An ewe behind whom a flock of sheep follow is known as a bellwether. Blind following (known proverbially in Bengali as gaddalika-pravaha: lit. ‘the course of a bellwether’) refers to following along behind a bellwether indiscriminately, that is, not assessing things ourselves and following prevailing views in imitation of others.
If an ewe at the front of a flock of sheep falls into a river or ditch, then all the other sheep in the flock follow it and fall therein, even when they have the ability and time to avoid it. Similarly, people engaged, knowingly or unknowingly, in blind following all too often accept or adhere to problematic, destructive, exploitative, and non-sensical views even when they see others and even themselves encountering negative consequences for doing so. Although they have the ability and time to see through the errors in their views, they consider the uncertainty of seriously examining them and potentially leaving the herd more fearsome than the consequences of following them to a piteous end and willingly allow this end to befall them.
Listed here are misconceptions, general and specific, with large blind followings in the world today:
- The body-mind complex is the actual self.
- Sense perception and reason constitute the full range of potential experience.
- Something can come from nothing.
- A ‘big bang’ can arise without any cause.
- Something can come from its opposite.
- Order can arise from disorder.
- An explosion can produce a universe of order and beauty.
- Consciousness can arise matter.
- A stone can become a soul.
- All spiritual paths lead to the same destination.
- Theological principles are irrelevant on the spiritual path.
- People of opposite intent and view reach the same end: the moral and the immoral, the humane and the inhumane, the theistic and the atheistic, etc.
- Truth and value are determined by social agreement.
- A leader’s greatness is proven by their popularity.
- A scripture regarded as authoritative by a tradition is necessarily most correct in its advice in all cases.
- Ever-increasing consumption produces well-being.
- Ever-increasing consumption produces happiness.
- Ever-increasing consumption produces no negative consequences.
- Human beings need not be concerned with the consequences their consumption has on their environment and all the other living beings within it.
- The purpose of life is to fulfil one’s own desires irrespective of those of others.
- Prioritising exclusively one’s own interests over those of others leads to fulfilment.
- God is inconsequential.
- God does not exist.
- God exists: we are God.
- God is ultimately impersonal.
- God exists to suit our needs.