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“Tangled balls of assumptions” by Richard Moore

There has been a very interesting interactive discussion on issues around communication on cyberjournal.org moderated by Richard Moore. The following contribution from Richard is an excerpt from a discussion about what he refers to as”tangled unquestioned assumptions” in everyone’s heads “that probably aren’t serving us.”

Richard Moore writes:

I think the ‘tangled ball’ is a strong and useful image. We can all see a tangled mess in ‘those others’ who believe all kinds of nonsense, like ‘those Tea Party folks’, ‘those knee-jerk liberals’, ‘those conspiracy theorists’ — whoever your ‘confused other’ is. It’s pretty easy then to see that tangled assumptions are part of the human condition. And then we’ve got to accept, each of us, that we ourselves have at least some tangled unquestioned assumptions, that probably aren’t serving us.

The following question becomes interesting: “What is your relationship to your tangled assumptions?” It’s a question worth dwelling on a bit, I think. Clearly, being ‘in engagement’ with our assumptions, by one means or another, at one level or another, is an essential part of any path of spiritual or personal development. Contrarily, if we simply act from our assumptions, we are developmentally ‘asleep’.

Sleep is akin to narcosis. And many people habitually or addictively pursue narcosis, as provided by alcohol, drugs, television, shopping, etc. Narcosis enables one to escape from that which should be getting attention. The drinker escapes from his problems, TV-watchers from the need to have a life, etc. Those who are asleep to their assumptions are escaping from the work of developing and evolving themselves, as human beings and as spiritual beings.

But what is the equivalent, in this case, of alcohol and drugs? What is it that we ‘do’, that puts us into a narcosis relationship with our own development? I suppose the answer is that this particular narcosis is ‘done to us’. In school, we don’t question the lessons, we try to ‘learn them’, ie, ‘accept them as truth’. Our cognition is devoted to ‘working with’ these ‘truths’, ie. doing homework exercises and taking tests. Our assumption-questioning muscles don’t get exercise and don’t develop.

And then there’s the media. We are always given ‘the news’, and ‘what it means’, in more or less the same breath. And there’s a coherent ‘thread of meaning’ that is continually reinforced, in both fiction and non-fiction programming. This ‘thread of meaning’, or ‘party line’, varies with the channel, so that each of us can select the channel, station, or website we agree with, and that leaves our assumptions intact.

I think we can take as a starting point that ‘questioning ones assumptions’ is inherently something that takes work, and that there is a natural defensive resistance to such questioning. Our schools and our media then do everything they can to help us avoid such work, to keep us infantilized as regards thinking for ourselves. All through life the ‘elephant in the room’ — our own native thinking — is of little interest, except as it can be applied to ‘expressing the programming’.

Socrates is the archetype of ‘the questioner’. His influence straddles the worlds of philosophical and spiritual pursuits. Every ideology is called into question, and the state is threatened — the youth are corrupted. Death to the questioner. Unquestioned assumptions are the bedrock of the state. They are what transform advanced primates into a less-evolved herding species.


Your comments directly to Richard and/or Village-connections (below) are most welcome

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