Archive for Path

Cognitive Dissonance

Posted in All, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by marushiadark

“You are going through a metamorphosis, my nephew.  It will not be a pleasant experience; but when you come out of it, you will be the beautiful prince you were always meant to be.” ~ General Iroh.

It’s said that space is the final frontier.  Most people think of outer space, looking for things “out there,” looking for God and for answers “out there,” but there is also inner space, inner thought and inner turmoil.  It is a place that very few people have explored in any great depth.  In many ways, it is more frightening and more rewarding than conquering outer space, because the journey through the mind is one that is generally made alone.

At the end of the day, no one can know you better than you are capable of knowing yourself.  A person may be able to create some sort of stimulus – say the right word or do the right action at the right time – that triggers an idea in your head; but it is you that ultimately puts the pieces together in your mind.

All health and healing comes from within, because the mind controls the body and shapes the outside world.

We all have our own journeys to make, our own paths to follow, and we are the cartographers of our journey.  The word “paradigm” means a pattern or example.  A universal paradigm, or outlook on the world, is a pattern that we maintain for how we think reality operates.  Keeping a journal is one such way of mapping out your journey so others can follow along, recording thoughts and events and revelations as landmarks to help you make sense of all the chaos that’s around you.

The lessons that are passed down to us from books, stories, and the experiences of our friends, families, and teachers serve as maps that can, if they are accurate, provide guidance and order in our lives.

“The dark night of the soul is a time of massive cognitive restructuring.  You mind is reconsidering its previous model of reality in order to complete the jump to a new level of understanding.” ~ Personal Development for Smart People.

As in worldly travel, it’s good to have a map to help lead you quickly and safely to your destination.  But what happens when you encounter something new in your reality that doesn’t fit with your pre-established model of the world?  What happens when you travel off the map into an area that your fellows marked off “here be monsters”?  An area of thought that neither you, nor anyone you know, has explored before?

This is what is referred to as a moment of cognitive dissonance – cognitive meaning thought and dissonance meaning chaotic.  It is also called a dark night of the soul because the soul, one’s identity, is thrown into darkness and turmoil, removed from the light of knowledge, safety, and wholeness.

Really, when one has a moment of cognitive dissonance, there are only two things you can do.  You can accept this new data and incorporate it into your own map, which may then be completely different from the map you used before; or you can reject the new phenomenon and deny it ever existed in the first place, relying on the belief that your map is already accurate.

Usually rare or traumatic events create cognitive dissonance.  A staunch atheist who suddenly witnesses a miracle may come to question whether there is any truth to religion and thus alter his paradigm.  Conversely, a devout religious person who sees nothing but hardship may come to question whether a benevolent God exists.  Someone who sees a UFO may have a moment of cognitive dissonance if they formerly believed they don’t exist.

But paradigms don’t always change as the result of something traumatic.  Something as simple as learning a new vocabulary word can change your word view.

I recall my freshman English teacher in high school told us this story in which she read a headline that had the word “pachyderm” in it.  She didn’t know what it meant at the time, so she looked it up and saw that it meant “elephant.”  From that point on, she started seeing the word everywhere.  Her paradigm had changed and her mind learned how to tune itself to become more receptive to the word.

In the movie What the Bleep Do We Know, there is an anecdote about Native Americans who were blind to Columbus’ ships until their spiritual leader told them what they were.  Such a profound shift in thought as that allowed them to become much more aware of them the next time.  This is largely what I’ve tried to do with this blog, is make people aware of different things (like symbols) and so you learn how to see them.

“I imagine that, right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.” ~ Morpheus.

The irony is, there’s really only ONE option when it comes to cognitive dissonance.  Denial isn’t an option.  Life is forever changing and evolving, whereas maps remain the same.  Over time, the old maps no longer serve as accurate.  Just as islands rise and crumble and new roads are built, so do does thought evolve.  So denying the changes in one’s reality simply keeps you stuck in the same place, or otherwise lost and confused in an unknown world.

Failing to keep track of how you got to where you are can also cause problems and create disconnections between you and your fellow man.

