What Should I Believe?

Belief: an acceptance of an idea without proof.

The Buddha’s teachings are totally logical. We can follow them step by step. We do not have to believe in what he said: we just have to look and recognise for ourselves. This is not about learning something new. It’s all about seeing what is actually occurring, that we didn’t notice before.

“What about reincarnation?” Well, everything is a psychological event in the mind. Although things seem to take place “out there”, they are experienced in the mind through memories, and judgements of those memories. This is the programme we acquire through beliefs and assumptions.

What the Buddha taught was the emptiness of awareness. Pure awareness beyond thought, ever present, never deviating in the slightest. This can only be obscured by being distracted and forgetting our pure nature. Distraction is a puffed-up, programmed self image. When we see through the puffed-up-ness, the only thing that’s left is the essence of pure awareness. It is that which is actually ‘doing’ the seeing!

Does pure awareness continue after death? Who knows? But we were born with this perfect pure awareness and it has been present up until now. That it may be present after death has a uplifting, psychological effect. We never grow old in attitude, because we no longer believe the programmed mind, or believe that when the body gets older, we are older.

The main effect is that of karma. Karma is the result of previous actions, which manifests in our behaviour. If we are aware that whatever attitude we hold at death could have a beneficial or detrimental effect on our next incarnation, we may be more acutely aware of our actions until the moment of death. Until that moment, we can show kindness to others, and never give up.

Pure awareness can be proven by our own ability to practise – looking, seeing and dropping. Dropping is the final stage of just being. If the Buddha said, “Don’t take my word for it,” then we do not take anyone’s word for it! We shouldn’t, however, lose our sense of connection with authentic teachings, as we may still have to clarify certain aspects.

As we proceed, so our understanding changes and refines. Experience becomes more and more subtle, and as a result, what others say might start to seem meaningless. This is where inner confidence, joy, empathy and compassion come in…and there’s no point in arguing! You know what it’s like to be confused and unhappy.

It is difficult to listen or read what an ordinary person says or writes about the Dharma as we’re used hearing it from those in robes. But the whole point is that ordinary people can and do understand the Dharma – and you don’t have to believe a word!

Paths offer different speeds to suit individuals’ temperaments and capacities. Some paths are direct while others amble. Some who are on a direct path, amble. Some on an ambling path may suddenly get a shove! Karma’s funny that way. Sometimes it’s smooth, and sometimes it’s rough.

In the stillness
of sitting and seeing,
everything is revealed.

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