It’s a cockroach, a thing of such insignificant value and certainly not a thing I’d want hanging around me. In fact, I’d probably want to kill it even if I didn’t do the actual act. This creates a huge dilemma for my Buddhist friend, Tony.
He doesn't want to share space with the roach either and has taken to killing them in the past. But that creates such guilt for him because his philosophy, like the Christian commandments, says something along the lines of ‘thou shall not kill’. Either he follows his belief all the way or he’s not following it at all. It would be like saying you are a kind person but really you are only kind to the people you like.
This dilemma shows up in many ways in our lives. We believe that exercise is good for us but somehow we can’t find the time. Or that we should look after the environment but buy numerous products in plastic that harm it in the long run. Or that junk food is bad yet we find ourselves eating a whole chocolate bar. Shhhh….
The one that caught me the other day was the fact that I call myself an animal lover yet I enjoy eating chicken and beef. “Don’t you know about the cruelty to animals in how they are raised and slaughtered?” I was asked. “Um, yes, but…” I had no answer that would satisfy. Either I was an animal lover and not eating meat or I wasn’t.
It’s not easy to stay true to your beliefs and act in accordance with that belief one hundred percent of the time. But it’s something I’ve been contemplating this week and here’s what I would suggest – it starts with balance.
And by balance I mean using what you have now and doing the best you can with that. No point going overboard to accomplish something that will just make your life miserable.
If you are not clear, make a list of what you value most in life and the beliefs you hold about them. Know that you may not be able to act in congruence with your belief all the time but it gives you a starting point to work from and do your best. Tony is very clear that killing is not an option and is now at the point in his life that he’s looking at it in finer and finer detail.
If you live in chronic pain what do you believe about who’s in charge of your care? Is it you or the doctor? If you have given over your care to your doctor are you happy with the results? If not, will you change who’s in charge? I believe that healing starts with self-care so I view my doctor as a consultant, and I take his advice seriously, but I make the decisions on what other care will take place.
Once your beliefs are concrete it’ll be easier to make decisions. If kindness is important to you and should be used in every situation, then even when your achy body isn’t working well you will treat it with kindness - just as you will treat that pesky neighbor, or street beggar with kindness.
When you are clear about your values and beliefs, and start acting in accordance with those beliefs your self-confidence will start to rise. If you believe that self-care is important, you will pay attention to your body, get to know how it reacts to treatments, drugs, stress, and so on. With that knowledge comes the confidence, and with that confidence you will not waste time with doctors or therapists who don’t hear what you have to say pushing only their agenda.
Part of my self-care is what I eat and though I may not be ready to give up meat yet, my choices of where I buy it can change. I’m working towards staying true to my beliefs in all cases, not just the ones I like. I’d also have to add that I know I have to change my idea about the cockroach being of insignificant value, all God’s creatures count, and I’m working on it!
What challenges do you face when working to act in accordance with your beliefs? Leave a message on Facebook.