To Boldly Go…: When I was a wee lad, I marvelled at those early (and later) Star Trek episodes on tv. You know, especially, parts where the USS Enterprise’s Captain would ‘speak into the air’ and preface his (or her) question with the word, ‘Computer….’.
Any question, it seems, could be asked, and back came an immediate answer. Fantastic.
I wondered about a world where that fictional computer would be a fact, and hoped I could take advantage of such wonders. And guess what? It’s arrived. We live in such a time as that. Type on the computer keyboard, access Google, or speak to Siri or Alexa, and back comes the information. Knowledge. And yet….?
A few days ago I talked about perception, and how we can ‘over-think’ and miss the beauty of nature, dwell on anything but the present, and miss that inner, small, still voice, the Bat Kol: see <here>.
So, today I’d like to balance that previous statement and issue a challenge, about the perils of under-thinking. See what you think?
‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.’ Buddha
Under-Thinking: We have so much knowledge at our fingertips that, sadly, we can become deluged in a flood of information and not know what to do. .
And, to make matters worse, the internet and especially Facebook give instantaneous answers which may not always contain true facts, but falsehoods. And, it get’s worse with the advent of purposeful ‘fake news’, and the quickness at which such falsity to be spread by cutting and pasting on the internet.
Such erroneous information can ‘distance’ us from the truth, from the Divine because of ‘under-thinking’ and because of our swallowing wholesale such falsity
‘Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…’. Romans 1:22, The Book.
We have so much information available to us. And yet….?
It is reckoned that humanity has discovered as much information in the last 20 years than the previous 20,000 years. We have an immense amount of information, but many would say there has not been a proportionate advance in society, spiritually.
‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand. Albert Einstein
Examples: Here’s some examples of ‘suspect’ knowledge gleaned from the internet about knowledge, courtesy of Google and/or FaceBook:
One person was adamant that the moon and the sun were the same size and shared an almost identical orbit.
I pointed out that I believed science had shown that the sun is much further away and bigger than the moon, and that the rules of perspective showed that an object that was further away would appear smaller. It is, nevertheless, a wonderful co-incidence or God-incidence, natural-incidence that they appeared the same size at times of eclipses. But, he wasn’t convinced. What do you think?
One theological professor wrote that Jesus came from a middle-class, rich family as both Joseph and Jesus were carpenters, and today many carpenters (especially those involved in church and old building restoration) can attract large salaries. This just didn’t sound right. An interesting opinion, but was it factually correct?
I wondered if Joseph and Jesus would have undertaken such restoration work in their day, or whether their daily bread would have come from the humble making and repairing of tables and chairs, and cart-wheels, in which case they’d probably would have been quiet poor, as most people of that time would.
However, the definitive answer lay in the Gospel account of Mary and Joseph’s taking of the baby Jesus to the Temple. I checked. It is recorded that they offered two doves in gratitude for the birth. Interestingly, according to the book of Leviticus (which that professor seems to have overlooked) , the offering should be sheep…unless the family were poor, and then doves is acceptable. So, now we know: they were poor. But, why didn’t the professor know that?
‘We wanted knowledge, only to discover that what we really needed was wisdom.’ Anon.
But, there’s a remedy…
The Three Gates Of Speech: We are bombarded with facts, some of which are true and some are false. Which ones do we accept? Which ones do we pass on to others, but word of mouth or by cutting and pasting on the internet?
The answer I believe is for us to stop, consider and apply the traditional ‘three gates of speech’, said to have been spoken by Rumi, and, to which I’ve cheekily added a fourth.
Rumi said, ‘Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?”
At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
So there we have it.
When confronted by a fact and before accepting it and passing it on – ask if it is true? Why is that news released now? Is the source reputable or is it from a ‘pressure’ group or someone with an ‘axe to grind’?
I recently read a most bizarre article on alternative cancer treatment and sugar. After three minutes research I ascertained that the author was a chiropodist! I am sure he is a most professional chiropodist, but why would anyone accept such advice on cancer when that isn’t that persons specialism, and bad advice in that area can have such dire results? And yet 99% of the thousand comments made accepted his seemingly authoritative statements, and were positive and enthusiastic about his revolutionary (but I believe lethal) advice! Tragic.
When considering facts, does it seem odd or are those inner ‘alarm bells’ ringing? Is the information vital and beneficial to us? It is kind and wholesome and uplifting?
If such facts or words fail at any one of those three gates, Rumi suggests they should be disregarded. Discernment.
‘Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits…’ 1 John 4:1a
Fourth Gate?: My fourth gate would be: If in doubt, and before passing it on, do check it on Google, by typing in the relevant words, followed by the words ‘scam’ or ‘spoof’. It only takes a few minutes. Or check the background of the originating person or organisation – you wouldn’t believe the number of patriotic and well-meaning statements displayed on the web by extremist groups, who want to lure you in to their way of thinking by seemingly innocuous remarks that are linked to their website(s).
Balance: So, there we have it. Whereas we can over-think and miss the Divine in life; so too we can be deluged with ‘fake news’ and find ourselves ‘distanced’ from the truth, from the Divine because of ‘under-thinking’ and swallowing wholesale such falsity.
‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7, The Book