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Tending Our Gardens April 30, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

As I read through the  comments on Checking Out, I realized how  society’s underlying  beliefs about life (and death) shade our views and skew our perspective.

We are easily influenced and manipulated . . . especially if we are not mindful of the choices we are making:

Social mores have much to do with our conditioning. We are “brainwashed” from birth. 

FREEDOM entails looking around and beginning to THINK for ourselves.

While considering that comment, I noticed evidence of subtle (and not so subtle) “brainwashing” everywhere I looked.

Spin is everywhere.

People want to influence what we do, say, wear, eat, think, and consume.

Not just little decisions.   It’s far more encompassing and pervasive than that.

We are inundated with  peer pressure to conform, fit in, and tow the line.

In A Very Circumspect Choice, Kirk Weiser noted “the people we choose to hang around influence the way we feel, the way we think, the way we grow, and ultimately who we become.”

In A Terrible Case of “Should Be”, Maggie observed that many of us use a generic time-table to gauge our progress and success in life.

Where does this time-table come from?

From our interactions with books, movies, TV, friends, family, churches, and schools.

In order to get us to do what they want us to do, those in our sphere of influence encourage us to conform to the norm.

When we say something “discordant” . . . they remind us to behave.  When we do something out of the ordinary, they use the ego’s fear of rejection to  encourage us to get back in line.

From the time we are born, people shove “truisms” down our throats the way factory farms force-feed geese to produce foie gras.

And we keep gobbling it up.  Until we can’t any more.

One day, we awaken to the realization that much of what we’ve been told does not make sense in light of the direct, personal experiences we’ve had.

We began to think for ourselves.

We re-evaluate what we’ve been taught.  We look within for guidance.  We keep what resonates and reject the rest.

DaisiesWe allow our unique gifts to blossom.

We use our inner wisdom to guide us in deciding what to plant  and what to weed out of our lives.

We become who we were always intended to be.

Here’s to tending our gardens!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

Related posts:  Changing Beliefs  (WordPress Prompt) * Confessions from a Non-Conformist * Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? * Live Your Life * The Awakening * Reflections: To Live Without Belief (Mirth & Motivation)


1. gitikapartington - April 30, 2011

lovely=thanks for this…you are a real gem.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Glad you enjoyed. It amazes me how easily we are molded to suit the expectations of others and how quickly we “conform to the norm.”

Maybe Eugenia and Beatrice had the right idea . . . wearing those hideous hats as a way of saying, “we don’t care what YOU think.” 😉

2. Lisa - April 30, 2011

So true. So very true. The hardest thing to be in this world is yourself.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

If you haven’t read it before, Lisa. I think you would really enjoy Sonny Carroll’s The Awakening. Next to last link in the post.

3. viviankirkfield - April 30, 2011

It takes a lot of courage to remain true to oneself…but first you have to discover who “oneself” is. 🙂 Many times, we have to sift through our “many selves”…the faces and persona we take on as we grow up and interact with others…to find out who we really are.
Thanks Nancy! Your posts always make me look inside. Love the flowers…yellow daisies have always been my favorites. 🙂

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Mine too! Daisies seem refreshing in their simplicity.

When I decided to start living MY life, it was hard work washing off the “mud” I’d accumulated trying to “conform to the norm.”

I didn’t know what I wanted to “do” because I didn’t know who I was under all the layers of societal expectations.

Eventually, the “real me” starting peeking through. Now, who I am is who I want to be!


4. SuziCate - April 30, 2011

Excellent, much of what we believe comes from a “subtle” form of brain washing! I want to post a piece on my brother’s last days and about peace, but I fear a backlash of bible scripture and being accused of being blasphemous. Through this experience my veiw of death has changed dramatically and it is of peace and what I consider truth, not what we are told to believe…not sure if I have the guts to write it the way I see it.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Suzi ~ If you want to run it by someone before posting, let me know. I would love to read your piece on peace.

I’m not convinced that the Bible is an accurate document. Religion is definitely in the control business, selling “truisms” that expand its ranks and coffers.

Is that blasphemous? 😉

SuziCate - April 30, 2011

I will write it and email it to you when I get a chance…maybe I can post it with the warning “only read if open minded”!

