“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
- Charles Darwin
And now, after some musings on cognitive dissonance and cognitive bias, complaining about the worth we give to opinions, said or heard, and its consequences, to where this lead us?
It should, at least to some extent, lead us to an open field of acceptance and as the field itself, openness. This, because who we are is so hard to fathom, reach and preserve and why is it so hard? Perhaps it is because who we say we are is a dynamic flexible idea resting on a balance between the silence of Self and our interaction with a given environment? A question that is resolved in a common advice for many decades, if you don’t know who you are, travel, read, explore, be and adventurer in your own life.
And so it happens that a lost soul travelling to Tibet finds itself as much as any struggling human going to the tavern with his misery and meets a prophet have both experienced the existence of anchors, solace and meaning in that very moment, no matter its duration.
The meeting with meaning happens all the time, if we just stay a little bit open and loose a bit our conviction of our opinions and approach it all with interest like fools, dancers, saints and adventurers in a life we make around a silent core that works on subtle resonance and dissonance.
Philosophers over centuries have perceived the human being as a beast, an angel, a demon, corrupted and fallen, something fated by nature, a bridge between heaven and earth, a link crossing all kingdoms. So many opinions of what we are…
And perhaps the solution lies in this field of contrast and opinion, because the human being is as it is from birth flexible, curious and open – and then enters society with its conditioning. And what is conditioning? It is about how the organism is getting disposed to understand punishment and reward in a given way. Certainly, corporal punishment is unpleasant for any organism, but in this field we speak of a realm of experience and response that is not really touching Self, but Self as an social actor.
My point is; it is so easy to get lost in the world. We are saturated all the time with opinions, information, judgment and taste. So how can we understand who we are?
We are naked souls that during life is clad with various vestments that we at some point claim to be who we are, in the sense of representing who or what we are. I believe this naked soul holds imprints that are stimulated and challenged in the walk of life, and so friend and foe all works to make us all understand better who we are, by resonance and dissonance.
In this something curious happens, many of us are still seduced by the foe, and this shows itself in ardent defense of Self, belongingness and opinions. If we were organisms living in conformity with the laws of physics a resonance would make us draw together with what pulls in as dissonance would make us pull back and avoid to engage. But apparently it is not like this; rather a field of contrast is established. In the far extreme of this we find any form of fundamentalism in how it gives purpose to the lost Self by bringing cause, and if the cause is greater than what we comprehend even greater is our collapse and acceptance.
When this happens we lose our humanity, our bestial instincts and become organisms, victims for any breath and force that might condition us in embracing cause and temporal identity in place of the soft whispers of Self, that quiet voice in the path.
A cause is quite simply something of a sentimental power that provokes emotions in relation to present itself as something altruistic. It can be anything from animal rights to boko haram, point being it is always about a sentimental seduction and as sentimental and emotional organisms this is also the avenue we use to know the world, and hence we can be convinced to be what we are not by the same route we realize who we are.
We are confusing resonance and dissonance, belonging and alienation by an overarching ideal that teaches us that we can be whatever we want to be, hence the dissonance turns into a negative gateway to a field of wasted time…
What happened to the Self in these instances?
Quite sadly, the more time we invest in something the harder it is for us to let it go, it be a conviction, religion or relationship, so time invested in dissonance can therefore be adopted as an active part of Self, whilst it was in truth only a cul-de- sac and detour for something else, a lesson and not meaning as it reveals itself in blessings on the path where we find resonance.
This bias is rooted in our saturated world and perhaps we should question if not a saturated world of ambition and struggle is something we need to be aware exists in order to become Self-aware. Perhaps we can only become Self-aware if we are given the necessary time to digest all this information and reassess our position and where we are – in this way living life is like any other journey – constant crossroads and the choices we make generates the field of resonance and dissonance that help us to the true to Self.
This difficulty in finding Self, our attention to the voice on the Path, that will always be our own, is made complicated by our current preference of rulership and social organization that demands that your ‘true Self’ is also adequate, useful and beneficial to an enormous global community. We have today democracy as ideal, and what is this about? It is something very smart. It is about counting heads and allows the majority to have its voice heard. If the majority is educated, kind and loving, this is a good thing, but if these factors are absent and the community gets to numerous in amount of participants we are faced with a dance and battle of voices and opinions. At worst the democratic ideal becomes a joke, at best an agreeable frustration. No matter how much democracy is nice as an ideal it also calls upon our attention all the time, to make decisions in matters we are interested in or not, as participants of a society. Somehow, we get lost in commonality and community and the more we engage the less we hear of that voice that calls Self to reflect on its surroundings. It is only natural, the bigger the world gets, the greater the field we traverse becomes and thus to retract becomes an act of slow death.
It is in this field what we know as moral is developed, and contemporary moral is rooted in opinions and social efficiency, not Self. Contemporary moral is about codes of behaviour and opinion that is allowed by society – and no matter how rebellious you think you are, this dissonance is invited into the common field of moral constitution, as a contrast to what is decided for you. And so, you are allowed to be angry and being hard and strong in your opinions, because the normative society has allowed it. This would suggest that our surroundings are important for us to address in order to start to give ear to the voice on the path, that voice rising from Self that establish you as Unique in relation to something and as within something. The true rebel, the true seeker will always step outside, to the outskirts of the world, or to a mountain, real or figuratively, where he will find perspective and in this stepping out, death of opinions and convictions in favour of solace and understanding is bound to happen. And so starts the resonance with Self.
When Henry David Thoreau left the world in favour of the woods it was clearly about a search for Self in the absence of social voices and opinions he was searching and in this he found Nature as force of his conditioning and in this he found freedom in dreams and dreams in life meeting one another as he realized by the quiet predictable pace of Nature who he was.
Certainly I have found Thoreau’s remedy to be my own medicine, but this also questions the health of our world and if the engaged social participant is really who he or she believes itself to be…
So, perhaps to become aware of the voice in the path that calls upon Self starts with becoming aware of the forces that bind together the socio-political world we live in, not for the sake of agitation against its unjust ways, but to understand how a world like ours makes us obedient and weak, even in the fight against what suppresses, because force against force will always be an increase of what is and what we don’t want. There is always another way to escape the claws and fangs of a world that seeks to seduce us into slavery and that rests in ceasing giving power to the tyrants and instead search the voice in the path that gives power to Self. And sure, no man is an island by itself, but by realizing the nature of the island we are we can perhaps start to get an idea of who we are disconnected from the rulers of the world… and question if we are entertaining resonance or dissonance and in this if we are giving power to Self or to a fluctuating identity that at some point will cease to be, one way or the other…