Is the foundation of your belief system on shaky ground?

Yesterday’s heresy is today’s dogma.

The definition of dogma is, “An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true.”

Dogma is certainty. Dogma is a belief system. This system could be personal, religious, social, corporate, communal or cultural. This system could be rigid or open. This system could be small or big. But whenever your belief system becomes ingrained and you are too certain this is how things work or need to work then you have to ask yourself the following two questions to ascertain whether your dogma is on firm ground.

1. Is my certainty based on my own personal experience or someone else’s?

If it is based on someone else’s experience then the foundation of your dogma may be on shaky ground. For example, let’s say you have never driven a car before but you have seen many people do it. You never sat in a car before but based on observation, you have developed a strong belief that driving a car is easy. This is dogma based on second hand experience.

I know the analogy is very simplistic in nature but the point I am driving towards is that beliefs formed because of second hand experiences may be on shaky ground. You need to test them before completely depending on them. There is a possibility that not all dogmas can be tested but knowing that there is a slight chance of the dogma being wrong, in itself gets you on the straight path.

On the other hand, if the dogma that you are carrying is based on your personal experience then you may need to ask the next question.

2. If my surroundings changed then will this belief still hold true.

Taking the car analogy further, let’s say you sat in a car but in the passenger seat. You observed that the driver seemed to have no trouble driving the car. Based on this experience your belief is made stronger. But the question you now need to ask yourself is what happens if you changed the situation, which in this case is, you moved from a passenger seat to the driver’s seat. Will the belief that “driving a car is easy” still holds true.

Until you experience driving a car first hand, you will not know how easy or difficult it is to drive a car. Till then your belief could be on shaky ground.

I hope these two questions help you in understanding whether your foundation of any belief system is on shaky ground. If it is then you may have to test it out.

In the meantime, here are some words of wisdom from Steve Jobs.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs

Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

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