The importance of doing what you're told

The Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and received 3 temptations. As did Jesus. But their temptations were different.

Using Joseph Campbell's interpretations, Jesus' temptations were economic, political and spiritual (not of this world), while the Buddha was tempted by desire, fear and social duty.

The remarkable difference to me is not in the first two. The big one for me is Buddha's last temptation, something I've struggled with my whole life. In common terms, it's "doing what you're told". While Campbell labels it "social duty", I'd say it has to do both with society's requirements and with one's own lack of will to wake up and take responsibility for one's own life. It's really a challenge to be self-directed, but as in all universal myths, the challenge is far more personal than such pop-psychology terms can convey.

To me, it points directly to an ailment we in the West suffer from. We know so much and are driven to know so much more that it's impossible for any one human being to know it all. And so we give up our responsibility to judge what is placed before us, even to the point of swallowing without looking at all. A so-called "expert" proclaims, and we fall down and say "it must be so". Layer the social duty angle on top, and the ailment claims nearly 100% of us. I suspect that's why movies like Tuesdays with Morrie appeal to us. People like Morrie offer real-world, modern prototypes for living the really good life within this life.

I can't say I blame any of us, or that I'm the lone person keeping the percentage just barely under 100%. It's hard work slogging through life, thinking, judging, trusting our senses and above all enjoying.

But how else are we in the West going to wake up?

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