The Way Of Light
By Sherman R. Buck
Running On Emptiness - Excellent article on Critical thinking:
Here is an incredible poem by Jo May entitled "Living in a Box." I think it speaks volumes to the issue of critical thinking and how the majority who are imprisoned in boxes think they are critically thinking. However, there is a difference between critical thinking inside the box and outside the box. The limits come from the box and we are unconscious of the box because we were conditioned to not see it. I would also recommend reading Richard Bach's books, in particular "Jonathan Livingston Seagull."
I'm reminded of a story of a small fish tank at the bottom of the ocean. All the fish inside believe the tank to be the universe until one day one of the fish inside sees these beings peering at it through the darkness. Having never seen these types of beings before they are terrified. The fish swims away to the to tell others what it saw. Eventually the other fish swim over and they too see these other beings. The other fish on the outside of the tank are simply amazed that these fish live in this fish tank not realizing how limited their reality is. They gather around the outside looking on in amazement. It will take some time for the fish inside to realize there is no top on the tank and they have always been free to leave.
Critical thinking doesn't mean conforming to what everyone else agrees too. It means to look at all the evidence without bias, even those things that make us uncomfortable or frightened. A great deal of what we think is truth are merely half-truths. I am often bemused by those who claim to be critically thinking, who upon running into an idea outside of their own personal and collective box, became agitated, angry, and combative. They immediately dismiss the idea, ridicule the idea, often using shaming and belittling tactics to undermine any attempt to look at the idea. People are frightened of giving up what they have, i.e. material goods, money, prestige, power. One can readily see those who are frightened when you see anger, coercion, manipulation, intimidation, ostracism, hate, or violence. We are taught that our sense of self comes from an external source and the loss of this is threatening to ego. Ego however, is not who we are. It is an illusion.
There is this big blind spot that everyone avoids at all costs. Ego blocks recognition of anything outside of the cultural belief system it holds to be its reality of truth. This is what many call Satan, the devil, the dark side, hell, or the unconsciousness of culture. There are some that believe this to be the one and only sin; ignorance = to ignore. The formation of the ego comes about from the process of enculturation. We learn to set aside our authentic self as children to learn the rules of culture that are forced upon us. In his book, "Playing by Heart," O. Fred Donaldson describes this process which he calls the "Duchess' Game:"
'The Duchess' Game is a way of being and acting based on the Duchess's Law from Alice in Wonderland which states, "the more there is of mine, the less there is of yours." The Duchess's Game is an antagonistic encounter in which we succeed by defeating an opponent. This "game" can be cynically expressed in a slightly different manner as The Three Laws of Thermodynamics quoted by Dennis Overbye:
1. You can't win.
2. You can't break even.
3. You can't get out of the game.
In this zero-sum game, everything including life itself can be won, lost, possessed and awarded. It can be played anywhere and anytime, with balls, guns, and words and on sports fields, corporate boardrooms, political arenas, international battlefields, family living rooms, freeways, schoolrooms and playgrounds.
The Duchess's Game is a shared value system between people who need a symbolically and externally constituted sense of self worth-contest-and a society, which by granting it to them, reduces them to playthings. The game is sustained by a socio-economic, educational, and political philosophy, organized groups and a code of contest ethics. This adversary system is accepted, in part, because it has been an integral part of society for a very long time. So long, in fact, that people both as individuals and as groups cannot conceive of any other way of interacting. Throughout our history we have used one form of contest such as the courts to try to remedy the failures of another contest system, such as elections. We fundamentally believe in the efficacy of contests to cure social, economic and educational problems. But one form of cancer does not cure another; instead the patient now has two forms of cancer.
This game is a cross-cultural game in one form or another. What ultimately becomes of children who live in these cultures is that they become emotionally and physically traumatized over and over again. Donaldson says that the game is a self-defense mechanism to culture. This implies that we create the game, as if it didnít exist in culture, as if culture and the game are not the same. I would describe the process as hypnotizing ourselves into going along with the game (cultural rules) to survive. When this occurs our sense of self no longer comes from us, but from an external source. The process of becoming conscious is de-hypnotizing ourselves or with the assistance of others, who are aware of this state of mind.
Critical thinking requires courage, for as you begin to uncover the blind spots others will react to prevent you from attaining awareness of what they are frightened of. Darkness is not interested in light. I highly recommend "Anatomy of the Spirit" by Caroline Myss. She eloquently discusses much of the processes that imprison us within our culture. In his book, "Das Energi" Paul Williams states people often dismiss the obvious truth for something more intellectually stimulating. This is ego at work. The heart dismisses nothing, for it is only interested in the whole truth.
I am often amazed at the critical thinking process that occurs in regards to the continuing pollution and destruction of the very air, water, and soil, we need to survive. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what it is we are doing and yet we continue to do it. There are all sorts of other ridiculous things going on in our world as well. I would suggest that it is not the reasons we are being given, rather it is the game and its rules.
