No New Tricks

You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks. Dorothy Parker

The reason you can’t teach an old dogma new tricks is because dogma feels so good. Why change when being certain feels so comfortable? Dogma is truly man’s best friend, Swami Beyondananda. Dogma is defined as a fixed belief or set of beliefs that people are expected to accept without any doubts, (Cambridge English Dictionary). If believing is seeing and your beliefs are fixed, then your seeing is fixed, permanent, stuck. You can’t change your mind and you can’t change what you see. The biggest problem with dogma is that change is impossible. Dogma leaves one closed-minded, unable to change. If you can’t change you can’t learn.

Beliefs are not all the same; there is a continuum of beliefs; they vary in certainty. At one end of the continuum are the dogmatic beliefs and at the other end are the tentative beliefs. Actually by dictionary definition all beliefs are tentative; they are not facts or the truth but more like opinions, assumptions, and thoughts. But that isn’t always true in “human definitions.” Some people believe that what they believe is the absolute truth and not open to questioning (dogmatic). Some people believe their beliefs are hypotheses, open to questioning and examining (tentative). Some other people don’t think much about what they believe and don’t want to bother questioning (the passive believer). Passive beliefs are somewhere in the middle of the continuum.

Dogmatic beliefs matter most because of their inability to change. In today’s complex, rapidly changing world, nations with opposing dogmatic beliefs resort to bombing each other. I think you could argue that if all human beliefs were “tentative hypotheses,” the world would be heading in a different direction. Of course all of your beliefs or my beliefs are probably not hypotheses. We all have our beliefs that blind us and bind us. The first step toward illumination is admitting that we have them. Such awareness is the objective of this blog.

Since dogma can’t learn new tricks, I will not propose any new tricks. But I do point out the problem and I will suggest a solution. The cure for dogma of course is doubt, uncertainty, open-mindedness, inquiry, examination, investigation. Doubt leads to questions; certainty doesn’t. The surest way to lose the truth is to pretend you already posses it, Gordon Allport. Because all of our beliefs are probably not hypotheses, we might want to ask ourselves questions about some important beliefs. And we might even ask others questions about our beliefs. How do we know that what we believe is true?

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, it’s                                                             what you know for sure that ain’t so.    Mark Twain

Drive Your Karma, Curb Your Dogma.  Swami Beyondananda

My karma just ran over my dogma. Barbara Johnson



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2 Responses to OLD DOGMA

  1. Marianne says:

    I think I have said this before. Looking at the other side is difficult. I have tried to watch Fox news, but I become so upset, I can’t continue. I know I should look at the other side but——–.
    We know for sure Trump is not locked into any dogma because he changes his statements so often. Actually, that is wrong, he does have one belief that he holds dearly. That is the belief that everything must center around him and his power and wealth. Needless to say, I am really disturbed by what he is doing to this country. And I don’t think that is just a belief but the facts.

    • hbgelatt says:


      Thanks again for your response to my blog. I agree, it is hard to play attention and to try to understand the view from the other side. But I also think it is a fact that most people are disturbed by what is going on.

      This is causing me to write my anti-Trump blogs. Watch out for my next one.

      H B


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