The last time I saw her, my cousin Franny gave me a number of small pamphlets. She has been decluttering for several years and I haven’t been able to leave her house without something in my arms. She is passing on her problem of too much stuff to me. Don’t be surprised if you come to my house and you get an armful of stuff.

One of the pamphlets is actually a self-published paper-back book entitled Your Owner’s Manual. On the back, the author had posted a warning: “Ideas in this Manual could be hazardous to your belief system and may not be suitable for some religious types.” I think I am safe. I have already done quite a bit of decluttering and getting rid of my old beliefs. Author Burt Hotchkiss isn’t shocking me off my stool. I appreciate, however, reading new words put to ideas I am recently exploring. My most recent exploration has been recent discoveries about consciousness. David Hawkins has written several books on the topic of which I have read five thus far. Burt and David should get together and talk. They would hardly have to use words, so in tune would they be with one another. I am still at the stage, though, where I need words – lots of them.

The chapter I read this morning in Hotchkiss’s booklet is entitled “Mind Dynamics”. He writes that even before an event happens, our reaction to it is already determined. In other words, no matter what you say to me, what I hear and understand has nothing to do with you or your intention. I am experiencing something else and what I am receiving is shaped by what I already believe. You might be intending to pay me a compliment but I may hear it as an insult or vice versa.

My experience has taught me that memory is also distorted by the beliefs I had at the time of an event. To make matters more confusing, memories are distorted when you bring them to mind later because beliefs are always changing.

Hotchkiss suggests that says that these belief system to form at the start. “From ‘Day One’ of your life,” he writes, “your experiences determine how you see life, what you believe about yourself, and your relationship to others and all things.”

With each of us having different belief systems, there is no wonder that we live in such a chaotic worls. With the holidays happening all around us, family gatherings come to mind. It is a common thing in my family to talk about old times bringing up events from childhood. As I listen to my adult kids tell their stories of what happened, you’d think everyone was raised a different family. Yet, no matter the differences, everyone is insists that their memory is the correct one. Using Hotchkiss’s line of thought, the reason for the discrepancy is that everyone who is was present to a particular event was experiencing something different because of their different belief system. How is one to know what actually happened? Ask those who work I the courts how much you can depend on the accuracy of witness accounts in trials.

I agree with everything the Manual says thus far, even if I don’t always understand it. Belief systems can change, and he address that too. It can be hard to change, but the benefits can be great. I used to believe that there was something immoral about people who had an attraction to persons of the same sex. Since I tossed out that belief, my world has opened up to all kinds of wonderful relationships.

St. Paul wrote that we should wear our beliefs like a loose garment. People shouldn’t have to wrestle us to the ground to get us to see something in a different way. When a belief gets in the way of Love, we should be able to let it go with the next gust of wind.