Have You a Positive Practice? (Part Two)

Have You a Positive Personal Practice? (Part Two)


Cognitive Dissonance


My apologies for how tardy Part Two of this article is. It is now mid summer and the garden has begun to produce prolifically. Which means we have begun to can almost as prolifically. Plus I have taken on several outside jobs for friends of several week's duration each to put some fiat in the wallet and this has taken some precedence over my writing.

This theme (Positive Personal Practice) has expanded into at least three parts and maybe more. I don't plan out my writing, but rather let it flow where it wants to go. Sometimes it goes further than I expect and this is one of those cases.

In addition, this iteration appears a bit more lumpy than usual. I blame it on Mrs. Cog, who introduced me to lumps in my mashed potatoes. After great protestation on my part (mashed potatoes are by definition mashed) to my surprise I found I like them. My writing seems to like them too.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  ;-)

Cognitive Dissonance


The first step to returning to health is to acknowledge you are sick. The second step to getting better is to treat the cause and not the symptoms. Only the insane or someone who doesn’t actually recognize their illness or symptoms as a problem might argue with the above supposition.

In other words, if something is perceived as normal and natural, there ain’t nothing to fix. And mama always told me not to fix what ain’t broken. Perfectly reasonable, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, if everyone is ill (or insane) than ‘normal’ is simply what the majority are doing at that precise moment in space and time. On the flip side, abnormal would be defined as anything the collective hive mind believes is contrary to normal. This is the ultimate in a positive feedback loop, a self reinforcing pattern that only grows stronger with each successive loop until the moment of self destruction arrives.

While rarely expressed by individuals in this precise manner, essentially what many people think and say about their lot in life is that they’re doing pretty well, even very good, in adjusting to a difficult and slightly crazy world they were born into when measured against the symbols of success promoted by ‘society’.

Of course, it is everyone else who is crazy and definitely not the speaker (or thinker) in question.

Setting aside the question of how society goes about measuring its health, I am constantly reminded of a well known quote by Krishnamurti that goes something like this.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Take a long hard look around you, at our so-called society and its inhabitants (that would be you and I) and tell me we are healthy in every sense of the word.

I dare you. I double dare you. ;-)

If you answered yes, that society is healthy, then I strongly suggest you are basing your assessment solely upon the fact society reflects back to you what you have been taught are values society prizes as a measure of health and happiness.

Keep in mind we all alter our own perceived personal reality to fit our worldview and mindset. We seek out information that confirms our point of view and we reject just about anything that refutes our preconceived notions. Also note this exercise in self deception is very fluid and flexible and extremely adaptable to changing conditions in real time and on the fly.

How else could we justify and rationalize all the murder, mayhem and injustice “We the People”, through our ‘leaders’, inflict upon others…including our neighbors and ourselves.

On the other hand, if you said no and agree that society is unhealthy, do you include yourself in this assessment? If not, why not?

Drop an otherwise healthy Goldfish into a bowl of dirty filthy water, wait 48 hours and then rationally and logically explain to me how the fish remains healthy while totally immersed within that environment.

There is an old adage among natural healers that postulates that other than superficially (meaning minor ailments) the healer can only help those who truly wish to help themselves. One cannot force health upon anyone just as one cannot force unhealthy upon anyone. Free will is required as an integral component of the equation.

Fair warning to the casual reader; trigger words are most definitely being used in this piece. Please strap on your helmet and fasten your seat belt because the going most definitely will get rough.


What many miss when discussing this subject is ‘belief’ is an exercise in free will. Belief supplants doubt and promotes either active or passive ‘action’, also known as free will. Belief comes about either naturally via personal experience (aka learning) and wisdom or unnaturally via (often external) manipulation and coercion.

Please understand exercising ‘free will’ doesn’t necessarily mean making a decision to implement your will. Passive acceptance, as well as the belief you have no choice, is an exercise of your free will by omission rather than commission. Not making a decision is, in and of itself, a decision. The same applies to being ‘forced’ to make a decision, regardless of whether that force is ‘real’ or perceived.

We can always say no, even when a gun is pointed to our head. This is a simple fact that will no doubt infuriate some readers who will argue that life is paramount and anything agreed to in order to prolong life is reasonable and not necessarily via ‘free will’.

I would counter one is arguing about the consequences of the decision to justify making the decision. I do not dispute there are potentially severe, even mortal, consequences, only that ultimately the person makes a conscious decision to comply and that is the act of free will. A decision not to comply is also an act of free will.

