SPEAK you devil! Who can’t see without facts and insights
Who dares to look
But never see, through human eyes
The wants and feelings,
The fears and sensations
That is trying to be communicated, not through words, but tone…
So redeem yourself! Cast away your longing for Truth and certainty, insight and facts!
Find within yourself the will to see the desperate desire of each human to communicate… but lacking the words can only give you a sense, a fragment, a feeling of Truth.
Sun Tzu in the Art of War named a stratagem along the lines of…
Always give your enemy an escape route. When they are losing the battle, they will flee and you’ll be able to kill off several of their men for free.
But if you don’t give the enemy an escape route, each individual in the enemies army will know their only chance for survival will be to win the battle. Because of this, they will fight ten times, even a hundred times harder and your men will suffer many losses.
So I took this idea and applied it to my Self.
Life is the commanding army and my Self is the enemy.
If Life places me in situations in which I have an escape route, I will likely take that escape and so suffer many casualties to my Self.
However, if I am careful to place my Self in situations in which Life has cornered me, where my Self has no escape routes, then I will fight ten times, even a hundred times as hard in order to fight through Life and therefore win the battle.
you must first learn to walk.
you must first learn to crawl.
you must first be taught.
you must first learn to be taught.
To be taught… first think of the teacher.
Then ask yourself, what do they know that I don’t?
So to be happy
you must first learn to think properly.
To think properly
you must first learn to think improperly.
To think improperly
you must first allow yourself to think.
you must first listen to your thoughts.
To listen to your thoughts… first sit and be still.
Then ask yourself, what am I thinking that others aren’t?
To clean your room, first it must be messy.
To clean your mind, first it must be messy.
As review, the principle of understanding is that as soon as we explain (and thus make something understandable to ourselves and others), we’ve lost a true understanding of what we’ve just explained. But, as humans, we need to explain things, otherwise we end up dealing with a painful infinity of uncertainty, which is painful, as human actions are bound to a single digit: 1.
To be uncertain is to be forced into inaction, and so we mitigate this by providing a false certainty. But perhaps there is a way to retain understanding while still mitigating uncertainty? Faith. Yes, Faith.
I realize the concept of faith has a lot of religious connotations to blind belief, there’s some Truth there, but ultimately not what I’m going for. Faith is going to be a mental tool we use to mitigate uncertainty when it’s called for. Also, Faith shouldn’t be confused with male #3 in the identity formation post: “signs from God/meaning/fate” is also not the proper definition of Faith we’ll be using.
Here’s the definition — Faith: to acknowledge the thing you cannot see as existing will be seen as existing after the fact. In other words, it’s when you place a bet that something is true, but this cannot be proved until it is proven, the proof isn’t given until after the fact. This implies that we must act as if something were true.
To use a religious example: We can’t know if God exists until after we die, so we must assume that he exists currently. That’s the religious mentality, I don’t necessarily agree with that statement itself, but that concept can be taken and applied to other non-religious matters. So let’s do that.
My girlfriend disappeared, and I don’t know why… what do I do? There are a few considerations we should make before jumping to faith, we may want to make sure she wasn’t kidnapped, that there wasn’t anything we did that could have spurred this, and should attempt to narrow it to a conclusion: I don’t know why she has disappeared, but I know she’ll be back. That is Faith.
It’s Faith precisely because I have no reason or proof that she will be back, it doesn’t make logical sense to jump to a conclusion (she’ll be back) if the unknown (why she disappeared) could roughly amount to infinity. But I make this jump to mitigate uncertainty (she’ll be back) while retaining the truth (I don’t know why she’s gone).
I’m making a wager… saying despite the unknowns, she will be back, and when she is back, I will have my proof that she is back… because she’s back. Given, she may not be back, I could be wrong, but then I decided to use faith in this scenario instead of a different explanation… that’s a reflection of my ability to correctly understand the appropriate response (in relation to whatever) to different situations.
Faith becomes especially important in terms of making long-term decisions that at first will negatively affect yourself, and only in time pay off. Looks like this:
To get something of value (subjective), there needs to be effort (work) to get it. If there’s no faith, then it’s very likely a person won’t put in the effort to get past the negative bump.
Working out is a good example because there’s established research that proves exercise is beneficial, but before that research existed, how could anyone know for certain that exercise was beneficial? Exercise in the immediate short-term can be seen as detrimental, as it tires the body and creates exhaustion, but ultimately we see it as a long-term beneficial activity because we have science guiding us (and perhaps intuition).
No faith is required in this instance since science has provided a certainty where there was an uncertainty, but science doesn’t cover all domains and can’t always take the place of faith.
Let’s say you want to change yourself or situation. Perhaps you feel depressed, sad, unlovable, or simply want to benefit other people instead of only yourself: regardless of the reason, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with change.
Infinity to one. To change means to revert back to the infinity state and to rethink what you’re doing. Maybe you’re used to drinking every Saturday night by yourself while playing latin music because you’re stressed, that’s a one. So to change means to take that drinking and replace it with… and only the individual can decide this, but whatever is decided, this is where Faith plays the next integral role.
Regardless of what you’ve decided, you won’t be able to see the results of your change until you’ve changed. Maybe you’ve decided to spend Saturdays with your family instead, great: but how will you know that this will be any better from drinking on Saturdays? In fact, at the start, it will probably be worse. You’ll probably run into some conflicts since you’ve never been there before at Saturday family board-game night, and it will probably feel terribly uncomfortable… uncertain.
