Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason,
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live it.
The Buddha, in the Kalama Sutra
I find the advice above from the Buddha rather amazing given that it was spoken over 2,500 years ago. Nowadays with the internet and the incredible amount of information that is available to us, his guidance is even more essential.
An old adage goes: “No shoe fits all sizes.” So, too, no teaching or teacher is the proper fit for everyone. I have learned over the years to practice discernment and really go within to make sure that whatever teacher or teaching I am engaging with really rings true for me.
Initially, of course, I take the time to study and research the teacher or teachings, but I have learned to not primarily use my mind and to not do an intellectual analysis to determine what’s true for me. What I have learned to do, instead, is to quiet my mind, go into the stillness, and just “feel into” whether this is right for me at this time in my evolution. And then if it feels right, I accept it, explore it, and live it.
It’s not a one-time thing. I am constantly growing and changing, so I periodically go within to check again to see whether a particular teaching, teacher, or practice still “feels” right.
I am not saying it’s best to keep shopping around and never settle on anything. Not at all! What I am saying is to always go within to make sure you are still on the right path, namely your own path and not anyone else’s.
A path is not a static experience. It is something you continue to travel on; it is a journey. Yes, at times you stop to rest, but then you get up and continue moving through an ever-changing landscape. Your life, your dreams, and your beliefs are constantly evolving!
Every teacher/teaching is a step up your mountain of mastery. But each step leads to another step. No step is an end in itself.
One thing I love to repeat over and over in my classes is: “If you follow anyone other than your Self, you will surely get lost.”
You must be true to yourself. The only way to do that and to know your path and yourself is to regularly go within and listen. Then you will stay on your path.
So, take some time every day to go within. That’s how you’ll find and follow your Self, and learn to know and believe in your Self.