Think Again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Featuring: Rev. Richard ROGERS
Week #1 of a New 5-Week Series

Click HERE to download this transcript.

Click HERE to view Rev. Rogers' guided meditation during the service.

So my question for you tonight is: How much of your belief system do you think is true? Like, do you think like 5% is accurate? Do you think 95%? So do you think that everything you believe is 100% always, always, always true?

See, the downside is: Because we believe it, we tend to think it's true. Right? And the longer we believe it, the more we tend to believe that it's true. And I believe that, from a spiritual point of view, the hardest thing that we do is unlearn. Because we are conditioned to believe a certain way, and it feels right to believe that. And over and over again, the longer we spend believing things that aren't true, the more difficult it is to let them go.

And what if 80% of what you believe wasn't true? "Well, Richard, how could I know that?" Well, I'm developing a machine. [Congregation laughs] I am! I'm developing a machine; it's going to attach to your computer. And you're going to plut it into your head, and all your beliefs are going to download into this computer system, and it's going to tell you exactly which of your beliefs are true and accurate, and which is a bunch of malarkey. Now, that's a spiritual term, right? And you'll be able to see; you'll get a nice graph and it'll say, "Five percent of what you believe is true and accurate; 85% it's kind of in the yellow area. And then you've got these really weird beliefs over here that nobody else in the whole world thinks. And those are the most true."

And I think it's just time for us to actually have a system to look at our beliefs.

Do you have a way that you manage your closet? Do you have a closet management system? See, the way that most of us manage our closet ... Now some of us know that our closet's been full for the last two decades, right? And the way that we manage our closet -- it's very scientific: we push and shove. Right? [Congregation laughs] And if your closet looks anything like my closet, there is a push and then a shove, because there's always new cute things. Right?

And you don't want to let go of anything that's already been filed in there. Like, I think there's bodies buried down at the end of our closet [congregation laughs], but because of our "push and shove" method, we have no real idea ... Well, in my case, it's the far right of my closet. That stuff hasn't seen the light of day in decades, right? It hasn't seen the light of day, because it's a very simple system: you push and then you shove in the new piece. And that's why everything is so well pressed. [Congregation laughs] Right? Because when it comes back in, it has to be well pressed.

So I think our belief system has a very similar methodology. So we get a new belief; we get a new idea; we get a new thought, and we have all the thoughts and all the beliefs that we've always held, and they're all right here. And so what we do is: we've got this new idea -- this new belief -- and it seems so cute, this new idea! It doesn't really matter what the new idea is; it seems so cute. We take it home; we try it on; it seems to fit. If we stand just right in the mirror, it kind of works. Right?

And so we have this new belief, and it doesn't really matter if it doesn't line up with anything else in our closet. It doesn't matter if that belief is absolutely out of integrity with every other belief that we have. It seems like it should fit; it seems like this belief should be a good belief. And so we don't really look to see, like, it doesn't really go with anything else in our closet, right? This belief doesn't really line up with anything else. But it doesn't really matter, because it's a new belief and it was on sale! [Congregation laughs] So we brought it home and it almost fits. By next week, I'm sure it will fit, right? And so we brought it home, and if I suck it in real tight it will work. [Congregation laughs]

And so we shove it over and stick it in. And we get a new belief! And we're so excited that we have this new belief. And sometimes we'll take it out and show it to our friends: "Look at my new belief! I have this new belief about this or that. Or I believe now this is possible; I believe that's possible." And so we take it out occasionally; we try it on. We wear it for our close friends, and then we realize: "I don't really have this belief down really accurate yet, but in a month it'll look good. Right? It'll work!"

So then we stick it back in our closet, and then we get a new belief. And we haven't really fit into the last belief we got, but we've got a new belief now! And this belief is even better! I read a new book or a new teacher or a new idea! And I got a better belief!

And so we just continue to push it over; push it in. And like, "Wow! Look at this! I am spiritually evolving right before my own eyes! Look at all my beliefs!"

And when we actually start looking at our beliefs, we go, "Some of that stuff's just weird!" [Congregation laughs] Like, how many of you know you have beliefs that you've picked up along the way from elementary school friends; or high school friends; or maybe a church that you used to go to once; or your parents; or your uncle who nobody talks to anymore anyway. [Congregation laughs] And you have all these beliefs, right? You have all these beliefs!