It is difficult to critically think when those in positions of power systematically dismiss relevant facts that threaten or undermine their beliefs/agendas. This happens in families, communities, relationships, government, business, and religion. Everyone is busy trying to enforce their own belief system onto others in the hopes of getting what they want. But the problem is that many are not very honest or integral in their pursuit of what they want. Critical thinking requires the ongoing process of integration of all the facts and experiences, not just the ones we are comfortable with. This process requires each and everyone of us to listen deeply and carefully within to our heart. Each of us has our own inner guidance system to truth, its what feels right. Many people confuse emotions with feelings; two different things. Feelings come from our spirit and have to do with being authentic, of listening to ones spirit and coming from unconditional love.. Emotions come from the ego which has to do with having an attachment to the external world. The ego is past or future oriented, always fearful of one or the other. The ego was never meant to rule, rather it was meant to serve the heart. The distinction between the two is totally different.
The heart comes from a place of eternal bliss, where time ceases to exist, meaning it is totally in the now, totally present in each moment as it unfolds. Ego is always time oriented, concerned with past events that caused pain or pleasure and of the focus on what might happen in the future. The past and the future do not exist, they are ego constructs. Being present to what is allows one to make informed choices based on truth and love. When we are not present we allow the ego to trigger old memories of what happened before taint our choices versus reacting from the past, fearing the future. One is happy till a person, place, or thing is lost. Joy is different from happiness because it requires nothing to be in this state. One can still be full of joy even while someone is doing horrible things to you. I can love someone unconditionally while they destroy themselves, others, and the external world because I know that nothing can harm my soul, that my body is nothing more than a vehicle in which my soul interacts with the external world with. Spirit is not interested in material things, nor is it interested in controlling others. Spirit doesn't need to use fear, shame, guilt, judgments to force others to abide to its will. Critical thinking requires one to shed all the illusions that prevent unconditional love and peace in the world. Spirit is interested in harmony and balance. Ego is interested in the opposite. Critical thinking requires the ability to put yourself into someone else's shoes and ask the only question worth asking, "Would I want someone to do that to me if I were in their shoes? What comes to the forefront at some point in ones inner searches, is the fact that we are all one. The other is as important as self. Nothing is done to cause harm to oneself, another, or the environment in which we are integrally part of. People argue that meat eaters are cruel and yet the same is true of plant eaters. Nothing is dead, it is all alive, full of sentient life, in ways that most humans are painfully unconscious about. What is required is the consciousness to do the least amount of disturbance as possible. Ego is so much in control that we are unable to use our faculties to know this truth. Ego only allows us to think about truth, for that is all the ego is capable of doing; thinking about it. Most of us think we know truth, but we don't, we are prisoners to thoughts.
We have been taught some incredible deceptions. We have come to be imprisoned by the ego mind. We do not think for ourselves, rather we are given a program of what thoughts to think and what outcomes to have. This is what I call cultural software. It is just like any other software program, designed with certain parameters of operation and function. Human beings are not the sum total of their cultural conditioning. Never have been, never will be. Cultural software is limited and it is basis of the reptilian part of the brain that thrives on patterns remaining the same. Ego is part of this, and the function of these aspects of the mind is to ensure the highest level of security. Unfortunately, in the process of maintaining the patterns we go unconscious, they deaden awareness because the pattern becomes center most in our attention, of ensuring that we keep doing the same pattern to get the same result. Only problem with this is that life is constantly changing and in order to stay in balance with change, we have to be aware of what no longer works. The ego would have us believe short term gain is beneficial for the long term. Its not. Long term gain looks at all the facts. Most of what we do in our culture in terms of critical thinking maintains our illusions. It justifies our actions or inactions for our own personal gains.
Our society likes to believe in the illusion that our academia is unbiased. Academia prides itself on doing unbiased research. Those doing research have to decide what questions to ask before doing research. I am reminded of a counselor who told me, "The questions you ask determine the outcomes you get." Critical thinking requires one to ask all the questions, not just the ones that support your hypothesis or comfort zones. A good question to ask oneself in the critical thinking process is, "What's in it for me if I believe this? Because this is the basis of our ego. The next questions to ask What are the positive and negative aspects of this for myself and society? Does this come from a place of love? Right and wrong are irrelevant from spirit's perspective because it sees only love or the absence of love. Spirit wants to know if we support and embrace life not just for ourselves, but for all beings. Each of us is a spark of God/Goddess, nothing more, nothing less. This fact cannot be known by ego, only by the heart, and it is the ego that distracts the heart.
So, its important to ask what are limitations and what are some examples of limited (fear) thinking? Most of the thinking we do comes from a place of fear. We get judged on our feelings, our clothes, how we act, walk, talk
Ponder on these acts against others...
Racism - hatred of others who are of a different culture
Slavery - enslavement of children, women, and men to another
Sexism - the idea that one sex is superior to the other
Gender stereotypes - belief that each sex has to act and dress a certain way
Homophobia - hatred of ones own same-sex desire
Ageism - discrimination of older human beings
Mother Nature - meant to be conquered and controlled.
Human Nature - meant to be conquered and controlled
Conditional Love - the idea that one can be loved only if they live up to others standards of belief
Fear is nothing more than the ego limiting and shutting off awareness to what is. Fear is the absence of love...expression of love has no conditions, none whatsoever:
Love is not something you do,
- Peter Russell
What difference does it make if one is different? The answer to that is quite simple. The other is a reflection of our self at any moment. Each person is a mirror for us to see. There is only the Oneness in its infinite creations.