Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your elders and teachers.”
Wow! Now that is coming from a great elder, teacher, and thinker—the Buddha! As a teacher, trainer, and college professor for most of my adult life I am in complete oneness with this axiom. Just because the teacher says so does not MAKE it so. Everyone is born into a family, culture, country, and religion that has the desire to propagate themselves and their culture and beliefs. Every culture has leaders and teachers who help share those ideas to ensure that they live on.
Whether you are an indigenous group such as the Aborigines in Australia, the Iroquois in North America, or the Mashco-Piro tribe in Peru they have believes that have been handed down by generations of elders and teachers. Each is unique in its teachings and beliefs as we all are. So if we move from one culture or religion to another we take on those beliefs and live by them.
As we discover new things through science and research we may look at our teachers and elders and what they taught us and say that some of their ideas might be called “superstitions” today. Thus the Buddha says we need to be curious and if need be do our own research and studies and discover what is “true” and “right” for us in our lives or in a particular situation.
I had a friend many years ago who went into the Catholic priest to ask some questions that were concerning her about her faith and she was told to just belief whatever they told her and when she refused to do so they excommunicated her. The Buddha was way before his time in this axiom. He understood that knowledge is fleeting and changing and that thinking too much can get us into trouble.
And thus he said, “Do not go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by rumors, by scriptures, by surmise, conjecture and axioms, by inference and analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by specious reasoning or bias toward a notion because it has been pondered over, by another’s seeming ability, or by the thought, ‘This monk is our teacher.” But when you yourself knows: ‘Such and such things are unskillful, blameworthy, criticized by the wise, and if adopted and carried out lead to harm and ill and sufferings,’ you need to abandon them.”
This is the difficult way! It is so much easier to let others do the research, the writing, and the teaching and follow them like lemmings then it is to think for yourself, read, research, and then practice the teachings and discover the power for yourself. Yet, I recommend it highly. I hope you’ll try it out and let me know how it worked!
In gassho, Shokai