And I have a new method for you. I've got a new management for your belief system. Every time you want to put a new belief in, you have to take 10 old beliefs out. Because my belief is -- and it's my belief! It's stuck in my closet! My believe is that most of us -- if we could see our complete belief system -- would be horrified. That one minute we believe that all things are possible, but sometimes, if we don't get there early, we're going to get lost. If we don't get while the "Blue Light Special" is on at KMart, we're never going to get that Vegematic that we've always wanted.

So we believe in abundance; we believe in love; we believe in God; we believe in possibility. But we also spend a whole lot of time in fear. And really, fear is a belief that there's not enough to go around or that I'm not going to be healed ... or whatever our beliefs are. We tend to hold on to those simultaneously. Like, it's hard to believe in God and believe that you're worthless in the same moment. It's hard to believe that you're created in the image and likeness of God, and you're profoundly broken. Or, "There's something wrong with me, and I haven't been able to figure out what it is. But I know there's something wrong with me."

And I want you just to see that if you really buy into the belief that you're created in the image and likeness of God, a lot of those beliefs that you've been holding on to that say you're less than; or not quite enough; or not good enough; or not pretty enough; or not smart enough; or not whatever enough ... those really need to be yanked out of your closet. Because the reality is: if you're created in the image and likeness of God -- if that belief is in your closet -- it really should have the dominant position. You don't want to have a lot of stuff hanging around that prevents you from finding that outfit.

Have you ever lost a pair of pants or a shirt in your closet? And you know it's got to be in there! But for the life of you, you cannot find it! Nobody else has ever had that experience? Right? Where you're digging and digging. "It must be at the dry cleaner. It's got to be at the dry cleaner!" You call the dry cleaner, and "No; we haven't seen that thing in five years." Right? So it's gotta be in there?

And I want you to see today that our job is to do better at really owning the beliefs that no longer make sense. And no longer giving them space in our life; space in our closet; space in our mind; space in our heart.

There's a book that I've been reading called Think Again. And I like it. It's by Adam Grant. And I think we have copies in the bookstore and, if we don't, they're on order. And it invites us to think again. And from a spiritual point of view, which is kind of where I live, I think it's fundamentally important that we unlearn most of what we've learned about ourselves. That most of what you've learned about yourself is not accurate; it's not spiritually true. And it was taught to you by people who didn't really understand their own spiritual nature, so they told you that you weren't quite this or you weren't quite that. Or you weren't quite good enough. And we internalize that; we begin to believe it. And then it really began to shape and form our life.

These are the words from Adam Grant:

"The smarter you are, the more complex problems you can solve. And the faster you can solve them. Intelligence is traditionally viewed as the ability to think and learn; yet, in a turbulent world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter even more. And it's the ability to rethink and unlearn.

We hesitate at the very idea of rethinking. Take an experiment where hundreds of college students were randomly assigned to learn about the first instinct fallacy. The speaker taught them about the value of changing their mind, and gave them advice about what it would make more sense to do."

Okay? So the first instinct fallacy ... And probably the way you were taught to take a test, especially if it was multiple choice, is that you read the question; then you read the answers; and whatever seemed the most correct – if you didn't know the answer, whatever seemed the most like intuitively, you would just pick what you thought was the right answer.

What they found is that once we've picked that answer, we won't spend a lot of mental time rethinking that answer. Because once we've come up with the answer, it creates a level of "the conflict has been resolved." Like, if you don't know, there's actually a level of conflict that's created in your life. So if you have a test where you haven't answered the question, it actually creates a level of internal conflict.

And what they began to do was to teach the students how to solve that; how to be with that in a way that would actually create a higher level of correct answers. Because can we agree that, if you're a college student, correct answers are better than incorrect answers. Right? Can we just, as a value, that correct answers are better. And higher grades, for most of us anyway, were better than lower grades. Can we agree on that? Right?

So you would think that, if college students wanted to get more correct answers and a higher grade, they would be willing to learn how to take tests in a better way. Does that seem reasonable? Right?

Let me go on:

"So after they went through this process of learning a different way to answer questions when they didn't know the correct answer, on the next two sets of tests, they still were not any more likely to revise their answer."

Right? So they just went through a whole process where they learned how to answer questions that they didn't know the answer to increase the probability that they would get a higher grade; get more correct answers. And what they statistically found is they were not willing to do it. [Laughs] They were not willing to learn a new skill to accomplish the very reason they were there, which is to get an education. Right? Right?

And so what I want you to see is: there's a part of us that wants to judge that as, "You fools!" Right? But what we know to be true is how many times in our own life, because we think we've already answered the question, we don't entertain the whole idea of rethinking.

He goes on:

"Unfortunately, when it comes to our own knowledge and opinions, often we favor feeling right over being right."

