"The further one goes, the less one knows."
Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)
Truth, Veritas is a strange thing. For the Romans it was a white clad virgin living in the bottom of a well, something that was not really tangible, just noticed, as a memory and flash of reason from some mysterious concord.
Truth being hidden, would also indicate that none of us can own the truth and anyone who jumps into the well to catch her is confronted with the mud of waters and some occult an veiled suffocation.
Maybe we can conceive truth as that light that shoots from the whiteness hidden in obscurity that you can never, ever possess, just recognize and realize is there because of the atmosphere of the veiled becoming naked in sighs and acceptance? Because Veritas is not about facts, what is commonly confused with Truth as principle and ideal – and so, whoever states to possess the Truth will always be an Ignotus – and some even become liars in this sad bolero of defeat, because as Lao Tzu wrote:
"The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth."
In the first part of this article the Dunning-Kruger effect was addressed, a cognitive bias, that explains why individuals lacking skill tend to overrate their capacity for achieving their desires.
This cognitive bias is tied in to what psychologist Leo Festinger in 1957 coined as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance comes into play when our natural desire to be consistent is challenged and generates a discrepancy or an alternate route as sound and valid as in the conviction held prior to this new information being introduced. Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant emotional state and as pleasure seeking creatures we seek to get rid of this unpleasant cognitive tension as fast as possible.
This is a socio-human phenomenon and we experience this tension quite frequently ranging from simple exchange of opinions on a given field where opposing opinions shake our belief. For some of us this naturally lead to agreement and acceptance, if be about being convinced or about realizing that paradox is possible. Some of us even celebrate paradox, diversity and heterodoxy, which is a rare and positive avenue towards dealing with cognitive dissonance, because it opens landscapes. Philosophy is all about keeping contrary opinions simultaneously in your mind without judging, an exercise in the frustration of meaning.
But let us take this matter onward and see how this bias is playing itself out in the world to the nuance of many.
And in this I will quote from the first part of this article speaking of the Dunning-Kruger effect:
“The conclusion they gave was that the less competent you are the more credit you give yourself, while the opposite were true for those possessing actual skills, they tended to devaluate their achievement. So, back to opinion, the stronger your opinion is the more reason you have to invite in other perspectives – and if possible to make a true self-assessment, which is simply measuring skill in relation to task, talk, experience and knowledge.
But apparently the less you know the louder you speak; the more ignorant you are the more irrevocable is your opinions. And I must add to this that if this is in check the more extreme will be your conclusions. And conclusions made from a sense of victory and convictions will always breed tyranny, inferiority and lizards of the brain.”
I want to address here a couple of ideological fractions I find interesting in this regard, both of them solving cognitive dissonance in two different radical ways.
As the first case, let us look at the Neo-Pentecostal movement. The cognitive dissonance at play is one concerning the entire spectre of guilt. We all can relate to this concept, because we all did something that led to this emotional state that led to some degree of mindfuck we needed to bring to agreement or resolution. So, if we agree in the premise stated let us move on. If guilt is keyword for a movement or an organization it generates internal psychological bias, an intense tension that seeks resolve. The first crossroad is to internalize or externalise, or in other words, take responsibility or to scapegoat. If you take responsibility, fine, no cult will be built around you, but if you scapegoat in reference to a common presence of guilt you will find the following approaching you in talks about ‘us sinners’ – because aren’t we all – let us blame Satan – hallelujah!
It is truly a sinister model for solving cognitive dissonance, because it is not solved, only barely accepted and then projected before you understand anything of this guilt. And to some degree, all of us who were raised in a Christian culture do hold nerves that lead to this bias, but there are ways and there are ways of solving this tension…
Anyway, if you confront a pastor from any of these Satanic Churches of Guilt you will be met with the same guilt speak that they set into motion. You question because you haven’t received ‘Jebus’ in your heart, you are impure, you are filthy, the God of Love will kill you and so forth. If we have more than three brain cells we will see through the charade, but many with more than three brain cells don’t, because they are full of guilt and self-hatred and hence, a collective that is effective in scapegoating gives a release to your dissonance and you find agreement.
