Forgive me for I have sinned

People in discussion.

People in discussion.

The ironic thing was that we were studying James.

What’s the singular teaching you should get from James? To hold your tongue. Silence is good. Don’t speak ill of others.

I know that my personality type includes the problem of being snippy when I’m overly stressed or agitated. Have you ever noticed that knowing and doing are different things?

So, I said something. Upset my karma for the rest of the day. That is, my balance and ability to focus on positive results rather than negative thoughts and emotions.

There is discussion and there is argument. I view discussion as two or more people who are open to each others’ points of view and try to reach an understanding–maybe not agreement, but understanding. I can live in a world where people don’t agree on everything. I view an argument as a thought process of putting forward reasons for your views. An argument is when two people are putting forward their reasons with no attempt to listen to the other.

To me, listening and silence are valuable spiritual disciplines. Violate them and your spiritual balance is out of whack.

Mostly, I hear arguments.

I got so interested in understanding how people can hold views about something that are in direct contradiction to facts that I embarked on a several-year study of the issue. I went through developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, brain science, physiology of feelings and thinking. I love this sort of study. I’m sure most of you reading this would be bored.

One interesting thing is that the brain will believe anything you tell it. Those motivational, self-help speakers use that fact to tell you to put positive thoughts in your brain. Repeat “I will be successful” a hundred times a day is their mantra.

Emotions (to put it entirely too simply) arise from the complex of chemicals originating in your gut.

If a thought in your brain becomes associated with a strong feeling from the chemicals in your gut, voila, an opinion is formed.

And that (once again, too simply stated, but if you want the gory details, I can refer you to a book list) is why arguing with people when they have strong opinions won’t get you anywhere. And that is why I usually know to “hold my tongue.”

By the way, whether they know it or not, preachers and politicians use emotional language to try to arouse your emotions in order to affect a change in your opinions. Watch that the next time you see a political ad.

But sometimes I slip. Hate it when that happens. Forgive me, I have sinned.

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