A reposted pic that came on my Facebook newsfeed recently said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I’m adding that pic to this post for your viewing enjoyment. This struck me, actually, and it reminded me of the quote by Alexander Hamilton that “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” I think the superficial understanding/interpretation of these two is bologna, and I plan to explore them in more detail here. Tune out now, if you care not.
Let’s take the second one first. So, apparently, if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. I don’t think so, really. I think one implication here is something like, “If you don’t know where you are, you might end up anywhere.” (Which, conveniently enough, ties into the other saying being examined in this post!) My husband is actually a great example of why this is bullcrap. He’s not religious in any way, but he does know devotion. He doesn’t focus on humanitarian stuffs, but cares much about the well-being of our society. He votes, and usually Democrat, but he’s not officially affiliated with any one side. He shirks the label of vegetarian, but he’s like 98% plant-based in his eating. In more than one area of his life, it could easily be said, he doesn’t actually stand for anything. And officially, he pretty much refuses suchery. Yet, he’s actually quite clever and reasonable and is by no means a person I’d suspect would “fall for anything.” I think this particular phrase, from someone of western culture and of the Abrahamic background, is typical. In a billion other religions and cultures around the world, folks have been encouraged to know their path and stick to it. But historically this has been taken to extremes in the West by the Abrahamics, who perpetually insist that not only must you be wrong for them to be right, but that if you’re not for them you must automatically be against them. And so, for people of that mindset, it naturally reasons that if you stand for nothing you’re an idiot who will fall for anything. My spouse refuses to stand for most things (at least in the way most people would expect someone to stand for something), but he is by no means someone who falls for anything. In his case, it’s almost more a matter of avoiding the drama of standing for something else (for the record, this is not the same as being lazy!). I’m probably not doing him justice in this encapsulation, but he’s the best example I could think of right off. And that’s that. Standing for nothing does not equate or necessitate falling for anything. And so we move on.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
I think, in short, this implies that if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never really arrive. Unfortunate, aimless, wandering is the tragedy implied here. No? As with the previous saying, I think the inadequacy of this one is solved when taken from a dharmic perspective.
In most parts of most dharmic religions, a central understanding revolves around the concept that all comes from the same Source. The other side of that coin is that all returns to the same Source. Also understood, is that the Source (Brahman) is beyond all classification. “Neti, neti,” we say in Hinduism. Not this. Not that. The Source is not only everywhere we look and in everything we see, but simultaneously transcends all of phenomenal existence. Something else that highlights this point is known as Om Purnam, and it goes,
“Om purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacchyate. Purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavashishyate.”
This translates roughly as, “That is infinite, this is infinite. From That Infinite this infinite comes. From That Infinite, this infinite removed; The Infinite still remains.” It can be kinda lofty to wrap your mind around at first, but it’s one of the best descriptions of Brahman, the simultaneous Source and Destination, that I’ve found and because of this I’ve had it tattooed around my left wrist/forearm.
So, coming back to our original topic, it’s quite literally impossible and illogical to not only not get where you’re going but also to mostly even to cognitively know where you’re going. It then reasons that not only are most folks who read things like the sign above misinterpreting it, but also are reading the very Truth! It’s technically easier for the human manas/buddhi/ahamkara to know where it’s not going that where it is, while at that exact moment and forever after, any road will get you there.