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Questions to ask

‘The notions most worth questioning are just those which are most taken for granted.’ [1]

I’m not sure who said “Truth cannot be told, it can only be found” (or something along those lines), but I believe there’s something very important in this idea.

Each of us must search for our own truth/s. When you find your truth, you cannot impart it to others. You can share your truth in the context of it being your truth, understanding that the person you are sharing it with may enjoy your perspective and gain some insights from it, but in the end must find their own truth for themselves.

Sheep in NZFollowing-the-leader in New Zealand January 2008


If you accept a truth or “The Truth” that someone is trying share with you than you become a sheep. While there’s lots one can learn from those around them, especially those who have searched and thought critically about what is usually taken-for-granted, there’s still a process we each of us are called to do.

I realise some religions call their congregations to be sheep, preaching that it is the sheep who will be rewarded in this life or another. Even some areas of the academy, and in economics and politics (especially in Australia), encourage and reward sheepish behaviour.

The greatest danger of being a sheep is that your shepherd may lead you down the wrong path, maybe off a cliff or to an abattoir… If one doesn’t stop to question where all one’s other sheep-friends are going, and where and why a shepherd is taking them, they leave themselves vulnerable to be used and abused by those in power, whether it is the intention of the shepherd or not.

Not all religions discourage questioning of the doctrinal truths. Some religions teach the opposite. For example check out my post on the Buddhist Kālāma Sutta, the “Charter of Free Inquiry” if you haven’t already.

It is a worthwhile process to question what we are told, questioning what we have not been told, questioning our assumptions, questioning our leaders and teachers, questioning their assumptions, and thinking about how they came to believe what they do.

The questions we ask must consider the most fundamental assumption in our lives, those things that we most take for granted. This means questioning the direction we are going, the implications of our actions, and after careful observation, analyses and foresight, deciding where we want to go and what actions are likely to take us there.

[1] Alan Watts, The Two Hands of God : The Myths of Polarity (London: Rider, 1978). p. 34. Watts says this is what Whitehead showed us.

Leftist idealist or right-wing conservative?

Have you noticed the reoccurring pattern of almost hypocritical contradictions contained in my most recent entries? There seems to be a battle going on inside my mind:a battle between my leftist idealistic side (a perspective largely shared at  the peace conference) that seems to abruptly clash with my more right-wing conservative side (a result of my experiences in India).

I care about people. I care about those who live in unsanitary conditions, those who suffer from war, from hunger, from all forms of slavery – be it economic slavery sitting in front of a sewing machine 12 hours a day, physical slavery forced and whipped to pick cocoa beans without a drop of pay, sexual slavery, or mental slavery.

I care about animals. I don’t like they are our slaves, pumping out our eggs, milk, and that they are bred and killed for my meat. Yet I am not a vegetarian.

I care about our planet. I don’t like that my car pollutes it. I don’t like that the plastic packaging of my products is toxic to it. I don’t like that humanity is chopping down its trees for my paper and digging up its insides for my electricity. Yet I still drive a car, buy too many products, use too much paper, and too much electricity.

I want every life-form to reach it’s full potential and yet I kill ants without a second thought and I am okay with abortion (believing the woman should have a choice over and above the not-yet-conscious entity forming inside her).

I believe in human rights yet I support population control – something has to be done.

I don’t think of different races as “better” or smarter than others, yet I don’t particularly want to see the whole world dominated by one or two of them.

I want to let all the asylum seekers into Australia, but I also don’t like feeling I’m a minority in my own city (the other day I swear I was the only caucasian-Australian walking down George Street in Sydney.)

I want Australia to pull troops out of the war, actually I want all the wars to end, but I don’t complain about the cheap oil and security that comes from their actions.

I am generous but I am greedy. I want everyone to have somewhere like Australia to live, but I don’t want everyone to live in Australia.

In short, I want my cake, and I want to eat it too. And I don’t quite know what to do about it.