(Blind) Faiths and (Blind) Meta-Faiths

"It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled." - (Attributed seemingly by mistake to) Mark Twain

I may sound arrogant, but the more aware I've become that our mind distorts reality, the more clearly I've been experiencing and witnessing, even with my still distorting mind, in both myself and others that many of us, including myself and many others, that we have more (blind) faiths and even (blind) meta-faiths than we think. This is something totally new I've never noticed before.

Since I started rather recently to dare to express my new direct experiences with this new meta-awareness, I've started to experience strong objections by more and more friends and acquaintances of mine in various emotional forms such as accusing, yelling, and even calling names not only in private but even in public.

I have an impression that these experiences of mine, which these people called "blind faiths", seem to threaten them and their blind faiths they themselves seem to be unaware of, that is, they have no less blind faiths and, worse still, a blind meta-faith in that they believe they have no blind faiths as accepting these experiences forces them to examine their blind faiths non-blindly for the first time. I've noticed this blind meta-faith, which is far more dangerous than blind faiths per se, among not only religious but also secular people with those who have a blind faith in their rational mind as the most problematic ones. It's so funny to observe that the fear of these "rational" people seems so irrational. They also seem to confuse pre-rationality with post-rationality, calling the latter a "blind faith".

I've also realized that all of us were born with no faith at all and we've adopted the first faiths we encountered and were imprinted in life on the basis of "first come, first served". We judge new faiths we encounter with these first faiths. And many of us seem to have a hard time leaving the blind faiths we already have as our egos like homeostasis. Again it's so funny to see many "rational" people who accuse the religious of their "blind faiths" are no less emotionally fervent blind followers of their own dogmas.

The most serious problems I've identified in those who have such a blind meta-faith are their lack of huminity to examine and experience other possibilities and their violence to force their dogmas on those who have other faiths. Having seen that these problems prevent them from growing, I've decided to start reexamining all of what seem to be my blind faiths by trying to directly experience whatever I can. This seems to be one of the most arduous tasks I've taken upon myself in my entire life so far.


Distortion of Reality by Our Mind

"Now, I say that this system [of thought] has a fault in it - a "systematic fault". It is not a fault here or there but it is a fault that is all throughout the system. Can you picture that? It is everywhere and nowhere. You may say "I see a problem here, so I will bring my thoughts to bear on this problem." But "my" thought is part of the system. It has the same fault as the fault I'm trying to look at, or a similar fault. We have this systemic fault; and you can see that this is what has been going on in all these problems of the world - such as the problems that the fragmentation of nations has produced. We say: "Here is a fault. Something has gone wrong." But in dealing with it, we use the same kind of fragmentary thought that produced the problem, just a somewhat different version of it; therefore it's not going to help, and it may make things worse." - David Bohm

I feel I'm finally starting to reap the first, modest, fruit of the practice of mindfulness (meditation) I started about two years ago. For those who are unfamiliar with mindfulness, it's non-judgemental moment-to-moment awareness or meta-cognition of our thoughts, emotions and actions triggered by external and/or internal factors. I realize for the first time in my life that my mind has been distorting reality! This is like realizing for the first time that I've been wearing glasses with lenses not adjusted to my eyes. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that I've already had my mental lenses adjusted, which will require more self-work.

Like our physical eyes our mind were perfectly suited when we were born. What makes our mental lenses maladjusted is what David Bohm calls "ego smog". As we grow, our personal ego accumulates "smog" forced upon us by the collective ego of the society we live in, which in turn blurs mental lenses, then our mind itself, which in turn distorts reality. This "smog" of fear-based ego is extremely good at categorizing people, including both its "master" and others, and things, filtering in what is relevant to it and/or convenient for its survival and filtering out what is irrelevant and/or inconvenient. Many identities we have acquired, including our identity with our physical body, are nothing but illusions.

Having realized this, I can identity many pitfalls I used to fall into, especially in my interpersonal relationships with others. If I had realized this earlier, I might have been able to avoid one "divine storm". But on the other hand, I can also say that I might not have realized this without this "divine storm". In any case what matters more to me is that I'm now fully aware that my mind distorts reality.

In this new perspective the world looks totally different to me as if I had my glasses adjusted. I can easily understand many behaviors, whether verbal or non-verbal, of other people as results of their "ego smog" and can even be compassionate for them.

It didn't take me long to also notice that the more intelligent and rational people think of themselves, the greater the danger of having their mind distort reality, simply because they have blind faith in their intelligence and rationality and are totally unaware of the fundamental "system bug" of their mind. When I said to some of them what must have endangered their ego, they lost control of their rational mind and allowed their endangered ego to behave totally irrationally, even by calling me names. I've already learned that the best way to deal with such people is to simply walk away from them to give them an impression as if they, or to be more precise, their egos, have won the battle instead of fighting in vain as certain types of truth can't be communicated but must be experienced, that is, they have to realize experiencially that their mind, which they trust blindly, distorts reality.


New Minimalist Computing Environment for Structured Writing with Markdown and Pandoc

My decision to stop being a "domesticated cow" or a "hamster in a wheel" in my professional life has been exerting a ripple effect on my life. in general I'm becoming even more minimalist, getting rid of clutters and distractions even from my professional life.

Such clutters and distractions in my computing environment include illusionary mindset and bloatware, especially the WYSIWYG-oriented writing tools called word processors. Thanks to this profound transformation in my professional life I don't have to use not only LibreOffice Writer, which is a less intolerable alternative to Word, and even Scrivener, which I used to use for several years as my default program for structured writing, including academic-shmacademic writing.

