John 18:34, Where Do Your Beliefs Originate?

John 18:34, “Jesus said, ‘Is that your own idea or have others suggested it to you?’”

As I read the passage noted above, I was struck with Jesus’ question to Pilot.  “Is that your own idea or have others suggested it to you?” Jesus asked this in response to Pilot’s question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” I had the same feeling as I read the passion narrative found in Matthew. Jesus repeatedly says to those who ask if he is the Messiah or Son of God or King of the Jews, “The words are yours.”

In these exchanges, Jesus does not seem interested in stating who he is. He simply highlights that the other person speaks something that they hold as an idea. In the case of Pilot, he invites Pilot to consider where the idea began for him. Was it from his personal experience? Had he encountered Jesus as king of the Jews? Was it an idea or belief he had formulated from his understanding? Was it a notion that others had suggested to him? Was he repeating what he had heard without considering what he knew?

God Within asks us the same question on our journey to wholeness. Do our ideas, beliefs, and viewpoints originate from our experiential knowing? Are we mirroring someone else’s views? Is what we believe about our selves, God or the Divine Mystery, and others based on hearsay or our energetic, felt knowing? Do we listen to the inner Wisdom Voice (AKA the still small voice of God) or do we follow the outer, collective norms?

We are invited daily to clarify what we believe. It is so easy to parrot what we have heard in the media, read in print, or learned in a conversation. We too often accept the views as reality without looking to see the whole. We may adopt what comes our way without self-examination to see if it is true to our experience. 

Every time we speak, we voice an idea or belief that originates from our felt experience or that we are repeating from someone else.  Our decisions reflect ideas we hold. Our actions originate in viewpoints that we may or may not know consciously. Often the ideas we hold reflect only a small fraction of the totality of psyche/soul. We need to know the whole.

The spiritual path of individuation or enlightenment involves getting to know the totality of Self. All wisdom schools start with the adage, “Know Thyself.” We have to take up the question of who we are and what we are about. 

God Within or the Self calls us to look, see, and get to know all of what resides in us. The all includes qualities, feelings, ideas, and emotions we have deemed bad, wrong, and undesirable alongside those we consider desirable and good. It includes all that we automatically project onto others and the world around us. We discern what is true in our nature from what we have learned from others as we see the whole.

Discernment begins by being in relationship to our self. We have to get to know ourselves more fully. This means assessing what we say, believe, and do. “Is that my idea or someone else’s?” The question facilitates inner dialogue that leads to a gut knowing of what is real for us. 

Inner dialogue leads to conscious awareness. We see what is specific to us and what we share with others. We identify beliefs that are not truths of our soul. We recognize our innate wisdom, our heart’s understandings. We begin holding new thoughts that incorporate the largess of Self we have discovered. The result is that we live more authentically, fully, and attuned to our soul. The garden of our psyche blooms in our feelings, thoughts, and actions.

When the voice of God Within asks, “Is that your idea or have others suggested it to you?” we are invited to know ourselves more fully. We have to take up the question instead of sidestepping it. I invite you to cultivate self-reflection to know the truth of your psyche/soul.

Inner Reflection

What is your practice of self-reflection?  Where are you uncertain about your beliefs? Identify interactions you have had in the recent past where you found yourself parroting what someone else had said. Does that fit for you? What do you know to be true in your soul? Consider this in relationship to the choices you make in caring for your body, your emotional nature, your mental state, and your spiritual knowing.

Outer Action

Experiment with stream of consciousness writing for the next 7 days. Take 10-15 minutes per day to sit quietly with your journal and write whatever is going through your head. Don’t filter it. It doesn’t have to make sense, be logical, or follow rules of grammar. Write whatever the “chatterbox” in the back of your head is saying. (Our chatterbox is always giving us a running commentary on what’s happening.) 

If words are not your medium, draw a mandala. Make a circle and fill it in with shapes, colors, and images that express what you’re feeling.  Let your drawing reflect what you are experiencing inside. 

Each of these exercises is a practice of self-reflection. Consistently doing either will strengthen your muscle of self-reflection. You will begin to know more clearly what you believe.