Reading the Practice Everywhere tweet “Better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubts,“ caused me to reflect on how many of those kinds of insidious messages most of us have been given. From standards such as “children should be seen and not heard” to vague information that what you’re feeling and the amount you’re feeling is wrong/bad, we have managed to take in an impressive amount of “negative intelligence” under the guise of truisms or words to live by.
A few more that occur to me:
A fool and his money are quickly parted.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Better to be safe than sorry.
All good things must come to an end.
All's well that ends well.
I’ve tried to see how we get information such as “those feelings” are “anxiety” and anxiety is a bad thing. I can’t recall hearing anything specific but somehow the message gets transmitted loud and clear. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if we had been encouraged with something like, “Oh, those are sensations; they’re how human beings feel life. They don’t mean anything in particular. You have to pay close attention because they change with every situation and you don’t want to miss any messages from life.”
A variation on the value of truisms I wish someone had given me is along the lines of, “maybe yes, maybe no” from the story of the old fellow whose only horse runs off. The neighbors say, “What a terrible thing to have happen to you.” He responds, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” The animal returns in a few days bringing a small herd of wild horses with it.
“Isn’t that wonderful,” say the neighbors. “Maybe yes, maybe no.” His only son goes out to break the horses, is thrown and his leg is broken, rendering him incapable of helping with the work. “Isn’t that terrible,” say the neighbors. “Maybe yes, maybe no.” The army comes by looking for able-bodied men to fight the most current war. “Isn’t that…” You get the picture. Bottom line point is that we simply do not know. Ever. Anything.
How about this: As you recognize the vaguely unsupportive to downright self-hating “truths” that torment you when you’re not attending closely, post them to this blog, and we will create a great list of “conventional wisdom” that is not wise at all under a heading of Lies to Ignore.