In yoga, doubt is called “samshaya.” The cure prescribed is shraddha or faith. The Buddha defined doubt as indecision or skepticism. This can be a healthy, skillful thing to do. The Buddha often asked his students to question everything. Never accept something as true simply because an authority asserted it is so. You must walk the path for yourself, investigate everything personally, and ask questions.

But, when questions overwhelm us, indecision arises. We may become stuck, unable to make a choice. Like the hungry donkey, halfway between two piles of hay, that can’t decide which one to go to, we remain rooted and eventually suffer for our indecision. Too many people use doubt as an excuse for living. There is a time to evaluate, to question, to gather information, but then there comes the time to act. Life is not a spectator sport – no one can make this journey for us. Do not let doubt become a hindrance – we need to take action in life.

How did the Buddha recommend we take action? Fortunately he had many suggestions on how to behave. Five suggestions, called the five precepts, form the ethical foundations for living.