The Buddha told a story which goes roughly like this.
A young man, having lost his wife, had been left to raise his son. He loved the boy very much. One day whilst away from the village bandits attacked and when he returned he found many dead and much of the village destroyed by fire including his home. He also found, amongst the burnt out remains of the village the body of a child. Shattered he mourned for the dead child. He arranged an expensive funeral and afterwards gathered the ashes of his supposed son. But the boy was not dead, rather taken by the bandits.
Time passed and the man became a shadow of himself as he grieved. The boy grew. Then one day the boy escaped the bandits and made his way back to the village. Arriving after dark he found his father’s new house and knocked on the door. The father enquired from inside who it was and when the son replied the father denied it could be true. The son tried and tried to convince the father but the man would not open the door and continued to state that it was not possible. Eventually the boy left never to return.
You see, what the Buddha was trying to say was that sometimes we take something to be true and buy into it. All the evidence we have may support our belief. Then a greater truth comes along or even the actual truth but we are so bought into what we currently believe we cannot see it for what it is. Maybe we close our minds to the possibility. Maybe the truth is so challenging, so demanding that it is inconvenient to accept it. Maybe like the father in the story we are so entrenched in our beliefs that we refuse to open the door.
So the world becomes a series of closed systems where we place our identity. The truth written within the system defines how we think, how we go into the world, and how we deal with life. It tell us how to treat others and what and who is acceptable. We become part of a tribe whose mantra, for tribes have a common mantra, goes something like this: We believe this to be true and so we behave in this way. We reject…whatever. We embrace these people but hold those others at arms length or even reject then because they believe differently.
Then the world goes to the place we so often see. Republican, Democrat. Muslim, Christian. Black, White. Even at a more local level, it’s this school or that school, this gang or that gang. Each with an entrenched set of beliefs. Some more developed and nuanced than others because of time.
We can even read from the same book and arrive at a different set of truths which ought to worry us or at least make us think.
Rather we gather around us those who, or those who can be persuaded to think the same. Then for the sake of the tribe with our beliefs we declare other thinkers to be, at best misunderstood, at worse, an enemy. You know where this goes.
I always felt like I’m not from this generation, I just live in it. Because the way my mindset differs from the majority, you’d think I come from a different dimension.Keane Reeves
Me, I sometimes wonder if I should be here. I don’t do politics. My previous letters have spoken of my disillusionment with religion. I find within myself something intrinsically wrong with alienating another person or tribe because they think differently. I want to know what they believe and why they do so, which is actually more telling.
Well I’ve met so many who will tell me “their truth” with passion but fail miserably to present a convincing case for why they believe. You see, ‘it is written’ or ‘such and such said so’ doesn’t work. No.
Ever asked what happened to free thought? Give me the freethinkers everyday. By all means live according to the light you have in this moment. How can you do anything else? It’s showing all you can see. But when a greater light comes along don’t refuse to open the door. Don’t close your eyes for as soon as you do that you turn from the truth and begin to believe a lie.
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for the right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless.Leo Tolstoy
Give me the freethinkers who have not locked their minds in a cage of beliefs. Yes they believe, but the door is always open and when the season for this belief ends they are able and willing to move on. Give me the one’s so often referred to as crazy or weird because most have no ability to understand them and, like most things we don’t understand, it is initially feared and rejected. It’s ok to be dumb, once, twice. It’s wrong to abuse the privilege.
Pogue, here’s a choice. Be shackled by your beliefs or be free by embracing the ever unfolding wonders of life. Was that harsh? I didn’t mean it to be, it’s just all around are those who’ve freely gone into cages and prisons and closed the door behind them. They turn the world into into a fragmented place where fear is all to common. Don’t be that person. Live free. Rid yourself of your prejudices. Be able to explain why you believe what you do. Most of all, if a greater light comes, stand in it so you see what it shows.
Pogue, live free,
Yours, living outside the cage,