Evidence of Conviction
“If it were against the law to practice your particular faith,
would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Sometimes we come across a quote that is worthy of both reflection and action. The opener above is one that merits both. Think about it. It asks whether or not your actions are coherent with your beliefs — i.e. in more common parlance, “Do you walk your talk?” Does what you do align with what you believe you believe?
The phrase “what you believe you believe” may sound confusing. But oft-times there may be a disconnect between between what we “say” we believe and what we actually “do”. If we say we believe in eating healthily, for example, but then stop by the local hamburger joint and order a “gut grenade with fries”, are we acting in integrity? The evidence would suggest “Not!” [Oops, guilty as charged, officer!] We “believe” in eating health food, but that belief is not something we actually adhere to.
We’re not saying this to promulgate shame and guilt, but to promote mindful consciousness. It is important to be aware of what we’re doing — and then consciously evaluate it in terms of what our actions tell us about our beliefs. Do our actions and beliefs align? If not, how can we “come clean” and bring the two into harmony?
That is, do we wish to change our actions? Or, do we want to get honest and redefine our beliefs? Or perhaps take the middle path and do a bit of both? This is the work of a coordinated development of two of Big Love’s basic building blocks — Personal Spirituality and Authentic Living.
We ran across the opening quote in Edward Viljoen’s wonderful little book Ordinary Goodness (one certainly worth a read — and probably an addition to your personal library!). In a chapter titled “What Do You Believe” Viljoen writes:
I heard a motivational speaker ask his audience, “If it were against the law
to practice your particular faith, would there be enough evidence to convict
you?” What evidence is there in your life that you believe what you believe?
The real proof of what you believe is found in your behavior, in the way you
handle yourself in the day-to-day activities of your life, how you are when
you are at the top of the hill, and how you are when you are traveling
through the bottom of a valley of despair. [Ordinary Goodness, p. 202]
Rev. Michael Beckwith, one of Viljoen’s spiritual colleagues (both are ordained Religious Science Ministers), often puts this idea into a shorthand form saying, “What you do is what you believe”. We heard Beckwith talk on that topic at a conference some 20 years ago.
It was a life-changing concept — one that operates like an echo in our brains, a low-level refrain that rings persistently and constantly in our minds. We don’t consider ourselves “haunted” by it. Rather, we are grateful for it. It is kind of like a Jiminy Cricket-like “conscientiousness” reminding us to stay on course.
Elsewhere in Ordinary Goodness, Viljoen puts forth an idea about “seeing goodness” in everyday thing as a helpful habit. Paraphrasing, he says that when we see and notice goodness in “ordinary” things on a habitual basis, seeing goodness becomes easier and easier.
The same is likely true in putting ourselves to the “belief vs. action” test on a regular basis. To the extent that we form a conscious habit of observing the integrity of our actions and beliefs, the easier it becomes. Maybe it’s like yoga for our soul.
The more aligned we become in the “little” actions of day-to-day living, the more we create a substrate for bringing our Authentic Living into alignment with our Personal Spirituality (and vice-versa —they are, after all, different sides of the same coin). When that happens, we almost automatically create enough “Evidence for Conviction” of being true to our beliefs!
May the Force of Conviction Be With You!
Olivia & Steve
It’s Your Turn!
“The Duck Test”. You know it: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck….etc, etc. … It’s a duck!”
“The Duck Test” might be a playful and useful metaphor in considering an evaluation of your actions vs. beliefs. When you look at yourself, what kind of “duck” do you see? Are you “quacking” your walk and walking your “quack”?
Anyway, this might be a fun way to contemplate today’s topic. It definitely allows you to take yourself less seriously — and maybe to have fun working the issue!
Bonus Idea! “HeartMath” teaches techniques that bring us into a state of “coherence”, aligning our mind with our heart. One such method is called the “Quick Coherence Technique”. It’s a simple two step process: (1) Focus on your heart and breathe into your heart-space for 5 seconds or more and then (2) make a sincere effort to experience a positive, regenerative feeling of appreciation or caring for someone. For more info, see https://www.heartmath.com/quick-coherence-technique/ (Note: the image at the top of this blog is an attempt to portray a visual representation of the “Quick Coherence Technique”)
If you’re willing, please share your responses in the comment section under this blogpost as it appears on the Big Love Community Facebook page.
Big Love News:
Good News — Big Love has an initial home! We’ve signed a lease to hold gatherings and classes at the Christian Science Church on Clairemont Drive in San Diego. Our first “live” event will be Wednesday, September 6th. If you can’t join us in person, we hope you’ll be there in spirit! Watch this space for more info!
If there are topics you’d like us to address, please send us an email from our “Contact Us” web page.