The people once asked Buddha who they should believe.
They were confused by all the different wise men, and all the different teachings.
This was Buddha’s answer:
“Do not believe anything simply because someone has told you it.
Do not believe in traditions merely because they have been handed down by many generations in many places.
Do not believe anything on account of rumours or because people talk about it.
Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.
Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favour, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.
Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.
But whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.”
Buddha wasn’t telling anyone what to believe.
He was saying that ‘belief’ itself is wrong.
Because ‘belief’ is unquestioning.
‘Belief’ is blind acceptance.
So it isn’t whatever you believe that is wrong.
It’s that you believe at all that is wrong.
In other words, don’t ‘believe’ anything, work it out for yourself.
Use your brain.
Isn’t this the opposite of what we do at present?
We don’t use our brains, we don’t think for ourselves.
We believe that jargon represents knowledge.
Whatever jargon is fashionable.
We believe people that use long complicated words must know what they’re talking about.
We believe all the awards schemes must truly be for better work.
And that they are infallible.
We believe unquestioningly in awards.
And we believe that whatever’s new must be better than whatever went before.
Whatever the latest gimmick is.
And we believe we must read lots of books on case histories to tell us what to believe.
We believe that merely having read those books will make us better.
We believe all this because it means we don’t have to think.
Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu were all great thinkers.
They wanted people to think for themselves.
But people don’t want to think for themselves.
That takes too much work.
So after Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tzu died, they were turned into religions.
So people didn’t have to think.
They could learn the words like a parrot, and go on autopilot.
Just going through the motions would replace the difficult work of thinking.
And the philosophy became superstition.
Which is all religion is.
Which is what Buddha was saying.
When you start believing, you stop thinking.