All of us have had times when we’ve jumped on the newest, shiniest trend. Whether it be spiritually, professionally, or with any idea really, it can be easy to grab onto something and think “This is it! I’ve found the answer!”
But when we do this, we let the chosen dogma shape our thoughts, beliefs, and reality, while narrow our sphere of acceptable morals and possibilities. We don’t leave room for potentially valuable ideas that may fall outside of the philosophy our chosen dogma.
So why do we like to jump on the newest dogmatic bandwagon?
Here are a few reasons:
WE WANT AN ANSWER TO THE BIG QUESTIONS
You know, the big scary ones. Having clear, concrete answers gives us a sense of safety and purpose. But the more complex the problem or question, the harder it is to answer, and the harder it is to feel that sense of clarity. Simple answers just don’t exist for complex questions like What is the meaning of life?
WE THINK UNDERSTANDING AN ANSWER MAKES IT RIGHT
When we first hear the rational for a point of view, we go through this process of “Yes….makes sense….the next point makes sense,…the next reason also makes sense…yes! The conclusion makes sense! It must be the answer!” Most people stop there and just accept the idea at this point. This is dangerous because pretty much any view could follow a line of logic that sounds reasonable. Especially when…
WE’RE FEELING LOST IN LIFE
This is kind of like the first reason, but it’s really more about how we feel. We can feel lost when we don’t know our next move, when we’re in a transitional phase of life, or when our previous beliefs are shaken.
The ideas that resonate with us at one point in our lives are not necessarily relevant at other stages of our lives.
So we keep searching.
What we don’t realize though is that it is the searching that is important.
Not finding a perfect answer to our questions.
I think it’s important to continue asking, questioning, and searching throughout our lives. Here are some things that remind me to keep my mind open to new ideas:
You’re allowed to change your mind
Sometimes we’re afraid that if we have told the world we believe one thing that we’ll look like idiots if we change our tune. Guess what? We are evolving beings and grow in mind, body, and spirit every day. It only makes sense that after we learn one idea, we want to learn another to help us learn more about ourselves and life. And if someone happens to taunt you because you now think differently than before, maybe it’s because they haven’t questioned their own beliefs.You’re being a good example by reflecting on your own.
Ask the weird questions
I think it’s important to ask the questions that nobody asks. Call it thinking outside of the box, but if we only ask the “acceptable” questions we’re never going to really dig deep about our beliefs. Is something always the case? Can I think of any exceptions?
Spiritual practice is a process, not an end
Okay, don’t get mad. I really really love the idea of practicing mindfulness because I’m all about increasing consciousness and I feel that it has really helped me to increase my awareness of the mind/body connection. BUT I’m finding that mindfulness is really being dogmatized lately. I love practicing mindfulness! But to me it is a practice, a process, and while very helpful at times, it is not an answer to all of our mental and emotional issues so I don’t feel I should push it on people who aren’t at a place in their lives where they feel it will help them. It is a tool to teach, but then let others decide for themselves whether or not to integrate it into their lives.
Is the “answer” sufficient for the problem?
Recognize when you are giving a complex problem a simple solution. Life is big. Really, really big. Let’s not reduce the gloriously immense and enigmatic mysteries of it into a sound bite. I would rather keep asking the questions and explore all the amazing ideas floating around in the universe.
Keep exploring and discovering
If a new lifestyle sounds really cool and you want to explore it, go with it! That’s what life’s about! Explore everything to your heart’s content! Try all the wonderful things you are drawn to and experience the joy of being able to learn, experience, and grow!
After all this, you may wind up going back to your original beliefs, you might not. We’re all in this together, and your life will take you where you need to go.
But at least you cared enough about yourself to ask the tough questions.