Dispatches from Occupied Territory – Of Open Minds and Closed People

This is the second in a series of fictional explorations into an individual’s awakening to the suddenly unfamiliar world around her while still engulfed in the day to day insanity. These short stories in letter form are intended for the more sensitive and inquisitive reader who wants to look more deeply within and explore in depth their beliefs and perceptions and, most importantly, how they can cope in a world gone frighteningly mad. It is the author’s hope to accomplish this by way of an intimate and revealing first person correspondence between two long time friends as they discuss their ongoing trials, tribulations and revelations.

Even though most of us come to Zero Hedge to learn, laugh, share and even rant, ultimately many of us are all alone as we cope with our awakening. While Tyler & Company do an excellent job deconstructing the insanity, rarely is our day to day emotional and psychological battering discussed. Most of us long for someone we can talk to and learn from without being judged or ridiculed. I offer the following occasional series as a small step in that direction.

Chapter One can be found here.

Marie,

I was a bit surprised you wrote back so quickly. Then again, during the initial weeks and months of our awakening (‘first light’ is the term I use to describe this new experience) it’s a wonder we ever sleep at all let alone function. The sometimes disturbing, sometimes wonderful revelations come fast and furious and no sooner do we begin to grasp one, but another one rushes in demanding our attention. Just go with the flow for now and let it happen, because at this point more harm will come of you if you fight the process. There will be plenty of time later to analyze and assimilate everything you are learning. For now, just be a sponge and allow your mind to absorb it all while judging none.

With that said I promise you that I will get to all your questions, particularly the ones you asked about conspiracy and conspiracy theories, in the next few weeks. But for now I wish to pull back a bit to see the bigger picture and try to apply a broader point of view. So often when we are drowning in a sea of information we become so lost following the small darting fish that we never see the hungry shark until it is too late. This happens because we are mentally tied up in judgment of what is real and what is not, rather than simple observing. It doesn’t need to be this way, but it is because we have been trained to think in this manner.

If you are the powers that be and are promoting a narrow point of view, one that is deliberately manipulated and distorted, it is supremely important that you control the information flow during its transmission and upon its reception. You are beginning to understand that the mainstream media (MSM) is heavily influenced by multiple sources, and of course you are well aware of the official and unofficial government and corporate propaganda channels. Since you have near zero influence over them, for the sake of this discussion they are immaterial.

However, the way to control information at the receiving end is to condition the person receiving the information to apply mental and emotional filters that automatically screen out any information that does not ‘fit’ that person’s prevailing worldview. Since this is where you can affect change, this is where we will focus.

Understand as well that the beauty of this control system is that it allows for an endless but narrow variety of worldviews, literally as many as there are people. We are trained like rats in a maze to only see information as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ just as the rat sees every (information) intersection as ‘left’ or ‘right’ based upon the learned and remembered map in its head. Our worldview is programmed in from birth beginning with our parents and peers, and this is the map we all have in our heads. Only in our case, as opposed to the rat, this map is constantly updated via the ongoing and continuous MSM, governmental, corporate and social re-conditioning.

We sit in judgment of everything we see and hear, though often it happens so subtly that we are rarely aware of the actual process. We can thank our egos for most of this, an ego whose primary job is to avoid cognitive dissonance at all costs, and thus filters or blocks most of the input long before it is ever consciously recognized. The problem is that even if we understand this is happening, awareness alone isn’t enough to counteract it. One doesn’t reverse decades of deep cultural conditioning only with awareness. We must be proactive and retrain ourselves, an exhausting and emotionally difficult task under the best of circumstances, but one that can be accomplished if we wish it to be so.

Sadly this task is nearly impossible if we are just to focus on each tidbit of information as it comes in. The problem is that oftentimes we really don’t know what is true and what is false, only what we have been conditioned to believe. I often use the following example to illustrate the problem. When we are born our minds are similar to a brand new blackboard. As we grow, enter school, make friends and deal with family and social issues etc, the blackboard is slowly filled with large and small calculations. And these calculations represent our life experience and so-called knowledge base from which we make our judgments of what is true and false.

blackboard

The problem is that the blackboard isn’t filled with lots of small and independent sums and divisions that are individually verified before being imprinted upon our psyche’s blackboard. Rather it is one huge breathing mass of mathematical mayhem with one sum becoming part of the next calculation which leads into the next and so on. So once an error (or errors) is introduced, it rapidly multiplies and corrupts everything around it. These errors then go on to infect other people until they have compounded exponentially within the social structure. This is as intended and it is by design.

