The problem with following

It just dawned on me that my big problem with “follow Jesus” is the “follow” bit. Same goes for Buddha or Mohammed. Why do so many people cloud the potential, that everyone has, to take themselves to a whole different level of existence by tying themselves to the way someone else did it – and thousands of years ago at that!

15 thoughts on “The problem with following

  1. Indeed. Given that every single one of the 6+ billion of us on the planet, it never ceases to amaze me how many of us rush to be unquestioning uniform sheep (in more than just a religious sense too).

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  2. If you visit a third world country you may change your opinion. Many people haven't got the luxury to lead: it's too expensive and too risky and basic survival depends on following previous knowledge. Your main objection appears to be religion rather than following the vast body of contemporary Internet knowledge. Is your existence more meaningful if you're first, completely different from the people around you? If you examine your life as a whole, is your impact vastly different from the previous generation or is it more of an incremental change? Should people follow your blog? 🙂

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  3. I am not saying that learning from others is wrong but adhering to dogma is. I don't want people to "follow" my blog. I am happiest when people do what you have just done and question what I say!

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  4. I take a pretty broad view of god. The one where he/she/it is everywhere. That is, god = nature.And some of god's children inspire me; I might go so far as to follow their teachings, tweets or tales. Through this simple philosophy on life, I can follow your good self Euan, and Messrs. Jesus and Dawkins and so on without contradiction.Through this I hope to achieve my human potential; but it will only ever likely be by 'standing on the shoulders of giants'…

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  5. I'm thinking there are various nuanced meaning(s) to the words "follow", "follower" and "act of following" in this era increasingly defined by plethora-of-platforms, links and means of expression.

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  6. Good points there Euan.The only thing I have to add is that Buddhism isn't about 'following' Buddha. Buddha is not a person (although of course he is – well we all know one of them anyway) but rather a personal state of enlightenment. In other words Buddhism is about finding your personal path to enlightenment. There are teachings you can read – follow if you like – that will suggest and help ways for you on your journey – but the bottom line is you find your own path. Blind following of teaching is not what Buddhism is about.Now dogma is a different story – there is dogma in Buddhism – it's there to help you get into a state of mediation where you start, or continue, your personal journey and try to understand your connection to the rest of the world and everything around you.That's what I take from Buddhism and why I'm quite happy to read the many texts (none held up as THE text) and listen to many teachers, and many practitioners and take examples from many Buddhas across history to help me achieve personal enlightenment – or rather – help me try to achieve personal enlightenment. Right now I'm just concentrating on appreciating the world around me now.

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  7. Totally agree Matt and I'm a bit of an armchair Buddhist myself. I love reading people like Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabbat Zin. Even started ploughing my way through The Book Of Living And Dying but gave up. Still think that there is a difference between ritual and dogma and there are clearly those who take the teachings of Buddha and turn them into dogma though. I also reckon that if you asked Jesus, if he lived, about some of the crap done in his name by "followers" he wouldn't be too chuffed either!

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  8. 'I'm just concentrating on appreciating the world around me now'I try to do a lot of that too .. and like Euan, keep on reading and 'following' my path.I just started re-reading a book I've discussed previously with Euan .. not "Buddhist" but pretty interesting – "Total Freedom" by Jiddu Krishnamrti.

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  9. about some of the crap done in his name by "followers" he wouldn't be too chuffed either!That's a bit of a hoot ;-)"some of the crap" … ???There's waay more than 'he' would want to even have a look at, I'm thinking.

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  10. There is an emergent discipline on 'followership' from the Knowledge Management parish down under:

    Leadership is important. However more time is spent in the world following than leading. You wouldn’t know it from the shelves of your bookstore or the curricula of an MBA.We are interested in what it means to be a good follower. Feel free to join us. The Followership Centre

    Head there and become a disciple ;o)

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