One of the most common grievances I hear voiced in this patchwork grassroots rebellion of ours is how frustrating it can be to see our intelligent, well-educated friends and relatives succumbing to the influence of blatant establishment propaganda day in and day out. How can such clever individuals fall for such obvious manipulations? Why can’t they see that they’re being lied to? It’s frustrating.
“They’re dropping like flies!” woke progressives everywhere exclaimed as a fact-free McCarthyist feeding frenzy swept across the nation and seized control of the minds of their friends and loved ones. “These are smart people! Why can’t they smell the bullshit?”
The answer to these questions, I think, lies in the distinction between intelligence and wisdom, and that’s what I’d like to discuss here if you’ll indulge me for a moment. Intelligence is a capacity that our species evolved in order to out-survive and out-thrive other competing organisms, and it’s still ultimately not much use for anything other than that. Whatever information goes into your head, the extent of your intelligence is the extent to which you are able to use that information in a way that advantages you over the other organisms so that you can feel safe and secure. One of our ancestors was once clever enough to connect a string of information about how things work and figured out that a spear can be thrown much further when launched from a leverage device, for example, and this made it a lot easier to get food, thus increasing the sense of safety and security of that particular human organism.
Intelligence is your ability to use the ideas and information that you have, the degree of adeptness with which you can use the tools that you have in your mental toolbox in order to succeed in a career, invent a new app, or figure out how to leave a party early with minimal social awkwardness. It is very useful for these things. It is completely useless for determining which tools you want to have in your toolbox in the first place.
That’s where wisdom comes in. Without wisdom (or insight if you prefer), people just keep whatever ideas and information get dumped into their brains by their parents, school, culture and media, and those remain the only tools that they ever get to work with. With a lot of intelligence they can get very good at using those tools, at moving the ideas and information around in a way that makes their lives comfortable, which is why you’ll see establishment liberals pouring an incredible amount of mental power into defending establishment narratives and gaslighting themselves into believing that the oppressive corporatist oligarchy they’re living in is perfectly normal. Without wisdom they’ll keep running those same clever programs, accepting new information only from places they’ve been programmed to accept it from, without ever once taking a moment to question whether the tools they’re using are really ideal for creating a healthy, harmonious world.
Insight gives you the ability to take a step back from all those whirring mental mechanisms and go, “Wait a second — what’s really happening here? Is this really a truthful and wholesome way of looking at life? Is this really what’s best, in the big picture?” And I think that capacity is what separates the clear-eyed rebels from the establishment loyalists, generally speaking. We’re not necessarily smarter than they are, but we’ve got the ability to kind of take a step back from an idea we’re being offered and evaluate it from all sides rather than being swept up in it out of conditioned mental habit and loyalty to authority.
It’s this human capacity for insight that gives me hope through all this. We are not beholden to the conditioning of our culture, to the lies our parents passed on to us unintentionally and to the lies our televisions tell us intentionally. We are not bound by old ideas, we are not doomed to repeat old patterns until war, ecocide or both carry us off into extinction. At any moment, insight could begin to dawn on a large scale throughout our species provoked by completely unforeseen circumstances, and we can begin collaborating toward a thriving, harmonious relationship with our ecosystem instead of competing for front seats to the apocalypse. We can wake up on a large scale. The eye of insight can open inside anyone at any time. When you see that this is true, there is never a valid reason to give up hope.
This may sound a little woo woo and hokey, but I truly believe that one of the most productive things we can do to advance the revolution against the unelected power establishment is to cultivate and nurture this capacity for insight within ourselves. I don’t mean this in any kind of metaphysical way, but in the most pragmatic sense possible: the clearer your inner vision, the better you will be at helping your fellow man wake up to what’s really happening. Since the revolution we are fighting is first and foremost a media war, our ability to clearly see what’s happening will determine the impact with which we can awaken the public and speak truth to power, our ability to choose the most effective areas to push in on, the accuracy with which we’ll choose trustworthy collaborators, and will inform the counter-narratives we’ll select to throw into the gears of the machine. The wiser you are, the more grace and effectiveness you’ll have in navigating a world saturated in brainwashing and deceit.
Spiritual traditions have prescribed many methods for cultivating wisdom throughout the ages, and those are fine to the extent that they’ll carry you, but the trouble with spiritual traditions is that only in the last few decades of the expanse of human history has spirituality been viewed as separate from religious institutions. Every major world religion has spent centuries of its history inseparably interwoven with the governments of their respective regions, which means that religion/spirituality has woven throughout its traditions a lot of teachings designed to maintain a docile populace — blessed are the meek, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, glorifying poverty, service, submission, etc. By espousing the tenets of spirituality, people often leave themselves open to all manner of abuses and exploitation because spiritual traditions are steeped in teachings intended to turn them into a bunch of malleable servants, which runs counter to the spirit of this revolution we’re fanning the flames of. This is not the time to turn the other cheek, this is the time to pry the fingers of the oligarchs from the steering wheel of society and show them the door.
If you want to mature in wisdom but don’t feel like shaving your head and devoting yourself to studying The Esoterically Esoteric Teachings of Swami Ramalamawoowoo, one extremely powerful thing that you can do is to simply cultivate an intense curiosity about what’s true. Become very curious about the true nature of things, about the true nature of politics and the media and all that, yes, but also about what this experience you’re having here actually is. Bring a light, playful curiosity to every aspect of your experience at all times, not like a scholar trying to come up with intellectual explanations for things, but more like a dolphin checking out an unfamiliar object in the water. What is a thought? What are these sense impressions appearing in your field of consciousness? What is consciousness itself? What am I? What is the self? What is really, truly happening here?
It’s amazing how so many of us live our lives without paying much attention to these fundamental questions. We’re experiencing an uninterrupted explosion of miracles in our field of consciousness every waking moment of our lives and we don’t have any idea what any of it actually is when we really look at it, but instead of devoting our lives to this mystery we fixate on things like whether or not we’re adequate and whether we’ll be okay. We don’t even know what any of this is!
By questioning the nature of everything and getting really intimately familiar with the fundamental aspects of your experience that you’d previously overlooked, you’ll be standing on much more solid ground for evaluating new information with a clear head and clear eyes. Manipulations and deceit will stand out starkly against the background instead of hiding in a sea of unquestioned assumptions about yourself, your society, and what’s really happening. Thoughts and ideas can be picked up and examined for validity and usefulness, and freely discarded from the toolbox if they don’t pass the inspection. When someone brings you a new idea you can welcome it in, and then either add it to the toolbox or show it the door. Since you have dispelled your own illusions about what’s really happening, you can help lead the world out of its illusions about what’s really happening.
It’s a skill. Just like any other skill there are varying degrees of mastery, and just like any other skill you get better at it the more you practice. This relentless devotion to the truth is what led you to this revolution in the first place, so why not take it all the way out to its logical conclusion? Keep adding more and more of your bright, burning light to the world, and together we will dispel the shadows. The light of truth is what unites us. The light of truth will set us free.
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