Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Step 5: Throw out Things That Don't Fit

I'm restating step 5 as follows:
We discarded any beliefs and practices that did not fit into our developing new belief system, and worked on correcting any deficiencies resulting from those beliefs and practices.

This is because step 5 is not simply a matter of fixing what you broke because you didn't know any better. You must also fix your beliefs and any practices that stem from those beliefs, so that hopefully you don't break anything else. One of the side effects of materialism is selfishness. A side effect of the dualistic version of materialism is self-righteousness. Short-term thinking, greed, envy, pretty much all of the seven deadly sins are also side effects.

Why are all these things side effects of materialism? Materialism implies separation between people, but belief in a something else bigger than us but not separate from us implies an underlying unity. If your belief implies separation, you'll be more inclined to treat others as objects; hence greed, lust, envy. If your belief is of the dualistic type, the people you treat as objects will include those who don't believe the same things you do; hence religious wars and other forms of self-righteousness.

Let's have some examples. You may decide that popularity isn't as important as you thought it was, and concentrate on having a few close friends instead. You may decide that getting the 4,000 square foot house isn't so important. You may find an appreciation of the simpler things, like watching the sun rise.

Now, let's talk about fixing what's broken. Selfishness, greed, shortsightedness, apathy and the like wreck careers. They wreck marriages. They wreck your life. This is where correcting the deficiencies comes in.

Stay tuned for the next step.

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