All Shook Up

“Any perceived inconsistency among various aspects of knowledge, feelings, and behavior, sets up an unpleasant internal state – cognitive dissonance – which people try to reduce whenever possible.”
-Henry Gleitman

Today I read something which was like a b-slap to the face, basically reiterating to me what a waste I am. That certain issue that has been quaking my soul for the greater portion of the last year of my life. Lucky for me, I was born with a brain. It’s quite marvelous. It allows me to decode and encode information, proliferate synapses, analyze and personally “logicate” incoming data, accommodate/assimilate my schemas, etc. Along with this ability to cognate, I believe that I have also been granted another entity, contributing vastly, yet not as tangibly, to my carbon-based existence- a spiritual component. I believe that human beings can be spiritual, whether or not they adopt a religious dogma into that schema is their choice. Still, that spiritual component of existence (regardless of religion) is there, acknowledged or not. I believe that it’s the part of you that governs your morality; is responsible for the guilt you feel when you’ve chosen a “wrong” instead of a “right”. Some refer to this as a conscience. But I choose to believe that it’s more than that. Your spirit- that is the best version of who you are meant to be. And that is why when you choose a Wrong instead of a Right, or maybe even an Acceptable instead of a Very Best, you don’t feel your very best. That feeling is an intrinsic sort of resonance, not a cognitive one. There is a difference between thinking something is wrong and feeling something is wrong. Therein lies the spiritual component of decision-making.
Truly, we all “know” what is wrong and what is right. We “know” because in employing our cognitive resources, we discover that it is not logical to lie, to cheat, or to steal because we “know” that there are always consequences for these things. Still, because we are human, we transgress. Or, we choose to transgress. So the “knowing” component of exercising morality is obviously not enough; the impending consequences are not enough. What can the culprit behind this cognitive dissonance be? The culprit is disregard. We abjure that spiritual aspect of our existence- the “feeling” component of choosing. What we so often may not acknowledge, is how it feels when we choose that Wrong, or even that Acceptable, in addition to our knowing it is not the Right or the Very Best for us. I think that if more human beings acknowledged the cognitive and the spiritual component of decision-making, the result would be a more harmonious sense of being and thus, in the long-run, a less dissolute society.
I can see how this idea might seem hopelessly naive to some; to others, it may just substantiate claims that my mind is still paying rent to Cloud Nine, so to speak. For once, though, I have actually taken a hiatus from my hypothetical Cloud Niner state of thinking, and have found myself engaged in a desperate cogitative quest to tap into that spirituality that has for so long been abandoned in my thoughts, my actions, my words, my very Brittany-ness. I don’t want to be part of a dissolute society; I want to be a proponent of the virtue which can heal it…
Why the inner conflict you ask? It is this: I really do believe that one’s spirit is the best version of who they can be, and I want to embrace that without forsaking the mind and the reasoning ability I’ve been given, because that, too, is so much part of who I am. I wonder then…Is it possible to make wrong decisions and feel right about them? Conversely, is it possible to make right decisions and feel unnerved/discontent? Is it possible to employ both one’s brain and one’s feeling-regulator (spirit), and have that decision induce inner harmony? Or, do you have to choose to employ one facet of aliveness over the other? Can they work harmoniously? For as long as I have been aware of and believe that it is in fact a real thing, I have chosen to trust in that spiritual aspect of aliveness. And with the aforementioned “quest for virtue”, my instinct was that I should just embrace the hell out of it. Yet logic tells me that I cannot ONLY seek this component’s approval. This seemingly dichotomous task of trying to utilize one without disturbing the other when faced with moralic decisions is perplexing to say the least. I have no real solution to this dilemma. In my lifetime, empirical evidence (aka personal experience) has shown that there really is no way for me to achieve complete copaseticism without allowing both my mind and my spirit a chance to defend their arguments. Howev, I will attest: when I have allowed each defendant to plead their case, rarely is there a dissonance between the two. When I have been truly judicial about my moral dilemmas, objectively weighing the Wrongs vs. the Consequences vs. the Feels Right For Nows vs. the Will It Feel Right Laters, I most always find that I am content with the aftermath of my decision. So then, maybe, cognition and spiritual conciousness can stand independently, but if used together, can bridge the dissonance?
Meh. Who knows.
Peace and Love.
P.S. This guy has some more thoughts on the subject. I thought it was interesting…