While freely and willingly tendering our ‘free will’ is of immensely greater value to the recipient, since the rules of the game require consent, by hook or by crook consent will be obtained. And by ‘game’ I am speaking about so much more than simply systems of money and social organization.

OK, so by now either you have abandoned reading (thus I am no longer talking to you) or you still retain enough curiosity to continue on down the rabbit hole.

Or possibly you have been triggered to such an extent you have skipped down to the comment section and are furiously typing a response to refute my utter nonsense and ridiculous poppycock. There is a reason I selected Cognitive Dissonance as the name of my online presence and you just confirmed its effectiveness.


Let us turn our attention now to the cause of the problem rather than the symptoms. It is sometimes extremely difficult discussing certain subjects with otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people simply because their cultural conditioning precludes even considering such things…or at best engaging in nothing more than a superficial conversation about the subject.

While the western world may be quite diverse with regard to race, ethnic background, religion, governmental organization and so on, even though many may hold divergent opinions only discussed among like minded cohorts, to discuss these subjects in public is practically verboten. You just don’t go there.

I consider this phenomenon not just ‘conditioning’, but conditioning of the Imperial kind. Empires ‘think’ a certain way and are terribly self centered and narcissistic, at least during the late stages of Imperial expansion and population subjugation. And I’m not speaking solely about its leadership, but its captive ‘citizens’ as well.

While I expect my characterization to be vehemently rejected by those of the Imperial mindset (or matter-of-factually agreed with as just the way it is) the Imperial mindset is quite similar to that held by the high school head jock or big-man-on-campus as he troves the halls looking for victims to terrorize.

However, the jock doesn’t frame his behavior as terrorism per se, but rather as actions befitting someone who perceives himself as sitting at the top of the human food chain…if only on a local level. Basically he does what he wants because he can do what he wants. Ego and self will have run riot.

While endless argument back and forth about my stated supposition regarding Empire can be had for the asking, I don’t wish to engage in such senseless debate. Regardless of what America once was, it is now little more than an overly muscled bully walking the halls looking for anyone to pick a fight with. And as is the case with all bullies, this behavior springs from a deep seated inferiority complex combined with an aging Empire who hears the clock ticking and the walls closing in.

Like a cornered wild animal, this is when Empires are most dangerous.

What interests me more is not the death throes of a dying Empire, but rather the mindset of average Jane and Joe from being immersed within the Imperial conditioning from birth. While it is pretty common these days for people from all walks of life to express concern with the direction of the country/leadership etc, rarely do I hear, see or read much discussion on the state of the people within the crumbling Empire other than passing reference to degrading (financial, physical etc) conditions mostly among the ‘middle class’.

There is plenty of ink spilled on the state of ‘other’ people in the country. But of course the author or interviewee isn’t affected by these issues since they are above the fray and immune from the degradation because they are aware of it.

To believe one is immune from contagion simply because one is aware there is a contagion is nonsensical and demonstrates little more than magical thinking.

Cultures more rooted to the Earth and to the Self tend to recognize the white man as seriously ill and even insane. And I’m not just talking about North American natives, but indigenous cultures from every continent on Earth.

And the term ‘white man’ should not be interpreted literally, at least no longer, since the dis-ease permeates all of the so-called Western Civilization. Worse, it is presently infiltrating the Eastern cultures as well as those in the southern hemisphere. In fact, disease may not be the proper term here since this madness is a feature and not a bug of the culture.

Ancient history, much of which has been actively suppressed, altered or simply wiped clean, indicates that man was not always insane. The study of comparative mythology/history drawn from nearly all ancient cultures seems to indicate a turning point, the point of infection one could say, right about when ‘official’ history informs us man became sophisticated enough to grow his own food and settle down into a collaborative society.

Personally I think the Empire’s officially sanctioned history lessons are little more than overall controlling memes along the lines of Nineteen Eight-Four’s “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.” A soul lost and disconnected from its ‘self’ seeks guidance from external sources since it no longer comprehends that all ‘knowing’ springs from within.

But why would controlling entities wish to alter what is known about the distant and recent past? The answer is surprisingly simple and amazingly effective. So much of our present day perspective, our worldview and mind set, is based upon what we believe is our past, both individually and as a collective society.

If there is one overriding theme presented over and over again in the history books, particularly modern history, both subtly and with overt declarations, it is that “We the Humans” are steadily progressing physically, mentally, medically, socially, technologically, politically and spiritually.

Nearly every succeeding generation over the last several hundreds of years has felt they were smarter, more technologically adept and clearly superior to the generation before. This has enabled all manner of abuse to be heaped upon the population in the name of forward progress and innovation.