Because this corrupting influence is spreading in real time and is a part of the collective, which itself is a living breathing culture we are immersed within and seamlessly integrated into, this data and perception corruption is considered natural and normal. Always remember Marie that ‘normal’ is defined by the majority, not by independently verified facts, figures, logic or reason.

The more we surrender to the collective view of normal, the more we become dependent upon the collective to define for us what is normal, creating the near perfect positive feedback loop that can more easily be controlled or at least heavily influenced. The collective begins to self censor to remain within the narrow confines of the collective mind’s maze, removing the need for constant fine tuning by the hidden hand. An occasional poke or prod is all that is needed to keep the collective from wandering too far unless doing so suits the powers that be.

Obviously as we begin to awaken and see our (and thus the collective’s) blackboard for the first time with our first light eyes, we are astonished by the sheer number and depth of errors that we find. Because it is all interconnected we quickly realize that to pick a place to start unraveling is for all practical purposes impossible. How do you untangle a huge ball of yarn when you can’t even find a beginning or end point to work off of, where individual pieces are tied to themselves as well as to each other in random places using arbitrary rules and processes?

And with errors multiplied into more sums, which are then divided by the product of even more equations, to change one changes all, though it’s never completely obvious what you have accomplished because it is quickly swallowed by the huge mass. Either you must know the ultimate truth by which to measure everything else or it is hopeless that you will ever find your way out of the insanity, that you will ever know ‘truth’. Clearly we cannot find our way out of this mess without some external assistance. This is the one certain truth we all know.

Or maybe not! Maybe this assumption is itself flawed just like so much else we think we ‘know’ to be true and irrefutable. For this ‘either/or’ supposition is itself a duality, a right or wrong, a left or right outcome and a product of our own convoluted and corrupted thinking and training. As I have said before, one cannot see outside the box with the tools provided by the box. Our collective insanity will only provide us with answers that sustain and validate our insanity. To assume that we can apply the same thinking processes and so-called logical train of thought to unravel the insanity is to believe that the insanity itself has the capability to be sane, an obviously insane conclusion. So what do we do?

Our social, governmental, religious and cultural beliefs all point to one truth, that actual or real ‘truth’ can only be ascertained from an external source, usually only from the so called ‘authority’ informing us of this truth. In other words, we are told that we are an empty vessel with no capability of discerning true from false or any capacity to ‘know’ anything other than what we are originally told and anything we then derive from those original truths. Our capacity to ‘know’ is based upon smaller bits of knowledge or ‘truth’ given to us from outside our consciousness and not any truth or understanding already held or known within. This of course makes us all innocents and/or victims of our own inadequacy and/or inability to function without outside order and control imposed upon us……for our own good of course.

This is a fundamental lie, the fundamental lie, that has served to enslave and control, us and one we believe so thoroughly and completely, a ‘truth’ that is so engrained within us, that to seriously question ‘it’ and all that springs from this central lie is considered the act of a madman and sure to brand us as unstable or even dangerous.

This isn’t hyperbole, but rather simple fact. Over thousands of years every person who has attempted to show the general public that each of us carries within us the ability to know and understand is obviously dangerous to the powers that be and is quickly silenced or co-opted. Every effort is made to discredit, demean and marginalize anyone who speaks in this manner, including the use of brain freezing terms such as ‘religious zealot’, ‘anarchist’, ‘antisocial’, ‘mentally ill’, and even ‘conspiracy theorist’. The truth can always withstand penetrating questions whereas a lie must be upheld with force, group think and derision.

breaking-the-chains

To break free requires us to take the first steps out of the box. Since we have already established that using old tools and methods will only lead us back into the insanity, breaking free requires an entirely different perspective. Many would say that it is impossible to remove ourselves from the programming while still functioning as a part of society. Here again we see the either/or false reality that is the basis for the insanity. We don’t need to ‘believe’ or ‘disbelieve’ anything in order to interact with it. At this point in our breakout the only thing we must believe in is our need to reject our judgmental attitude and black & white perception and instead adopt a truly open mind.

