Cognitive Dissonance: Recognizing It and Closing the Gap
By Rahasya Poe
In the last issue of Lotus Guide I wrote an article about misinformation and disinformation that generated a lot of interest with our readers. It was clear from the response I received that we “can” handle the truth if it’s made available. The truth is “out there” and in fact, is all around us, so why don’t we see and hear it when we come face to face with it?
A while back I wrote a book based on questioning the validity of a quote by Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” The research for the book took me down the rabbit hole where academia, religion, and politics have intertwined with a small, select group of families and individuals on this planet who think it’s their duty and right to control and manipulate the masses. When I was on the Coast to Coast AM radio show being interviewed about the social and neurological consequences of our beliefs, George opened the lines to callers and an elderly lady said, “Well, I read your book but I disagree with what you said about beliefs. I ‘believe’ that everyone has to believe something.” Let me clarify that I am talking about beliefs that have become institutionalized as rigid and eternal truths, not ideas and hypotheses that are meant as stepping-stones to the discovery of those eternal truths. This is what we’ve been led to believe, usually by people who have an agenda and a secret mission. According to some of the most cutting-edge neuroscientists, such as Dr. Andrew Newberg and many others, this idea that you have to believe in “something,” as in “anything,” is an outdated cognitive function that we are evolving out of and is at the very heart of most personal and global misunderstandings. History has clearly shown that most everything that we have ever believed has ended up being completely wrong at worst or dangerously misleading at best. Of course you may not believe this, but bear with me.
I will get back to the idea of holding onto a belief as if it were a confirmed truth a little later in this article, but for now, let’s look at “What is cognitive dissonance?” If you are even “somewhat” in touch with reality you may be noticing some mental stress in your life; this could very well be the discomfort that a person feels when attempting to hold onto contradictory ideas, beliefs, or social values at the same time. We all want stability and consistency in our lives and will avoid information, such as this article for instance, that brings more inconsistency (dissonance) into our thinking. In fact, we will fight with others, not only mentally but physically, who threaten us with contradictory information, ideas, or beliefs, especially if they come packaged with a lot of those pesky little things called facts.
The best way to avoid contradiction is to close down, turn on your favorite TV show, and lock the front door, which I see many of us doing. The trouble begins when there’s a knock on that door—“Knock Knock”—and here we are, face-to-face with a global society that shares very little in common with us, other than the fact that we breathe the same air, because we are divided by how we believe and perceive reality. We would all be wise to ponder such quotes as William Blake’s when he said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” So this is nothing new to the human experience, but what is new is the fact that one, we are waking up to higher conscious levels of perception; two, scientific research is peering deep into the nature of life itself; and three, we live in the information age where there is no real or lasting escape.
We all need to find our place in the scheme of things—some of us need to raise our families and keep our kids safe, some of us feel the need to protect others, and some of us have this incurable desire to heal the pain and suffering of others. Then there are people like me, working diligently to cleanse the windows of perception so we can all see reality as it is, “Infinite.” But through the perception of outdated and misleading beliefs, societal ideas of what’s right and wrong, and this sociopathic passion we have to prove ourselves right, we will forever find ourselves locked in conflict with the “others” and the most dangerous culprit of all … ourselves.
Bertrand Russell once said, “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” We would all serve ourselves and others well if we kept this in mind the next time we started spouting off ideas and beliefs, most of which we heard or read from others in the first place and have very little to do with personal experience. The only thing required to bring about a new understanding of our place in the cosmos is to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our actions; this is called “growing up.” We all need to be prepared for what’s coming at us in our immediate future; what it is, no one is quite sure, but we all feel it and sense it. If we are left to the old ways of dealing with problems and seeing the world through limiting beliefs that separate us from nature and ourselves, we will either die from a toxic environment, find ourselves deep into WW III, possibly nuclear, or in a position where we need to choose a side in yet another civil war with ourselves. But there is another way—one more quote and I will leave you alone. Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems from the same level of thinking/consciousness that created them.” But it doesn’t take a genius to see this in today’s world … we will either wake up to a new level of spiritual consciousness and Oneness with every living thing in creation, or, we will perish, and that is as it should be.