Doesn't it feel great when you're right? Right? It feels great! I love being right! I love it! Can I tell you one of my greatest joys is when my wife says these sexy, sweet, loving words to me? She says, "You're right!" Oh, my gosh! [Congregation laughs] I say, "Say it again! Say it again!" She said, "You're right!" I think, "Oh, my gosh! Is there anything sexier than having your wife tell you you're right! I don't think so!”  [Congregation laughs] I need a moment, right? It's just fabulous! I need a moment! Right?

Because there's this human part of us that longs to be right. We need to be right! We feel so insecure when we're not right. And so sometimes the feeling of being right allows us to actually not choose to be right. Right? That we miss the opportunity.

In a speech from March 4, 1987, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation regarding the Tower Commission. And he said this -- and I love the honest of this! He said:

"A few months ago, I told the American people that I did not trade arms for hostages." And then he has this human moment. He says, "My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true ..."

[Laughs] But then he has to go on and say:

"But the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."

Like, in front of the entire American people he has to say, "I so wanted it to be true." Right? "It felt true on the inside." Right? It just wasn't true! Right? And he had to admit to the entire American people it wasn't true. "It sure felt true, though. I wanted it to be true, but it's not true."

And I want you to see in your own life how many times we choose feeling right over the truth. And what if tonight you were willing to rethink some of those things that you thought were true about you, but that they can't really hold up under the light that you were created in the image and likeness of God.

Like, how many times have you felt "less than"? How many times have you felt broken? And it feels true. It feels like we're wounded or we're broken or we're less than. It feels true. Even though it feels bad, it feels true. But what's really true is that you're created in the image and likeness of God. That you are whole and complete and lacking in nothing. So you can have a feeling that you're less than. But the truth is: you're created in the image and likeness of God.

Page 17 in the book. If you want to join with me as I go through this. So page 17 says this:

"With advances in the access to information and technology, knowledge isn't just increasing, it's increasing at an increasing rate. In 2011 you could consume about five times as much information per day than you could a quarter of a century earlier. As of 1950, it took about 50 years of knowledge to double the amount of information in medicine. By 1980 that medical knowledge was doubling every seven years. And by 2010 it was doubling every year-and-a-half.

The accelerated pace of change means that we need to ask questions about beliefs more rapidly than ever before."

Because there's an onslaught of information coming at us, if we don't challenge it; if we don't rethink it; if we don't look at it and just accept it as true, we actually are just getting buried in untruths and things that just aren't accurate.

Moving on. Okay, here we go:

“Mental horsepower doesn’t guarantee mental dexterity. No matter how much brainpower you have, if you lack the motivation to change your mind, you’ll miss many occasions to think again. Research reveals that the higher you score on an IQ test, the more likely you are to fall for stereotypes, because you’re faster at recognizing patterns. And recent experiments suggest that the smarter you are, the more you might struggle to update your beliefs. One study investigated whether being a math whiz makes you better at analyzing data. The answer is yes—if you’re told the data are about something bland, like a treatment for skin rashes."

But if it's something that you have a belief in -- an ideology -- then you will actually make the wrong choice, because we have a bias. And actually, the smarter you are, the more difficult it is, because you actually outthink it.

Now a psychologist -- whose last name has about 30 different letters in it, so I'm just going to call him "Dr. C." Because even if I tried to say it, it's shish-ka-shosh-ken-neesh-kay-la-ma-lee:

"[Dr. C] studied the imminent scientists like Linus Pauling and Jonas Salk and he concluded that the difference for them from their peers of average cognitive ability was that they were more flexible from the extreme other side of the occasion. They were actually more flexible when looking at patterns. That they were willing to see them and not jump to conclusions, but be willing to be in the question."

So here's what I want. All the things that you're committed to being true in your life; all the ways where you know exactly how it is, would you be willing this week to begin to hold them "softly"? Right? Softly? And just entertain the possibility that maybe it's not going to work exactly ...

And he's got a "rethink cycle" that I want to share with you. And the first thing he says that, in the rethink cycle, you actually have to have a sense of being HUMBLE. Like, "What if I didn't know? Or, "What if ..."

And the second step is DOUBT. He said to be able to rethink -- to be in this cycle of rethinking and relearning -- you have to first be humble. He said then you have to be able to entertain doubt. Like, "What if I'm wrong?" Like, "What if I'm wrong? Like, it's happened once before ..." [Congregation laughs] "Like, what if I'm wrong?" Right? That there's a need to be able to entertain that.