We don't need to agree or disagree with all, or even some, of the present reality in order to possess an open mind. It is the shutting off or blocking of information that is the sign of our conditioning. When information is treated as if it is a threat, it is a threat....to the closed mind. The key is to allow the aberrant or non conforming information to possess the right to exist, to be 'real', in much the same way as information we already believe is correct is considered ‘real’. This approach can be very frightening to people who have very rigid points of view.

Think about the words we use to describe ‘real’ and ‘correct’ and how they are often used interchangeably. I’ve seen and heard the following sentences used in casual conversations as well as in magazines and blogs. “Oh, those aren’t real economic statistics.” “That’s all a bunch of bull. Give me the real scoop.” “There are two sets of books. Where are the real numbers?” We do not consider information that we perceive as incorrect or wrong to be ‘real’ and thus it is not considered to be a ‘real’ part of our reality. On the other hand, something that we believe is correct is also believed to be ‘real’, almost as if it had a physical presence. It is no coincidence that ‘correct’ and ‘real’ have been merged to mean essentially the same thing. I’ve talked with you before about how our language is manipulated to control us at the subliminal level. This is a perfect example.

How many times have we discovered that we were entirely wrong about something? Did this suddenly make the formerly unbelievable information correct and thus ‘real’? No. It was always correct and thus always ‘real’. It was only our perception and treatment of that information that changed. If we are not compelled to shoehorn information into narrowly defined categories or constantly change the status of information from the ‘real’ category to the ‘not real’ category (and vice a versa) to conform to our (or societies) beliefs, we will be much more flexible and less rigid in our thinking in the first place. Life suddenly seems to flow a lot easier and there are less conflicts and surprises.

Once we open the door to other possibilities, then our mind is free to arrange information in ways previously considered impossible or nonsensical, something our mind naturally wants to do using a source of knowing that springs from within. To allow something to exist in our mind without insisting that it be considered ‘real’ or correct does no harm to us unless we know (either consciously or unconsciously) deep down inside of us that we are missing the boat or that we are conflicted and/or biased.

Most of our present day stress and anxiety comes from trying to make sense of a crazy world where we are constantly told that oranges are apples or chairs or bricks, anything other than oranges. Once again Marie, let me use a thought experiment to illustrate how we already sort through this confusion and doubt in other areas of our lives and we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Let’s say you stop by a yard sale next Saturday and they are selling a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. Only the original box was destroyed and all that is left are a bunch of puzzle pieces in a big plastic bag (looks like a whole lot more than 500 pieces you say to yourself) and a vague recollection from the seller that the box displayed some kind of landscape with a lake, some hills and a farm. Not much to go on, but it’s a start. So you figure why not and you purchase it for a quarter. If nothing else it’s cheap fun for some rainy day. And sure enough, next weekend is a wash out so you pull out the bag and dig in. How are you going to solve the puzzle?

Perhaps it would be better to focus on what you will not do. While you may have a fuzzy ‘belief’ in the view or scene the assembled pieces will represent, you have no idea where each piece fits into the overall worldview. So you most certainly would not discard anything just because it doesn’t fit at that precise moment. Nor would you diminish the validity of any one piece simply because you have no place to put in. From the moment you begin the assembly process each piece is as valid and important as every other piece simply because you are not being judgmental in the most basic sense. There is no right or wrong, correct or incorrect with regard to the puzzle pieces. There just is.

While you might look for trends of color (blue for the sky, darker blue for the water) or shape (pieces with a straight edge probably fit along the perimeter while others fit within these boundaries) experience tells you that even this might be misleading and to assume anything other than that they all somehow fit together would be foolish and self defeating. No one piece will be seen or perceived as any less or more ‘real’ (correct) than any other piece and all have an inherent right to exist, to be real.

Jigsaw


However, a quick count confirms your initial judgment that there were more than 500 pieces. In fact you find well over 2,000 and after some quick sorting you discover parts to three, four and possibly even more puzzles. What do you do now? This most certainly calls into question the assumed vague recollection of a landscape with water and a farm. Hell, since we are now talking about multiple puzzles of unknown composition, number of pieces per puzzle and even if there is enough to complete each puzzle, any assumption can be seen as dangerous and misleading.