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Great. I may have to do the same with my next post. 😉

WARNING: May cause spontaneous combustion in close minded people.

5. Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 30, 2011

Oh dear! I wrote a very long and involved post (unless you deleted it, which of course you could do – it was too wordy! 😀 ), and I am too tired to try to repeat it and can’t pull it up from my history, so I will forget it.

i will say that I disagree with you on a number of points. Perhaps I will be mootivated later to try and sum up my points.

Luck you! UYou dodged the bullet of another long reply. . . 😀

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

I didn’t delete it. 😎

Hmm . . . maybe the Universe deleted your comment because you were being too “argumentative”? 😉

6. Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 30, 2011

Of course we are influenced by the life around us! Our parents, siblings, peers, TV , movies, etc. However, influence is not automatically and necessarily a bad thing. Children who grow up without any direction, or who are allowed to “make up their own minds” about everything end up without any information or any sort of context from which to make their choice. As far as God, faith, religion, lifestyle, professions, and/or vocations (choose your noun)are concerned, there really is no way to avoid influence from the external. But everyone always makes their own choices, because even if we are not aware of it, we are the only ones who can make decisions for us. God has no grandchildren – the choice to believe, serve, worship, etc. are one’s own. Even if the outward self might conform to his/her own family’s choices, that does not mean any sort of inward choice has been made. Our choices are ALWAYS our own.

Finding out “who we are” would be impossible without understanding “who we were” and how we all differ from the influences (subtle or overblown) that we have been under, and figuring out “who we want to be”, and/or “who we will be” will always be determined by the influences upon our lives.

Never was anything in re values, faith, etc. “forced down my throat.” My parents, families, worldly influences were accomplished through observing the way people lived out their convictions. Had I not seen the enormous happinesss and joy of and for living of my parents or family, I most certainly would have turned away from their way of life. That would have been my choice. Whether to stick with the status quo or go with the flow is a choice made based on what I have observed. The only way in which I would ever wish to influence anybody is by the way I live – my desire is to so live my life that were I accused of being a Christian that there would be more than enough evidence to convict me.

Our sons have chosen to live spiritual lives. However, neither has at this point, elected to stay within the organized church or Christian community. They perceived our own happiness and joy as their parents, but saw huge differences in other church members while they were growing up between what they said and how they lived. That is a sad fact of Hubs’ and my life, however, we have certainly respected their right to make the choice(s) they have. At the same time we know that both of us struggled to some degree or another when it came time to make our choices. We both eventually came to make similar choices that our parents did, but they were our choices and not because anything was “forced down our throats.”

In addition, TV, movies. books, magazines, etc. are all influences on our choices, but whether to conform to whatever they espouse or not is our own choice. Besides, everyone “breaks free” from their influences, consciouly or not. If we did not let go our hold on yesterday, then what accounts for the societal differences between each succeeding generaltion. “Generation X” were raised by “Baby Boomers,” “BabyBoomers” by the “Greatest Generation.” (sic).

As you can see, I finally found my comment. Feel free to delete it. I know it’s another ling one. This was a great and though-provoking post – once again, and as usual. Thanks, Nancy 😀

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

I agree with you . . . children need guidance. And then they need to GROW UP and think for themselves.

As your sons have.

Sadly, many don’t. They continue to look outside of themselves for guidance about what to do, be, think, and wear, instead of tapping into the spiritual wisdom locked in our hearts.

You are fortunate if you’ve always been able to make your own choices without regard to peer pressure. If you have never felt the necessity to “conform to the norm” . . . WOW!

Many children are molded into mini versions of their parents instead of being unfolded. They are forced into professions and marriages and religions and lives that are a POOR FIT for who they really are.

And they are desperately unhappy as a result.

Example: Dead Poet’s Society and Neil’s suicide because his parents REFUSED to allow him to make decisions for himself. He decided he would rather DIE than live the life they were FORCING DOWN HIS THROAT.

Others don’t commit suicide, but they never stop to evaluate whether what they’ve heard from their parents or church leaders makes sense.

Kids in Sunday School hear that they are going to HELL unless they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior and they are AFRAID not to believe in the Christian Church and its lies and half truths.

