Living without Dogma

We are taught we need school, and preferably college, to prepare us for ‘the real world’.
We are taught we need a steady job, and we need a mortgaged house.
We are taught we need to believe in god, in order to be a good person.
We are taught we need religion in order to believe in god.
We are taught we need to wear the latest fashion, and buy the newest gadgets.
We are taught we need to accept crime and war as facts of life.
We are taught we need to vote, and to trust that politics will make things better.

The list goes on and on – each of these are dogma’s in their own right. Some are more broadly accepted than others. Some are silently planted in our heads, or simply so deeply embedded in our collective conscience that most people forget to question their validity. Others are explicitly pushed upon us as “universal truths”, usually accompanied by the stern warning that they are essential for our existence and rejecting them would lead to chaos.

oceanWhen we accept dogma, big or small, we accept stagnation, for dogma’s give us something to hide behind and say “it is what it is”. Dogma impedes growth and progress, on an individual level as well as for the entire species. We can allow others to decide for us what to believe, what to think, how to act and what to strive for – and we will all drown in a deep, grey ocean of mediocrity. The most interesting and admirable people are often those who are different, a bit strange even perhaps. Those who have dared to go their own way, rather than following along the beaten path of school – office – mortgage – death.

How many people dream of turning their lives around? How many people are truly happy with their job and where they live? How many people have the opportunity to soak in all of the beauty our world has to offer? And how many spend their lives dreaming about places they will never see, thrills they’ll never feel, books they’ll never write, et cetera? What’s stopping us is the performance-based culture of the west in which we force ourselves to participate even if it’s at the cost of what we’d really want to do. Our wealth has brought the world to our fingertips, but we hardly have the time to enjoy it.

There is virtually no end to the grip dogma’s have on our lives. Everything we do on “auto-pilot” is there because of behavioral patterns that others have prepared for us. Everything we do on auto-pilot means we could have done something else better, because if you do what you love or what you believe in you will do it better – and you will not want to do them on auto-pilot. Happiness and self-fulfillment start with awareness of your thoughts and actions. So question every step you take: are you doing what you do because you want to be doing it or because you have to? Are you doing it because someone else wants you to, or because you think it will get you where you want to go? Are there ways of doing what you do that might make you happier?

The key to living without dogma is to question everything. Is your goal in life your own, or is it what you think is expected of you? Are the obstacles between you and your goal really there, or have you been pressured into putting them in your own path?

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