Reference point: finding the inner GPS

When leaving childhood and entering adolescence, we look for our way, we try to understand what will need to be done in the years to come, even if all teenagers do not have this concept. Through this inquiry, we can notice contradictions and experience difficulties that can generate confusion for us.

In response to this discomfort, it could be that we find appropriate methods but it could also be that we find methods that lead us astray. In so much as that happens, it is not so much confusion that is felt but rather the expression of a need that can make things difficult. It could be that we are looking for a way to relax or amuse ourselves in a manner that can lead us in the wrong direction.

As a teen we have to discover and pursue our own way, but for that we need some important instructions or advice. Even if we do not manage to apply it completely, that is not a problem. On the other hand, it is important to know and try to understand this information because with it, when confusion or difficulties arise, as well as happy times, we will not be lost. We will not be stuck in rejection and suffering. We will be able to rely on knowledge as a reference that will help us.

We live among a great many people; how do we choose our own direction? We need confidence in ourselves to discover and pursue our own way. Let’s consider an example which shows how this confidence takes a different direction.

 Today, nearly everyone uses a GPS to navigate. Without this tool, we no longer know which road to take and we no longer feel quite so confident. Even going to a place we know, we turn on the GPS. Without it, we do not have confidence in ourselves. The GPS is not bad in and of itself, but it is a good example of how we can render ourselves dependent. In the same way, we can come to depend on other people. This is not about those that are harmful, it may be someone known like a star, an actor, a philosopher or a politician. It could be simply someone we know. This attitude is not bad in and of itself, but it can undo the confidence we have in our own capacities. We transfer our point of reference: it is no longer ourselves but another person that we follow. By doing that, it is as if we lose our own judgement.

Let’s go back to the example of the GPS. Travelling in France, we know the geography of the country. We know which direction to go to Paris or Nice or Lyon or Bordeaux. We know the directions on the compass, North, South, East and West. We know how to reference them. So we can use the GPS, but if it doesn’t work we still know the right directions since we have the necessary knowledge in our head. And even when the GPS indicates a different route, to avoid an obstacle for example, we note this and are conscious of it. Our mind is not dependent on the GPS. We use these technologies but that does not stop us from knowing where we are, where we need to go and the route to get there. We are not prisoners of technology as we have our own knowledge and identification of the situation. Sometimes errors in direction can occur, but since we are conscious we can change course. On the basis of this example, we have several topics that are linked to this idea. The example of the GPS is that of our existence, our way of being and of our conditions in this life in this world.

Acquiring good knowledge

We need to cultivate a sense of observation and keep a few precise points of reference in mind, that is what will allow us to live in different environments without losing our discernment and intelligence.

First of all, there is the knowledge, fruit of our upbringing and everything we learn at school. Together, they allow us to realize a global image of the world. This acquired knowledge provides references that allow us to then make decisions by ourselves; we no longer depend on outside references. It is our upbringing that participates in the development of our intellect, how we figure things out and to be able to discern what we can pursue or what we ought to avoid. It is the starting point that lets us choose how we mature. We are our own masters, with our own inner GPS.


Learning from others

On the basis of this knowledge, we pursue a form of observation and research into our existence. Beginning from what we know, we observe others. By seeing what is happening around us, we can choose to apply qualities that we see in others if possible. The opposite is also true when we choose not to follow the example of those that seem negative or harmful. Without education, without knowledge, we do not know how to carry out this observation and research, we cannot develop. We will be lost in all the information at hand and the examples unfolding around us, like being in the middle of the desert, without a map. On the other hand, if we have some knowledge about economics, politics, philosophy, science, technology, even at a general level, observing those around us, with their qualities and their errors will be useful to us. Without rejecting those that make errors, we can avoid making the same mistakes. Hence, with time, our understanding of things will increase and it will be beneficial to our development.
We need to observe the ways in which people around us live. It is not about judging them but rather understanding them. Judgements generate other problems… When we are in a crowd, see how people react, try to understand: « If that doesn’t seem very useful for me, personally I will avoid doing that. If on the other hand, what I see looks useful, I will try to cultivate it. » Through observation, we can develop. We try to avoid having one point of reference, knowing that when we search for ourselves, our discoveries will truly make sense.

