Against the tide
I call this ‘Against the tide’ because in many ways it is what it feels like to have views that are so different to the prevailing mass of people in Western societies, or at least those who are vocal on the internet. As someone who practices mysticism, and a believer in the divine, I frequently feel that the assumptions and arguments that people make are so different from mine that attempting to argue against them is like trying to stop the tide coming in. However, I think I must give it a try.
Mysticism, and to some extent all religious practices, are designed to bring us closer to God. It’s a journey of expansion of consciousness. That is, we must open up our awareness to subtle influences that are, when you come in contact with them, far more powerful than intellect or what people usually are aware of with their so-call five senses.
The prevailing mass view is that instead of expanding our consciousness we should contract it. We get feelings, intuitions. Most so-called ‘rational’ people dismiss these feelings. In fact, they are perceived to be a distraction from real intelligence which is calculating and working out on using logical and ‘science’.
Even on their own terms this doesn’t make sense. We know that what we are aware of consciously is a very small part of what we take into our minds. In his book ‘Blink’, Malcom Gladwell explores the idea of knowing without knowing that you know. Subconscious learning:
“Our world requires that decisions be sourced and footnoted, and if we say how we feel, we must also be prepared to elaborate on why we feel that way…We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that — sometimes — we’re better off that way.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
But this type of learning is not just discouraged, it is actively opposed by many sections of society that tell me that I should ignore my intuition. Of course, trusting the intuition is sometimes easier said than done. I tell a story. It’s not true, or at least I suppose it’s not, but it illustrates what I mean:
A young man, Jason, grew up in the north of Queensland, Australia, and was always told from an early age that Koori people, the indigenous population of Australia, are lazy, dishonest and stupid. It’s not an uncommon view in the redneck north of the country where many Koori people live on the edge of towns and don’t have a western education and skills. However, he leaves this stultifying environment and moves south to the more egalitarian city of Melbourne. Here, he gets a good job as a manager and subsequently finds himself interviewing people for a position in his company. One interviewee is a Koori, and Jason whilst interviewing him gets the strong feeling that the man is not to be trusted. So the question I ask is this: Is this feeling a result of his upbringing or is it a result of his intuition?
When we learn anything we make mistakes. When we learnt to walk as toddlers we undoubtedly fell over but we still learnt to walk. In the same way when learning to use you intuition you are going to make mistakes — was that feeling my upbringing or was it my intuition? But over time you learn to trust your intuition as you refine it.
Now let’s look at the prevailing view in society. If I get a feeling about a person I am told that this is prejudice and I should apply rational thought instead. If I am talking to someone who I perceive to be male — who looks like a man, talks like a man and who I get the feeling is a man, I am told that if this person identifies as a women that I should think of them as a women. In other words, I should go against my instincts and feelings.
Political correctness is the enemy of religion. It is the view that we should trust in rational thought (and these people have redefined rationality to mean what they want it to mean), we should ignore our feelings and ignore any view that hasn’t been endorsed by the so-called ‘scientific process’.
On the contrary. We should expand our consciousness not by blindly trusting our feelings and intuition but by listening to them and training ourselves to recognise when they are leading us in the right way or when they are misguiding us. Then we find we have an extremely powerful tool to help us through life.
And if you haven’t found a good answer to Jason’s predicament, I would say that he doesn’t know whether his feeling is intuition or simply a result of years of exposure to prejudice. Other things being equal he should probably employ the person but keep an eye on him (as one should on any new employee).