Tuesday, 13 November 2007

My favourite quote from the Buddha.......

'Do not believe a thing simply because it has been said.
Do not put your faith in traditions only because they have been honoured by so many generations.
Do not believe a thing because the general opinion believes it to be true or because it has been said repeatedly.
Do not believe a thing because of the single witness of one of the sages of antiquity.
Do not believe a thing because the probabilities are in its favour
or because you are in the habit of believing it to be true.
Do not believe in that which comes to your imagination, thinking that it must be the revelation of a superior Being.
Believe nothing that binds you to the sole authority of your masters or priests.
That which you have tried yourself, which you have experienced, which you have recognised as true, and which will be beneficial to yourself and to others, believe that and shape your conduct to it.'

It is this philosophy of the Buddha which resulted in me studying and practicing Mahayana Budddhism for nine years. I loved the idea that I was free to decide what was true for me based on my own experiences and not on what I had been told. That first night I discovered Buddhism I felt like I had come home. There is a freedom and a trusting of responsibility given by Buddhism that I don't find matched in other faiths or philosophies. Buddhism encourages the finding of one's truth and path through one's own experiences and gives the route of the eightfold pathway to ensure that it is travelled upon safely. This quote is powerful and to take it to the absolute limit requires a huge amount of courage. It's not easy to let go of the pull of the authority of so called experts to find one's own truth but this is what is required if the shift of consciousness if going to be significant.

One comment a while ago suggested that this blog was being written in a spiritually ignorant world. I don't believe that the world is spiritually ignorant. There is an awareness of 'something' but not the tools for teasing it out. The quote from the Buddha if it is read often and pondered on will start to produce the necessary tools by which spiritual knowledge and experiences can grow. No two of us have the exact same spiritual path but the tools we use to move along this path are the same. Self-awareness and an aspiration for the spiritual are given when we trust the validity of our experiences over and above the words of others.

It is interesting how the Buddha also distrusts the products of the imagination. It is from the imagination that many of the claims of visions of deities have arisen and for this reason I am highly doubtful of such claims. I don't trust the products of the mind whether these are thoughts or images, all are of perception and perception is of the ego. Experiences are given by insights and and realizations. An insight is having an inside view on something. As an example the insight I had that the firework represents the story of the one exploding to form many - that is an insight. A realization is where something is seen which shifts the consciousness. An example of this is the realization of the unity behind the perceived separation. None of these involve a visual component......

What also struck me in the quote is not to believe the single account of a sage. This is amazing really for the Buddha to say this but it is true. The ancient wisdom is always and ever the same and the insights given are the same. They may be expressed differently given the constrains of language at the time of writing but the essence of the message is exactly the same. Therefore everyone who proclaims themselves to be a sage should be teaching the same message.

I'll finish with something topical. That is the discovery of the lethal strain of bird flu the H5N1 virus that was confirmed in turkeys in England today. It is so important to keep one's nerve in the midst of events like this. It is the ability to remain steady and calm in the midst of chaos that will make a difference. Coming up to 2012 there is likely to be more of these kinds of discoveries. With each one it is important to remain calm and to discipline and not indulge the ego....

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