This is essentially where you and I stand today Marie, where the only thing we know for certain is that we know nothing with any degree of certainty. But this seemingly unsolvable situation is not seen that way to the determined puzzle solver. While the degree of difficulty just escalated, by no means is it impossible unless the mind is cluttered with preconceived limits, rules and ‘truths’. It is the person’s mind and her limits of perception that defines the boundaries of what is and is not possible, of what can and cannot be done.

This in turn is influenced by what is believed to be true or real and thus, before anything has begun, entire areas of thought, process and imagination are walled off as nonsensical and impossible. These are the thought filters I spoke of earlier Marie, where we were the problem, we are the problem and we always will be the problem when it comes to interpreting the world, not they or them or those people over there.

Let’s discuss how you might piece these jigsaw puzzles together and the process that is going on in the background. First off, unless you are an egomaniac and completely dominated by your ego, putting together this puzzle pushes the ego into the background and brings to the forefront a mix of analytical thought, feel or intuition and a deep ‘knowing’ that we tap into with little to no conscious awareness. It is this ‘knowing’ connection that frightens the powers that be to their very core for it is the source of our ultimate power and sovereignty.

At this point, for simplicity of explanation let us assume we are working on one puzzle of 500 pieces. Most people will quickly gather the edge pieces in a separate pile and then begin to assemble the outer perimeter. This provides an orientation of sorts because it defines the edges of our worldview and is comparable to our most basic indoctrination as a young child. Our very first blackboard marks consist of us ‘knowing’ hunger, pain, light and dark, mother and nipple and so on. While everyone has a slightly different approach to solving a jigsaw puzzle, I have found over the years that there are striking similarities between people even of diverse economic background and cultural upbringing.

Initially the going is slow as we take in the scope and magnitude of the task ahead. Seen from a strictly binary on/off computing point of view, solving this puzzle would require massive data crunching as we tried to fit each piece with every other piece until we found a match, then repeated the process again and again until the puzzle was solved. While we may pick up pieces and test fit them with others, our mind’s eye is taking in the bigger picture and absorbing the entire scene. Without really thinking about it we are sorting pieces by color, current location and shape, looking (more accurately ‘feeling’) for tiny clues of consistency and similarity. 

Rather than examine each piece very closely, then moving on to the next, we adopt a more distant stare as our eyes sweep up and down, back and forth, occasionally stopping to try one piece or another. Suddenly we find a match, then another and another and quickly we have 6 or 7 pieces joined together, though we still don’t know where they fit within the bigger picture. Then one or two more pieces are found to fit along one of the edges and there is a rapid fire assembly of 5 or 6 more pieces before the fire goes out and we move on.

If you ask a person what is going on here and push for detailed answers you will find that they really don’t know what’s happening. They assume they are ‘finding’ matches, but really can’t tell you how or why. They are at a particular loss for words to explain why these matches often come in bunches, then peter off until they drift away from that section and move on to something else. I contend that because we see each piece as consisting of equal weight and value, thus ‘real’ and not to be discarded, that we engage our entire capacity to be aware and to know. Rather than creating new capacity to ‘see’, we are lifting the artificial restraints (aka filters and beliefs) we have been conditioned to use at all times when in the ‘real’ world.

As we scan the pieces we are allowing our conscious and unconscious mind, along with our inner knowing, to make connections that might not be readily apparent on the surface. Often when I talk to people about this in depth they will use phrases such as ‘it seemed like it would fit’ or ‘I just felt this piece was the one I needed’ or even ‘something told me to grab that one’. Bear in mind that one must probe to get these answers because they won’t initially be offered. Instead they will try to rationalize what is happening and use more specific (scientific) terms in an effort to explain what is happening to them self at the same time they are explaining it to the questioner.

The glass strings forming a certain similarity of a neural network.

The more we let go of our learned bias and conditioned beliefs, the more efficient we are at solving the (worldview) puzzle. This is really about our desire, even desperation, to control information to fit our point of view. The world no longer appears to be orderly to us, regardless of whether it really was to begin with, so now we struggle with the impulse to exert control to bring back order.

