Avoiding Mindless Certainty

“ONLY THE MADMAN IS ABSOLUTELY SURE.”
Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising

“As long as we believe our thoughts, there will always be war.”
Byron Katie

Where dualism runs rampant, certainty abounds. Those who see the world in polar extremes tend to declare Truths and Untruths as if concepts are mountaintops to be claimed or territories to be marked with one’s scent. Ideas are not areas of land to conquer. That’s the great thing about ideas– they transcend the boundaries of the natural world. They’re what differentiate us from other species, and if we’re not careful can place us below them in depravity. But with a love of ideas comes a fascination with this age-old idea of Truth, and Truth is dangerous.

One of the many complications that arise when one is too quick to jump to conclusions about Truth is an inherent sense of prejudice. If the basis of your reality hangs in the fragile balance of two extremes and you bounce back and forth like a kid on a seesaw, you will tend to view yourself as In The Right. If you know the Truth, then you are Right, and you are Good? Right? Now, once you believe yourself to be inherently Correct about something, you begin to project your sense of objective reality on others, all the while never realizing that other people are attempting to do the exact same thing. To be deductive and risk not getting too into it, this is how wars start. You find Truth, or so you think. Those who think differently from you become wrong, and if you are good and right, they become, essentially, evil. It is in this vein that the very concept of evil develops. The negative requires the positive. Every thesis needs its antithesis in order to function. And so, for every Good you believe to be crusading for, you are in effect defining an Evil. When we believe our thoughts too surely, we create enemies. We create evil.

If you believe in one God and go around parading His Word as greater than all other words, as a prescribed methodology by which you believe you should function and thus everyone else in the world should function, you’re going to piss a lot of people off. You will incite as much hatred as goodness, create as much war as you do peace.

On the other end of the spectrum of ideological zeal, if you believe the Westernized hyperrational evidence-based scientific method to be the be-all end-all of both physical and metaphysical inquisition, you’ll end up about the same. One finds someone like Richard Dawkins, regardless of his scientific accomplishments, about as appealing as a bigoted closed-minded Catholic priest. This is just an opinionated example to serve the purpose of showing these combatting forces. The fervency is too strong, the fundamentalism too extreme. There are fundamentalists in every school of thought, and none of them are particularly appealing if one is looking to live a life mindful and open to interpretation. To be at peace is to be at peace, not to fight a war against the people you think are perpetuating non-peace.

The irony in fighting tooth-and-nail for what you believe to be evil and false is that you just create more evil and falsity. There are more constructive ways to do good that overpower evil and these strategies don’t have to involve asserting a doctrine over others. To live on a microcosmic level with this understanding will allow your thoughts and actions a new level of sincerity and intellectual curiosity. You can entertain concepts without having to believe or adhere to them. The only real way to win without delusion, for yourself and others, is to know how to play both sides of the field.

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