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Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

People start learning right from their childhood. They form concepts and then arrange those concepts, then store those concepts and then when called upon by the circumstances use those concepts. This processing of information and concepts is called cognition in Psychology. Such people who can make so many users of the Cognitive information and the concepts of cognition are called learned ones when they cross a minimum level of storage of such Cognitive informations.

When a child is born he has no concepts. Experience of The child which increases with his age teaches him more and more. At the time of birth the child has no name, religion or other particulars. After his birth all this adjectives are given to him. He is given a name. He is told about his religion. He is told about his parentage and other adjectives. All this information is injected into him as if this was an integral part of his existence.

A person hardly has an occasion to think if he were the same person without his name or parentage or religion etc. He is imbibed with a belief that all this information about him was an inseparable part of his personality.

As he grows he is given education. He is taught about the theories given by some predecessors. He is repeatedly told about and is made to believe in the sanctity of the theories. He is taught about the infallibility of the theories. In the same way, as he used to identify himself with the concepts of his name, parentage and religion etc. now he starts to identify himself with these theories. People feel proud in calling themselves democrat, pragmatic, revolutionary, extremist, communists and so on so forth. People have identified themselves with theories.

After theories people further go on adding to their acquired characteristics. They now start identifying them with values. They feel proud in such identification. They call themselves as honest, gallant, clever, beautiful, sharp and no one knows what more. People are conceited with their these acquired identities.

In the childhood a common story is usually recited. Several seekers went to a Guru to learn music. The Guru asked the first seeker his earlier qualifications. The seeker told that he knows nothing about music. The Guru told him that it would take him 6 months to learn music. The second seeker was a bit acquainted with the rules of music. And Guru told him that it would take him more than a year to learn music. The third seeker told that he had already earned degrees in music and knows a number of scriptures about music. The Guru asked him that it would take him for about 10 years to learn music. On being asked the Guru explained that the learning period of all three is the same i.e. 6 months, the remaining time will be used to cleanse the garbage they had accumulated in the name of knowledge. It is always easy to write on a clean slate then to write on a dirty slate. For a dirty slate is to be cleaned first and then it can be used for writing. If the slate of mind is dirty then it takes quite a long time to make it clean because the concepts are engraved on the surface of mind. They are not simply written with cleanable chalk.

A scripture is the experience of the past generations. It tells about the history. It tells about the past. But you have to prepare for the future. Making preparation for the future based on the accounts of past is useful only if the nature were to repeat itself again and again. But this does not happen. The nature is not found repeating itself. It does not repeat itself. Then why all those learned people have burdened themselves with the load of the past.

In the real life, when they are confronted with the circumstances where they have to have resort to values contrary to the values of truthfulness and honesty for winning a competition, it would create a tension in their personality. They find their deeds and beliefs standing poles apart with no consonance in them. They are at the verge of breaking. Whenever there is an inconsonance between the deeds and beliefs of a person, he is confronted with an internal turbulence and the psychology calls it Cognitive Dissonance.

You ask a communist to learn an essay on “The Advantages of Capitalism”. It would be the toughest task for him. In India the followers of Jainism finish their dinner before the sunset. A test was given to several Jainese who followed this practice, to have a dinner late at night. About 72 times out of 100 they vomited and others felt very inconvenient after the dinner. It is Cognitive Dissonance.

This mind is full of beliefs. It feels inconvenience when any new value contrary to the earlier beliefs is encountered. The beliefs in your mind resist the new value. More beliefs you have more resistance they offer. More deep rooted beliefs you have, more resistances they would offer

This Cognitive Dissonance is nothing objective. It is purely subjective value confrontation. The same set of values may cause a great Cognitive Dissonance in one person while it may not do anything noticeable for a second one. It is a confrontation of values acquired and the values encountered. Values acquired are those values with which you start identifying yourself. These are those values which assume prominence even over you. You go in the background and the values come in the forefront. Gradually you are thrown overboard and the only values remain there. There are a lot of instances in the human history when people have sacrificed themselves for the sake of values they uphold. An honesty valued person would die rather than being dishonest. A gallant person would die rather than fleeing as a coward. It is the honesty and the gallantry which are prominent and not the person who possess them.

The aforesaid two values of honesty and gallantry may be appreciated by a lot of people so don’t be confused by the names of the values. A value if repeated in action frequently then it is called habit. The habit of drinking, the habit of consuming contraband drugs, the habit of adultery, the habit of gambling are other habit i.e. the values repeated again and again. It may be honesty, gallantry or drinking, smoking or gambling these are all values injected into you from outside. These were injected to improve you but these values overpowered you and thrown you out of you. It is something like a landlord being thrown out of his house by his tenant.

The learned ones are those who plead that a land lord cannot be homeless because it is inherent in his name – “Landlord” itself that he owns the land. How can he be landless? The learned ones argue that the tenant means who has got the right to live in the premises. Therefore it is all OK if the landlord is thrown on the road because he can never, as a meaning of his name, be landless. The learned ones, more often mix the reality with the definitions. They solve the problems of existence by using the syntax of syllogism.

The learned ones ask how to become more sharp? How to use more brain power? How to overtake others? They then hypothesize the answers also. They suggest more and more acquisition of theories, values so that a strong syllogistic base is prepared. Their followers obey them. And the result is more and more Cognitive Dissonance.

More and more Cognitive Dissonance prompts them to go more and more to the learned ones. They, in turn give more and more theories and more and more values. A vicious circle is forcibly generated by the leaned ones and their followers.

To avoid this problem of internal turbulence is to avoid this Dissonance. The better way to avoid Dissonance is to leave living in syntax. Live in the life. Don’t fill your mind with the garbage of theories. Those who gave theories, it was their experience. It is the least probable that the nature would repeat itself and take you to the same circumstances which were faced by the learned ones who gave that theory.

Having resort to the value is not bad. It ought not to be ousted. It is as a routine as it is to have a breakfast in the morning. If you find a value of any use then make use of it and then throw it away. Do not allow any value, may it be of this category or that category, to sit on your head. You are the master to choose a value and you should remain a master. Never be a slave of any value. So never be a learned one.

Coming out of this Dissonance is a knack. It can be learnt and then refined. People have done it. 

You can also do it. Ask PS Malik in case of any problem.

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