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Discern Proficiently

Who knows himself has discernment. - Lao Tzu

Simple trust in yourself should not be abandoned, although many sorts of beliefs that are implanted by words and phrases can be of value up to a level. There are several books that seek to help students and others to discern well. One avenue is to make aware of tricks and faulty arguments, persuasive language, attempts at convincing others in sloppy ways, and further (Book list). But how well such learning works in any case, depends on how odd and unsuitable the beliefs at hand are.

Watch out for a faith without a good enough base if it demands belief. You need to favour yourself above a group that fosters blind belief in words. Against it, the faith of sprouting mustard seeds is said to work well. It often happens if conditions follow suit (Luke 17:5-6). This is to say, tend to your own, decent development toward functioning more or better on your own. That is a challenge, for it is easy to be taken in, even a lot.

Trust in reincarnation as told - but told by whom?

The judgement of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy. - Carl Gustav Jung

A deep issue that much revolves around in life is reliance, or trust. There are many different teachings or guesses in the world, and different faiths. Suppose that most of them are wrong faiths on some points or others.

For example, some say the Bible teaches reincarnation, and others - many Bible scholars - do not:

That reincarnation is not implied in the Gospels is shown by Mark 8:27-28, and the corresponding passages in Matthew (16:13, 14) and Luke (9:18,19).

In the Gospel of John 1:21 the personal (reincarnational) identity between Elijah and John is clearly denied. The passage reads, "Are you [John] Elijah?" "No," he replied."

Mark 9:13; Matthew 11:13; 14; 17:12; 13; and Luke 1:17 - if taken out of context, these passages, especially Luke, sound as if Elijah was reborn as John, but when they are examined in context it becomes clear that John is being spoken of only metaphorically as a prophet, as one in spirit and power like Elijah.

(McClelland 2010, 84-85)

There is a difference between interpreting a saying fairly - as unbiased as possible -, and reading things into a saying. The context (setting) often tells a lot, and Bible scholars may tell a lot of the contexts. Trust good scholars above any sectarian faith-bully working a following.

Being taken in much, hard, and for long may change your lot in life. Sound education and wisdom without getting infirm, has to be ranked higher.

Some find life illusory and others find such doctrine unfit

A great partner may not be illusory. What works well may not be either. But compare a kriya-guru's: "All is illusory. There is no doubt about this. People are mad . . ." [Lahiri Mahasaya, Abadhuta Gita, 2:7] You may sense this teaching is of strange worth at the very best. He was married with children and taught kriya yoga. How could he do it if all were illusory and mad? He might not have thought of that.

Then what about himself and his special teaching? Is there a person missing somehow? [The men of Gotham learnt to count in themselves].

It's no good to be handled by "faithy" mishmash - that is, to get opinionated.

Question: Do you distrust your friends when they do something for which you can see no immediate rational explanation, or claim to have done something which you think unlikely?"

Answer: That would depend on what their claims were.

John Cremony was a famous Western figure. He told one story of a desperate flight from pursuing Indians.

"I had a fine horse and managed to keep far enough ahead so their arrows could not reach me. I picked 'em off until my last cartridge was gone. Then I headed up a canyon. It ended in a sheer wall. I was trapped like a rat with a dozen Apaches closing in on me. And me without as much as a penknife to defend myself."

"What happened, Colonel?" someone in his audience would invariably ask.

"Why, they killed me! Damn them, sir, they killed me!" (Fuller 1970)


Reliance, SRF and propaganda, Yogananda, Literature  

Barnet, Sylvan, and Hugo Bedau. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Bedford / St. Martin's, 2011.

Bennett, Bo. Logically Fallacious: The Ultimate Collection of over 300 Logical Fallacies. Updated Academic ed. Sudbury, MA:, 2013.

Brink-Budgen, Roy van den. Critical Thinking for Students: Learn the Skills of Critical Assessment and Effective Argument. 3rd ed. utg. Oxford: How To Books, 2000.

Fuller, Edmund. 2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions. New York: Wings, 1970.

Hills, Debra. Student Essentials: Critical Thinking. Richmond, Surrey: Trotman, 2011.

Kerlinger, Fred Nichols. Foundations of Behavioral Research. 4th rev. ed. Andover, Hampshire: Cengage Learning, 2000.

Lewis, James R. Cults. A Reference Handbook. 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Mayberry, Katherine J. Everyday Arguments: A Guide to Writing and Reading Effective Arguments. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

McClelland, Norman C. Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. London: McFarland and Co., 2010.

Paul, Richard, and Linda Elder. The Thinker's Guide to Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2008.

Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. I: The Gitas: The Vedic Bibles. Guru Gita. Omkar Gita. Abadhuta Gita. Kabir Gita. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.

Singer, Margaret Thaler. Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Walton, Douglas. Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th ed. Cambridge: Hacketts, 2008.

Winn, Denise. The Manipulated Mind: Brainwashing, Conditioning and Indoctrination. London: The Octagon Press, 1983.

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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