Karmic Muscle Group: Awareness, Clarity & Liberation
Today’s Exercise: Question Dogma
[Preparatory Note: there are several useful definitions of “dogma”, however, it is the custom at TLB to use the one that is broadest. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, the term “dogma” is defined as “prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group”. Notice that we have taken religion-specific meaning out of this definition. Dogma can be found anywhere there are groups. It is the established pattern of ideas and belief that becomes “the way it is” for the organization. It is a statement asserted as truth, but is actually a point of view.
Dogma is actually quite useful to an organization because it establishes a structure of thinking that often defines the group itself. Dogma often contains considerable understanding and logic that has been reduced down to a set of operating principles that are imposed upon a group in order to shape the behavior of its members. It is a tool that lies at the heart of most organizations that attempt to coordinate human effort in a single direction when organization members have varying degrees of understanding and skill. The organization creates a “doctrine” or method around which it expects members to shape behavior whether they understand the doctrine or not. This is an organizational necessity in most groups. Dogma is a time honored way to encapsulate insights that originate with experienced leaders of an organization so as to pass them on to necessary, but less experienced, members in order to cause cooperation and collaboration.
You could say that dogma is pre-fabricated thinking. The problem for those who are not part of the design of the dogma is that there can be many complex reasons for why a certain method is preferable over another, but this understanding may not be expressed in the doctrines that make up the dogma. Hence, members of lesser understanding are asked to simply follow or obey the doctrine without understanding. For the designer of dogma, it represents the reduction of wisdom to a method. For the follower of a dogma, it is pretty much superstition.
The purpose of this exercise is not to abandon dogma, but to question what was the designer of the dogma trying to achieve. We are looking to unconceal the actual thinking behind the method so that we can relate to the method as real thinking. To do this exercise, you can select any dogmatic doctrine from religion, society, business or other sources. The dogmatic doctrine has to express “how it is done”, meaning that it has to have a sense of righteousness to it. It has to be spoken in a group with the expectation that it is the “law” of the organization or a rule that is not to be broken or questioned thereby giving it the weight of a behavioral mandate.]
- Find quiet place to contemplate and turn off your cellphone.
- Establish meditative breathing by taking long inhales and equally long exhales.
- Think about the dogmatic doctrine that you have selected. Consider the behavior that it is trying to encourage. Think about the behavior that it is trying to thwart.
- Rather than look at what the doctrine is, consider carefully what it does. What is the anticipated outcome of the doctrine and why is it important to the group?
- What other doctrines is your chosen dogmatic doctrine related to? How do they work together to shape the organization.
- Does the doctrine create cohesiveness in the group? Does it help leadership assert command and control more effectively over the organization?
- What benefit is the doctrine intended to provide for the individual members of the organization?[hr]
- For the Newbie, Dogma Is A Way to Create Participation: following the methodology of a group is a way to get new members to quickly take their place in the collaboration of an organization. Newcomers do not have the knowledge or skill to be able to comprehend or participate in an organization until they gain experience. How do you make rookies useful to the cause? Start them off on a diet of dogma.
- For the Master, Dogma Is A Point of Focus: for experts in the methodology of a group, dogma can seem boring and even overly simplistic. It is, after all, largely for the benefit of those with less skill. And yet, dogma is a reminder of core values and can be used as point of focus. Dogma for masters can be an autopilot, however, that leads to less thinking rather than more.
- Dogma, Like Any Defined Method, Can Kill Innovation: dogma ultimately is encapsulated thinking that is of little use to the fully initiated member of an organization beyond generating cohesiveness. For the master, dogma presents the risk of killing off creativity and innovation by restraining leadership to ground that has already been covered. The karma of organizations that fail to innovate and evolve is decline and extinction.[hr_shadow]
It May Be Fiction, But It Is One Heck Of A Karmic Workout.
Read The Lotus Blossom, D. M. Kenyon’s fictional account of a teenage girl who turns off her cellphone and enters the very real, but mystical world of Budo warriors. Humorous, irreverent and heart-wrenching, The Lotus Blossom is an unforgettable tale of a Midwestern teenage girl’s transformation into a budo warrior in the midst of the turmoil of the Information Age. Available in all digital formats, paperback and soon to be released in hardcover.
Share Your Experience:
Leave a comment when you have completed the exercise.