When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Everyone in my school knew the reason for the change, so I didn’t have to explain it. When I joined the workforce, people would constantly ask me where my name came from and I wouldn’t want to go into the details because that would require a longer, deeper discussion. I hated the presumptuous question of, what is my real name, because that would require and even longer and even deeper discussion. They were asking a simple question and I developed a simple answer for it. “My Dad is black and my mother is Indian,” I would say. “Oh cool,” they would say. A simple question, a simple half-truth and we’d all move on.
As we call our guru, Amma, or mother, it wasn’t a full lie, but was completely misleading. I had said it so many times by the age of 25 that I wouldn’t even think twice about it. But then I got a new job and the manager asked me the same question and I gave my same answer, and the manager was enamored with it. He would tell everyone that I was half black and half Indian (actually, I’m half African American and half European American, which you would think equals “all” American but that is a term generally used for another color). My half truth had suddenly turned into a full lie that I had to double and triple down on and evade as much as possible. I didn’t stay at that job more than a year but I never used the lie again. Instead I would just smile and say it’s an Indian name and move on. Actually by then, I had grown a full beard and people would just think I was an immigrant and so stopped asking me the question entirely. The new question became where I was from.
What makes our species unique in the animal kingdom is our ability for complex thought; to have ideas that we can prove into existence through the power of our own reasoning. Not only can we make shit up, but we can also sway each other to our own way of thinking. We can create whole factions of logical thought dedicated merely to the strength of our cult of personality. Furthermore, under the influence of our dedications we are able to cleverly misunderstand whatever we don’t want to believe in.
This article wasn’t meant to debate the art of lying; I am more interested in the art of believing; believing and then molding our whole worldview around those beliefs.
When I hear someone talk about evolution that doesn’t want to believe in it, they explain what evolution is in a way that completely misses the point of it. They give reasons why it can’t exist by arguing against points that its proponents also don’t believe in. But, you can’t legitimately disprove evolution by explaining it in the wrong way. In the same way, I hear people who don’t want to believe in God talk about the soul, and why it can’t exist, in a way that people who believe in a soul don’t actually think of it. You can’t disprove a concept by defining it wrong. There is no point in disproving pop culture definitions of evolution; you have to tackle the scientific definitions if you want to properly argue against it. But that would first require that you study it in a scientific way. You can’t argue against atheistic definitions of the soul and have it mean anything, you have to first go through a mystic training regimen of meditation and scriptural study before you have any right to talk on the subject. in the same way, you can’t have corporations that create climate damaging pollutants write up environmental protection science that benefits them financially by making up scientific evidence and calling real science fake. You also can’t claim a political propaganda station as real news and call all other journalists fake news. But of course these things happen every day.
We cannot factually examine any idea while under the sway of an opposing opinion. We have to be willing to momentarily set aside our belief system if we want to be open, however briefly, to another’s idea. In our current state, we wear our ideas like battle armor. We have to do that, because many use their ideas as weapons.
Let us examine an idea that we might have less of an immediate gut level resistance to discussing, such as borders. There is not an animal in nature that recognizes the borders that we are willing to go to war over. Animals may be territorial just like us, but we believe in a God given, or inalienable right to territory just because we’ve pissed all over it. A border is not an unchangeable truth. It is an idea. Just like the concept of an unchangeable truth is an idea.
The lingering awareness we have of spirituality is that it is something which is beyond the realm of ideas, but we are such magnificent creatures that we are able to put even a concept of limitless infinity in a box to sell and fight over.
I have an idea that I was born for great things. I have an idea that the stars will align just so, to bring about the glorification of my illusory self to the point where I will forget the pain of being out of tune with my true, unchanging consciousness. I use my ideas to fortify my illusions, because I’ve grown to enjoy the pain of an ever-changing world in the same way that I’ve learned to enjoy the pain of getting a tattoo. I’m attached to being scarred and heartbroken. I seek out the darkness in whatever “acceptable” forms I can find it. I hide from the light. I walk as slowly down the path I’ve chosen as possible so as not to lose my grip on my likes and dislikes that ensure I’m wrapped constantly in the struggle between joy and sorrow. I do all of these things because I have an idea that freedom from sorrow will cause my identity to disappear and that the bliss of union, and consequently dissolution, will be the same as death. I have all of these ideas because of my lack of true experience in freedom. Someone who is truly free will never be shy about their distaste of shackles.
When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Because even before the idea of speaking truth into existence was a thing, I knew where I wanted to lay the foundation of the fight I wanted to rest in. We can make of this world whatever we want. The world is an illusory thing because it completely changes depending on from what perspective we are viewing it. That is the beauty of the complexities we wrestle with. What is the truth that you’ve chosen to stand in?