Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Place for Certainty

There is a valid place for certainty. There is a valid place for commitment and belief, but not for closed-mindedness, or for a "superioristic know-it-all" attitude that denies realistic humility.

Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Patanjali, Al Hallaj, Solomon, Black Elk, and others made statements of their personal beliefs as if these represented truths that were reliable for not only themselves, but for others. This was not a "violation of the rights" of others for spiritual independence. In fact, in a world where so many are so wishy-washy, so absolutely uncertain and noncommital about everything and anything, it can be downright refreshing!:)

If you believe that anything is true, and you believe that those truths are accessible to human beings, and that some human beings have discovered those realities, it might be a mistake to believe that all their statements were simply personal opinions. On the other hand, if you do not believe these things, then you are free, of course, to dismiss all of them. But if you throw away all these great teachers, you might be tossing out diamonds with the morning trash.

We mystics have seen,and tried to use, these teachers as our models. So, at times, although we are not mindlessly dogmatic (our advice is, "question everything"), we do not always qualify every statement by the often cumbersome, "I think that...," "I believe that...," etc. For the very fact that one is saying it makes it fairly selfevident to the average intelligent person that it is what she/he believes.

Because we delete these phrases, does anyone have the right to assume that we think that we are speaking unquestionable and infallible truth? Does anyone have the right to accuse us of thinking that we have all knowledge, all understanding, all wisdom? This is not a response of an average or intelligent person, in our experience or opinion. (There's a qualifier.:)

A good teacher must speak clearly and carefully. But she need not be paranoid about being accused of the pomposity and arrogance of the delusion of omnipotence, unless, of course, she has made such an outrageous, bizarre, and incredible claim! (Some cult-leaders have implicitly or explicitly made exactly this claim.:)

A real part of spiritual and emotional wellness is to question everything said by everybody, and prove the "truth," or anything that you plan to believe, to your own satisfaction. Be as objective and detached as possible, be kindly critical, but do not go overboard even here. There is certainly a time and appropriate place for moderate skepticism, but cruel and closed-minded cynicism is better deleted. Still, you can always, and very safely, reject anything that is cruel, paranoid, or reeks, in your opinion, of stupidity or ignorance. Trust yourself.

Spiritual independence-- the ability to think on your own, to make personal decisions about what you want to think or believe-- is a core of spiritual adulthood.

Those who seek "daddies" to give them "permission" tend to be living out of the unhealthy "inner child." Sadly, they will have not a problem at all finding "teachers" (everywhere) who will accommodate and enable their weakness, for these are living out of the equally unhealthy "inner
parent." There is not an "adult" among them!

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