Nielle M: How do doubts lead to enlightenment? For me, doubts contribute to feeling stuck and unsure how to proceed…
Nielle’s question was in reference to the following post:
Korean Zen master Nine Mountains says, “Small doubt, small enlightenment; big doubt, big enlightenment.”
What have your doubts taught you?
Lama Surya Das: First of all, the zen master is referring to an ancient saying about complacency being inimical to conscious evolution, and hinting that curious seekers should have inquiring minds and never stop the quest until full, unshakeable enlightenment is attained. Thus, small questions and small inquiry will bring us small realisation, and great passionate inquiry and grand questions bring great enlightenment.
Now, as for doubt: I’ve learned that having a real question is far better than settling for easy answers, and that a question can help unlock the universe. The great German poet Rilke exhorts use to live the questions, meaning to keep inquiry and truth-seeking alive.
We don’t have to be paralized by crippling doubt and hesitation, or give in to cynical skepticism; just keep an open mind and be wary of gullibility and simple-mindedness, ask your genuine questions, and gain wisdom and conviction for yourself. I believe that too many preachers in pulpits of various religions cultivate followership rather than leadership; repeat like a catechism that doubt is a hindrance; and overlook the fact that real doubt, examination and critical thinking can significantly help the committed seeker cut through a lot of clap-trap in order to penetrate to the heart of the spiritual matter.
Buddha himself exhorted us to avoid blind faith and seek to develop our own inner wisdom, knowledge and experiential conviction, by testing teachings, doctrines, scriptures, and tradition as people test gold before simply accepting them, in order to ascertain whether or not the tradition is genuinely helpful, effective, appropriate for us and conducive to the ends which we seek.
Submitted by Nielle M. from Denver via Facebook August 23, 2010
Published in The Huffington Post 4-12-2010
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