The Absurdity of Tradition

Bryan Kest wearing a red t-shirt in a garden looking up.

There are many great traditionalists, but the greatest of the great were non-traditionalists. They were non-conformist and they were non-dogmatic! Jesus was a non-conformist. So was Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr. Mahatma Gandhi and the greatest yogi, Gautama the Buddha all had new ideas and another way. Bruce Lee was not only a nonconformist, he also coined the term “The Path of No Path.” I don’t know much about Mohamed, but it’s obvious that Islam has its uniqueness.  

There is nothing wrong with tradition per se; the issue is the rationale behind the tradition. Is it appropriate to do something a certain way because it’s traditional, or because it’s optimal? If tradition gives optimal results, then great, tradition works in that instance! If tradition gives less than optimal results, then tradition is absurd.  What if there was a more practical, efficient, even easier way to accomplish a traditional task that fell outside of traditional boundaries.  For example, what if a certain tradition taught us that certain behaviors or attitudes that don’t seem to be harmful to anyone in any way were wrong? Yet, those same behaviors and attitudes make you or someone else feel healthier and happier? Should you not be allowed to partake because it is outside tradition? 

If tradition allows or accommodates behaviors and attitudes outside of its tradition, is it really tradition? Can tradition and inquiry co-exist? Inquiry or science can lead to new understanding which may prove tradition is lacking in truth or effectiveness.  My feelings of absurdity about tradition for the sake of tradition stems from the fact that the creators of most traditions, including religious traditions, broke away from tradition to facilitate something else (a new tradition or system.)  If you break away from a system to create a new system would that not be hypocrisy? You may ask: What’s wrong with breaking away from one system or tradition and creating a new system if you find a better way? I would say if you break away from a traditional system you are really saying traditions do not work optimally and that there’s a better way. So why would you create a new tradition or system? Eventually, someone will ultimately find a better way as long as they don’t allow themselves to be repressed by their tradition or system, as many systems can be highly repressive. 

So why can’t we share what works for us without labeling it or trademarking it or trying to lock people into it? 

What happens when you create a system that makes you a lot of money and generates a lot of followers and over the years as you age and change, you discover a better way to accomplish the goals of the system? Do you suppress your discoveries; do you tell everyone you were wrong? How will that affect your income and following?

These questions are not issues if you don’t create the system in the first place.

I feel we can indulge in others’ discoveries and even have reverence and gratitude for their discoveries without needing to have allegiance to them and those discoveries. Likewise, we can share our discoveries with others without needing others to have allegiance to us. Can’t we just put helpful information out there without needing to label it, trademark it, and lock people into it?  Welcome to! The path of no path (Bruce Lee,) but many upon many helpful suggestions!

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