Buddha on knowing:
(563 B.C.-483 B.C.) (anything that is still around after 2500 years must have some modicum of value, right?)
“Do not believe what you have heard.
Do not believe in tradition because it it handed down many generations.
Do not believe in anything that has been spoken of many times.
Do not believe because the written statements come form some old sage.
Do not believe in conjecture.
Do not believe in authority or teachers or elders.
But after careful observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and it will benefit one and all, then accept it and live by it.
(363 B.C.-483 B.C.)
At age 29, Prince Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), seeing the unhappiness, sickness, and death that even the wealthiest and most powerful are subject to in this life, he abandoned the life he was leading in search of a higher truth and a path out of unhappiness, sickness, pain and death.
The key point in this passage is that everything that you carry around with you that you call ‘your belief’ has become your own largely because of the experiences and testimonies of other people. And if it comes to you from a source outside of yourself, regardless of how persuasive the conditioning process might be, and of how many people just like you have worked to convince you of the truth of these beliefs, the fact that it is someone else’s truth means that you receive it with some question marks or doubts.
For example….If I were to attempt to convince you about the taste of a delectable fish, you would perhaps listen but still have your doubts. Were I to show you pictures of this fish, and have hundreds of people come testify about the veracity of my statements, you might become more convinced. But the modicum of doubt would still remain because you hadn’t tasted it. You might accept the truth of its deliciousness for me; but until your taste buds experience the fish, your truth is only a belief based on my truth, on my experience. And so it is with all the well-meaning members of your tribes (churches/civic organizations/families/network of facebook friends), and their tribal ancestors before them.
Just because you have heard it, and it is a long-surviving tradition, and it is recorded over the centuries, and the world’s greatest teachers have endorsed it, those are still not reasons to accept a belief. Remember, “Do not believe it,” as the Buddha instructs.
Rather than using the term “belief,” try shifting to the word “knowing.” When you have direct experience of tasting the fish, you now have a knowing. That is, you have conscious contact and can determine your truth based on your experience. You know how to swim or ride a bike not because you have a belief, but because you have had direct experience.
You are being reminded by the “enlightened one” of 2500 years ago, to apply this same understanding to your personal and spiritual life. There is a fundamental difference between knowing something and knowing about something. “Knowing about” is another term for belief. “Knowing” is a term reserved for direct experience, which means an absence of doubt.
I understand that the persuasiveness of tribal (community/poitical parties/family/facebook friends :)) influences is exceedingly powerful. You are constantly being reminded of what you should or shouldn’t believe, and what all our tribal members have always believed, and what will happen if you ignore those beliefs. Fear becomes the constant companion of your beliefs, and despite the doubts that you may feel inside, you often adopt these beliefs and make them crutches in your life, while you hobble through your days looking for a way out of traps that have been carefully set by generations of believers before you.
Finally, I want to mention that the Buddha’s conclusion is the only line without the word “believe,” He says when it agrees with reason -that is, when you know it to be true based on your own observation and experience -and it is beneficial to one and all, then and only then, live by it!!!!!!!! 🙂
…..Oh, one more point. I know the idea of resisting the “tribal influence” is often perceived as being callous or indifferent to the experience and teaching of others, particularly those who care the most about you. But, I suggest you read the words of Buddha hear again if that is your only conclusion. He does not speak of rejection, only of being grown-up and mature enough to make up your own mind and live by your knowing, rather than the experiences and testimonies of others.
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