Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Live up to it

I was cruising the web, looking for good quotes to include in some routine SKS email announcements, and I came across this gem:
"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. Do not believe in traditions 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 one
and all, then accept it and live up to it.

~~ The Buddha

I only wish it was shorter, so I could fit it on a poster. It says so much of what the Self Knowledge Symposium is about. The "do not believe anything" part is not that unusual; our society has "question authority" bumper stickers coming out of its ears. What struck me was that he focused on all those sources of religious teaching -- personal testimony, widely-held beliefs, scriptures, and teachers -- as valid objects for "observation and analysis." He doesn't say, "Throw all that crap away." He says, "Look at that stuff. Think about it. Watch it in action. Then ask yourself: is it true? Is it right?" It is an invitation for the individual to validate spiritual teachings in the light of their own reason and experience.

The real brilliance is in the the clincher: "accept it and live up to it." The purpose of seeking is not analysis, critique, and coming up with "the right answer." You could spend your whole life (and many do) endlessly analyzing and critiquing and weighing the merits of every point of view. The challenge is to take whatever truths you do find, however fragmentary or conditional, and use them. No matter what you believe or disbelieve, there is no room for complacency if you decide to live in accordance with the truth.



Post a Comment

<< Home