Real Threads and False Threats (MLS 598.4.1)

I’m pretty late getting to the films this week as I was traveling- and it seems many of us have had the same feelings about the films. I’m pretty hooked on The Keepers and plan on finishing the series- and as one who has been trying to develop a  meditation practice (and also wrestling with my relationship with the church/religion of my youth), I really enjoyed Dhamma Brothers. Like many of you, The Master didn’t resonate so much, except for what seems to me to be the common thread of the kinds of religion that wants to free people, versus the kinds of religion that tries to free people.

I tend to think that I can see/sense when someone is being manipulative, but I’m also keenly aware of the natural human tendency to process everything through a confirmation bias, but this is an idea close to my core. I think I might be trying to identify patterns- what a poker player would call an opponent’s “tell.” I’m not sure that people always have “tells” and when someone seems on the outside completely different than what appears to be on the inside, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Frankly, the film “Tabloid” is still hanging on- how the woman in the film seemed so “normal” but had this incredibly broken relationship with reality and morality.

That film seemed to fit more here than in week 2 for me. Sex played a supporting role, but an unhealthy connection to forcing others to see the world through one lens seems to be the main character. I feel like this is true of religion- some people have an honest, personal experience that they want to share with others that are interested (and only those interested), and those that feel like their faith is little more than an obligation cart attached to a punishment horse, with only their fearful idea of “God” in control of it all. Sadly, I remember what that felt like when I was much closer to that experience, and I’m here to finally confront the truth itself.

Of this week’s films, the one that resonated with me most was the Dhamma Brothers- and I actually wrote down one of the quotes to meditate on later:

“I thought my greatest fear was growing old and dying in prison. In truth, my greatest fear was growing old and never knowing myself.”

This is the core of it all. Knowing yourself, and knowing truth. You can’t find one without the other- and I’ve been wrestling a little with a chicken and egg scenario about this. I think that I believe that you have to know how to find truth first. I tend to be fairly logical and analytical- and I probably repress some of my emotions; but I have also known so many people that get so tangled up in their emotions that they can’t see the truth at all, even when there is evidence that their beliefs are internally and inherently contradictory.

But that’s why I’m here in this program, and that’s why I think we’re all here- to find out what the Truth actually is. Facts are easy to find, and as my debate teacher in High School always said- “there’s always evidence to backup any statement, the facts can be on your side… even when you’re wrong.”

I want to get rid of all my own internal contradictions. My break from organized religion and deep dive into spiritual practices and beliefs is all a search for the truth. The early philosophers all the way to your witty friend who gets too deep when he’s stoned- truth is available in all of this… There may be facts that contradict it, but that doesn’t make it false.

Inherent bias. Cultural bias. Confirmation bias. Logical fallacies. Blind spots. We all have them- and I believe our job as humans is to get beyond the caked on mud of past experiences and all the attempts that others have made to manipulate us, or that we have made to deceive ourselves…

And to finally come face to face with the truth under the facts.

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