In my present country as well as in many parts of the world, most people adhere to the externally implanted norms, often without the free atmosphere to develop critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, in such an environment, the quality of consciousness is reduced to the level of a pastoral beast and thus, becomes a burden to oneself and the society, all this while trying to maintain one’s unique humanness.
The coercive and prescriptive rituals of governance and belief systems that are prevalent today have exacerbated this state of ignorance due to lack of clear foresight and clear thinking on the part of those who have have been vested or have vested upon themselves the exercise of power over the masses. This slavish mentality borne of indoctrination into these externally implanted norms which bombard them from the cradle to the grave has indeed transformed their ‘normal thinking’ into their individual and collective prison. As one scientific seer saw it, “it is hard to give unlimited power to limited minds.”
The Buddha’s final message was to be a light unto oneself. Yet, this enlightenment can only be promoted by an environment whereby one is able to question and reflect freely about the nature of reality and to ultimately realize this through wisdom and compassion, the attainment of which is the focus of the doctrines propounded by the great Teacher of gods and men, the Buddha himself.
The institutions of today’s world have indeed become a burden to the quality of reflection and thinking skills of the individual and the collectivity. As it stands, many mindstreams might as well be animals indistinct from the rest of the entire animal kingdom with no need for a specific genus, as the eminence of reflection is the basic ingredient that distinguishes us as a species called homo sapiens which means precisely that, a wise, thinking man. And as such, one needs to use these rational faculties rightly rather than be swayed and at the mercy of the never-ending whims and caprices of the mind, while aware of this fundamental truth which is that everything is energy; our thought begins it, our emotions amplify it, and our actions increase its momentum.
We have evolved into our present human form as a species. Our biological evolution has followed its natural course. However, our mental and cultural evolution has not. It has been stunted in its growth by these same externally implanted norms, which, make no mistake about it, were relevant as survival mechanistic measures at a given time, place or person, but were never meant to be permanent and immutable. To cling to such patterns would go against the very nature of reality where the only thing undeniably permanent is flux or change.
And the ability to adapt to change and live in the moment requires one to develop critical thinking skills or else one becomes mired in a whirlpool of delusions. It also involves the ability to ask the right questions every time one doesn’t know. Naturally, it takes insight to do that. To comprehend this mental state is not considered humility but is simply the beginning of the dawn of reason. Right thought or rational thinking is what is sorely lacking in this day and age, particularly for those who aspire towards greatness in any field of human endeavor through accession to positions of authority.
To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom which our dull senses can comprehend only in its most primitive form, this feeling, this sensation is at the center of all true religiousness or spirituality.