This is our ego taking charge as it tries to paper over our cognitive dissonance(s) by ratcheting up our fear level and engaging our fight or flight reflexes. Since we have been trained to see only duality, everything appears to be about choice, of right or wrong, of correct or incorrect. The solution is not to once again begin to chase our tails but rather to settle back, do little to nothing and trust in our innate inner ability to make the connections we need to begin to solve the puzzle. Worldview puzzle solving is not about control, but about natural processes.

On a personal note Marie, I now regularly tackle jigsaw puzzles without using the cover art as a guide in an effort to retrain my mind to see beyond the conditioned barriers I have learned to erect during my normal daily routine. In effect I am trying to strengthen the connections to my knowing center. Interestingly modern scientific thinking is beginning to acknowledge the existence of a ‘knowing’, though it is usually marginalized and discredited precisely because it can’t be measured using instruments designed solely to measure what is believed to exist and is real.

If we move back to the multiple puzzles thought experiment we can see that the same methods can be used regardless of the complexity. In essence we abandon rigid thinking and rote recital of facts and knowledge in order to engage and capture that intangible knowing that guides our hand in solving complex problems. We release our need for control and allow our intuition and gut to take over, a process that takes practice, particularly if we are trying to counteract decades of conditioning.

These are subtle powers and they are easily overwhelmed by strong emotion and focused determination. We are trying to soften our focus, not sharpen it. Often when we become stuck while working on difficult or complex problems, we will ‘sleep on it’ only to wake the next morning with answer in hand. No one can tell me it was their sharply focused analytical mind that was the only entity working on the solution, at least not with any believability.

Back in the ‘real’ world, consider that even though we are not building a worldview from scratch, but in essence are starting from an already constructed reality which we call our belief system, the same process can be used. Only instead of disassembling the already completed worldview puzzle, then trying to put it all back together again into a new worldview, a process that would quickly destabilize us and probably cause a nervous breakdown, all we need to do is take each additional piece of information or perception we encounter today, this minute, and treat it as if it is of equal value to any other piece we currently hold, the direct opposite of how we would approach life today.

At first it may feel like a mindless mish mash of useless facts and tidbits of information is clogging our brain and it will most certainly be uncomfortable because some of those bits will directly contradict our existing belief system. To accomplish this we must begin to suspend belief, which is fundamentally different from suspending disbelief, something we do in order to enjoy a movie or TV program. We must begin to move to the side our already conditioned belief that we are correct in our thinking.

This requires that we displace our super sized ego and accept the nearly impossible idea that we might be wrong in our thinking and understanding of how the world works. Difficulty in learning new things is rarely about accepting the new; it almost always is about the pain of rejecting the old, and here is where the ego steps in to protect us from ourselves. If we are sincere in our desire to open our eyes and find peace within, then there is no choice but to accept that everything must change one puzzle piece at a time.

The longer we withhold our artificial judgment as to the validity or truthfulness of every information piece, including our existing programming, and simply allow it all to be ‘real’, if only for now, the sooner new connections begin to form. And gradually some of these new connections will displace old conditioned connections and beliefs. We will in essence begin to rebuild while still operating at full speed. This, incidentally, is exactly how the body heals and regenerates while we go about our daily activities, and for me this confirms that the process I am describing is natural and normal and that our present state of confusion and disorder is an affront to our natural state of being.

Super Sized

In a crushing blow to our egos, this process will be as easy or as hard as we wish to make it. If we love the comfort and warmth our beliefs provide for us, the natural high we get when we stroke our confirmation bias and surrender to our ego, it will be nearly impossible to move to the next level. Then again Marie, you have already signaled your desire to move ahead, so most of the pain you feel will be from the disorientation that comes from reconstruction. This is understandable and normal and it will pass quickly as long as you begin to release your long held and cherished comforting lies and self deceptions.

Let me try to pull it all together with some final thoughts. I used the bag of puzzle pieces that belong to several different puzzles to begin this thought experiment. In real life there are hundreds if not thousands of puzzles, not just 3 or 4. While the thought of this level of complexity might drive most people screaming in terror from the room, I see it from a different perspective. Even though each puzzle might show a different scene, they are all just snap shots of the same reality.

