Of all the virtues and values I’m discussing in this series, thinking for yourself is probably the least ‘spiritual’. A lot of people associate spirituality more with ‘intuition’ (or even emotion as some have noted in the comments) than with thinking. Yet thinking for yourself is a central concept in many new religious movements. It belongs in the same lineup as ‘not dogmatic’ and ‘scientifically sound’ (think Quantum spirituality and stuff).
The rational is central in our culture: education, tests, measurement and science. All of those are known for systematic and rational thought. Drawing your own conclusions is demanded in university. Continual questioning is a matter of course.
We are continually trained in this and it is at this point that traditional religion has most to loose. People become Buddhist with the relief of knowing that they get to decide for themselves whether the teachings of the Buddha are true or not. The same is true for Theosophy and Wicca – to name just two.
Christianity and Islam – both with teachings that one vows to believe in, in order to belong – fight against modernity (well – not all of them, but a sizable minority). The point is: tradition sets store in certain ideas, concepts and interpretations without granting the right to each individual to figure out what the truth in them is. A lot of people simply can’t accept this any more.
We have been trained to think for ourselves to such an extent that we rise in protest in groups where we can’t.
9 thoughts on “Thinking for yourself – spiritual virtue no. 2”
Of all the virtues and values I’m discussing in this series, thinking for yourself is probably the least ’spiritual’.
And the most essential. Without being able to (allowed to) think for yourself no real spirituality is even possible. Again, IMHO.
Isn’t most established religion against “thinking for one’s self?”
Weren’t the Gnostics killed off by the Holy Church for just that sin?
Maybe I’m too antireligious. Is it just my delusion that it’s so very evil? I keep checking myself, and it still keeps coming up evil…
Yes – Christianity has a bad name in this arena. But other religions have fostered thinking for yourself, and even Paul said that we should investigate all and keep what’s true (or something along those lines).
In Judaism people have been encouraged to study the Torah for a long time. Similarly Protestant Christianity has told people to study the Bible for themselves for a long time as well (though of course there were certain assumptions you weren’t supposed to let go of).
A religion telling it’s followers to study the Holy Book of that same religion “on their own” is just another trick. I mean, it’s their book of MASS PROGRAMMING, so studying it on one’s own in no way equates to mental independance. Now if they told the believers to study ALL OTHER religions and science and everything else along with their Holy Book, then I’d take notice. That never, ever happens. Not in any of the Big Three at any rate. They want you to study the programming on your own… So what? You’re still programmed at the end of it all. Even more thoroughly in fact, since now you’re under the mistaken impression that you came to your own conclusions when you only had “approved options from the Holy Book” to choose from in the first place.
I see you are determined to only see the negative side here. But it is thought that a lot of our science and math stems from a culture of people having learned to think for themselves.
This is a good post, but I digress… many thoughts are ‘stuff & nonsense.’ Thinkning just has to do with those. I prefer the term ‘mentating for oneselflessness’ or ‘reasoning’ rather than mentating if reasoning is Logoic and is also the spiritual or psychosis process. (Psychosis usually means insanity but also means ‘soul process.’) One must first control oneselflessness, i.e. be controlled by spirit so one’s buddhi can decide whether to think, sense, move the consciousness or otherwise act, etc..
Does Buddhi decide? I wonder…
I was writing rather figuratively. However, if buddhi is nous, then in the West much tradition seems to exist about nous reasoning. Perhaps from the viewpoint of one lifetime it seems static unless one succeeds at some advanced meditation. If inspiration transfers information from pneuma to buddhi, then it goes through some process. Surely buddhi at least has some choice how to incarnate and even action during inacarnation. (I guess a higher term than thinking is ‘ideation,’ but still even it is focused on objects.)
I had no idea you were digressing that far. Yes, I do believe in reincarnation Buddhi decides – within the limits of karma that is.
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