“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply 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 that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” – Buddha
It occurred to me while meditating on this wise counsel that we as a race have failed terribly on these points. This happens as much in secular living as it does in the psittacine rituals of the various world religions.
One of the more dramatic examples of this can be seen in the frequent repetition of the “Lord’s Prayer” by Christians around the world. While I certainly don’t fault and indeed respect their diligent reverence, I do have to wonder how many of them have read the context in which this prayer was set in the Biblical record. Both Matthew and Luke wrote about this prayer, though it is perhaps important to note that Luke was a disciple of Paul, not Jesus.
The context in which Jesus’ example of a properly framed prayer was recorded in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew as being:
 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…
“Use not vain repetitions,” He said, yet how many billions of times has that prayer been uttered automatically in just about every language spoken on earth over the last two thousand years? Not to pick on religions, the same could be said about science, culture, government and every other field of human activity. Original thought has given way to mechanical repetition. Fidelity to the spirit of the laws of being has given way to a bullheaded devotion to the letter of man’s interpretation of those laws.
It’s easy to talk about mankind in a general sense or in relation to the hindsight time affords, but what about you, here and now? On what basis do you believe in what you believe in? Do you constantly apply analysis to your observations? Do you consistently move beyond recognition into actualization and thereby live up to the highest and finest standard of which you are aware? Or do you content yourself with accepting uncritically the beliefs of others so that you will fit in or so that you don’t have to face feelings of inadequacy that keep you from stepping up and out?
The greater part of my life has been devoted to encouraging others to think for themselves that they might be free of the lemming state that keeps mankind bound in repetitive mediocrity. There is a risk in this, of course, for whenever someone is inspired but then fails to move all the way through into his own, he tends to blame and accuse the original source of his inspiration for the misery and darkness he now feels. Nevertheless, it is a risk I am willing to take. The benefit to mankind of even one person thus inspirited makes all the contempt and obloquy you will inevitably endure unquestionably worthwhile.
The biggest obstacle I’ve found is not in inspiring others, or in being inspired myself. Neither is the chief impediment for most in observing or analyzing. The stumbling block I’ve found to be most prevalent comes in relation to accepting and living up to those beliefs that you discover, recognize and have acknowledged as being consistent with the good and benefit of all.
There is a false and fleeting comfort which comes from blindly accepting the beliefs of others without thinking them through yourself. The mindless approach to living is a narcotic that can be hard to get away from as virtually everyone around you is likely addicted to it as well. That said, remember this: you may fit in, but a certain part of you – the deepest, most important and meaningful part of you – will constantly remind you that you have settled and sold yourself short. And that, dear soul, is no way to spend the precious days of your life.