Authority and Critical Analysis

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.” ~ Dalai Lama

We considered in a previous post that you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. Humanity, in this sense, is a collection of agents who navigate their lives within a framework of culture, custom and mores. You, as a member of the body of humanity, receive guidance from parents, teachers, secular and spiritual leaders, family, friends, enemies as well as from your circumstances, yet the direction of your life is ultimately charted by your capacities of reason and critical analysis.

Your capacities of reason and critical analysis, properly nurtured, develop and sharpen over time. Sometimes you might need a little help thinking things through. That’s fine, it’s ok to ask for help! Even the sharpest mind is not designed to function completely independently of the body (of humanity) of which it is a part.

I’ve found in my life that there are, generally speaking, two types of people: those who savor reasoning and critical analysis and those who prefer to remain comfortably numb. Henry Ford likely noticed the same thing when he remarked: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” While I take great care not to judge those who are and those who are not passionate about reasoning, I must admit that my most ingenious acquaintances and productive associates are members of the former group and not the latter.

What about your friends, family and colleagues? Do they fall on different parts of the spectrum which ranges from “I don’t want to think about it” to “I’d love to put some thought to that?” Most people jump around the spectrum according to their feelings about the topic of consideration. If it is something they enjoy, they’re more likely to give it a lot of thought, while if it is something they’re not fond of, getting them to think about it might be like pulling teeth. But why meter your reasoning according to personal preference? Why not give it your all, no matter what? What really do you have to lose?

Albert Einstein once prognosticated that “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” I am inclined to agree. We must give more thought to the directions we are moving in as individuals and as a race. It must be more than a simple rehashing of precedent. We can look back to the past as a guide but we cannot expect the future to conform to its parameters. Far too much changes from one moment to the next.

In my estimation the world is in great need of more original, transcendent thought. Not average thoughts, but thought that rises above the fray, standing tall enough above the crowd so that its unifying, universal and exhilarating nature can be perceived.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Authority and Critical Analysis

  1. Foxglove

    Great post!! While thinking does indeed take effort, once you start the process it tends to develop it’s own momentum. There is so much in our culture which deemphasizes thinking – for example look at how much value revolves around entertainment. Iif the stimulus of entertainment exceeds that of the demand of thought then the mind becomes lazy. But it’s like exercise, when one is fit then the body wants to exercise because it’s not strictly a behavioral thing. It’s a natural physiological impulse as well. As in all things a balance point between the oscillations of mental function is needed to once again embrace the freedom of thought. True freedom is the mind being able to think for itself. If not, you are just reading from a guide book. No doubt a guide book is helpful as a start, but there is much more beyond the guide book that only we can discover. Thanks for your original thoughts on the subject of thinking!


  2. Duffer

    One of my early lessons consisted of understanding Earl Nightingdale’s “Strangest Secret” where he identified what makes people who they are. That ‘strangest secret’ is “We become what we think about most of the time”! And it is so true. Thinking is a skill that is honed over a lifetime of experiences and thoughts. When I am thinking about what is wrong, all I am doing is adding to the problem. On the other hand, when I am thinking about what is right, I might in fact be contributing to a solution to the problem. Isn’t it much more fulfilling and valuable to be thinking about solution rather problems though! That choice is each of ours.


  3. Joshua

    “In my estimation the world is in great need of more original, transcendent thought. Not average thoughts, but thought that rises above the fray, standing tall enough above the crowd so that its unifying, universal and exhilarating nature can be perceived.”
    Gregg, this outlines exactly what your provision through this blog provides, consistently. Recognising this the owness is on me to live up to the practical standards outlined here or better yet rise above, through actually allowing these things to become “Factually evident in the living of my Life”
    I can only hope to provide something as wonderful as what you have provided through your living!


  4. Colin

    There are a number of assumptions that each of us make every day, which I see as a limiter of much original thought. Well, we can’t do X for Y reason! Really? I think that if we are to truly value quality of original thought, some of the things that have been ingrained in our culture will have to be removed as roadblocks for the majority of people to come along. Maybe it will be a spectacular person or a unusual event, but the bar has to be raised somehow. Another way it could happen is if we slowly raise the standard over time, although unfortunately the trend seems to be moving in the opposite direction. I think this blog has done lots of good for the quality of my thoughts. Your posts are always great beginnings for quality thinking. Having the authority of your own critical analysis is a big responsibility. When you realize that “the buck stops here”, you begin to take the quality of your reasoning much more seriously. At least I did.


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