Belief and Knowledge…
The cat in the Hermitage…
There was once a cat that used to disturb during worship time in a hermitage. So the master had the cat tied during worship. After some time the master died. The cat continued to be tied during worship. Then the cat died. A new cat was acquired and tied up during worship, taking it to be a holy tradition in the hermitage. Scholars wrote treatises on this tradition!! This is how a practical expedience becomes a mindless ritual.
Moral of the story:
Challenge the belief systems, assumptions, pointless routines. Maybe there were justifiable reasons to do certain things in certain manner, at certain place and time, but need not continue in the same manner in the changed scenario prevailing currently. Start questioning!!
In Vedik tradition, no one is obliged to accept anything just because it appears in the scriptures or has been uttered by a Master or a Prophet. One is free to question any number of times if one has a doubt regarding such statements, and accept only after one is convinced after deep contemplation with relevant examples from the world of phenomena and meditation leading to direct subjective experience. In Vedik tradition, anyone can make any statement or quote the scriptures, but he has to prove it through logical, rational, intellectual and scientific analysis, with an example from the world of phenomena and through direct subjective experience.
Lord Buddha himself discouraged his disciples from blindly accepting whatever the scriptures say as well as his own words! Lord Buddha says, “Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have heard it or you have been told it…or because it is traditional and have been handed down for many generations, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe even if I have said it! But after due observation, examination and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and common sense, and is conducive to the good, to the benefit and the welfare of all beings — that doctrine you accept and cling to; make it as a guide and live up to it.”
“The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience, no matter from where it comes.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Truth, unexamined, is not really truth.” — Socrates
Scientists neither accept nor reject any new theory. They put it to test and depending on the result, they will either accept or reject it. There is no outright acceptance or rejection without putting any new theory to test. They approach everything with an open mind.
“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”
— Sir James Dewar
Faith or belief lasts as long as there is ignorance of an entity. As soon as we have the knowledge of that entity, then it is no more a question of faith or mere belief. Then it is our direct knowledge of that entity. No one says, “I believe in Law of Gravity.” It is our direct subjective experience.
Search! You will find. The more you search, the more you will find! This is true of all fields of knowledge — and all faiths.