Seeking Personal Experience & Personal Authority12 Comments April 28, 2007 / Posted in Mindful Business, Mindful Leadership, Mindfulness, Oz Archives, The Running Mind, Uncategorized
Wilfred Bion, the father of group dynamics, said that we are herd or pack animals. While we call ourselves humans, a euphemism for social/herd/pack animals with reflective abilities, we remain open to the power of all the ideas, thoughts, history, family, society, that make up the catch all word: Culture. We have survived by fast past matching to fit all ideas into what we and our culture knows. We are here today because of that ability and also the ability of others to see differently even though it meant a most horrible fate: separation from the herd; from the pack.
The difficulty comes when someone alters our perceptions. In the United States if I were to ask any group of people: What color is a Yield sign; the majority of people would, without hesitation, answer yellow. And yet, the yield sign in the US has not been yellow since the US adopted the International Signage Code in the late 80’s.
The trick is to realize that we go through life with our explanations, rationalizations, and assumptions more often that not, masquerading as fact. Our task, should we accept it, is to be aware of the present moment. Awake and aware. Aware that anyone’s reality is and will always be their perception of reality. And therefore different for each of us and open to interpretation.
Years ago, I first came across an introductory page in a book by Ida Rolf with the title: Admonition For 1977. It’s one of those pieces that has sat in the back of my mind over the past 30 years, especially when I get tangled up in my own righteousness and knowing.
At the time I did not know it, that it would become a foundation in my practice of Mindfulness.
There are numerous translations if you search the internet for : Buddha “Do not believe anything merely”.
This is my composite of Ida’s and those other translations I’ve read.
The Kalama Sutra
The Kalama Surta is the Buddha’s reply to a group of townspeople of Kalama. They asked Buddha who were they to believe of all the ascetics, sages, holy ones and teachers They came through their town confusing them with their contradictory truths, teachings, beliefs, and one true way. Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation of the Kalama Sutra: To the Kalamas from the Pali is a good read.
• Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it,
• Nor traditions because they are old and have been handed down from generation to generation and in many locations,
• Nor in rumor because it has been spoken by many,
• Nor in writings by sages because sages wrote them,
• Nor in one’s own fancies, thinking that it is such an extraordinary thought, it must have been inspired by a god or higher power,
• Nor in inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption made by us,
• Nor in what seems to be of necessity by analogy,
• Nor in anything merely because it is based on the authority of our teachers, masters, and elders,.
However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.
These words, the Buddha went on to say, must be applied to his own teachings.
James Hollis in his book, Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life, touches on this issue under what he calls “personal authority” or more appropriately the recovery of personal authority. You can summarize that task in the above Kalama Sutra or in Hollis’ definition: “Personal Authority mean to find what is true for oneself and to live it in the world.”
So ahead is a wonderful experience of a lifetime.
Some quotes from Buddha to bring home the point
It is wrong to think that misfortunes come from the east or from the west; they originate within one’s own mind. Therefore, it is foolish to guard against misfortunes from the external world and leave the inner mind uncontrolled.~ Buddha
As the Fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.~ Buddha
We are what we think. All that we are arises With our thoughts. With our thoughts, We make our world.~ Buddha
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.~ Buddha
All acts of living become bad by ten things, and by avoiding the ten things they become good. There are three evils of the body, four evils of the tongue, and three evils of the mind.
The evils of the body are, murder, theft, and adultery; of the tongue, lying, slander, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind, covetousness, hatred, and error.~ Buddha
An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind
I reached in experience the nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.
It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.
The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.~ Buddha