by Kelvin Chin, Life After Life Expert
I read a Facebook post that said there are now more than 4,000 religions in the world. I'm not sure how this study was done, and what they counted as a "religion," but I think the number is underestimated.
I think the number is closer to 7 billion.
Why does that sound eerily close to one religion for every person on the planet right now?
OK, maybe the number isn't exactly a one to one ratio with the planet's population of humans, but I think the number is pretty close.
And, now that I have your attention, what's my point?
My point is that I think we have a tendency to believe what we are told at face value. And I propose that we would be better off — happier actually — if we instead thought about things more critically and attempted to match them up with our own personal history of experiences.
In other words, we tend to think more 'religiously,' almost blindly following whatever people tell us — whether it be CNN, the Internet, friends, family...or even the clerk at the dry cleaners — before we use our own mental filter to scrutinize whether or not what they're saying is accurate, makes sense, and fits with our life the way we are living it and experiencing it.
Everybody does it to some degree. That's why the number I proposed is close to 7 billion.
And I think those most susceptible to falling prey to this type of lack of critical thinking are those who actually criticize "organized religions," as they call them, and instead pursue alternative spiritual paths. Their intentions may be well-meaning, but I think their desire to find "the truth" continues unabated.
And of course, it can take many forms. For example, there are many groups who follow whatever a psychic tells them, assuming that anything from the 'other side of the veil' is "truth."
But does that make sense? Does that match with one's understanding based on one's history of one's own experiences?
If it does not, I suggest that we are merely believing that it is true, and not testing it in our own lives based on our own experiences to see if it is true for us.
In my opinion, that is a religion. That is following one's belief and displacing one's own critical thinking and matching of one's own experience with what someone else is telling us.
Would we do that normally in our daily lives? Would we just blindly follow someone's instructions to, say, go down a road that we knew from our own experience was a dead end and led to a cliff — would we drive off the edge even if the road ended, just because someone told us to do that? Just because they told us that the road continued past our own 'visual experience'?
I think not.
So, if we would not do it in that situation, why would we do it when someone who said they are communicating with someone 'on the other side,' told us something that we could not somehow assess ourselves?
I think it's that desire for the "perfect answer" — the missing piece that will dispense with the "Unknown" —which is at the core of this. Said another way, we all have a certain insecurity and a need to know "the answer." But in life, there often is no "one answer." As I have written about in my blog essay on "Following the Path of Imperfection," I think it is all about getting comfortable with ‘not knowing.’ It is from that state of contentment — that state of being "OK" with not knowing everything — that long-lasting happiness comes.
I suggest that if we are true "seekers of knowledge," that we actually need to make a concerted effort to attempt to expand our own personal experience to try to continually test whether or not other people's purported experiences are real. We should do our own ongoing "life experiment," as if — using ourselves as the subjects — to continually expand our own capacity for experience, and at the same time increase our understanding about those experiences by accessing others' knowledge about experiences — but always testing them against whether they match our own life history and our common sense.
By taking this 2-pronged approach, we will ensure that our own needs are met, that in using our own Free Will to choose what makes sense for us at any given moment in time in our lives, we will not displace or hand over our lives to anyone else. By doing so, we will make sure that we honor ourselves, that we take responsibility for our own lives — and this, in turn, will relax us — mentally, emotionally and physically.
It may even relax us so that we become more acceptant of other people’s thinking and perspectives. It could loosen the grip on us of our “need to be right,” our “need to be perfect” — our “need to dispense with the Unknown.”
To be clear, I am not suggesting that we discard all of our beliefs outright.
I am, however, suggesting that we think about them, and see if they mesh and match up with our personal needs and our own life history of experiences. And I am further suggesting that we proactively attempt to expand our own direct experiences with regards to sources of information on which our beliefs are based, so that we can personally test them in our own lives.
And if we took this approach, I think the result would be a drastic reduction in the number of ‘belief-based only’ seekers — accompanied by a huge increase in the level of happiness and personal satisfaction in the world. And perhaps even an increase in the tolerance of others’ beliefs and perspectives.
Why not give it a try?