The Church is in the control business and it starts brainwashing kids before they even get out of diapers. The Church doesn’t allow kids to grow up and CHOOSE its tenets based on the totality of their life experiences. It starts force feeding them from birth.

And parents support that decision because they are also being manipulated with liberal does of FEAR and GUILT instead of being guided with a message of LOVE and JOY.

If that has not been your experience, you’re fortunate. But I find it telling that your own kids are not following in your footsteps. If the Christian Church is all you profess it to be, why on earth would they want to leave?

7. carldagostino - April 30, 2011

Sun flowers shout at you. They have a commanding presence. They are the generals of the flower garden and proudly cry out “we are here”

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

And they encourage us to “feed the birds.” 😉

8. clarbojahn - April 30, 2011

We are who we are from social, psychological and spiritual influences. We are complex beings as you so clearly say. When people don’t fly away from the nest so to speak it is because they are frightened or unwilling to think for themselves. Good parents let their children fly away and think for themselves. In fact is good to raise them to be thinking for themselves all along with an eye out for their safety.
Some churches are not in the control business, Nancy. Mine isn’t. Unity of Loudoun County. And I study the Course In Miracles.I hope I think for myself but still like the validation once in awhile that I am on the right tract.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

I agree with you Clar: Good parents (and good churches) encourage people to think for themselves.

Sadly, there are many BAD parents (and BAD churches) out there that do just the opposite.

9. therealsharon - April 30, 2011

Your post makes great points and I love that quote by e.e.cummings.
Obviously, I don’t personally find the idea of Christianity to be a complete brainwashing tactic but everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I am fine in reading other opinions and hearing them out. We should ALL have the right to believe what we choose without being condemned for it. My friends consider me to be a very open minded Christian and I try to be.
Is it truly right to call yourself a Christian if you cast off everyone that isn’t and don’t listen to what they have to say?
I know ALOT of Christians that seem to HATE people who are not Christians and judge them and I find this to be very hypocritical and NOT what God would truly want. If you close yourself off to EVERYONE who believes anything different than you do, you’re living in a very small box indeed.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Excellent points, Sharon.

But the problem started with the Church’s misinterpretation of Christ’s teaching for its own self-serving ends. Hate-filled Christians are just following the Church’s lead.

And it’s been going on for 2000 years.

Instead of spreading Christ’s message of LOVE, the Christian Church says:

1. Everyone is a sinner.
2. Sinners go to HELL.
3. There is ONLY ONE WAY to get to Heaven.
4. We hold the monopoly on eternal salvation.
5. Either embrace Christ OR go to Hell.
6. Those are your ONLY two choices.

That message fosters divisiveness between Christians and EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET and is designed to increase the power and control of the Christian Church by using FEAR tactics to draw people to IT and away from other more PEACEFUL and LOVING religions.

If the Christian Church wanted to share Christ’s message of love, it would be saying:

1. God loves us.
2. God sent Christ here to share that LOVE.
3. We show our gratitude by loving others.
4. Love. Love. Love.

carldagostino - April 30, 2011

Tru this

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Thanks, Carl.

The Beatles had it right, All we need is LOVE! 😀

10. Booksphotographsandartwork - April 30, 2011

No problem here, I have always been the black sheep of the family.

I might have a rock solid relationship with Christ but it did not come from a church. I never fit in at church. Never wanted to either. Although it’s a nice thought.

Being raised in the south one is especially force fed a lot of things. No brainwashed with a lot.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

Like you, I expect I would get along famously with Christ . . . it’s the Church’s fear tactics that rankle with me.

As Gandhi said: I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Even putting its religious oppression and intolerance aside, the South still has a corner on force feeding and brainwashing techiniques.

How do you spell MANIPULATION? D~I~X~I~E!

11. oldancestor - April 30, 2011

You’re doing a good job of dancing on a line here, Nancy. I agree with you fully but lack the soft touch, so I’ll refrain from commenting further. I’m not in the business of offending people, but I think my views on the subject are necessarily offensive to a large percentage of the population.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

I believe I may have stopped dancing on the line at this point, OA.