To replace drinking (a certainty) requires a period of intense uncertainty (what am I going to do Saturdays if not drink? And even if I know what else I can do, how will that turn out?) and effort within that uncertainty to reach a future certainty of something unknown (maybe you’ll like what you’ve changed to, maybe it’ll be better, but it totally could be worse).
Given this, the obstacles around change are relatively high. It makes no logical sense to place bets into something that seems completely uncertain in both the middle and end phase: there’s too much risk (uncertainty), so people will tend to stick with the drinking.
But again, this is where Faith comes in. It’s a tool to mitigate uncertainty without providing false certainty, but is dependent on the proper usage of what to have Faith towards. If I stop drinking, what will happen? To alleviate this question I can use Faith, I don’t know what will happen, but it will be better than this. The last statement may not be true, but if I’m really trying to change something, there is a high likelihood that it will be better than this (because this is bad enough that I want to change it), but that requires an upfront investment in effort without knowing that things will be better. I only get proof that it’s true after the fact.
So… have Faith.
Understanding is very closely tied to uncertainty, and as mentioned in the previous post (see Paradox of Understanding) based on a person’s willingness to confront uncertainty, they will generally come to different explanations for raw experiences, these different explanations then form a solid basis for a person’s character.
The Truth, however, can never be explained because the raw experience itself is the Truth, or oftentimes, we don’t have the raw information to even form the basis for an explanation.
In other words, you can’t mitigate uncertainty with explanations (certainty) without it being a false certainty. There’s a degree of how false the explanation is, varying to different degrees, but in the end, it’s false, but this is still in important process for humans to partake in, it’s very human want to mitigate uncertainty… and that is why we have identities.
One of the difficulties of being human is having the capability to decide what one becomes, identity is not given, it is formed and chosen. But what is identity?
An identity is a constraint on a person’s behavior, it’s a limiter: if I’m a coder, I code and not other things. If I’m a teacher, I teach and not other things. Not to say that a person is as simple as one label and only does one thing, but a set of finite labels (some that activitate in specific scenarios, others that deactivate in other scenarios, and some that apply in all) that translate to behaviors, actions is roughly what an identity is, and it is a central component to living… why?
Take for example a 22 year old male who has never left his room for the entirety of his life, he doesn’t know what society is like (and therefore doesn’t know social rules), doesn’t know what people are like (and therefore doesn’t know interaction rules), and since he’s only been in his room (doing nothing, just eating, sleeping, drinking), he also has very little idea of what to do in the world. As soon as this person enters the real world and leaves his room, his mind is going to be bombarded with million different sources of stimuli, scenarios, interactions with people, and he’ll have to try to understand what he’s supposed to do. Sometimes when he stares at a person, they give him a mean face. Other times when he stares, they give him a smile. What does it all mean?
The idea here is that in any given situation or interaction, this person has an infinite number of possibilities for ways to act, and this infinity creates a lot of uncertainty within him. Feeling uncertainty is very unpleasant, and seeing other people being uncertain (because of your own inability to explain other’s behaviors (which is obviously also worsened by higher levels of erratic behaviors)) is very unnerving.
Decreasing unpredictability in ourselves and others is what a solid identity should do then… but oftentimes it happens that identities don’t form correctly from youth to adulthood. What happens then?
Let’s take a relatively average 18 year old girl and throw her on Tinder. Being 18, she’s still very much trying to “find herself”, nothing wrong there, god speed, but please note; she’s average looking.
So this girl lands in Dick Ocean (Tinder) and all of a sudden gets matches… lots and lots of matches… attention, so much more attention than she’s ever had in high school (because she’s just average…) and that attention feels good.
Let’s fast forward a few years, there is only a binary here… she’s either still on Tinder (this includes periodically leaving it and coming back to it), or she’s left it. If she’s left it, good, she’s probably taking a more self-reflective approach and choosing an identity that isn’t dependent on male validation. Given all the different identities in the world, a dependency on anyone else doing or saying anything is not an identity, it’s a prolonging of not choosing an identity and therefore a crutch in being unable to decide for oneself what is self.
Why is that the case? Because if we go back to our definition of identity, its purpose, its goal, is to take an infinite number of possible actions a person can take and reduce it down to a finite set and eventually a single action or way of behaving at a specific time and specific scenario. Over the course of a person’s life, then in similar scenarios we should be able to predict that this person will act roughly in the same manner.
This is not the case for validation seeking because validation seeking is not a consistent action. To get validation from different people inherently means that the behaviors of the person has to change in order to “meet the demands” of validation that the appropriate person will give. In other words, this person is unpredictable… and identity is again, meant to give yourself and others predictability, ergo: validation seeking = no identity.
But unfortunately, and is often the case now, this girl will probably end up staying on Tinder… at the age of 18 it’s hard to reason differently than this: My parents make me feel like shit, but they’re supposed to be good people… and these dicks make me feel good, but people tell me they aren’t great… but if they make me feel good, they can’t be so bad afterall…
The unfortunate end is that society is filled with people that have no basis for an identity, are chaos, and in essence can’t exist without someone else telling them they exist.
Next Post: Past Understanding