This Week's Sunday Message

Your Owner's Manual: Part 2

Reverend Arlyn Macdonald Picture

When we were growing up, our parents did not have an Owner's Manual that should have come with us when we arrived in our families. Owner's Manuals make sure something is operating at its prime level and all the parts are working in proper order. We need an Owner's Manual so we can develop into full and complete human beings. Today's Message is Part 2 of a series about what we should have learned from our owner's manuals. We are fortunate that owner's manuals for humans have been recreated.

One of the best is Your Owner's Manual. It begins with the important question, "What is Truth?" The answer is: no one really knows for sure. The Truth we were taught and we still believe, even if it doesn't really work for us any longer, comes from our family's beliefs, the beliefs of our culture and the age in which we live. In the technology age, our children already have different beliefs about the truth than we have. For example, they believe it is their right to have access 24/7 to all the information in the world at their fingertips.

Here is a good example of how our old beliefs, based on our culture and our time in history work in our lives and how easy it is to change those beliefs once we recognize them. Donald is reading a new book, "The Atheist Muslim," by Ali A. Rizvi. In the story, the author is working as a clerk in a convenience store during the summer in Canada. He is studying at a university in Pakistan to become a doctor. A Middle Eastern-looking man comes in to the store to buy cigarettes, a soda and a lottery ticket. As he is ringing up the sale, the two men start talking. The customer remarks that his son would also like to study medicine and he is thinking of asking him to come to Canada. The clerk asks, "Where is he now?" The customer answers, "Back home, in Israel."

The Muslim clerk starts to feel cold, his heart begins to race, his palms turn clammy and his muscle tense up. Before he knows what is happening, he is in full fight-or-flight mode. He is surprised at his reaction and puzzled by his inability to control his responses. He is also embarrassed. He manages to stammer, "He should definitely try here."

The customer asks, "Where are you studying?" The clerk answers, "In Pakistan and before that I was in Saudi Arabia," and forces a smile. The customer's demeanor changes and he picks up his bag and starts to walk out opening his pack of cigarettes as he walks away and says, "Well, good luck, and thank you." As the customer starts to open the door the clerk calls out, "Mind if I join you? I have my own cigarettes." And they walk outside together.

After a few awkward moments, the clerk says, "You're the first person from Israel I've ever met." He tells him what people think about Israelis in Saudi Arabia and the customer laughs and shakes his head, more entertained than outraged. They become more at ease with each other and In a few moments, the conversation turns to their respective religions and it turns out they are not so different after all. Both men are atheists.

The second question the Manual asks is, "Who are you?" The general answer is we are a physical body with a mind. Religions tell us different truths about who we are and we have accepted different beliefs based on those stories as well. The best answer for our time is "we are spiritual beings having a physical experience."

So, the first big revelation in Your Owner's Manual states:

WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE, AND WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE TRUE IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE MADE UP.

We believe what we think is the Truth, as the story illustrates. Each man believed a different truth until they talked with each other. Our minds are so powerful that they create filters that change everything we experience to fit our beliefs, even if it is not true, and our minds do this without us even being aware of it as the Muslim's first reaction to the Israeli. It is our filtered perception that gives meaning to all our experiences. All experiences are neutral, as in a man walks into a store.

This morning we continue with another important lesson we should have learned as children. Your Owner's Manual asks, "What is the basic premise that our minds use to build the filters of our perceptions?" This basic premise forms while we are still in the womb. Some say it might carry over from past lives. The basic premise is, "do you believe this is a world of love and oneness or a world of separateness and loneliness?" This basic premise and all the rest of our beliefs are lodged in our subconscious mind, our inner self, our inner child.

From this basic premise, we form habits that allow us to only see possible choices that support what we think is true about the world. This is the ego habit in action. Our ego habit tries to tell us we only have limited choices because only those choices support our basic premise. The Truth is we have infinite possibilities and choices. Our ego habit is not the reality of who we are, but everything we have come to believe about ourselves.

Can we change these beliefs? The Manual says, "Yes." One of the ways to change beliefs is to use positive affirmations. But the ego habit is tricky and can turn our well-thought out affirmation to a simple wish and a wish has no effect at all in changing our beliefs. When what you say in an affirmation is in conflict with what you believe, the positive wish will only reinforce the negative belief.

What kind of positive affirmation which can change a belief? It has three elements: It must be a principle upon which life depends; it must separate the meaningful from the meaningless, and must be a positive affirmation. The affirmations we say each Sunday affirming our prayers for the people are good examples of positive affirmations. These affirmations are life changing when we completely believe them. They call us to expand our perceptions of who we really are. "Love is present everywhere," is a positive affirmation. We can completely believe this statement and when we do, we see love everywhere and our ego habit brings more love to us. The ego habit needs to be retrained to help us achieve completeness as a human being.

What is another way to change beliefs that are so ingrained in us from childhood? (We learned our basic premise before we were 5 years old!) Your Owner's Manual tells us: DETERMINE CAREFULLY WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN (the new belief) AND TEACH IT. THE SOLE PURPOSE FOR TEACHING IS TO REINFORCE OUR OWN BELIEFS. And who is our student? We are!

Remember, we don't just teach by instructing with words. We teach by example, by our actions, and our relationships. We teach what we want to learn by becoming what we want to be. We will continue next Sunday with some other important instructions from Your Owner's Manual. Stay tuned. Namaste.