He said, because if you're willing to be humble and actually move into doubt, he said the next thing that happens is -- if you say, "What if I'm wrong?" -- it actually leads to a sense of CURIOSITY. "Well, if I'm wrong, what would the right answer be?” Or, “What would be a better way?” Or, “How could I do this differently?" But if you won't move into self-doubt, or if you won't move into doubt at all, then you can't ever truly be curious, because your lack of doubt actually prevents you from being curious.

And then he said once you move into curiosity, then you can move into DISCOVERY.

And what I want you to see is: You have the capacity to really entertain ideas in a brand new way.

He said the four most annoying things people say instead of rethinking. Can I just give these to you? So for this week I want you to use them a lot. So the four most annoying things people say instead of rethinking:

First: "That will never work here." Right?

Two: "That's not what my experience has shown me."

Three: "That's just too complicated; let's not overthink this."

And four: "That's the way we've always done it." Right?

So I want you just to see that. And so here's where I'm going. You ready for your homework?

When I was in ministerial school, we had to write every semester something called "The Credo." And our credo was eight to ten pages usually every semester. And we had to write down our core beliefs. So in the two years that I went through seminary, every semester we had to write a different credo that was reviewed by other students and the faculty. And they challenged it. They looked at; they said, "What about this? Or what about this?" And we were required to be able to articulate our fundamental beliefs.

Starting out our first semester, the first credo was the nature of God. Second credo was the nature of humankind. And we went all the way through the thing. And we had to be able to, first, articulate what it is we really believe, truly believe. And then we had to be in a discussion about that. And people could answer questions like, "Well, how does that relate to this?" Or, "How does that relate to that?" And it demanded that we not only know what we believe, but be able to articulate it clearly and support it in some sort of a logical -- other than Wednesday nights -- in a logical fashion, right? [Congregation laughs]

So here's my four, My four fundamental beliefs that have driven my life over and over again are this:

The first one is that I believe that the nature of God is absolutely good. I believe that there is a power in the Universe that is unseen but is real and active. And there is an active presence and power at work in the universe.

Two: I believe that we are created in the image and likeness of that image. That we are spiritual and that we are inherently good because we are created in the image and likeness of God.

Three: I believe that the more we quiet our mind, the more we feel God. The more that we quiet our mind, the more that we are open to Divine revelation. That a busy mind isn't helpful, and that a quiet mind actually takes us to a deeper place.

And four: I believe that, with an open heart, we actually heal and actually are profoundly blessed.

And for me, those four beliefs are what I go to. It's what I stand on. It's what I fundamentally believe is true. Over and over again, when I have a problem -- I have a challenge -- I come back to these four beliefs, because these are ... For me, these are the rocks that I stand on. These four things, for me, are just the basis of everything else I say. These four things: God; created in the image and likeness of God; quiet your mind; open your heart. That's pretty much it! If I can do those four things, it changes everything.

So here's your homework. You ready? I want you to actually look at your beliefs this week. And I want you to see: Instead of having a whole closet of beliefs, if you could pick out two or three or four or five, what are the beliefs that really are so important to you that you don't want them to get lost in the mess? That you don’t want them hidden away with all the outfits that you don’t wear.

And if you want to share them with me, I would read them. I would rejoice with you. I would appreciate that. You can email them to me at rrogers@unityphx.org.

And I would read those. Because I think it's time for us to come back to the truth of what we really know to be true. It's not what I think is true. But it's what's really true for you. What are those fundamental beliefs that are driving your life? Do you know them? Can you articulate them? Do you depend on them? Are they your foundational piece? Right?

It doesn't really matter where they came from, or how many beliefs you have. But it's: Where do you live? What are those beliefs that are the cornerstone of life?

And I invite you to write them down so that it's not vague or off somewhere, but really: What are the three or four or five or 10 fundamental beliefs that are the foundation of your life? I want you to write them down. And if you want to share them with somebody, I'm open to it. I love it! Right? I love it! And if you want to talk about them, we can talk about them. Alright?

But it's important for me that you know what's the most important thing to you. Will you pray with me?

And I invite you to open your mind, your heart, your soul to the activity of God. That there is but one presence and one power, and today we just get rid of all the noise. We are just willing to rethink all the noise; all the talk; all the old beliefs. And we go in and find the most valuable things in our mental and spiritual closet: those things that are the most important that we just know are true. That set us free; that make us happy; that give us peace. So over and over again, what do you stand on? What's real for you? Let's start there. So in the name and through the power of the Living Christ, we give thanks. And so it is. Amen.

Copyright 2022 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Rogers

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