There are a lot of things I don’t know that you probably know. But does that really matter?
We have a right – by birth (HUMAN Rights) – to our opinions, feelings, and desires. And we have a right to express them in a way that respects others’ right to the same.
And as Buddhist philosophy becomes more popular in the west, people say we contain within all the wisdom we need (Enlightenment).
The two concepts above, human rights and enlightenment, seem to require that we first learn how to live in a civilized world. We go through an intense training period for what seems to take at least 18 years, in which we are indoctrinated with facts, moral codes, proper behaviors, skills training, and constant evaluation. We rely on the experts for this process – everyone from parents to teachers to books to police to public leaders.
Is it any wonder that the next phase is so much harder? All this taking in, absorbing the outer world of rules, seems to subliminally teach us that we are dependent on external authority. No wonder we compare ourselves to others, indulge in gossip and envy, develop secrets born of shame and guilt, and struggle with daily right and wrong.
But if you want to continue growing, this next phase truly requires unlearning much of what you thought you knew. In order to do so we must first channel our awareness inward – instead of to the ‘other’.
Becoming self-aware is the only true path to freedom. After spending 18+ years in training so we can respond to routine life semi-automatically, we have to learn to observe ourselves in thought and action, and then, objectively ask ourselves what is essentially true – for us.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years…I still love what I think but I’m never tempted to believe it.” Byron Katie