Don’t believe

Posted: 13/03/2018 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Insight


I am a Buddhist but I don’t believe in Buddhism. When I first started studying Buddhism seriously, I focussed on Theravada Buddhism. I tended to believe then, studied it, and then over time have rejected belief and don’t accept all that I have read. If I haven’t experienced it, if I don’t know it for sure, then for me it is not true. I learn through experience, insight and conviction, this is the truth or not. For me this is the understanding of the Kalama Sutta in which the Buddha says that we shouldn’t believe him but learn for ourselves. If I were to believe then I would believe Buddhadasa because whatever he has written has been helpful, but I feel he would not have asked you to believe him.

Beliefs are ideas, mental constructs, attachments, sankhara. As such they take a form which creates division. I believe in this, if you don’t believe in this then there is disagreement; wars have supposedly been fought over disagreement about ideas. Without such proliferations there is unity, don’t believe.

I believe in the path, for the simple reason that I have experienced the path. There is a path, sunnata, a path I have lived – or tried to create the conditions so I can follow the path. Whilst I say I believe in the path, that is just a misuse of language because it is not a belief it is an experience. If there is no experience there is not truth – leave it.

I don’t believe in God, and I ask that you don’t believe in God either. When people pray there is a religious experience in which people can become filled with the Grace of God. Do you have to believe in that Grace of God? No, it is an experience. Grace enters or doesn’t. Those people have experienced the Grace of God, and that is their strength. There is no belief in God, white man with a beard in outer space, there is an experience that gives strength and conviction. Do you have to then fight a war to defend that experience? No, it is an experience. There is a truth that no-one can take away from you, you prayed you were filled with the Grace of God, and it is that Grace which will guide you – the path. Trust in that Grace, live the moral life that will open you to the Grace of God – sunnata.

Don’t believe in Marxism. Study Marx, test whether what you study works in daily life, and then “believe” that because it works. When asked about Marxism you can then say this bit works for me. This is not belief but what exists in experience. If asked in political debate whether this is true, the answer is that it is true because I have experienced it. Explain the experience. Don’t hold up the ideal to create a division.

Don’t believe in any idealism because such ideals create division. And division hurts and creates conflict. Don’t divide, don’t believe.

ET group, don’t believe in presence. You feel presence or you don’t, but don’t believe in it.

Don’t believe in politicians for sure. Politicians want power, and in general they will say or do whatever it takes to get power. Demand evidence, demand truth, demand compassion. If it is not clear that the politician is giving evidence, truth and compassion, don’t believe.

Don’t believe rhetoric, don’t believe persuasion, don’t believe advertising. None of these have to be true. Only believe the truth that can be experienced. Don’t believe news, don’t believe fake news, don’t believe.

Here is one thing I do believe but that belief is based in evidence and analysis. The 1% accumulate wealth. They use their power and influence to accumulate that wealth. That power and influence pervades throughout society making it difficult to go against the system created around the 1%-accumulation. I have experienced that influence and can analyse the effects of that power. Do I want you to believe this? No, I want you to know this. I want you to examine the evidence and draw your own conclusions. If you disagree and can provide evidence then we are united in experience because we have enquired and used evidence. We are not arguing over a set of ideas that we have not experienced as truth. There is no belief to divide us.

Do not allow beliefs and ideas to divide us. Experience for yourself.

Conditioning through education promotes ideas. When does a teacher say “only believe in this when you have experienced it”. Instead you learn it is “true” in order to pass an exam to get a job in a system that provides wealth for the 1%, and creates wars and wage-slaves. Don’t hold onto ideas, hold onto understanding that comes from experience. But there are facts, scientific facts, geographic facts, historic facts, but there are also opinions, historic opinions, societal opinions. What about the Big Bang? Fact or theory. Quantum theory – fact or opinion. How often are societally-accepted opinions presented as facts?

What about chemo? Chemo cures cancer, fact or theory? Gerson therapy cures cancer, fact or theory? Acupuncture cures, fact or theory? Pills cure disease, fact or theory? Antibiotics are helpful fact or theory? Antibiotics damage the liver, fact or theory? Students need to be taught to think for themselves. Teachers need to be more discerning in how they present fact or theory or opinion. In terms of the curriculum teachers need to end their blind acceptance of systemic opinion as fact, students need to be taught not to believe, and taught to trust their experience and insight.

You don’t have to experience everything in the world to know what is true. As you learn and gain experience you develop patterns and understanding. You begin to know truth, you develop conviction. If you hold to a mind of permanent enquiry these patterns can show truth. But truth starts from within. It comes from your own conviction and insight, it does not come from a set of beliefs or from a person who says “believe me, trust me”.

Here is Eckhart talking about thoughts? Where do they come from? It is sankhara that is mental operations – thinking. We can have our own thoughts through sankhara, how we analyse for example. But there is the collective mind, collective sankhara, where there are wider thoughts. So I can have thoughts that are not “mine”. In other words I have thoughts which are not “mine”. I have experienced Unity in some ways. It would therefore make sense that Unity would have the same attributes as humans in some way ie collective khandas – collective sankhara. In relation to this what have I experienced? Thoughts that don’t make sense to me. When I am angry I sometimes get violent thoughts but I would not be violent. Voices?? Thoughts, ideas, opinions, don’t believe unless they are your experience. You have to know them, don’t believe them.

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