Dominique Johnson is a junior at DePaul University pursuing a Religious Studies major. Dominique is on the Executive Board of DePaul Interfaith.
“You consider that to be important?”
he [Inspector Gregory] asked [Sherlock Holmes]. “Exceedingly so.”
— Inspector Gregory & Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze.”
“I wonder!” said he, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. “Perhaps there are points which have escaped your Machiavellian intellect. Let us consider the problem in the light of pure reason.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Valley of Fear.
“Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of their senses.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips.
Let us consider the problem – humans are conditioned, and condition themselves, why? Are we aware of it, or do we care? It might be the most important thing to find out. How can one be free of that conditioning? And perhaps to begin that process is the start of an inward revolution. If we knew ourselves, society wouldn’t be the way it is; so, is it possible to be in communion, to arrive at the actuality of what is together in a communion that is non-verbal — we’re asking seriously, is it possible? You’re raised in the Catholic World, and along those lines, you think in the Catholic pattern; the same with the Christian, the Buddhist, Muslim, and so on. You may not be either of those, but society is deeply embedded with their ideas. With all this division of thought, according to a particular authority, or book, how can I see the world without those screens, and without rejecting those patterns of thought? — the Gospels, Adi Granth, Sūtras, al-Qur’ān, the Gītā, and all the rest.
“Before one has had an opportunity of sounding the depths of his own inner self for light…solutions are virtually thrust upon him…in the majority of cases some set formula is accepted and further inquiry abandoned”. (Creation, Evolution, Emanation: Theosophy, Vol. 24, No. 1)
Are we content? Is contentment problematic, or are we too content to bother with such queries? Even being too religious, in a way, gets in the way of religion as Alan Watts (1915-1973) once put it in reference to a Buddhist quote: “Whenever you see the Buddha on the road, kill him”!
‘Faith’ has come to mean a trust in the knowledge of some authority figure, imitation, enclosure and acceptance of a particular thought-pattern. Faith, in one sense, means to be open (or openness) with a sense of devotion, and attentiveness to the actuality of existence, and truth, which is non-verbal. With preparation at all levels—physical, mental, especially moral and ethical, we may be qualified to learn the secrets of Nature in actu. From there we improve our understanding through both: deducing various manifestations in the processes of Nature and our in-sight into universal laws, and inductive reasoning from the abstractions arrived at through contemplation and meditation. How can we trust life if we cling onto mere ideas about non-verbal actuality and truth? We’re also constantly arguing other people’s ideas about life and truth; that may not be faith at all! When we’ve become self-assured, we’ve become fixed and dull; thus, we notice our gaze through the valley of light has become dimmer, than when we first began to seriously inquire, if we have started at all. There has been a lost or degeneration of faith, just as there is the degeneration of dhárma (LAW or TRUTH), moral order, ect. They’re all intimately connected, as well as to our complacency—our sickness.
“Any kind of behaviour that deals with mangling the self, is where the sickness comes from.”
“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Most of us may be deeply or unawaringly caught in this cycle of social conditioning, and there’s a lack of energy to resolve, a lack of direct insight into the root-problems, and fear. The idea of saṃsāra(or cycle of rebirth) isn’t just about after-life. The idea of karma refers to action generated by ourselves. No one’s responsible for karma accept you. In saṃsāra, dissatisfactoriness or suffering ends nightly and begins daily, driving ourselves through the mud — in agony, woes and happiness come and go at random. In these moments, mind seeks a pattern, which is comfort, but it never ends the cycle completely. And when we’re caught in that cycle of suffering, complete unease, bitterness — angry with ourselves — should we find out how to be free from all that, without seeking some form of escape or gratification?Wanting to quit smoking, do you turn solely to medication, do you continue and give-up the thought you can’t break the habit, or is it possible to perceive directly or realize the root or source of that habit, which is apart of desire and craving, by questioning the inner forces and drives that push oneself, with heart, mind, your whole being? By understanding the root of our problems, inwardly, we begin to see differently; and in seeing that, we bring about order in our lives. From following that understanding, flows an energy — that energy which showers that proverbial mustard seed within and flowers into intelligence; that intelligence, which also brings about order and vitality.
There are two roads, most distant from each other: the one leading to the honorable house of freedom, the other the house of slavery, which mortals must shun. It is possible to travel the one through manliness and lovely accord; so lead your people to this path. The other they reach through hateful strife and cowardly destruction; so shun it most of all.
— Plutarch, the “Life of Lycurgus”
— Inscribed in the vestibule of Apollo’s temple at Delphi.