The Art Of Being Confused
“Don’t be afraid to be confused.” said George Saunders. And confusion here isn’t synonymous with indecision. Confusion means Curiosity and Curiosity means Questions. I have always believed that the biggest advantage of being a human is our ability to question. And I’ve always viewed with suspicion, the ones who ask you not to. Anything that sets dogmas for you will shunt your growth as a person. And why is growing so important? What else are we suppose to do with this miserable life of ours?
And I don’t call it miserable because of some ill conceived notion of damnation. I’m not a pessimist. I’m an eternal realist and I believe that human life, like all life on earth, is futile. We don’t choose our time of birth, nor do we choose when we leave. Things that happen to us are arbitrary and our actions hardly have any meaning in the grand scheme of things. Well, there are no grand scheme of things, only nature and its brutal laws. It does sound cynical, but it’s actually just the opposite. It’s a thought born out of hope. A hope that we accept the truth, confront it and make peace with it. And the truth is simple – There is no meaning to our being. Once we accept that, our path becomes much simpler than the one we tend to tread.
Our exaggerated sense of self is an obnoxious enemy to our own well being. But once we accept the simple truth that no matter how hard we try to increase our own worth, we still won’t matter, this burden of self importance will gradually diminish. Once we do that, the opportunities are endless. In order to achieve that, we need to get a few things out of our system first.
Why is the self so important to us? That happens because we are naturally built to preserve and protect what we consider to be important. And what can be more important than our own self? There is nothing wrong in feeling that way. How we go about dealing with it makes all the difference.
Human history has been shaped by two things – Violence and a desire to find a meaning to our existence. I have a strong feeling that the later invariable leads to the former. The quest to find meaning has led us to numerous theories, religion being the most prominent of them. And religion has only lead to ambiguous answers. It did, however, lead us to a revelation that we are not defined by our bodies, which is temporary, rather by our souls, which is permanent. That should have pacified a lot of inquisitive people. But it didn’t, because religion also created an imaginary phenomenon that we all needed to submit ourselves to – The phenomenon of God – The creator, the destroyer, the all mighty. That in turn made the entire human race, plunge into a dark battle of one-upmanship to please that God. What should have largely diminished our sense of self, increased it ten folds and with toppings! Religion taught us to feed the soul by being spiritual and shun the material, but it was structured in such a way, that we became bound to behave in just the opposite manner. The fear of god made us defensive. And inside that defensive shell, the mind started to play new tricks and made us more dependent on the Self. This also filled us up with more hatred and lead to mindless violence. It had to happen. We were told that God created us, that we were puppets in his hands. That we act according to his will. We had to find a way to give ourselves some importance. The ‘Meaning’ that we so wanted to find, turned out to be extremely restrictive and the human mind is wired to be free. Religion also gave rise to something even more vicious – Dogmas. We had to abide by them. Or face the wrath of God. In this case, the wrath was provided by humans themselves. But the mind always wanted to be free. Restricted by dogmas, it created its own ways to make us feel special again by becoming more aware of the self and by feeding into its follies. Religion became so much a part of our DNA, that our politics, our finance, our food, our relationships, everything got effected by it. So here we are, modern humans – scared, selfish, violent and with no knowledge of the truth. And what is the truth? The truth is that there is no truth. Our life has no meaning, we were not created by anyone, nor shall we have any meeting with our maker after death. It is scary to think that there is no one watching over us. This feeling of helplessness added a lot to the creation of God and Religion. But if we put all our rational understanding into action, slowly fear will turn into liberation. Isn’t a religious person liberated? Many religious people are. People with extraordinary mental capabilities, people like Swami Vivekananda, managed to turn the restrictions of religion into something liberating. As they say, to each his own. Some found a meaning to their lives and peace through religion. But for the common public, it’s just an imaginary carrot that keeps dangling in our minds, something that we will never achieve, while Organisations propagating the idea of God fill their coffers. For lesser mortals, it’s better to accept that chaos and not peace is the only answer to life. But Religion and its Dogmas won’t let us rest. They will keep dangling that imaginary carrot of theirs’ and we will keep getting swayed.
I am an atheist, for the lack of a better term, mainly because I don’t like to label myself, but by no means am I against people of faith. But most people of faith tend to shove their thoughts down your gullet and treat you like a degenerate. This has to stop. My adherence to atheism led me to question things which faith had made me take for granted. Human kind would have still been left on the edges of darkness, had it not been for people like Galileo and Copernicus, people who applied their rationality to question the dogmas of Religion. This brings me to the title of my article, The Art Of Being Confused. Well, it was confusion that made us create the idea of God in the first place. And it is confusion that should make us question it now. We need to be careful though. As, once we accept that our life has no meaning and we have no higher entity to please, our brain would start playing games again and might lead us to the path of hedonism to satiate its sense of self importance. And that’s why I call it the ‘ART’ of being confused. Because you don’t end your confusion by finding answers, you end it by finding a new thing to be confused over, the drive being to know more. This cycle will keep your brain occupied till you die. And strict adherence to religion won’t let you do that. Does it mean religious people are impervious to knowledge? Not that I know of. There are many people of faith, who know way more than any atheist ever could. But, speaking on personal terms and on terms of people with families and jobs, religion won’t lead you to any answers. It will just make you ask the wrong questions and sometimes feel satisfied with half baked answers. This in turn will set our brain into the same cycle of seeking importance and providing it through unhealthy means.
I don’t believe in anything and am open to everything. Why should then someone listen to the words of someone who might not even stand by what he has said now? Well, they shouldn’t. Come to your own conclusions. You have the right to accept or reject. Give your brain the task of deciding whether to accept or reject something. Don’t go by fixed set of rules from books that promise you the truth, books which have been left unchanged since men had no idea of sanitation, and changed only when a few megalomaniacs wanted to stay important in the eyes of the people. Your confusion will let you explore things that you never thought were possible. Your confusion will open spaces for you to dream and dance in. Though I say peace is illusive and unattainable for most humans, your confusion might lead you to that as well. Keep your brain occupied, stay Confused!!