There was a small hamlet, inside a dense forest that remained cutoff from the rest of the world. Since the inhabitant were not conversant with the methods of contraception, the population kept growing rapidly and led to few associated problems. Sensing trouble, an NGO from a neighboring town contacted them to educate on the ways to arrest the population growth. During the demonstration, the volunteers of the NGO used a broomstick lying near by and explained how a condom is to be used during the ‘act’. Next year, when they returned to assess if their demonstration had worked, they were surprised to see that there was no statistical improvement in the growing population. When they delved deeper into the details, the NGO volunteers were aghast with what the tribesmen were doing: When they indulged in a sexual act, they kept a broomstick in a corner and put a condom over it!!
Why this happened is simply because, we focus more on what is told and not on what is taught!
We had heard of a monk who was a life-long practitioner of meditation. In his small hut, he lived with his pet cat. As the cat disturbed him during his meditative sessions, he tied the cat to a cot. Over a period of time, when he gained popularity, there were many disciples who enrolled for his teachings. All of them observed the monk’s practice of tying the cat to a cot before indulging in meditation. So, one day, when the senior monk and the cat were no more there, the disciples bought a new cat from the market and tied it to a cot before they practised meditation!
One of the Buddha’s disciples went around the country to collect funds for construction of Buddha’s statue. When he was indulging in this, Buddha got a wind of his disciple’s attempt to build a statue. So, he summoned his disciple to enquire as to what he was up to: The disciple explained to him his plans. Buddha said to him, “ I had taught you about ‘nirvana (salvation)’ and not ‘nirmana (construction).’
The aforementioned anecdotes highlight the need for periodic review of four things: Truth, Tradition, Trade and Technology. We observe, we have become unquestioning followers of traditions and practices: Our lives are intricately entwined in outdated beliefs and rituals. Our knowledge seems to be rooted more in our conditioning than in our conviction and facts are often rigged to fit our pre-conceived notions.
In the end, let me leave you with what Bertrand Russell had to say: “In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”