We can go into detail: some people express themselves quite aggressively, with harsh talk but their behaviour may not seem so bad. Others may not seem so bad but their behaviour or habits may be quite harmful. It is up to us to sort this out. If we try to understand why their behavior seems negative, we may find the reasons. It might be due to drugs or alcohol, or perhaps these people are under the influence of some fascination or powerful anger. There are many causes that make people act in an improper manner. So it is not useful to give in to judgements, thinking that these people are bad; on the contrary it should encourage us to simply not make the same choices.


ence, over time, we conduct our research. We see certain things that we may not understand at first, but by continuing to ask why, little by little things become clear. We decide to avoid this behavior or not. If we see someone important, who is very successful, we ask ourselves: how does he do it? What is his attitude? What does he put in place? Without that, we may be witness to nice successes or wonderful projects all the while having the impression that we will never succeed. That’s disturbing. If we go deeper into our reflection, and our inquiry of human beings, then we can see the causes and conditions that they live.



Choosing the right direction

In Buddha’s teaching, it is a question of ethics, right conduct and other terms of this type. The meaning is that we have to conduct our existence in an appropriate manner and find a way to maintain our own life. It is about bearing in mind the points of reference that lead us in the direction that we want to go, or that we do not want to go. This reminder is important; these two aspects have to be present in our mind. This is in just ordinary situations that are nothing special.

To take an example: some young people, in order to experience intense sensations take to extreme sports, playing with the limits. Through any lack of consciousness or prudence, they go beyond the limit and have an accident, which may be very serious. So it is about observing in an open manner, without judgement. This type of situation teaches us that if we do not behave in an appropriate manner, if we do not pay attention, this could happen to us as well. The idea is to understand just how much our human body is important. We do not need to experience all sorts of dangerous things. By observing the causes and consequences without judgment, we don’t need to take extreme bodily risks as some do. In other words, we need to develop this consciousness, because without it, we too can one day go beyond the limits and have an accident ourselves.


Let’s take another example. Some people who are highly educated, make poor choices in situations which, in the end, result in homelessness. Inappropriate choices can also lead us to that. Once again, we do not judge these people, but we remain attentive to our choices. Some people are at the head of a country and one mistake can suddenly bring them down. Recently, we’ve seen this type of situation. An error for example, the misuse of money, or maybe embezzlement of funds can completely damage a career, or even a life. One mistake can completely destroy a livelihood and strip someone from renowned success, even at a national level. All these things are important because they can serve as a reference. At the beginning, it is not necessarily the case, but things come up, in light of circumstances, and something in these situations will remind us and they can be useful in our own lives. Whether it is the causes of success or the circumstances of failure, life observations are a resource for us. So this is how all of these observations are resources for us.



Searching for causes

Here we speak of listening, that is to say, the way to understand the meaning of what is happening in every situation. We’ve looked at the need for an upbringing, to acquire knowledge based on study, reading or observation. On this basis, we observe everything around us, people as well as the environment. To simply passively see things without knowledge won’t allow us to come by many results. We have to undertake a real search on the way in which people live, based on observation and reflection. Then, little by little, we understand the conditions of their existence. Then that becomes a reference for us and we can apply the conditions that ensure good results. Going back to the causes and analysing the elements that render things negative for people, we can try to avoid them. Babies are all good people at birth, but as they grow into adulthood, differences emerge so that in the end, we can see that there are styles of life that are very different. It is up to us to examine which causes bring which lifestyle and which type of being we would like to become. That is easy enough since our field of experience is within range, all around us.


To you now, we’d like to hear your opinions, experiences and comments! So don’t hesitate!
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