Those times when I question the reality of The Spirit or the New World Order, I often experience a dark night of the soul; but I manage to pull myself out of it by remembering how I came to have such beliefs and by following the chain of evidence and logical reasoning that lead me to those conclusions.  Then the darkness gives way again to light and all becomes clear.

If there is one thing I would change about my life, it would be to have started my journal as soon as I turned fourteen, instead of taking it up years later.  Not marking a large portion of the path I took to get to where I am has made it difficult for me to help others follow to get to where I am, and so there is a disconnect.  But generally, I do not mind because I found the path on my own and I am confident than others can do the same.  Thankfully, I managed to start mapping out my trail before I got too far into the wilderness.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14.

In life, we don’t always have to wander through the jungle.  Sometimes, it’s okay to take the main road if you really have to get somewhere.  So too is it considered wise to rely on the council of others and to continue to study and learn from outer teachers that have paved a way before you.  Some maps are better than others and certain paths can take you farther than others.

Eventually, though, you will find yourself breaking from the main road, whether because the road ends, life has changed the path, or you simply decide you want to go somewhere else and this road is no longer taking you in a direction you want to go.  That is when it is time to get off the main road and take the road less traveled.

Sometimes, there is no path that leads to where we want to go, and all other roads lead to destruction.  Then it is time to forge a completely new path.

When we start to forge our own paths, it can lead to great or terrible things.  The further we continue, the more new frontiers we will explore and enjoy, and the more fulfilling our lives will ultimately be.  We may not always know where we are going, but as long as we remember how we got there, we will never really be lost.

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My Reason for Being Here

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by marushiadark

“Do you feel it … our connection … some part of you imprinted onto me …” ~ Agent Smith

A lot has been said of first impressions.  Personally, regardless of how I might feel about someone initially, I know deep down that people can and do change over time and that, unless you wear your heart on your sleeve at all times, it’s impossible to know everything about a person from just one encounter.

The trouble with first impressions is that they require us to know ourselves well enough to present only our best qualities, in order that we might invite our acquaintances to feel comfortable around us and keep them coming back for more.  Only after we’ve laid a solid foundation do we find the courage to open up and reveal our less flattering and more unstable features.

For me, my life has been all about constant growth and self-improvement.  I’ll be the first to say that there are many many times I wished I could have taken something back or done things differently, or “if only I had had the wisdom and foresight I do now” … but then, if there’s one thing I’ve come to learn, it’s that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we’re not entirely or even remotely aware of what that reason is.

“I don’t fully understand how it happened … it is at this point irrelevant.  What matters is that whatever happened, happened for a reason.” ~ Agent Smith

Science teaches us the laws of causality and conservation of all things.  Religion teaches us that God or karma or something in between is responsible for the outcome.  I think each side has a piece of the answer and that the truth is much more interesting than that.

As they say, “truth is stranger than fiction.”

Which brings us at last to the reason why I’m here now, writing this blog, sharing my thoughts with you and the world.  It’s precisely this idea of sharing that has brought me here.

I’ve never been particularly passionate about anything in my life.  I’ve never been able to follow through on any endeavor I set out for and for the longest time, I sought solutions to my problems.  I sought answers to my questions and have learned a few things along the way.  I struggled and suffered, mostly internally, and in my own mind, to find my place in the world and the reason for my being here.  And it wasn’t until recently that I found the reason behind one of the most elusive mysteries of all: why am I here?

What reason I have is only a small part, a mere fragment of its full potential; but it’s certainly enough for me to be able to follow through with this journey a little longer until, hopefully, I come to some sort of destination (or at least a more permanent resting place).

“There’s no escaping reason, no denying purpose; because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.  It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us that, guides us, that drives us.  It is purpose that defines us, that binds us.” ~ Agent Smith

To find the reason for one’s existence is a beautiful thing and a very empowering thought that guides us and binds us along the path of life.  My purpose in this life is inexorably linked with that of every other human being on this planet, whether I realize it or not, whether you realize it or not; whether I choose to accept and believe it or not and whether you choose to accept and believe it or not.  My passion in life has been self-improvement and fulfillment, and that means doing all I can to help others accomplish the same, to whatever path that may lead us.

And that is my reason for being here.