I tasted yogurt for the first time when I was about ten years old. While playing at a friend’s house, she went to the refrigerator and pulled out two cartons of Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom yogurt. I’d never seen such a thing. We sat down with our spoons and started to eat. My lips puckered in disgust. I set my spoon on the table and announced that I hated yogurt. My friend said something along the lines of, “Oh, you gotta keep eating! All the yummy fruit is waiting at the bottom.” I said no thanks.
This experience convinced me for years that I hated yogurt. I don’t remember when or where I finally learned to mix and stir the fruit into the yogurt before eating it. Someone told me to do it. I didn’t figure it out on my own – because I’d already decided I hated yogurt. What a revelation!
This experience has taught me to be wary of what I think I already know. It’s also taught me that I can’t necessarily trust what other people teach me. It’s not that people are deliberately being deceptive – but rather that they can be unknowingly passing on misinformation.
All of this comes back to me whenever I eat any kind of yogurt with fruit on the bottom. This week while mixing and stirring the fruit into my yogurt (which I love!), I wondered if atheists, God-haters and religion-haters are stuck in their beliefs because of misinformation. After all, I considered myself an atheist at one point, too. To me, when a person really knows and experiences that God is Light and Love, then there is no room for atheism. (Organized religion is made up of fallible human beings – which means we cannot look to their behavior to understand God.)
I pray that anyone who has shut God out will at least consider the possibility that this decision was based on misinformation (imparted by other people) or misconceptions (formed within one’s self). The first step is to open the mind/heart to the possibility that we don’t have all the necessary information: It’s actually a relief to realize we’ve been taught incorrectly or we’ve reached the wrong conclusions based on what we’ve learned. From there, we can:
* Choose to give up our attachment to our current belief
* Actively seek the truth
* Be open to hearing/finding corrections from other people
* Recognize the truth when it’s heard
For me, exploring religions other than Christianity was a big help. Raised as a Roman Catholic, I was stuck with concepts that didn’t really make sense to me. Buddhism and Hinduism have opened my mind and heart to other ways of understanding God. (For more details, see my post: My Spiritual Journey.) We’re fortunate to have easy access to helpful teachings through books and the internet. All we need to do is have a little curiosity and go on seeking. The results can be delicious.