There’s a Christian Church in Orlando trying to get its hooks into my niece. I just checked out their website and am spitting mad at the arrogance and bullshit they are spreading around:

* The bible is infallible. (Really! Does that mean that we are infallible in our interpretation of it?!)

* Humanity is incapable of having a relationship with God without the Church acting as intermediary.

Brainwashing and manipulation and control and fear at its finest.

Cindy - April 30, 2011

Gosh Nancy, that is scary, I hope your niece is OK.

nrhatch - April 30, 2011

It is scary. My next post is dedicated to my niece . . . in the hope that she uses her inner wisdom to guide her steps AWAY from the church.

oldancestor - May 1, 2011

My 8-year-old niece had a t-shirt on the other day that said “I’m God’s girl.”

Gah! Teaching her already that she is subservient to male authority figures.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Yes, indeed. The “subtle” and not so subtle brainwashing and conditioning begins early:

Jesus Loves Me
This I Know
For the Bible
Tells Me So

How many 1000’s of times did I hear that song touting the infalliability of the Bible before I was old enough to tie my shoes???

12. eof737 - May 1, 2011

Sometimes I wish the culture police would go away with their blatant and wearing shtick… All that indoctrination is so tiring!
I like this… ” We use our inner wisdom to guide us in deciding what to plant and what to weed out of our lives.” 🙂

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Thanks, Eliz. We need “CAUTION” Signs: Endless Indoctrination and Mind Control Ahead.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Stainless Steel appliances are the way to go.
A Master Bath needs double sinks . . . and granite counter-tops.
Happy cows live in California.
Got Milk?
McDonald’s is your kind of place.

Stop the world . . . I want to get off. 😉

13. Patricia - May 1, 2011

As a bible reading believing Christian there is a lot you have said I do not agree with. But I do agree that you have the right to your thoughts and opinions and I agree that “the Church” has not been the best example of being Christ-like.

The church is made up of imperfect people, some doing their best to be better people, others doing their best to be God.

I do believe the bible is “an accurate document” and infallible, but men are fallible and do not have the mind of God, though too often try to convince people otherwise. This is very sad to me. Personally, I doubt we will know or understand everything until the end of time, as we know it, and that is ok with me.

All know for sure is that God will do what He will do and often I do not understand or even like His will. But bottom line He is God and I am not.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Thanks, Patricia. As soon as the Christian Church acknowledges that it is NOT the one and only path to God, I’ll reconsider my posture.

I’m not holding my breath. 😉

The Bible is subject to interpretation. For that reason alone, it is NOT infallible:

“A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to peer out.” ~ Georg Christoph Lictenberg

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

BTW: I did NOT mean that YOU were an ass for peering into it. Far from it.

The Bible, like favorite quotes, can offer us JUST WHAT WE NEED when we need it. It can give us something to chew on, and mull over, to arrive at the answers we seek.

Patricia - May 1, 2011

Yes, the bible is subject to interpretation. The book is infallable–God does not make mistakes–but we do. I do not think there is any person who can correctly interpret the whole of the bible–we get but glimpses of it’s truths if we are open to hearing it.

As for saying the church is the only way, I doubt it is. I do believe Christ is the way. But God is smarter than us and probably has some surprises for us. I am pretty sure we sometimes amuse Him with our arrogance.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I know that I have experienced God’s “sense of humor” on more than a few occasions. 😀

14. nrhatch - May 1, 2011
15. A Guest Post « Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror - May 2, 2011

[…] I finally wrangled Hubs to do a guest spot for me.  This particular post comes as a result of a discussion he and I  have been having of late in reference to a couple of Nancy’s recent discussions on her blog, Spirit Lights the Way.  See here, and here. […]

16. Carol Ann Hoel - May 2, 2011

I cannot even bear to listen to the video. The existence of Hell is a Bible doctrine. There is as much or more said about Hell than about Heaven. Jesus himself warned of it’s terrors many times. I’m surprised that you would think that Hell is an invention of the church. I assumed that you knew the Bible, Nancy. You do not. Your experience has only been with Christians and churches. People. Christians are people and churches are people. They vary in their understanding of God, unfortunately. God loves you, Nancy. I’m sorry that you don’t believe it. Whatever painful experience turned you against God, and caused your wrong perception of God, is robbing you of the sweetest relationship there is in this life, and eternal life, if you have never in your lifetime trusted in Jesus.

