I used to be so anti-dogma.
“It’s a dogma-free zone,” I’d tell my friends about the spiritual community I was attending at the time. “We don’t do dogma, maaaaan,” I’d smugly say.
And then, one day, I looked around and noticed… Wow. We totally have dogma here. It’s not the God-will-send-you-to-eternal-hell-if-you-don’t-do-this kind of dogma. But it was there, nonetheless.
We prayed a certain way (pretty rigid). We supported certain types of meditation over others. We read spiritual texts a certain way. We believed, not so much in a G-O-D, but in a ‘universe’ that could bend to our wills (‘intentions’ as we called them).
Though my peers didn’t overtly shame you if you didn’t follow that dogma, there was, for sure, a more subtle and passive-aggressive posturing going on out in the foyer.
I meditate for two hours a day…
I’m attracting so much good stuff to my life right now, I just see the universe showering me with so many gifts.
(Enough of that for now — I gotta stop myself.)
Even my atheist friends have constructed dogma in their lives. These dogmas are based on what’s deemed ‘real’ in the physical world. Life is filtered through the rational mind and anything outside of it is censored. Any sense of the supernatural is not allowed in.
Well, friends, I can say now that I’m fine with dogma.
I think we need to own the fact that we’re dogma-producing people, even in our postmodern world. I’m sure even Kevin Smith, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck have dogma in their lives. (I’m aging myself there.)
This is how we make sense of the world by erecting boundaries and slapping labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on things. By setting up rituals (we do this naturally from a very young age and it’s good for us). Dogma gives us something to hold on to.
The problem isn’t dogma in and of itself. It’s when that dogma becomes harmful to oneself or others.
When we shame or violently otherize people in the name of dogma, it becomes a problem.
If we’re not conscious of our dogma, it can become a blind spot that lashes out from the shadows. When dogma fades into the illusion that it’s ‘just the way things are’, bad things can happen.
Dogma has to be a conscious choice. We (or those we trusted) set that dogma up. If it’s hurting us or anyone else, it’s our responsibility to scrap it all together.
Just know that you’ll probably build another one. And that’s great. At least, now, it’ll be a conscious one.