"Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken or rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of all, then accept it, and live up to it."
These are not only, I believe, some of the wisest and most insightful words ever spoken, they are also very challenging.
What do we really "know?" vs what we claim to 'believe?' Many teachers have pointed out the difference between believing and knowing. Generally, we are taught what we 'believe.' We adopted the beliefs of authority figures during childhood. We were also taught to listen to and trust those 'who know better' ...or 'who know more than we do.' Often, when we were told "Think for yourself" it usually meant choosing those beliefs we have accepted from others that were "right"... even though they may not have been 'proven' within the scope of our own personal experience.
There are times when things seem "to work out" even though we might not have chosen what we truly wanted to do...but the admiration and approval we get from others seems to compensate us and 'make up' for it. Thus, it reinforces those beliefs that we never question or challenge -- and we continue to go along with what is expected of us.
To not do what others have taught us is 'the only right way' -- might result in disaster, punishment, failure, loss of our standing or reputation in the community, loss of others praise and recognition which might result in isolation, shunning, criticism, etc etc etc. So, we play by 'the rules' that no one dares question or we get kicked out of the game...or at least become assigned to being a permanent bench warmer... :)
So we stay well within the confines of our little Community box, Church box, Social box, Accepted Customary box, etc etc etc...and convince ourselves we are "Safe and Just Fine." We don't make waves and are therefore recognized as a "respected member of our family, groups, or community." We've decided it's always better to play it safe.
If and when you feel like it ... take a break, sit quietly and comtemplate: "What is it that I really and truly DO KNOW of my own accord... that really works for ME...What are the beliefs I feel very deeply is My Own Truth. What is it that gives me a really good feeling about life itself when I follow my OWN instincts and intuition -- that sense of knowing that helps me to realize that I am, indeed, not only connected to--but a part of Source, God, the Creator, the Universe?"
In sifting through your own beliefs about your role in this life, you might find a few ideas that others do not approve of. And that's OK. We must be willing to look inwardly and see the truth of how we feel when we cave in to "what others think" and admit that 'going along with crowd' makes us feel that we are somehow cheating ourselves.
It is amazing how we can be so overwhelmed by: 'others will be upset with me if I DO...or DON'T do what they expect.'
Doing what we KNOW is best for us makes us feel like we are honoring ourselves. This does not have to result in arguing, confrontation, or hurting others. SILENCE can be very powerful. We don't have to "fight for the right" to honor ourselves. We can still be loving and allowing of others ideas. If someone is pitching a fit...or perhaps just becoming quietly sullen or pouty because you are not doing what THEY want you to do...you truly need to realize: that is THEIR problem...Not yours.
Buddha is not advocating becoming a maverick, a rebel, or a dissenter and announce to others: "your ideas are wrong!'... Not at all. After all, what you resist--persists. (good thing to keep in mind!:) He is saying to use our OWN minds, observe through our OWN experiences what we know works the best us. Experience IS the best teacher. Not always the easiest taskmaster... but the one it is best to learn from. We seldom learn or profit from the so called mistakes or experience of others.
Some of the wisest teachers in the world, which includes Buddha, have all said the same thing... Follow what you KNOW works the best for you. This applies to everything we encounter. Throw away the books and the lectures and stop continuoulsy looking to 'the outside' for all the answers. It is all within us. We are not separate from-- but part of --the Divine. The best teachers trigger the knowing that is already within us. We cannot keep permitting 'fear of retribution if I don't do it this way or think it this way' to continue to rule our minds. For if we do, it truly is forsaking the God, the Real You, Your Higher Self (etc) that dwells within each and every one of us.
The Knowing I am speaking of has precious little to do with facts, statistics, or other data. This kind of Knowing is not something one can 'prove' to others. This Inner Knowing is a deeply inlaid part of us through which our Soul communicates with us. When we feel this kind of Knowing --we KNOW this is something we need to act upon, express, or follow through on. It is our Truth. Perhaps it will require a brave change from what one "should" -- or is expected to do. It might call forth quite a bit of courage, but we always carry within us untapped resources of courage. We simply need to use it.
We know we can find the courage to be the only one in the room with our convictions and speak them...perhaps not the ones we were 'taught to believe' ...but the ones that have been within the scope of our own experience...as Buddha would say.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the American poet / author: ee cummings.
This is what he said: "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you into everybody else--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
Basically Shakespeare said the same thing: "Above all else, to thine own self be true; for it follows as surely as day follows night, that thou canst not then be false to any man."
Seth once told us: "Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, it's amazing how much easier it becomes to accept others for who they are."
Namaste', dear friends.