The religion I was raised in, the Baha'i Faith, promotes a teaching they call "individual investigation of the truth" and it's one of the ideas that I have held on to even though I've moved away fron the religion itself. What it means is that each person has the right and responsibility to figure out what their own beliefs are, and why they have them, and what to do about them. The idea came up again during the "Crash Course Philosophy Club" discussion event happening here at TotJO, when we talked about how philosophy means finding what is true for you. So long as you can back up your beliefs with sound reasoning, it's ok if no one else takes on the same beliefs.
There are two aspects of individual investigation of the truth that really resonate with me, and are why I am a strong proponent of the idea. The first is, that it is both a right and and responsibility. We have (or should have) the freedom to make our own choices and decide what is right for us, but we also have the responsibility to make our own choices and decide what is right for us. If we don't spend time thinking about our beliefs, and why we hold them, we are much more likely to fall into any belief that comes our way. If there's nothing anchoring us to our current beliefs, it's easy to just drift with the current of whatever comes along. That may not seem very harmful, but consider: what if the next idea to come along is that brown skinned people are inferior to light skinned people? Or that women aren't logical enough to be trusted with owning property or working in management? Or that able bodied children should be expected to contribute to a family's income? If someone hasn't spent time looking at their own beliefs, and considering the reasons behind them, it can be all too easy to get swept up by someone else's passionate rhetoric even when the foundation is illogical, untrue, and initially repugnant.
The other thing I really like about individual investigation of the truth is the fact that it applies to everyone. Not only do I have the right and responsibility to build and bolster my own set of beliefs, I respect your right to do the same. I find faith in watching a summer breeze dance with the leaves to the song of the cicadas, but some people find cicadas annoying and trees a bit mundane, if sometimes pretty. Some people find inspiration in the precision of a spinning atom, but while I think that's pretty cool it doesn't really inspire me. And that's ok. We all have things that speak to us, and things that just don't bring a spark for us, and those things are different for everyone. What we share is the feeling of that spark; of that moment when you realize just how small and how incredibly infinite you are, at the same time, and how perfectly you fit into the world.
The community's support for this kind of personal syncretism is a big part of what drew me to Jediism, and the way that we at the Temple Of The Jedi Order practice it is a big part of what keeps me here. We all find certitude and connection in different ways. We can support and encourage others in that journey just as we accept support and encouragement for our own deepening wisdom.
- Written by River
- Category: Sermons
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