The Spiritual Evil of Speculation
- The Spiritual Evil of SpeculationEnlightenment is the complete illumination of ordinary things."Of the true nature of various matters, we often assume we really know - as much as we assume others do not really know. The deluded and arrogant always feels that the truth is in his exclusive and total possession, always on his side. This is often the case to varying extents on both sides of the two (or more) parties involved in a "fight for the truth". The closed-minded stop themselves from finding out and experiencing more of the truth, thinking the truth has already been won. This is the fool's "superiority complex", which also marks his "delusional index". As taught by the Buddha in the Dhammapada, "The fool who knows that he is a fool, can for that reason, be a wise man; but the fool who thinks that he is wise, is indeed called a fool."
"Are you merely speculating that the other person is merely speculating?
What if he really knows the truth? Of course, I'm only speculating.
What's for sure though, is that you'll never know if you don't find out."
Speculation is evil on the spiritual path because it leads to misunderstandings. Describing it as "evil" is not too strong a word. Because speculation assumes the truth, it distorts and distants it - sometimes for entire lifetimes and beyond. It can ruin relationships with family, friends and spiritual teachers. When we spread our speculations as if they were truths, the evil further spreads indefinitely. Sometimes this happens at an exponential rate. The extent of negative karmic consequences are unimaginable as the ill effects of wrong words spoken or written cannot be taken back entirely, not even when corrected. This is especially serious when it comes to groundless criticisms on spiritual teachings, which one does not understand in detail or practise in person.
"As much as realising the truth will set you free,
your delusions are keeping you prisoner now.
The deadliest delusions are the unrecognised ones,
which can taste pleasingly sweet, at the expense of rendering the truth bitter."
Always ask yourself this - "How do I know this (be it a teaching or a piece of information) is true?" If you do not know for sure, you can take it in good faith and accept it first. This should be done if you deem it positive for the spiritual path. Otherwise, you should retain a neutral attitude. In either case, you should actively seek to understand more through personal experience. The last thing to do is to slam it as fallacy straightaway through personal prejudice or peer influence. How much you receive from the treasure trove of the Dharma and how much you throw away depends on the extent of your objectivity and enthusiasm to seek the truth. Unless it was experienced for validity, a teaching remains to be realised as truth or fallacy through personal efforts; not to simply be labelled as either. This is the practice of right diligence for any truthseeker.
"How true you are to oneself and the world
depends on how truthful you are to yourself and others,
and how accurately you perceive that you do as truth."
It is amazing how we can unmindfully yet habitually jump to conclusions when all we have might be empty speculations built upon the vague hearsay and unfair opinions of others, which are often also empty speculations. Many wrongs do not make a right - this applies to accusations too. Most people on Earth thought it was flat. Those who believed otherwise were accused as being crazy. Likewise, in His time, the Buddha was ostracised by many other closed-minded religionists as a heretical teacher. Sadly, in the Dharma-ending age, even more aspects of the true Dharma will also be seen as untruths, while the untrue will be increasingly embraced as true. We thus have to be extra vigilant to practise, protect and uphold the true Dharma, so as to "hold back" the Dharma-ending age for as long as we can.
"If there is one thing to always know on the spiritual path,
so as to be able to keep walking it,
it's that 'You do not know what you do not know yet.'Know then, to always be humble,
or you might stray off, thinking you have already reached the goal."
As long as there is no in-depth communication with the parties involved in any conflict (over the truthfulness of anything), as long as there is no thorough investigation done, there is speculation to some extent - whether you know it or not. As long as it is pure speculation, it is liable to be a pure misunderstanding. The path to Enlightenment is not a guessing game. No one speculated his way to Enlightenment. To become enlightened is not just to unravel the "big truths" of all phenomena. It also includes clarifying any doubtful matters encountered along the way. In fact, Enlightenment is the end of all speculations, and other unnecessary mental fermentations and fabrications. Every Buddha realised the path to Enlightenment through stages of increasingly open-hearted personal experience - through deep honesty and sincerity in facing oneself and the world. To do otherwise is to stray away from liberation.
"What great spiritual 'Truth' do you seek,
when you do not even seek to clarify small everyday doubts about people,
when you sustain misunderstandings of minor matters?"
-Shen Shi'an (quotes:stonepeace | pic:aneta.art.pl)