If improving standards of living is the primary measure of progress, then it is reasonable to think we have progressed radically. But what exactly is an improved standard of living if you are being bombed back into the Stone Age just so your neighbor can maintain or accelerate theirs? Or poisoned by manufactured foods and pharmaceuticals? The question actually applies to those on both sides of this murderous activity.

This is forward progress?

What if it is all a carefully choreographed and cultivated lie designed to hide the fact we have actually been regressing over the last five or ten thousand years? How would you feel about your present situation and the conditions under which you live if you knew people ten thousand years ago lived to be 400 years old, had mastered human metaphysical technologies we can’t even begin to comprehend, let along duplicate, and lived in relative peace and harmony with nature and each other?

I didn’t say what if this were possible, but what if you knew it to be true the same way you know others historical facts are ‘true’ simply because they are declared truth by historians and the cultural authorities?

A person living today cannot imagine surviving, let along thriving, without immediate access to health and dental care on demand. Life is tough on flesh and bone we are told. Modern conveniences command compromise, at least until the technology advances enough so our medicines and machines no longer maim and kill us.

And we just assume this is progress, that the only way forward is the way we presently travel. For example, once we could only travel at best a few miles by foot, then 30 miles a day on horseback, then 100 miles a day via stagecoach, then 400 miles by train and now thousands of miles by plane. How could this be construed as anything but a good thing, of massive progress on a grand scale?

So while our technology is making our lives ‘better’, that same technology seems to make us sicker emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We are steadily moving away from a spiritual grounding and a centered, mostly self sufficient lifestyle, and into living in a constant state of physical and psychological stress in every way possible.

While there is no doubt some people appear to flourish under such conditions, I can only emphasize the word ‘appear’.  An incandescent light bulb of 60 watts may appear much brighter (therefore ‘better’) when driven at a higher wattage. But exactly what is the cost for such abusive behavior? Just because I have adapted well to a sick society doesn’t mean I’m in good health.

Mrs. Cog and I traveled to Northern Virginia a few weeks back for an overnight stay in order to take care of some personal business. Quite frankly we were a bit shocked how dysfunctional and downright miserable nearly everyone seemed. Casual smiles were not only far and few between, but people were rude and unfriendly and the prevailing energy was terrible.

According to Forbes, five of the ten richest counties in America are clustered around Washington DC, with the three richest counties located in Northern VA where we visited and stayed overnight. By this measure alone we were smack dab in the middle of modern nirvana.

And yet from our perspective, based solely upon people’s physical appearance and emotional demeanor, there were not a lot of happy campers in nirvana.

Collaborative effort is supposed to yield a sum greater than the total returned by its individual components. This is the concept behind the term ‘synergy’. If a society drains its inhabitants at a rate faster than it is replenished by the individuals, what exactly is the purpose of the society other than to be a corral for the chattel?

When the sum total returned is less than the sum total contributed, society becomes a Vampire Squid draining the life from its host on an exponential basis.

In order to prevent the host from expelling the parasite, the blood sucker must give something back to the host in order to create the appearance of a mutually beneficial relationship. Failing that, it must drug the host into submission, or at least into such a failed state of health (defined as much more than physical) the host is powerless to do much more than exist solely to feed the vampire squid.

Sound familiar?

Condition a person to need something, then fill that craving but never sate it (an addiction can never be more than temporarily sated) and you have the recipe for near total control over that person. Condition a society and the results are the same. Drug dealers, pimps, addicts, governments and central banks know a little about this subject if you have any questions.

So if you suspect the world, or at least the western world is mad as a hatter, and if you think you might be insane as well since it’s nearly impossible to stay clean in a mud pile, what are you to do?

Well, for one, stop doing what you are doing now. Einstein had something to say about doing the same thing and expecting different results. Just because we are aware of the insane asylum doesn’t mean our limited awareness bestows upon us the magical ability to suddenly become sane simply because we see the insanity.

Knowledge doesn’t automatically lead to changes in our thinking and behavior. In fact, quite often knowledge is an impediment because we use it to rationalize our inaction. Frequently we 'know' what to do and don't act on it. Our 'knowing' is often presents as a gut feeling or intuition, something the Imperial culture has taught us to disregard.

We are caught in a cycle of destructive reasoning and behavior, most which are believed to be pleasurable, wholesome and therapeutic because our culture tells us this. Our actions (or inaction) are both conditioned into us from birth and/or they are imposed upon us as incremental changes springing naturally from the hive mind.

