Friday, November 17, 2006

Sogyal Rinpoche on Doubts

Yesterday's Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:
Let’s not take doubts with exaggerated seriousness, or let them grow out of proportion, so that we become black-and-white or fanatical about them. What we need to learn is how slowly to change our culturally conditioned and passionate involvement with doubt into a free, humorous, and compassionate one. This means giving doubts time, and giving ourselves time to find answers to our questions that are not merely intellectual or “philosophical” but living and real and genuine and workable.

Doubts cannot resolve themselves immediately; but if we are patient, a space can be created within us in which doubts can be carefully and objectively examined, unraveled, dissolved, and healed. What we lack, especially in this culture, is the right, undistracted, and richly spacious environment of the mind, which can be created only through sustained meditation practice, and in which insights can be given the chance slowly to mature and ripen.
For me, in the path my life has followed, my doubts have led me into questioning my assumptions and beliefs. As a young person, I doubted the teachings of the Church, which led me into paganism and eventually into shamanism.

Later, I began to doubt that the reality of shamanism was the whole reality, and so I began to explore Buddhism. For a long time, I doubted certain elements of Buddhism, but then I read some of Ken Wilber's later books and found that Buddhism didn't need to have all the cultural baggage in order for me, personally, to follow the Buddha's path.

Not much later, I found Chogyam Trungpa through Pema Chodron's books and discovered a Western version of Buddhism (Shambhala) that appealed to me as an American (with all the baggage that entails).

As I have followed my doubts, I have become more clear and have found my way closer to the no-self that is my true nature.

Rather than seeking to dissolve our doubts, as Rinpoche suggests, I think we can listen to our doubts, learn from them, and follow them deeper into our own experience of truth. Maybe that is what Rinpoche is getting at in this passage when he speaks of meditation, but we each may have our own path to follow when doubts come up.

The important thing, as Rinpoche teaches, is to avoid letting ourselves become paralyzed by doubts as in the picture above.

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