Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Belief: an acceptance that something is true or that something exists; a firmly held opinion or conviction; trust, faith or confidence in something or someone.

Opinion: a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge; an estimation of the quality or worth of something or someone.

Suppose that there are two people—let's make them female for the sake of argument—equal in every way: height, physical conformation/fitness level, ability, knowledge, skill level. There are two stalls in a horse barn; equally dirty. Each stall contains an equal amount of manure, good shavings, wet shavings, etc. The tools used to clean are equally balanced as well. Neither has the advantage over the other.

This is hypothetical, mind you. The fact that I'm using stall cleaning as the structure is only because I clean stalls several times a week and it lends itself well.

OK. So the two girls set about cleaning their stalls.

The girl in Stall A can't stand the job. She hates every minute of it—the smell, the physical labor, the dirtiness involved. As she cleans, she grumbles inwardly, complaining about how awful the job is. She is resentful of how much poop her horse leaves behind, what a waste of good riding time it is, and wonders why they have to smell so bad. Why can't they just live outside?

The girl in Stall B, however, is smiling. While it's not the most pleasant task, she does it with ease and a smile, because she is happy to be around horses, happy to be caring for hers, doesn't mind the physicality involved (hey, it saves a trip to the gym) and the smell reminds her of her favorite thing in life (horses). As she cleans, she thinks about her beloved horse, how much she enjoys riding and being with him, and appreciates the nice clean barn where he lives. She appreciates her role in providing that for him.

What is the difference here?

Stall A thinks of this as "working hard". She resents it. The energy she is transmitting as she works is NEGATIVE.

Stall B sees this as an opportunity to provide for her horse. She is focused on doing a good job but moreso, is focused on the benefits and the real meaning of the work: it means she has a horse! and that he has a nice place to live. She is transmitting POSITIVE energy as she cleans.

The difference is in the stall cleaners' belief systems and the type of energy that results from it. Same situation, two vastly opposite beliefs about it.

Stall A is probably not going to be very effective at convincing Stall B that this is a lousy pointless job and a waste of time and energy. Likewise, Stall B might have a shot at shifting Stall A's belief a little bit, depending on how firmly ingrained Stall A's belief system is; but not likely.

As I discovered through my exploration of alternate religions while living under the roof of Christian-based parents; through the process of becoming a student of natural horsemanship while boarding at a barn occupied by 98% traditional horsemen; and through my study of natural hoof care while being overseen by a traditional horseshoer; I've learned that it is impossible to "win" a battle of belief systems.

Both sides believe fully that they are right.

Both sides can provide support for their beliefs. Maybe not entirely tangible or provable, but to them, valid.

The ratio of proveable facts to philosophical or emotional assumptions is like 1:99.

Neither will change their belief unless they WANT to; one person cannot change the belief system held by another just by telling them to do so. It's an internal personal process.

It can be possible to sway someone who is impartial and unbiased towards one side or another if an effective argument is provided—and IF the person on the fence is unconsciously already leaning in that direction. (Nobody is truly impartial except maybe God*.) Sometimes someone will say something that triggers a profound shift, and the person's belief changes.

You're probably wondering where this is leading, right? Oh, great, Jeanne's off on one of her philosophical rants again, LOL. Well, I had—brace yourselves—an epiphany today. (Not another one!)

I realized that the real battle over the estate has very little to do with facts (property values/money) but is really about BELIEF SYSTEMS.

The reason I get so upset when I get yet another email from Lawyer or Nemesister is not because the facts don't ring true (they don't but that's another issue)—it's because the evidence being used to support the "argument in favor of giving the sister all the money and finding a 6% interest ambiguous-terms loan on my interitance" is ALL emotionally-based. It's all based on HER belief systems versus mine. That the lawyer has core beliefs that resonate more with her than with me is another issue.

We have very different philosophies about life. She believes that working hard means something and that if you aren't "working hard", you're lazy and therefore worth less than she is. If you're enjoying it, you aren't working hard.