You know, like Pet Rocks, a completely natural consumer product that springs from our innate desire to take common rocks into our household as pets.

Here is the intellectual problem we face. If we are all insane, how do we recognize our insanity and what do we do to become sane. It’s sort of like asking how to stay clean while in the mud pile.

It’s impossible, at least if we only pursue the intellectual route.

While I readily acknowledge the presence of Buddhist monks living, working and playing in the middle of New York City, they have decades of rigorous training supporting their sanity while walking within the insanity. To think an untrained and still thoroughly conditioned mind and spirit can simply flip a switch and be sane is the ultimate in denial.

Ideally we should withdraw from areas of the most intense madness and seek shelter among those who are less infected. Quite frankly this is difficult for those addicted to all the pleasures and vices of sin city. My withdrawal process was a step by step relocation, first physically to a more distant suburb that still remained a community of slightly less insane people rather than a teaming mass of mad humans. The move further away to the mountain came later.

But even being further away from the center of the infection, I still faced the conundrum of carrying with me the Imperial conditioning, the worldview and mindset of the Empire. This, by the way, is why geographic cures rarely work for people with (or recovering from) drug and alcohol addiction. While the physical location may change, the corrupted mind remains the same.

This also applies to people who decide to move to an isolated place (often cutting the cord by going off grid) and deprive themselves of all the reinforcing distractions under of guise of becoming self sufficient. While certainly a noble endeavor, written word and even word of mouth simply doesn’t prepare the average person for the grueling physical and emotional labor they are subjecting themselves to.

The net result is many (but not all) fail to break free and wind up returning to the Empire’s fold with hat in hand and most likely worse off for their effort. Many flew the coop in the first place in a semi panic after waking to find they have been sleeping with the beast, a maniacal mass murderer of untold depravity. Nearly all speak of feeling they have been accessories by ignorant complicity.

The bottom line is that living with, and within, the beast is draining emotionally, physically, mentally and, most importantly, spiritually. And I am specifically NOT speaking of spirituality in a traditional religious sense.

I shall continue exploring this thought process in Part 3.



Cognitive Dissonance

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3 thoughts on “Have You a Positive Practice? (Part Two)”

  1. 7 plateaus to go

    As i sit here and ponder on the essay, an experience I partook in came to mind. It was 35 plus years ago when I was a youngster.

    My friend and I went to a friend of my brother to get some pot, I think his name was Bob., Bob had this old house that looked like it was falling apart on the outside. Inside was a totally different story and he had this special room in the middle of the house that was round, no windows, nice lighting , nice seating and the air was ice cold also.

    So my friend completed his transaction and we were ready to leave, but Bob says, hang out and let me show you a new way of smoking pot, so we stayed. He had his pot pipe with a connector that looked like a mini CO2 canister connected to it, He takes a big hit and opens the valve for a few seconds, then my friend did it and then I did it. All I can say it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. So we did another hit and then another hit, my friend and I were so baked that we couldn’t even move, let alone stand up. So we said to Bob we’ve had enough, we’re done, we’re beyond baked and that’s when Bob said, are you kidding me, you still have seven plateaus to go.

    That’s what scares me about the insanity ( myself included) is we still have seven plateaus to go.

    I would normally say Keep calm and keep growing, but I’m not sure that’s even possible anymore.

    Mr Pepper

  2. Both of these articles resonated with me, but particularly the idea that we have been regressing as a species, rather than progressing. I attended the AV8 conference in the U.K. back in June and was blown away by a lecture discussing this by Tony Wright. I don’t know if you are familiar with his ideas on the growth of the brain and the subsequent left brain/right brain split some time in the distant past. His book ‘Return to the Brain of Eden’ (it used to be called ‘Left in the Dark’) is well worth a read. The general idea is that our culturally acquired left brain dominance has cost us our sanity, but that there may be a way back to our former state of ‘wholeness’. Thee are several interviews with Tony on The Tube, but I would recommend his book highly.

    1. chrismus,

      I had not heard of Tony Wright. I have a video of his cued up and will watch it now.

      OK, I’m back. I watched 8 videos of his (there are more) and find him very interesting. Found myself going back and re-watching each one several times in order to absorb most of what he’s saying. The part where he’s talking about a ‘shrinking’ brain, actually our brain no longer on the same expansion trajectory started many hundreds of thousands of years ago, is fascinating. His mention of a possible cataclysm that interrupted and changed the direction caught my attention. Much to absorb here. Thanks for the tip to Tony.

      Cognitive Dissonance

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