My new computing environment is totally based on plain text not only for nonstructured writing but also for structured writing now! Long live plain text! For nonstructured and shorter structured writing I continue to use my favorite Windows text editor EditPad Pro. For longer structured writing I continue to use Markdown (as well as enhancements from CommonMark) as my favorite format (see Markdown Tutorial and Markdown Guide for further details about Markdown in practice) and have started to use a new dedicated Markdown editor for Windows called Markdown Monster together with Pandoc for outputs such as HTML5, Slidy, ODT and EPUB (see, for example, an online article entitled "Sustainable Authorship in Plain Text Using pandoc and Markdown" that explains succinctly and convincingly the rationale for using this combination.

For Mac OS there have been many excellent dedicated Markdown editors, most notably Ulysses, but for Windows I haven't found any satisfying one, probably with the sole exception of Writemonkey (actually, I used to use its older version, but unfortunately, its new version has added more problems than improvements in my opinion). Markdown Monster is the first Markdown editor for Windows I've fallen in love with (as is the case with women, I seldom meet software programs I fall in love with, but once I do, I'm totally dedicated to them). Its developer has a nice blog entry entitled "Why use a dedicated Markdown editor". One of the most important enhancements this dedicated Markdown editor has is its integration of Pandoc as one of its add-ins.

Since I discovered Markdown Monster last week, I'm still experimenting with it. Once I've learned how to use it together with Pandoc, I'll prepare my workflow and even share it here though I don't think there will be a huge demand for it. What I write here must sound totally foreign and enigmatic to those who write everything with Word. But if the idea should resonate with you and you would like to try this new computing environment for structured writing on Windows, I'll be more than glad to help you learn it especially because the learning curve can be quite steep if you've never used any writing tool other than Word.


Spiral Dynamics

I've recently got acquainted with and started learning an amazing model for the evolution of the human consciousness called "Spiral Dynamics", which is presented in a book also entitled Spiral Dynamics. The authors - Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan - have based this model of theirs on their own research, which in turn is based on the pioneering work of Clare W. Graves.

This model offers offer the following eight evolutionary stages in the ascending order:

  1. BEIGE - Survival Sense - Instinctive
    • Automatic, autistic, reflexive
    • Centers around satisfaction of human biological needs
    • Driven by deep brain programs, instincts, and genetics
    • Little awareness of self as a distinct being (undifferentiated)
    • Lives 'off the land' much as other animals
    • Minimal impact on or control over environment
  2. PURPLE - KinSpirits - Clannish
    • Obey desires of the mystical spirit beings
    • Show allegiance to elders, custom, clan
    • Preserve sacred places, objects, rituals
    • Bond together to endure and find safety
    • Live in an enchanted, magical village
    • Seek harmony with nature's power
  3. RED - PowerGods - Egocentric
    • In a world of haves and have-nots, it's good to be a have
    • Avoid shame, defend reputation, be respected
    • Gratify impulses and senses immediately
    • Fight remorselessly and without guilt to break constraints
    • Don't worry about consequences that may not come
  4. BLUE - TruthForce - Purposeful
    • Find meaning and purpose in living
    • Sacrifice self to the Way for deferred reward
    • Bring order and stability to all things
    • Control impulsivity and respond to guilt
    • Enforce principles of righteous living
    • Divine plan assigns people to their places
  5. ORANGE - StriveDrive - Strategic
    • Strive for autonomy and independence
    • Seek out 'the good life' and material abundence
    • Progress through searching out the best solutions
    • Enhance living for many through science and technology
    • Play to win and enjoy competition
    • Learn through tried-and-true experience
  6. GREEN - HumanBond - Relativistic
    • Explore the inner beings of self and others
    • Promote a sense of community and unity
    • Share society's resources among all
    • Liberate humans from greed and dogma
    • Reach decisions through consensus
    • Refresh spirituality and bring harmony
  7. YELLOW - FlexFlow - Systemic
    • Accept the inevitability of nature's flows and forms
    • Focus on functionality, competence, flexibility, and spontaneity
    • Find natural mix of conflicting 'truths' and 'uncertainties'
    • Discovering personal freedom without harm to others or excesses of self-interest
    • Experience fullness of living on an Earth of such diversity in multiple dimensions
    • Demand integrative and open systems
  8. TURQUOISE - GlobalView - Holistic
    • Blending and harmonizing a strong collective of individuals
    • Focus on the good of all living entities as integrated systems
    • Expanded use of human brain/mind tools and competencies
    • Self is part of larger, conscious, spiritual whole that also serves self
    • Global (and whole-Spiral!) networking seen as routine
    • Acts for minimalist living so less actually is more

The model is too comprehensive and complicated to be summarized in such a short blog entry. I myself have started to understand its descriptive and explanatory power only after watching the following six YouTube videos by Leo Gura; the first is an excellent general introduction to Spiral Dynamics, and the other five are detailed presentations of the last five of these eight evolutionary stages with ample examples of individuals and societies belonging to each of them:

I've been wondering at which stage, or to be more precise, at what stages simultaneously, my consciousness is at this stage of my life, but I now know a clear picture of the spiritual stage I should aspire for and how it must look. This model has also helped me understand far more clearly than before many behaviors, including weird and enigmatic ones, by individuals and societies, and conflicts between them, including those between me and other individuals in various societies in various degrees of severity.

What I find the most interesting in this model of the evolution of the human consciousness is a hypothesis that no individual or society can skip any stage in order to evolve spiritually. This also explains why many bona fide efforts by individuals and organizations from one evolutionary stage often end up bearing few or no fruits in societies that are lower by two or more stages as these people and organizations try to skip one or more stages.