I believe in the concept of right livelihood, that what you do for a living should be effortless and meaningful. Please note: I do not condone laziness or taking an attitude that the government "owes" me a living (ie exploiting government programs or individuals). The concept of "effortless work" is that if you are doing what you are truly called to do, if you are on the path you are supposed to be on, if you are doing the thing that makes your spirit sing, then you are pursuing right livelihood. Your days will feel effortless, which is as it should be. You find joy in your work; the least desireable tasks can still be done with joy and gratefulness; when you go home, you may be tired, but it's a good tired, one where you feel blessed to have lived the day, blessed to be doing what you're doing, fulfilled in spirit and mind and heart.

It's like what I've heard people say: "I can't believe they pay me to play music/ride horses/write books/teach underwater basketweaving/save lives/[insert job]". THAT is how it's meant to be. Days fly by because you are so involved in what you're doing that you don't notice it's quitting time; you are a bit disappointed that you have to stop for the day; you can't wait to get out of bed the next day and start again; 16 hours is not a long enough "work" day.

THAT is pursuing right livelihood. You don't have to be a musician to be doing this. If you TRULY love law, then being a lawyer is right livelihood. If you truly enjoy helping people overcome their emotional issues, then being a psychologist is right livelihood. If you truly find joy in restoring a home from filth to cleanliness, then being a housecleaner is right livelihood. If you love children, being a preschool teacher or mother is right livelihood.

Get my point?

If you hate what you are doing and find justification in the fact that you are proving your worth by "working hard"... you're on the WRONG path.

Yes, sometimes we have to do those things for awhile before we get on the right path, but you get my point, right?

My sister hates her job. When she was counseling people, she enjoyed it. But since becoming an administrator, she hates it with a passion and cannot stand it. Cannot wait until the day she retires so she can open up her own practice and get back to what she enjoyed. (I'm not entirely sure being a counselor is her true dream anyway; her fascination with serial killers and the FBI makes me think she missed her calling to be a profiler or investigator.)

Me? I refuse to do a job I hate. I did that. But I also did a lot of things that IF I had hated it, it would have been hard work. Like playing in rock bands. Not as easy as you think. Sure, you play music and travel and get the glory of being on stage—but if you could have seen some of the living situations we endured, the poverty—I remember one night driving three hours home from a gig in the band bus (refurbished yellow school bus) in mid-winter WITHOUT HEAT and it was FREEZING that night, we had to take turns huddling for warmth and driving the bus... you'd think we were crazy to be doing it. My Mother did. Why did I persist? Because I LOVED IT. Loving what you do makes the yucky parts tolerable. But when the BEST part of the day is intolerable, what does that say about the yucky parts?

After this epiphany, I realized that the reason I get angry when I read their emails is because they are calling me to defend my BELIEF systems against theirs. It's all about personal issues. But it's impossible to win—for both of us.

We cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
  • Which one Mother loved "more"
  • Who "got" more over the course of their lifetime (non-materially)
  • Who is more "deserving" based on past actions/responses
  • Who is worse off
  • Who is more valuable as a person overall and therefore more deserving
Sadly, that's what this is really about. It might be what ALL such legal matters are about, including divorces. Who is the better person therefore who should be duly rewarded materially.

Sorry. It's hard to prove that. One can prove an unfit parent to some degree... people's dating history can be called into play... but tell me:

How do you prove whether one child is unfit, or more deserving than the other?

Even the Bible argues over that one (Prodigal Son; King Solomon, among others).

Let's face it. The Irish have been battling for centuries over who's right: the Protestants or Catholics. Have they made any headway?

Nope. Because it's Protestant beliefs versus Catholic beliefs: firmly held judgements not necessarily based in (proveable) fact or knowledge, estimations of value or worth.


We all know what it means to ass-u-me.

I really hope the next epiphany is a clue as to how to end the war, given that the battle is a no-win situation with heavy casualties predicted.

Although... perhaps this WAS the lesson. They say that the lesson, once learned, need not be repeated. Maybe my realizing this and the thought energy it has generated is the catalyst to end the war.

*God, Goddess, Buddha, Jehovah, Allah, The Universe, Great Spirit—pick your Deity Name.



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