You have never said whether you have ever trusted in Christ as your personal Savior. You say you have come from a Christian background. I think when we get to Heaven, we’ll be surprised by how many people will be there with us that we never thought would get there. People betray God. God never betrays anyone that has trusted in Him. He is a good God.

I wasn’t going to comment. In fact, I unsubscribed. I’m human, Nancy. God rebuked me. I knew it. He told me to get back in there and speak for him along with Paula and perhaps others. I haven’t read all the many comments. So, I am speaking for Him, which is my duty and pleasure, and what He wants you to know is that He has always loved you and has never stopped loving you. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

God is NOT a Christian, Carol. The Christian Church has CLOSED YOUR EYES to God’s truth.

I love God and God loves me. It’s the Christian Church that annoys the HELL out of me.

How much different the world would be if the early Christian Church had said:

Don’t worry about eternal salvation.
Our spirits never die.
Focus on living from the heart here and now.

Don’t love your neighbors to avoid going to hell.
Hell does not exist.
Love your neighbors because that is what spirits are designed to do.
Love your neighbors because it will make you feel good here and now.

If you need ideas, come to Church on Sunday and we’ll share our message of LOVE with you.

Instead, the Christian Church used fear-based tactics to get people to sign up ~ “join the Christian Church or you’ll end up in Hell.”


17. Carol Ann Hoel - May 2, 2011

For believers all of what you said is true. True because Jesus paid the price for sin for all the world. Because of his sacrifice, salvation is available for all who receive Christ. To leave out all messages about hell would be to fail to warn of a very present danger. Hell was made for the Evil One. Gid made a way for us to be saved.

I hear lots of Hollywood portrayals of Christian churches. Almost always Hollywood totally misrepresents the gospel, making it like what you think it is. Lies like that may not be as prevalent from the Christian church ss you think. Try to have the open mind that you usually have. You have a wrong understanding of the tenets of salvation, which is full and free for believers, as you believe it should be.

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

I disagree, Carol. And not based on Hollywood’s portrayals of Christianity. I base my beliefs on MY direct personal relationship with a LOVING GOD.

The video that you are TOO AFRAID to watch is by a Bishop in the Episcopal Church who saw first hand what the Christian Church has done for the past 2000 years ~ twisting the truth in order to gain BLIND FOLLOWERS.

The Christian Church CREATED the Bible to support it’s fear-based indoctrination of the masses. You have been brainwashed, Carol.

Open your eyes. We don’t need a savior. We are not fallen people.

All we need is LOVE.

18. Carol Ann Hoel - May 2, 2011

Please excuse my awful typos. I commented from my iPhone. Duh!

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

I fixed the typos I saw.

Carol Ann Hoel - May 2, 2011

Thank you for fixing the typos. I appreciate it. I will say no more. We are at a standoff. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Fair enough. I knew that if I made my beliefs public, that fundamentalist Christians would disagree with me.

But I decided I could keep quiet no longer.

The Church started lying to me while I was still in diapers! And it lied to me all through pre-school. It told me that it was the ONE and ONLY way to connect with God.

I couldn’t figure out why I felt so “disconnected” from God in Church and so connected with God when out in Nature.

And then it hit me . . . it’s because God is NOT behind all the dogma and tenets of the Christian Church.

That’s the Church’s gig, not God’s.

I realized that the Church had manipulated me and preyed on my fears to control my behavior through lies and half truth.

And it did it when I was too young to think for myself or have any chance to resist thet brainwashing. And that pisses me off.

Not just because the Church did it to me . . . but because it is still doing it!

Do yourself a favor, Carol.

LISTEN to Bishop Spong’s video. He is a wise and devout man who is firmly connected to God . . . even though he disagrees with the Christian Church’s fear based tactics.

19. Tokeloshe - September 5, 2013

I love your painting ♥
i have tried my hand at water colors and know how difficult it is.

nrhatch - September 5, 2013

Thanks, Tok. I love painting with watercolors . . . but it is hard to cover up mistakes. 😉

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