I know it is okay to not agree. It is okay to seek an alternative.

The truths we hold early in our lives may become invalid. Often we may feel we “know” what is correct, but it is often true that the things we “know” can also prove our ignorance.

I hope the rest of the book is interesting. I also know I do not have to agree with any or all of it. I know there is a lot out there left to learn. I know that what I learn can gain and lose value as I grow. I know my truths can be different from others even on the same path heading in the same direction. I know that it is healthy to reflect on what works for me from time to time–to clean out my closet of its junk. I also know I don’t know. Maybe that is one thing we can agree on.


Anonymous said...

Tony, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your writings, and your take on the world. You have an in- site into things that others can only dream about. Thank you and keep writing

bigskygirl said...

Excellent writing and reflection.


Anonymous said...

I often find myself questioning whether I agree with a societal norm or if I agree with my distorted perception of a societal norm. Then my head starts hurting and I quit thinking about it.

margg. said...

really interesting.

The Adviser said...

I wish I could join your blog and become a follower but I am not on facebook. But I do want to say that is interesting that our values can sometimes stem from others agreements. True confidence is to make an agreement with yourself that you take care for you not based on society. Please let us know what the next chapters are about. Sometimes I review books as well in my posts. I'll be back.

Tanvi said...

Seriously. The right and the wrong are so subjective. We cannot judge anybody, not even ourselves. We can always try and hope to be right.