Views on politics and current events

Saturday, July 22, 2006

How Do We Come To Believe What We Believe?

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders" Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)At first glance, this advice from Buddha may prompt the question, "If I should not believe something simply for these reasons, how am I able to believe anything?"

But look deeper into what is being said. If you should not believe in anything simply because you heard it, because it is spoken or rumored, because it is found in religious books or on authority of elders and teachers, what is left? Critical thinking.

What Buddha's words mean to me, is no matter what the belief, question it. Question the source, for whatever is being presented has been concluded by humans through their own world view and frame of reference. Question the belief in and of itself. What if it is true? What if it is false? What are the consequences of believing it or not? Only after a person does that are they ready to form their own beliefs. Anything less will result in a belief in someone else's belief.

By all means be exposed to as many different beliefs of others as possible. But don't take them on authority. You are, in the end, as responsible for your thoughts and beliefs as for your actions. So make them your own thoughts and beliefs and not someone else's.

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