Even if the puzzle depicts children playing in a school yard or a lake at the foot of a mountain or even a busy city street corner, they all show people, places or things in our world, in our universe or from our mind’s imagination. Thus every single puzzle piece has a place and a purpose and it is only we who are ignorant to its placement. This means that every piece should and must command in us equal respect and be considered real and valid and thus not something to be denied or disposed of.

To grasp this concept I try to think about those neat videos we have all seen of hundreds of CAT scans all assembled in order, which when viewed in rapid sequence take us on a trip through the human body starting from the very top of the head and progressing all the way down until we reach the bottom of the feet. If we were to take those hundreds of snap shots and scatter them on the floor and not realize that they are just sectional views of the same three dimensional entity we might see the task of assembly as impossible.

But just knowing that they all belong together is a tactical advantage because now each snap shot, and each piece of each snap shot, is equally important and must be used somewhere in order to create the whole. Our limited and biased perception is the roadblock here, not the hundreds of slices on the floor. It is only our present ignorance that prevents us from seeing that everything we see, hear, touch and perceive minute to minute is connected somehow, somewhere.

This little tidbit of deliberate disinformation, which we believe to be true, is actually connected to that true fact over there that we have discarded because it didn’t fit our worldview. That political party is saying this which doesn’t fit there because my uncle told me when I was young that they are just a bunch of control freaks and commies. As we begin to break these artificial and false connections and slowly allow things to float free of constraint, a clearer more cohesive picture slowly begins to emerge. This in turn builds momentum and confidence and quickly 6 or 7 pieces come together in rapid building. Then we pause and wait for more old connections to dissolve so that new ones may re-form.

This is the only way I know of to rebuild while still operating in real time. And this all presupposes that we have the desire, will and courage to challenge everything we think we know and that we are tolerant of being in a near constant state of growth and metamorphosis. That doesn’t mean pain, but it does mean living a more engaged life. We have been conditioned to be mindless zombies, beginning in school where we are force fed historical propaganda and a filtered point of view, right through to present day where we spend most of our leisure time propped up in front of the boob tube downloading an endless stream of mindless junk thought and manufactured experience as part of our endless re-programming process.  

Letting Go of Belief

Finally (yes Marie, I really mean it this time) I suggest that the best way to start this process is to banish the words ‘believe’ and ‘belief’ along with the phrase ‘I believe’ (and all its derivations) from your mental and verbal vocabulary. The words and phrase imply ownership and reflect our conditioning even when they are being used honestly and without conditions. Contrary to popular ‘belief’, when we believe something it now controls us and not the other way around. Using these words contradicts our desire to embody every single tidbit of information with equal weighting simply because to believe one thing is to disbelieve another. We are suspending judgment, which means we are suspending belief.

Over time our beliefs become heavy sacks of concrete which we must struggle to carry around wherever we go and which become white elephants that chain us to the belief stake we have driven into the ground. They morph into a terrible burden that controls our every act, though we desperately tell ourselves the opposite in order to deny the suffering they cause us. Our beliefs are our emotional and spiritual straightjackets and they become the very source of our own psychosis.

Instead, if we are to truly begin the process of breaking free from our chains, we must begin to treat all those so-called ‘beliefs’ as if they were tiny, delicate butterflies. One does not ‘hold’ a belief butterfly as much as one is visited by it. We observe it as it flutters from one thought branch to another. If we were to extend our hands to make contact we would exert the lightest touch, that of a gentle breeze that momentarily freshens before moving on. If the butterfly graces us with its presence and alights upon our cupped hands, it remains only as long as both are enriched by the encounter before it moves on, hopefully to be replaced for a moment by another.

This is true freedom and contrary to the fear mongers and oppressors, it is not our beliefs that threaten them, but rather our lack of chains and our freedom of thought that frightens them into their repressive policies. Someone who is truly free is never subservient to any ideology or thought master. Cast off that ultimate self inflicted thought chain and believe in only one thing, your ability to be free of beliefs.

Beside you always,

 

Jonathan

___________

Cognitive Dissonance

07-11-2011

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