From Ignorance to Awareness - Continued
Candid and Direct
A recent article ended with the following:
"The old cliché is wrong - ignorance is not bliss. ... Our research shows that what people don't talk out, they will act out in the form of resentment, turnover, apathy, or deference. The path to results is paved with candid and direct communication. ..."
Aware of Causes and Motives
An example: you decide to take off a few pounds. You are motivated. Yet, when confronted with the need for a sweet your resolve crumbles and you are off your diet. You experience this time after time. At some point, someone advises you to be mindful of what motivates you to go for the sweet. Next time you are tempted, you give in, but start thinking about why you gave in. You have overcome ignorance - you have become aware that there are unconscious thoughts and feelings driving your behavior. You still don't know why you crave the sweet, but you are no longer completely asleep.
In other cases, for example, being replaced in a job or the breakup of a personal relationship may be the wake-up call that helps you cut through ignorance. Candid and direct communication about what led to the breakup coupled with the shock enables you to understand why what happened, happened. That knowledge makes it possible for you to act differently in the future. Without it, you are likely to repeat the behavior that caused the breakup.
Ignorance and Bliss
Ignorance is a failure to recognize the way things are; it is a condition of being uneducated, asleep, uninformed and unaware. It is like being in a box completely cut off from everything, unaware that there is an entire world outside of the box. Inside the box it is very comfortable. There is certainty. But then something happens that disturbs the peace - the box starts to shake or a small hole appears exposing a peek at something outside the box.
Is Ignorance bliss? Bliss is a sense of perfect happiness, ecstasy, joyfulness. When it is lasting in the face of ever-changing conditions, it is flourishing happiness. When you recognize it as a basic quality of awareness, it is unconditional happiness. Ignorance may feel good but is the feeling sustainable? Does ignorance support optimal performance and flourishing or unconditional happiness?
The expulsion from Eden, opening Pandora's Box, and transitioning from childhood to adulthood support the idea that ignorance is bliss. Well, in case you haven't noticed, we have been expelled; the box is opened. You can either go to sleep to avoid reality or open to it, accepting things as they are.
The opposite of ignorance is knowing that something is happening or exists. This is a prerequisite for conscious acceptance and choice. Knowledge of causes and conditions enables healthy relationships and performance.
How You Can Overcome Ignorance
Ignore a problem, and you perpetuate it. The problem gets pushed down under the radar of conscious thought. Dysfunction is accepted. Often, over time, things get worse. For example, personal relationships become strained as unaddressed behavior persists and becomes increasingly annoying until a breaking point is reached. It's like boiling the frog - gradually turning up the heat so the frog doesn't notice it until it is too late. The frog is boiled, the relationship broken.
Ignorance has been a powerful force in the world for thousands of years. It has survived in the face of ignorance-caused disasters like wars, famines, massacres, failed civilizations and organizations. It is resilient and persistent. So, overcoming it is not easy. But it is possible. And, surprisingly simple.
To begin with, accept the fact that, unless you are a Buddha or God, you are ignorant of some things, some of the time. Question everything, even your most dearly held beliefs. Immediately, you have overcome the ignorance of ignorance. Often the acceptance of your own ignorance is triggered by an event or confrontation that makes it clear that there are things you don't know or are not aware of. You finally see how something you are not conscious of is driving your behavior. That is where candid communication comes into play.
Relieving Ignorance with Direct and Candid Communication
Saying the truth about things as they are, confronts ignorance. If the people involved are open to it, they will be able to choose and act wisely. If they are not ready, they will deny, close, "shoot the messenger" and be lost in ignorance, until something wakes them up, or perhaps, forever.
Candid and direct communication creates an opportunity to become aware. It does not guarantee awareness, but it does make it more possible to see things as they are. Anyone can ignore input from others, but at least there is a chance that the input will make a difference.
Ignorance disappears in the light of knowledge. Candid and direct communication bring knowledge to the situation. Self-reflection lets the knowledge in.
To peacefully combat it, acknowledge that ignorance is at work and commit to doing away with it. Internally, let the underlying causes of those feelings come to the surface; seek and consider feedback from others.
In relationships, promote candid communication. Be ready to offer it with sensitivity and the knowledge that those who are lost in ignorance (including yourself) may not be awakened as quickly as you would like them to be. Be open to the idea that you may be ignorant of why you are doing what you are doing and to the input from others that can help you with your own blind spots.