Discover more from Timeless Luminosity Newsletter
2023, August, Issue 57
“All our judgments about the true state of existence are the essence of only the fruit of the duality of our mind, whose only assistants are our five senses. A point of view established by mind can only be seen as a component of human karmic vision and can never be a means of learning reality.”
~ Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche ~
Ego has often been identified as a big problem when it comes to awakening. I can’t disagree with that, as it is the source of all suffering in the world; however, sometimes we must look at something a little bit more basic, that which occurs right at the formation of ego—our senses. We, as ordinary humans, look at the world with a very limited view. Our senses pick up virtually nothing whatsoever. It’s not very often that you hear someone admit this.
The light spectrum that we see is very narrow, and we can’t see very far, nor at the microscopic level. Our hearing is likewise very limited, able to perceive only a very small fraction of all sounds; and, we’re often limited by our own languages in sounds that we can perceive when someone speaks in a foreign dialect. We taste, smell and feel only what is near us, or something we must come into contact with. When we imagine something, it must be in harmony with those sorts of limited experiences. Some people have very narrow viewpoints, and some people are more open.
Within every ordinary human group, big or small, there is this push to get everybody agreeing with everything. This occurs everywhere, in politics, families, friendships, philosophies, ethnic groups, villages, clubs, churches, temples and science. No matter where we see groups of humans coming together, we see people at odds with each others’ beliefs, ideas, concepts and stories. What they think they saw, what they understand, must be in agreement. There’s a lot of tension there.
Cognitive dissonance is a very useful psychological theory, recently developed in the West a few decades ago. It has some similarities to various 2,600-year-old Buddhist practices and teachings; and, for that reason, I would say that it has some merit, even though it is not as developed or precise, nor integrated with helpful meditative practices, as it is in Buddhism. The theory basically says that cognitive dissonance happens when there is a conflict between what a person believes and new information accumulated by either senses or experience. Psychology can attempt to help people by helping them deal with this.
To a narrow-minded individual, people with very open perceptive ways of seeing or sensing the world seem to be a bit crazy, or at least not all there. To an open-minded individual, there is a deep frustration that happens, because many people can’t understand, which can make them appear angry at times. To a Dzogchenpa, the entire world is utterly delusional; but that’s okay, the reason is understood, and great compassion envelops that perception.
To really understand how we form beliefs, we can look at examples outside of ourselves; however, we must look within to make any sense out of that. We cannot understand it when someone else behaves in ways that are contrary to how we think is appropriate. This is at the heart of all conflict in the world, whether it be simple disagreements, or angry disputes, or war.
Gendün Chöphel said, “People with radically different minds cannot have any knowledge in common.” He referred to this condition of relying on our senses, believing that the external world is real, based upon the opinions that we form, as “cognitive delusion”.
When we really open up our senses, increasing our capacity, we’re really not able to hold onto what we think is real, or what people want us to think is real, nor any sort of perception that would be considered to be acceptable. When we encounter people with a strong opinion about what they think is reality, we can’t really engage or we will have a conflict. This is certain.
I used to only half-joke about my attitudes, as when I had begun to open my heart and mind. I would say that I was always right, simply because I was always ready to accept the best opinion about everything. This was really about having more of a scientific attitude. Developing theories which can be discarded as new information presents itself is at the heart of scientific discovery. This is very good for the analytical mind, good for intellectual discovery.
In reality, however, even science has its limits, as I discovered for myself. All the conceptual undertakings of mind that have ever existed are still only mind. If we do not realize the Nature of Mind, then we simply wander in our own very limited shell of misery forever. Cognitive dissonance can never end, unless we go beyond our senses, this tiny little pinhole that we view the world—and, it’s really very tiny, this view we have of the world. Admit that and your ego will take a well-deserved hit!
If you wish to awaken, examine the root of everything. Examine this idea of self. Examine perceptions, as well as beliefs. As your heart and mind opens, in time, you will awaken.
Blessings in Light,