expand your life, take your dogma for a walk
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
- Joni Mitchell
Dogma comes in all kinds of packaging — usually just the right size to fit our insecurities and blind spots. The Greeks defined it as, “that which one thinks is true, good or decent.” Whether you’re fighting for peace (what a searing oxymoron that is,) or you’re converting meat-eaters to veggie burgers, you do what you do because it feels really good to think you’re right. We usually leave the dogma up to “them”. You know, “them”. But the fact is, that every single one of us is a dogma trouper at the end of the day. Fess up. Laugh at yourself. Get on the bus with all the other righteous bozos.
The church used to have the dogma market cornered, but celebrity culture and the corporations are vying for a hostile take over. Orders, orders everywhere: be good, get rich, be nice, and for God’s sake, be reasonable. There are keys to heaven, keys to the executive washroom, habits for effectiveness, principles for success. Diets. Day timers. And eeew, performance reviews. And how-to’s. Those how-to’s will really mess you up.
Humanist, creationist, capitalist. Pro-gay marriage, -immigration laws, -cigarette taxes. Past-lives, the rapture, the power of now…Dogma. All of it. Just cop to your version of it.
When you admit to your dogma and righteousness, you give yourself some wiggle room. And wiggling is flexible. And flexibility creates spaciousness And spaciousness is daring. And daring is dangerous. And dangerous is scary. And when we’re scared, we tend to get…dogmatic.
But we need to return to continual questioning of our beliefs (and our faith) if we’re interested in expanding. And communing. And the thrill of certainty. Without certainty, you go mad. Without inquiry, you wither.
LAUGH AT YOURSELF
Some friends and I got to hang with the Dalai Lama for a morning and we grilled him with questions on everything from interplanetary consciousness to politics. And before almost every answer he would laugh his baritone laugh and shake his head and say, “Oh I don’t know, I just don’t know.” It created so much space! Space to wonder.
Me? I think of all I thought I knew and I gotta laugh — fondly, with a smidge of chagrin. And maybe I’ll look back on how wizened I think I am today and bust a gut. Right about now, I care much more deeply about far less. I’m intensely certain about only a few select things in life. And I predict that my certainty will become even more simplified and narrow as I expand with life.
EXPAND THE ENERGY
Dogma tends to have a long and viral shelf life because no one likes to admit to being an idiot. So lies get to stay on the payroll, like lazy Larry at the factory, because we unionize our systems of beliefs and we pay our dues because it’s easier that way.
Fessing up to the follies of your dogma can burn a lot of energy — like rockets do before they take off. And you might take some hard knocks (just ask Yusuf Islam aka, Cat Stevens). You might swim up stream for years (like Ariana Huffington on her way to the Democrats’ camp.) You might have nothing to talk about with your circle of friends for a while.
But you certainly won’t be complacent. And, you won’t be tired. You’ll be careening through the cosmos on your own terms. Positively certain that you’re going the right way — for now.