One path to wisdom is removing the disturbed ideas which can make us harmful to ourselves and others. After observing daily life for many years, I have decided that it would be useful and enlivening to list some popular maxims that are essentially a pile of garbage (to avoid stronger language). And without further ado, here they are!
1) When the student is ready, the teacher appears
Many, many devoted students strive to understand the principals of life, or to excel in their field of music or art or science, and they may never in their lifetimes find the teacher who can help them reach their full potential. It is a stroke of great fortune, and perhaps karma when a student is lucky enough to find a compassionate and wise mentor, skilled, available, ready to help. The conclusion is, if a student is ready, he or she should go out of his way to seek a good teacher, and if necessary, to travel to new places until that goal of finding the right teacher is met. Although much can be accomplished through one's own efforts, most of us require a teacher to exponentially increase our accomplishments.
2) When your number's up, your number's up
I have heard this over the years mostly from cigarette smokers, sometimes from eaters of junk food, and from others who play fast and loose with their health or survival. They may have young children dependent on them, or other important obligations, but they will gladly smoke, fail to wear a seatbelt in a car, or take other unnecessary foolish action or inaction, under the guidance of this confused principal which allocates the wisdom of assigning "numbers" to some invisible, unnamed force that presumably controls the outcomes of our lives more than we can.
3) God (Buddha, nature, whoever) does not give you more than you can endure
This saying must have been written by those whose worst experience was perhaps a tonsilectomy, or a broken limb or two. What about those whose families are wiped out in civil wars or by an insane spouse driving into a lake with an SUV loaded with children, or simply those suffering from severe depression? Sometimes the suffering given to individuals is too hard for them to bear, whether it comes from a God somewhere, or karma, or the randomness of life. We must feel compassion for the pain that many people endure, in some cases for the greater part of a lifetime.
4) You've got to be in it to win it
This anthem of the modern marketing world of hyper-capitalism, is used to convince mostly lower income individuals that they are fools if they do not gamble on a lottery (at least, that is the case where I live, in New York State). Pity the individual who foolishly saves and invests a bit of extra money each week! In reality, they are the ones who are likely to end up as winners, but if paying attention to this anti-truth, they will feel foolish if they choose not to gamble.
5) It's all good
No, it is not all good. There are bad actions and there are disasters in life. Yes, we ought to and in many cases are able to find a way to go on and find meaning and joy in life despite the worst of these, but to gloss over it all with a mindlessly cheerful "It's all good" is disrespectful of difficult experiences for many people on this planet, and nearly all of us at some point in our lives.
So let's choose words that connect with our genuine experiences, words that provide comfort for those in distress, words that are specific to a given situation. It is the least we can do while navigating this challenging gift of life.