Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything 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 anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
That quote is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama (aka. the Buddha). It’s very progressive thinking from around 1500 years ago.
I admire Buddhist philosophy for its focus on personal responsibility (for knowledge and actions). This contrasts greatly with Abrahamic religions‘ philosophies, which tend to focus on faith in external sources (eg. texts, organisations, a god).
However, (given the above quote) I find it strange that Buddhist religions tend to include supernatural aspects. Chiefly a belief in reincarnation, which I doubt would satisfy independent and objective scrutiny.
4 thoughts on “This make sense to me”
The reincarnation of souls doesn’t stand up to objective analysis, but all of life is reincarnated in a way. All of the atoms, ions, molecules that make up your body have been cycled through natural systems for billions of years. They have been part of plants, animals, microbes, etc. They have even been part of other humans. Every time we spend time around other people, talking to them, touching them, breathing on them, cooking food for them, we exchange bits of ourselves with them.
And if you go back far enough, all this matter that’s swirling around between living things was once part of a star that exploded. And before that, it might have been part of other stars and other planetary systems and living organisms.
So I don’t have a problem with the idea of reincarnation, it’s the specifics of it that don’t work for me.
What Buddha was really trying to say was “Do not believe in anything you read on the Internet”
How did he know??
I don’t think what he’s talking about here is “scientific” observation and analysis, but rather a form of logic that satisfies personal questions about the way things are. In that respect, the concept of reincarnation makes sense (why some people are “wiser” than others, for example, or why some people have hard lives now and others are “evil” but seem to suffer no hardship).
It may be easy to dismiss reincarnation as “supernatural” and therefore untrue, but is there any way to prove, once and for all, that it doesn’t happen? It’s as easy to buy into the discourse of science as it is to buy into a belief of reincarnation or anything else that cannot be easily proven (or disproven).
I find particularly interesting the point of, “is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all.” In other words, if your beliefs are reasonable and only serve to benefit yourself and others (ie, comes from a loving point of view), it doesn’t matter 🙂
Lisa: I agree. Reconfiguration of matter is one thing; adding in karma is another thing entirely.
Ellen: With that reading, you’d also have to assert that if something “is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all” but doesn’t “agree with reason”… it doesn’t matter.
I imagine that translation/transcription probably combined two separate concepts:
1. If something agrees with reason, then accept it
2. It something is beneficial to all, live up to it
That’s how I prefer to read it. 😉
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