Dogma is in every organized system of belief, although we largely think of it being connected to religion. It is often referred to as doctrine. Faith and dogma are not the same thing. But what is it exactly and why am I writing about it? (I’m writing about it because its been rolling around in my head for about a week).
Simply put, dogma is the list of recognized rules and regulations of the group we belong to that we are supposed to accept as unquestionable fact. This dogma is not supposed to be challenged, not really, not if we want to keep the leaders of the group happy. These are the truths of their belief system, and they – both the people who created these rules and the people who are currently administering them – do not want to lose their power. They want us to follow them. There is mystery attached to other people’s power, along with intrigue. Many people in powerful positions love mystery and intrigue. Some don’t, but many do. We only have to watch the news lately. Does it mean they are right? Does it mean we should believe everything they say? Or do we decide for ourselves what we believe, what resonates wholly with our heart and spirit? Two examples of religious dogma that might not have been good to follow: Children of God and People’s Temple – both have produced tragic outcomes for their blind believers.
Conversely, many people thrive within the guidance of their religions and lead productive lives, so this post is not a statement on religion. It is a statement of opinion on following someone else’s truth instead of our own inner guidance system, or at least questioning the established dogma as well as questioning ourselves. We give away our power too easily.
Dogma isn’t, however, just in religion. We also find dogma in science. We find it in social clubs. We find it in politics, in marketing, in medicine and nutrition, and even in our families. Wherever we are, there it is. I agree that to be a civilized society we need rules and regulations. Dogma is different. Everyone’s messages and motives should be checked and thought about before we take them as fact. A few thought-provoking points of view (None of which I endorse or refute. The links are provided for interest only): Watchblog, Medical Dogma, and Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine – Recognizing and Challenging Dogma.
Can we discuss with the head of our house of worship, the Elk’s Club, the political party we have registered with, whatever it is we belong to, our feelings and curiosities about what they teach us? Can we do this without fear of being asked to leave the group, or without being penalized in some way? Do we have dialogue with our doctor when told to take a specific medicine,or accept a specific diagnosis? Do we take responsibility for acquiring information and testing theories for ourselves? Do we challenge people who tell us to do something that goes against that gut feeling we all have that perhaps something isn’t exactly right? We can have faith in something or someone, and trust, based on our own experience and education without throwing the baby out with the bath water. We need to challenge, however, the beliefs we accept with questions regarding where they originated or why.
When we seek advice or treatment from the practitioner of an alternative modality (Reiki, massage, cranio-sacral, etc.) or if we are a practitioner of any of these modalities, should we get lost in the dogma of that belief system? Do we have to agree with and blindly believe each and every hand position or manipulation we were taught just because we were told it was right? These rules may be right, and often they are, but how do we know if we don’t use our inner guidance systems? In practicing and advancing my knowledge and understanding of Reiki, for instance, I have come across a diverse set of beliefs attached to the origin of Reiki, the use of Reiki, the fees for Reiki, and more. One can find evidence to support just about any approach and application, but is it all true? Where is the essence of the practice? Is it in the dogma or in the feeling of energy that is used, that changes someone’s life for the better, or that ignites a passion in the receiver? Does it matter what the precise temperature of a room is, for instance, when doing a massage, or is it more important that the person receiving the massage feel relaxed, more free, and soothed? Do Western Reiki attuned practitioners have less strength and competence than those attuned and trained in the traditional Japanese manner of Reiki? Does touching or not touching make a difference? Guidelines are so very important to maintain integrity in anything but if one does not use their inner knowledge and their intuition, then much is lost in the practice. If your friend tells you that Chakras don’t exist and another tells you that they do, who is right? My feeling is that you ask your body and your inner self. You go within.
Dogma can kill us but so can staunch scepticism. This is why balance is important. Scepticism that is unhealthy blocks the new from being born. It creates anger and distrust. Life is fluid and we should be open to change and improvement. The blind belief of a set of rules can be a deadly decision. Scepticism can create stale mate. Each one of us knows deep down in our core what is right for us. Often, this knowledge is clouded with someone else’s belief, someone else’s opinions on what is healthy for us. The knowledge of what is good for our mind, body, and spirit is already inside of each and every one of us. Our inner self knows the answers to every question we have. In my mind, it is a matter of retrieval of inherent information. People can guide us but no one can know better than we do what is best for us. Many of us don’t believe we are our own healers but we are because it is our decision to listen, to learn, to discard, and to discern the information that is placed in front of us. We find what we need. I can do Reiki on someone, or color therapy, or sound therapy, and I can use my knowledge and experience to help them find their own understanding. Reiki will work. That is my belief. But without their questions and curiosities and willingness to connect to their inner self, there is only a partial healing, because ultimately no one can heal us except us and whomever we believe in. Make sure you truly believe in who and what you think you believe in. We all need to question and explore and continue walking a path of self inspection before we make decisions based on someone else’s truth, on a group’s dogma, and on the power of other people. Dogma days need to end. It is a time to summon our own awareness and the willingness to make changes. We have powerful minds. Miracles exist. So do responsibility and awareness. We only have to learn how to use the power we each have, that power we thought was someone else’s, to find our own mystery and intrigue. Faith is important, as is courage, but dogma is dangerous and suffocating when not questioned and challenged. Life is a beautiful journey. It seems a good idea to look at it with open eyes and open hearts and the awareness of our own power.