By far one of my favorite quotes.
I remember one lesson vividly from the autobiography of Malcolm X. He told a story about going for a hunt with his friend and his friend's dad and uncle. The parents showed the kids how to hunt. They drew the rabbit into a trap. Soon, Malcolm learned the rabbits' path, and walked ahead a little bit to intercept it. Within a day, he began catching every rabbit they encountered, without anyone else knowing what he did. The adults praised him for his obvious agility and abilities. Yet Malcolm said that "whenever someone is better than you, it's usually because she's doing something more than you."
This stuck with me. People get better grades because they're usually reading or reviewing more than me. People write better because they spend more time writing than me. People speak better because they take opportunities to challenge themselves and speak more than me. They're doing something more.
Then I began to realize that our actions create an experience. The people who study harder experience the positive effects of discipline, working hard and pushing themselves.
Then it hit me. Our experiences shape our beliefs. Mother Theresa said that quote because of her life experience serving the poor and hungry and destitute. A person who believes in profits over everything believes that because their experiences in life taught them to believe that. I myself have experienced jail after the loss of one of my dearest friends. It why I believe in the beauty of life, in the goodness of all people. Whenever a person sees a Sikh for the first time, her experience with that Sikh will shape her subsequent belief about Sikhs. Finally, a true Sikh has experienced Sikhi, and can tell you that nothing else in their lives matched that experience.
This was a big insight for me. What it means is to understand another person's beliefs, we must understand her experiences. To change our lives, we must change our experiences. It's why Guru Gobind Singh Ji provided us with the tools to experience what he experienced.
I've said before that logic and argument only get us so far. It's experience that changes our lives. The experience of waking up at 5am every day to recite the Name. The experience of going to the gym and taking a small step towards self-improvement every day. The experience of a good book. The experience of working hard for something, not to achieve the grade or the dollar, but to enjoy the experience on the way to the goal.
What are some of your beliefs? What are some experiences that shaped those beliefs? What small change can you make in your day to create a new experience, and thus form new beliefs?