Doubt

We ought also to consider the necessity of scepticism and doubt. Doubt not what others are saying only, but doubt one’s own experiences, one’s own thoughts, one’s own attitudes and values, why we do certain things in life, why we believe. We should have a rational doubt, scepticism, because doubt cleanses the mind, it freshens the mind, it breaks down the old habits, the old conclusions, the arcane concepts. So doubt, scepticism, are necessary, not only what the speaker is saying but also doubt your behaviour, your attitudes and so on. Krishnamurti

I feel there is great joy and energy in doubting.

By doubt I mean the ability to question with an open mind and the freedom not to be bound by conclusions and ideologies. Of course, doubt itself should, I think, be gentle, tentative and inclusive. Sometimes doubt can be as aggressive as faith and belief can be, which I think defeats the energy of discovery.

The seed of doubt, the most profound doubt I think I can bring to bear upon my life, is doubting the nature of my identity. I face the day with a seemingly solid identity: I am, indubitably, myself; I am, indubitably, male; I “belong” to a particular nation, a particular community, and so the circle grows wider and wider.

Rather than assert the opposites of these identities, I can bring what Zen Buddhists call the attitude of Great Doubt to daily life. Am I who I think I am? At a visceral level, how is the sense of “me” manifesting in my mind and body at a moment to moment level? Can I watch the solidity of that sense dissolve away and leave me empty of essence and therefore whole?

This visceral, non-analytical, non-verbal doubt, which consists of an attitude of inner questioning, also has profound social implications. I can bring this doubt to shine upon my social, political and religious identities, and watch them dissolve into processes, empty of essence, rather than being solid blocks of meaning that I must now defend with my emotions and my actions.

Doubt seems the beginning of the most exciting journey of all.

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