Our culture has become obsessed with experts. Getting a degree that is extremely specialized is now seen as the only way to create a good life. We refuse to listen to anyone unless they have an advanced degree. We tune in to doctors and psychologists on television to learn how to create physical and mental health. We read millions of books each year to find out all about how everything works. We listen to preachers, priests, gurus, imams and rabbis to find out how to be spiritual.
There are important aspects of realty that all of this cultural programming miss, however.
One—There is only one you.
All of the scientific studies and experiments in the world may not necessarily give information about what will work for YOU.
Two–Science is used by fallible people
Studies and science are great—don’t get me wrong. They give us valuable insights. They also have shortcomings. They can only give general trends, not personally specific information. Often, what we learn from such studies is tainted by the way that they are interpreted and reported.
An example of this is the modern trend for prescriptions to fix so-called brain chemical imbalances. Supposedly, studies have shown that such interventions work for everything from depression to ADD. There are significant problems with the ways that these studies have been interpreted. If you do a little research—I recommend Johan Hari’s excellent books—you will find that the brain chemical imbalances that are supposed to cause these problems are hardly proven by the science, and that the effectiveness of chemical treatments is seriously in doubt.
Besides, even if a certain pill did work for some people—will it work for you? For some, antidepressants cause suicidal ideation and behavior. The experts don’t always have the answers. Again, I am not suggesting you throw all your medications away or ignore your doctor. But you can be proactive in learning about your own health, listening to your body, and finding what works for you.
The same things are true when it comes to spirituality, life path, career, and many other aspects of life. Just because a spiritual path is right for someone—even someone you admire—that doesn’t necessarily make it right for you. Just because culture says you need a certain kind of job or lifestyle to have “the good life”, that doesn’t mean it is right for you. They don’t know you, they aren’t walking your path. Only you can figure out what is the right path for you.
Instead of always deferring to the experts, we can explore ideas on our own.
If you remember the list of questions from the culture article, they might come in handy here:
Do I enjoy this?
Is this good for me?
Is this right for me?
Do I agree with this action?
Is this helpful, moral, loving?
We might add to this list the questions:
Does my body feel good when I do this?
Is this (course of action, treatment, plan, etc.) working for me?
Do I feel better or worse when I do this/go here?
Do I feel more connected and loving, or do I feel angry or drained?
Instead of following the cults of various experts, and mindlessly believing that they have all the answers for you, you can begin to seek your own path. This brings us back to that scary word—responsibility—but it is the only way to freedom.
You can get information from many sources, but be sure to get a balanced view and decide issues for yourself.
If you seek out help, make sure it is from someone who listens to you, and draws out of you the path that is yours alone.