One of the apparently nifty components of Buddhism is the admonition to "find out for yourself." What a relief after having been involved in persuasions that demanded a lock-step loyalty and a threatened punishment for those whose step was not locked-in enough.
Woo-hoo ... you are the arbiter of your fate! Find out for yourself! Don't take the word of another! How liberating such advice and such a premise can be. As when once the expertise of riding a bike was attained, there can be a wide-open sense of delight: "Look, Ma -- no hands!"
But then, a little at a time, it's "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" To find out for yourself may be liberating in the intellectual and emotional first place, but then the dime begins to drop: Finding out for yourself means exactly that. It means you've got to work in order to find out -- work, and perhaps work harder than you have ever worked before. No one is cheering you on. No one is agreeing with you. No one is tending solicitously to the bumps and bruises. No one can use your eyes to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one else ... just you.
And as the ripples of understanding move out and out and out, "find out for yourself" is no longer quite the easy satisfaction it once was. In fact, it can be a dictum you might give quite a lot to escape. Whispering at the edges of mind and heart may be a desire to return to the good old days when someone else set the parameters of your life -- offering some heaven or hell that represented a satisfactory conclusion to all this work; a place to rest; a place to nest; a place in which all this find-out-for-yourself effort might be set aside.
But of course there is no going back. You can't not think of a purple cow. Once the find-out-for-yourself cat is out of the bag, there is no recourse but to go forward. Deliciously forward. Fearfully forward. Lovingly forward. Angrily forward. Forward into ... into ... into the complete unknown posited by "find out for yourself."
And is there a pot of gold at the end of this find-out-for-yourself rainbow -- some payoff that makes the effort worthwhile?
There's no knowing unless you find out for yourself.