Ep. 122: Come See for Yourself – Ehipassiko

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The reason I called this podcast Rebel Buddhist is becasue it’s meant to encourage one’s own inquiry into the teachings and to not just accept things on blind faith or without deep inquiry into the teachings; to encourage questioning and for people to have different experiences of that exploration and that it is OK.  


It challenges some of the more common concepts that are often accepted without questioning anymore, like: renunciation, eating meat, no intoxicants, avoiding power and wealth…or even what it means that there is no self, and the implications of that as we live in a body on this Earth; and a sense of individual purpose and how that fits in; and is Buddhism actually different than personal growth anyway…and how this all fits into modern industrialized society where we don’t live on a dana-based system – at least here in the US . 


The irony is this isn’t really that rebellious considering it’s actually the foundation of one of Buddha’s main invitations – ehipassiko, which is Pali for “come and see for oneself.” So Buddha himself said to question things for yourself, and to see for yourself, and if you find it isn’t true, then you can set it down. 


I think alternative perspectives are important. For me, ehipassiko was so impactful to hear, especially after decades of being raised in a situation where when I asked questions about my religion, my mother’s response was, “don’t ask questions like that,” or “because the Bible says so.” 


That was never enough for me.  


So I loved this aspect of Buddhism, and it’s also what I loved about the Gelugpa tradition that regularly had lively debates in the monastery courtyards, and that I had the freedom, if I found it to not be true in my own experience, to put it down, and still call myself a Buddhist. 


Wow – that’s faith in the teachings, right? An undefended love of the dhamma. 


I think this concept of ehipassiko is more important now than ever, in a world where we can intentionally or unintentionally gaslight people into believing that suffering is entirely in their minds and that racism, patriarchy, misogyny, abuse, and capitalism are only mental constructs when they, in fact, exist institutionally and structurally. And that we are all IN it. 


To rebel is to resist authority, control, or convention. For me, it means to question. To keep ourselves safe from oppression, we must constantly question authority. 


I love to encourage people to constantly question their own values and beliefs – not just spiritual beliefs – and yes, the way we even perceive the world, and the way others ask us to see it. 


Deep, meditative inquiry actually allows greater inner freedom to grow, and allows us to discover our own truth. How do we do that? Part of it is living the question. Some questions have to be lived.  


Examining our habitual ways of being from a place of curiosity – not judgment – also shapes how we interact with the entire world and how we examine it on a regular basis. It allows our inner wisdom to be heard. And that is what we were meant to listen to. 


In this Episode we talk about:  

// WTF it means to “live the question” 

// Why “seeing for ourselves” is key to prevent, and protecting against, oppression (and gaslighting) 

// How to balance investigative inquiry and healthy doubt with faith 

// When doubt isn’t useful and unproductive – and essential 

// How we can use “seeing for ourselves” to not judge others