First Chapter Section 7
Here we focus again on the analysis of the left side of the illustration
In the preceding picture, we explore Dimming attention as a consequence of negativity.
Consider the basic act of seeing. Do we actually see what we’re looking at? The fact is that we don’t. Instead, we see what we prefer to see.”
The brain can withstand pain by disguising its sting (chemically), but at the expense of losing consciousness or sensitivity.
• By reducing awareness, the mind may shield itself from worry.
• This technique produces a blind spot—a zone of diverted attention.
• Such blind spots may be seen at every major level of behavior, from psychological to social.
When awareness is not engaged in goal-directed activity, it suffers from unpleasant disorders and random drift. Anxiety and boredom are uncomfortable feelings felt by a wandering awareness that lacks desire and attention. A simple remedy might be to exercise the body through running, yoga, martial arts, and establishing hobbies such as carpentry, painting, or playing an instrument.
When newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he inquired why the elder man was studying Greek at his age. “To improve my mind, young man,” Justice Holmes said.
All of these activities function via a rigorous demand for concentrated attention, heightened concentration, and the prevention of consciousness disturbance.
When we are not concentrated on a task or working, the bulk of our thoughts are gloomy. There are more negative events in our lives than positive ones. Possibilities for the negative constantly outweigh those for the good. By meditating on unpleasant possibilities, we might better prepare for the unexpected as part of evolution and adaptation. When the mind focuses on anything unpleasant, it produces conflict in the mind. Depression, rage, anxiety, and envy are all examples of such conflict. Negative emotions, while they endure, take over our thinking and deplete our drive.
We are all born driven; it is what we perceive to be real but aren’t and what we wrongly think that destroys motivation.
Most individuals, according to Jean-Paul Sartre, have “false consciousness,” believing that they are living in the greatest of all conceivable worlds. This seems to be a vicious circle: distorted attention or perception causes negativity, which triggers a chemical with a numbing effect, dimming consciousness or reducing attention.
Our modern civilization encourages us to reject or repress our sense of reality. Ours is a denial-based civilization that compels us to shield ourselves from any direct difficulties or pain. We invest great energy rejecting our uncertainty, battling suffering, death, and loss, and avoiding the fundamental realities of the natural world and our own nature.
When something nasty pops up, you convince yourself it is not there, or you convince yourself it is pleasant rather than unpleasant. If you examine your negative experience, notice it consciously, research the phenomena, and discover its mechanics. The only way out of a trap is to study it and discover how it is constructed. This is accomplished by disassembling the item piece by piece. If the trap has been dismantled, it cannot trap you. The end outcome is liberty.
The goal of this book is to teach new observation and listening skills, spiritual meditation, prayer, and other strategies to break the vicious loop and shift your mind from the left side of the image above (numbness and despair) to the right side of the graphic above (enlightenment and happiness). Naturally, the right side forms a pleasant or virtuous circle. The more acute the observation or impression, the greater the necessity for reducing ambiguity and finding challenges, and vice versa.
The reader should also be aware that the right side of the figure operates under identical conditions. Intrinsically driven activities are likewise aimed at creating gratifying circumstances. These disorders are connected to brain demands and may be pursued in order to prevent or lessen hazards to brain functioning. These functional dangers might be connected to creative requirements. Indeed, when individuals are free of the interference of impulses and emotions, they seek circumstances that pique their attention and need the application of their ingenuity and inventiveness. They seek tasks that are appropriate for their abilities and are neither too simple nor too challenging. When they discover ideal challenges, individuals fight tirelessly to overcome them. In sum, the desire for competence and self-determination keeps individuals engaged in a never-ending loop of seeking and overcoming ideal obstacles. This is joyful.