The intellect is the bouncer of the heart. And transformation occurs, starting from the heart.
If self transformation is the intention, the intellect has to admit it into the heart. The heart has to then work on it, and the change gets applied to one’s life. Of course, some incidents and ideas are so powerful, that they will blow away the bouncer from the front door, and they’ll muscle their way right into your heart. I’m not talking about those today. That’ll be another post.
Accepting every idea that comes across your world view is a sure fire way to madness. Because there are a lot of harmful ideas out there, and within us. Even if they’re not harmful on their own, they can result in maladaptation when combined with other ideas or ones own temperament.
Openness is required. But not too much. Not too little. It has to be just right. Goldilocks openness.
There needs to be a dialog between the open intellect and the open heart. The dialog is what refines the new idea one has picked up. The dialog is what makes it possible to apply the idea into one’s life. That open dialog is what leads to *successful* transformation.
Things get out of hand, when the intellect and heart reinforce each other’s takes on a situation. There needs to be a tension between them, while maintaining a goal of ultimate cooperation.
Even when that is happening, it is possible that mistakes will be made. And the heart or the intellect of a single person might not be enough to pick up the mistakes. By the time the mistakes are spotted, people might have already destroyed their lives or let these problematic ideas take root too deeply. This is why lone seekers are more likely to fail. They might not see all the pitfalls and hazards in their path, while they keep their eyes fixed on the distant peak in their headlong rush. The solution would be,
1. To slow down, never be in a hurry
2. Take your eyes off the peak and look at the path frequently.
3. Plan your way points
4. Rest and take in the surroundings
5. Analyse the terrain and see if it is getting more hostile or more friendly
A much easier and more time tested solution is to find a group to travel with. A group that enables and encourages dialog between members. One that has the good of all the members in the group as a goal. One in which the members are not vying for power and influence over others. The members are all seeking on their own, and they’re all willing to help each other. Cooperation, not competition. The concept of a satsang. In modern terms this is called distributed cognition. Where, ideas that one is playing with in their own hearts and minds get offered out to the group for examination and use. They’ll try it. They’ll poke holes in it. Build it back better. And return it to you. The process continues till the idea approaches perfection.
This is the reason why I write so much.
This is my attempt at distributed cognition. I first work on ideas on my own. When I think I’ve taken it as far as I can safely, I put it out here, in the hope that others can pick it up and refine it further. This is crowdsourcing sanity(or insanity, depending on your perspective)
Finding a guide(Guru) is even better. One who has been to the peak already. In several different weather conditions with several different groups, preferably one who’s used several different paths to get to the peak.
Cognition needs to take place at several levels. At the individual level, then at the distributed cognition level(small group) then at the level of society as a whole. Ideally, only the best ideas should get to the society level. And that was what it used to be like. Maladaptive ideas wouldn’t get very far. They wouldn’t last very long. Now the process is both accelerated and circumvented by modern communication systems. The rise and fall of ideas is now blisteringly fast. Problem is ideas have consequences. Ideas possess people. And when ideas die, they take people with them. The more powerful the ideas, the more people they possess and the bigger the potential for real world consequences when they struggle with other ideas.
Ideas are harmless(relatively) if they’re not put into action. But ideas are also powerless with being put into action. How do you pick which ideas to put into action? Where is your cognition distributed? Can you see far enough the consequences of your ideas in action? Have you tried predicting? Do you have experience in predicting what happens as the consequences of your thoughts and actions? Wouldn’t it be better to start small, gain experience and then move gradually, over centuries, to world changing projects? If there are world changing projects already in action, see how long they’ve been going on. See their trends. Examine the methods they use to effect self transformation. Steal from them shamelessly, if their methods align with your world view. In general, an introspective method that focuses on self transformation to effect a change in the world, will be less violent and less willing to use force on others. A method that tries to fix the world, before teaching it’s adherents to fix themselves will need to use more force and violence. And anyway, think logically. A smaller project has a greater chance of success and less invested in it, and therefore less chance of deadly consequences, than a large world changing project. So, start small. What is smaller than oneself, in the face of this universe?