How to Not Know What You Think You Know
This past Sunday, I spoke at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco about the Orlando shootings. Because many of the CMC are part of the LGBT community, it felt important to me to address it as it was on the minds of most of the attendees. One point during my talk has been brought up by several people as meaningful for them and so I wanted to share that here with you, which is the difference between knowledge and belief and why it is important to recognize the difference.
To know something, I need to have experienced it. I know that it hurt when I fell down the stairs. I know that my car is silver. I know that I have had three very different careers and some other jobs. To believe something, I may really think it is true but I have not experienced it or have reason to question that my experience is universally true.
I believe that the sky above Africa looks blue, but I’ve never seen it. I’ve been told it is blue. The scientific rules I’ve been told would make it blue. But I don’t really *know* that it is blue. I believe that if I eat a hot fudge sundae, I will like it because I have always liked hot fudge sundaes, but I can’t guarantee that I will enjoy it - I don’t really know that I will enjoy it until I have it. Yet many times, a lie is in the middle of a be-lie-f. Our belief is based on a thought that isn't true.
In my life, this is really a helpful distinction to make when I believe that I know why someone did (or didn’t) do something. When I say, “Frank didn't call me back because he doesn’t like me,” that is a belief and then I get upset. When I think “I won’t get that job because I’m a woman,” that is a belief and I go into the interview annoyed. When I see a news story and get angry that the politicians are just trying to protect themselves, that’s a belief and I feel like a victim. Yet, I cannot really know any of these if I am honest. Frank might have gotten busy with family. I might not have gotten the job because I came across as having a bad attitude. The politicians may have had to give up on the item I was concerned about because there were other more pressing needs for more people that needed addressed.
Instead, if I hold the position of not knowing and allowing that to be, I can be much more peaceful. I can say I didn’t like something, but I don’t have to be angry or victimized by a story. This past month, 49 people were killed in Orlando by a shooter. There has been a lot of theories on the news about why he did what he did. Yet, I don’t really know. No one really knows. He may not have really even known why he was doing what he was doing. If I start thinking, “I’m not safe if I go to this type of establishment” then I will live in fear because of a story, a thought, that the news promulgated and which I accepted into my life. Rather, I choose to know that Spirit has a plan much bigger and better than I can imagine. I choose to allow people to do what they do without always making it about me. I choose to try to understand situations from the other person’s perspective and have compassion for them regarding the experiences that they are having. It feels better to not live in my thoughts which much too often are either unsubstantiated or wholly false.
So I encourage you to look at what you are thinking if you are upset. Do you really know that the thought is true? Is there some other explanation that could be possible that might not be as upsetting? And if yes, allow yourself to not know and to live in the responsibility of taking care of your thoughts, feelings and your heart. Be the Love that you want to see in this world. Be the Love that you deserve to yourself.