Challenge Beliefs and Put Them to the Test
What good is a belief you never test? What good is a philosophy that harms yourself or others?
One of the things that always appealed to me about Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a. Buddha) was his common sense approach to problems that often stymie we human beings.
During a famous visit to the town of the Kalamas, the Buddha was asked a crucial question.
“Reverend Gautama, many teachers enter our midst teaching that their way and their way alone is the path to salvation. They extol the virtues of their own doctrines while tearing down the doctrines of other teachers. This creates doubt in our minds about all their teachings. For how are we to know which speaks the truth and which speaks falsehood?”
Buddha replied, “Kalamas, you have doubt in circumstances where doubt is understandable. Where doubt thrives uncertainty is born.”
Listen to his answer. The Buddha proposed a test against which to measure any teaching including his own.
- Do not believe something because it has been passed down and believed for many generations.
- Do not believe something merely because it is a traditional practice.
- Do not believe something because everyone believes it.
- Do not believe something because it is written in a book and has been recited over and over.
- Do not believe something solely on the grounds of logical reasoning.
- Do not believe something because it fits your preconceived notions.
- Do not believe something because you trust who is saying it.
- Do not believe something only because your teacher says it is so.
- Do not believe it even if I say it.
“Kalamas, when you yourselves know directly something is unskillful, unwholesome, blameworthy, rejected by the wise, harmful to yourselves or others, leads to poverty or unhappiness, you should give it up.”
“One the other hand, Kalamas, when you know directly that something is skilled, wholesome, blameless, praised by the wise, and leads to well-being, prosperity, and happiness, you should accept it and practice it.”
We all need to examine the beliefs that are driving our actions in this world. When we look at the state of the world we must conclude that there is more each of us can do to make a difference. It all begins with questioning age-old beliefs. Even beliefs based in truth can become clouded by generations of unexamined hatreds, fears, and prejudices rendering them unproductive and even destructive.
Every change, personal or global, begins with the courage to question.
Be peaceful Be prosperous!
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