“...But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
This quote by the Buddha is preceded by a long list of what not to believe in. It goes like this: “Do not believe in anything...
“...simply because you have heard it.
...simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
...simply because it is written in your religious books.
...merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
...traditional, simply because it has been handed down for generations.”
In other words, only believe in something to which you have given wholehearted consideration; something you have decided is the right thing to do, both for yourself, and for everyone involved. This little gem of wisdom was conveyed over two-thousand years ago, and is just as relevant today as then.
There are whole days when I think we humans are only a little bit higher functioning than sheep—willing to blindly follow the leader, even if that leader jumps off a cliff. At a time when we are in desperate need of wisdom, we seem to have given up on thinking things through to a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps it is because the complexities of the world today are too much for us to wrap our heads around. Maybe it's just that we've eaten too much bar-b-que and drunk too much beer. Maybe we're just too distracted by our phones to think at all. The possible reasons are endless, but unless we get a grip on reality and begin to think clearly, we're truly facing some of the most devastating consequences in history. Asteroid-hitting-the-earth type consequences! Ask Houston, Texas, which is underwater this morning, whether it “believes” in climate change.
Learning to think can be taught, but it requires, first and foremost, a curious mind. Teachers and elders can ask questions that provoke thought, and give assignments that require research. We can consult scholars who give us the most recent scientific or statistical evidence for anything we want to know, but first, we have to formulate the questions. We have to conjure up from within ourselves the desire to know, and to be accurately informed. We cannot leave that up to anyone—certainly not to leaders, whether political, corporate, or religious—who have a vested interest in the outcome.
We have evolved with this big brain for a reason. We must put it to good use, and decide for ourselves what is for the good and benefit of all.
In the Spirit,