Truth has nothing to do with this, nothing at all…
It is all about being coherent and true to yourself, no matter the lies and illusions supporting your convictions, you just want peace with yourself – and if you can’t accept that you are a sinner full of lascivious desires, you might go radical as this.
All this is fine really, each to their own, but proselytizing your dysfunction, conviction and bias is another thing entirely, and I will not speak of that, rather I want to address the other example I wanted to present.
This is perhaps a matter more close to the heart of any journeyman in the worlds of spirit, and this is about personal preferences and the doctrine of the cult we admitted ourselves to be a part of and the dissonance generated in this field. I got aware today of an article circulating concerning a vegan Mambo Asogwe that is not giving blood to lwa because of personal convictions. And this is not the example I wanted to present, rather it was two others. The first was my encounter with a Mãe de Santo some years back who told me that it was barbarous to give life force offerings to the Orixas and supported this with slaughter being primitive and belonging to a phase of the world we should move away from. Naturally I noticed the drops of New Age ideology in her talk, but I was honestly surprised to learn that because of her personal ideology she also denied life force offerings to Orixas. So I asked her, so what you do then when a working demands a goat or a chicken? She told that they bought the animals and released into the wilderness for Orixa to take themselves or gave the money worthy a goat or a chicken to beggars. I find somehow the solution in this to be admirable, because this woman still insisted on giving and keep some cycle going, but this leads me to the second example. I never witnessed this myself, but it was a great drama around this in Brazil, when in an Umbanda terreiro last year Exu came down telling that they (the Exus and Pomba Giras) would from now on not have alcohol or tobacco. In the matter of weeks they had no possessions of spirits and well, it was not good how it all developed.
Anyway, these last two stories demonstrate how respect can solve cognitive dissonance. In the first issue we have the issue of respect and understanding in an attempt of mediating your convictions and the need of spirit. Personally I find it foolish, but I don’t own the truth… I still think that when you seek to alter tradition you also need to realize that you appoint yourself as a prophet and in doing this, do you speak as bridge or do you speak from yourself? Problems arise when you impose anything in the glory of Truth… as we see when people impose their convictions and insist that you need to bend down and accept so the dissonance held by the imposing one is solved by not entering in the field of wounds, shame and guilt, but in scapegoating. It be cult, church or politics I would say truth looks up from her well to the blind and triple eyed alike…
It is the same thing with opinions. What do you bring to the table? Who do you think you are? Are you bringing Truth to the table or something we can laugh of and grow upon? I don’t know about you, but for me it is quite simple, the more I walk the world the more open I get and the more I realize that only patience can settle the mud I stir in the dance of opinions. And I for one hold no strong opinions, just loose anchors in this mud we are, as I search what is Good, knowing that it is not the truth we cannot hold for to long…
The world works on basis of interest and love and if you can’t comprehend these two forces, and yet keep on insisting on your ignorant an often guilt-ridden opinion being victorious, maybe you are an Ignotus… or worse, you don’t understand courtesy, hospitality or respect.
Every time when we are confronted with opinion that aims to victory we go through this entire dribble and rarely do we realize that such talk and thought is about tyranny and rarely do we realize that we are never in any need of being convinced or convince. In fact exercising opinions should make us understand Self and Other more – and if our engagement is not aiming to this goal it will only breed irritation and hunchback monsters of constant poking.
I question; at the end of the day, what is the purpose of life in relation to society? Is it to conform to the victory of majority, is it about finding that Truth that dominates or is it about finding tribe and kin?
For me at least I would say that this our journey is about finding our tribe and kin, not our church or government, c’mon, let us get real on this, if you want someone to lead you; fine, if you are someone who want to lead others, at least to some level you are an idiot, no one with the heart and mind in the right place will ever want such burden.
This because every voice on the path is unique to you, there is no tyranny in Nature and Friendships, just the violence of cycles and consequences; everything matters if it is anticipated by the one who don’t seek victory, but increase and understanding. There is no battle there, just the many of interest.