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Do You Doubt you have Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive-Dissonance-Attlas-Info (1)

we cannot seek the truth if we indulge our knee-jerk reactions to anything which challenges what we think we know.

Doubt is good. Doubt is useful, practical, and appropriate. Doubt is a quality of consciousness. Awakened consciousness made this book possible. Any quality of consciousness we can bring to these words will only increase their practical value to ourselves and others. That means engaging with this hybrid exposition and confession in a relaxed and mindful way. This takes more effort than setting the psyche on autopilot as we speed-read our way through the “content.” If we allow ourselves to read with an intellectual zeal as prosecutor and judge, or overly emotional relish as confessor and gossip, we subject ourselves to the limitations and prejudices of our inferior ego-mind and heart. In the service of ego, our mental and emotional faculties become purely subjective and mechanical. Egoic heart-mind hijacks, traps, and hypnotizes consciousness. Ego seizes qualities of consciousness for its own self-serving ends, twisting and corrupting said qualities. Ego turns the conscious virtue of doubt into the subconscious vice of cognitive dissonance.

Knowing the signs of cognitive dissonance is a must if we hope to get anything of genuine practical value from the experience of reading this book (or any book whose source was not mere intellect). Why that is so will become apparent momentarily. A powerful motivator and useful tool for SEEKing self-evident experiential knowledge, doubt becomes a hinderance to knowing when it is misappropriated and corrupted. Observe yourself as you read. If you find your mind reacting automatically—cynical, argumentative, intolerant, insolent, and/or indifferent—take a moment to relax and delve deeper into those reactions. If you can recognize a nucleus of doubt at their core, then congratulations: you have just exposed the secret weapon and True nature of cognitive dissonance—the great deception behind all beliefs, particularly those which make a mockery of doubt.

Doubts, when we have them, are self-evident and True: we cannot deny when we have doubt. Ego-mind leverages this undeniable quality of consciousness through—you guessed it—fear. Fear causes us to feel uncomfortable and insecure in our doubt. Fear of the unknown means we not only fear what we do not know, we fear the feeling of not knowing. Ego first creates the pain, and then offers us a painkiller: theory, opinion, belief, etc. These are the metaphysical drugs ego-mind sells us which do away with the discomfort and insecurity by creating the illusion of an answer. Illusions which displace doubt on one hand, and on the other hand feel self-evident and true because the doubt they displace is absolute and real—we still do not really know…we only believe we know. And we only think we know because our ego-mind tells us so. Doubt is still present, of course, buried beneath layers of hypnotizing beliefs. Beliefs which present themselves to us as essential, self-evident, and True, by virtue of having doubt at their heart. But only our doubt is real.

The beliefs layered atop our doubt are mere shadows of the Truth at best and complete fabrications at worst. And yet, when confronted with new information which challenges said beliefs, cognitive dissonance steps in to defend the mental machinations of ego-mind as though our life depended on them. The only reason fear can convince us that new information represents an existential threat is because it is a threat—not to us but to itself. But fear is an ego: an “I” in Latin. As such, fear uses identification and attachment to displace our True Self, which is conscious, courageous, and comfortable with doubt. Our True Self is displaced with the false self, which is hypnotized by “me, myself, and I” and thanks to the “I” of fear, is afraid of not knowing. The false self—in this case, the “I” of fear—wants to maintain its position of power and authority over our consciousness, and it will leverage the discomfort and insecurity it creates in the face of doubt to hold us over a barrel of suffering. Fear leverages the existential threat against us by getting us to identify with it, and the painkiller beliefs it has addicted us to. “If I go, I’m taking you with me” is fear’s strategy. But all it needs to do is make us feel like, “this information flies in the face of my most cherished beliefs.” We will explore the nature of ego in far more detail in Chapter One: Face the Facts about Fear. For now, let us agree that cognitive dissonance, a euphemism for the ego of fear, has us dismiss the message, shoot the messenger, and then conveniently excuses itself from having to make any real effort to remain open and receptive, with a statement like “I don’t have to listen to this; I know better.”

Cognitive dissonance arises quickly and automatically. It rewards us for keeping our mind firmly closed, our beliefs safe and sound, locked within a secure vault guarded by none other than fear. Beliefs we possess—be they about ourselves, the nature of fear, or any other topic—most often possess us. We are held hostage by them, held ransom to them, and cognitive dissonance is the official psychological euphemism used to describe what is, in fact, the first face of fear we must face. Face, examine, and comprehend so that we can be free of it. We cannot SEEK self-evident experiential knowledge—which arises via free consciousness—if we are being held hostage, hypnotized by the fear of losing our “strongly held” beliefs. Fear knows the best defense is a good offense. We cannot SEEK the Truth about fear if we indulge our cynical, argumentative, intolerant, insolent, and/or indifferent reactions to anything which challenges what we believe we know, no matter how effortlessly such thoughts arise in the mind.

Art: ‘Possessed-2’ by Davesrightmind on DevianArt

If we observe ourselves carefully in the moment while cognitive dissonance is reacting with fear-based intolerance to new information, we discover our reactions may be quick and automatic, but they cannot exactly be called effortless. Tension, stress, anxiety, anger, indignation, outrage, insecurity, frustration, exacerbation, disgust, contempt… these are but a few of the emotions we can experience in any one of our three brains and five centers: mental, emotional, and motor-instinctive-sexual (physical). The very expression to get your back up, refers to precisely such moments when, confronted by some insult, circumstance, or new information, our whole body tenses up as the mental and emotional stress of cognitive dissonance shoots through our vital body, central nervous system, down our spine, and takes hold over us. It is not a calm state of alert readiness. It is an excited state of anticipation—waiting for the other shoe to drop, preparing for the worst.

Now do you see, dear reader, why this section began with “beware?” To be cautious and alert to potential dangers, means remaining calm and mindful; not agitated and fearful. In its bid to screw over humanity, fear has us triggering and indulging it all the time. From misinterpreted words to cognitive dissonance, fear wants us to be anxious, agitated, even triggered. But that is not the way we remain conscious. Nor is it the way we should approach reading this book.

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