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Thread: Cognitive Dissonance

  1. #1
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    Cognitive Dissonance

    Namaste all,

    Simple question today. Is there anything in Hindu Philosophy or Scripture referencing the problem of cognitive dissonance, or narrow-mindedness.
    In other words being so consumed by a concept (in a negative way) that anything beyond or outside that concepts boundary is instantly dismissed and anything that agrees with it is surely correct!

    The most potent example I can think of is those in a organised religion with the incorrect attitude. Or even those in Economics who can not even bear to listen to anyone from a seperate school of thought.

    I.e. : Failure to even take heed of the other persons thoughts, let alone value them.

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    Re: Cognitive Dissonance

    Namaste IcyCosmic,

    Yes. One book which discusses this at length is The Gospel of Ramakrishna (the English translation of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Kathāmṛta). Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa tried several different sectarian paths and found that each of them lead him to God-consciousness, when approached with "devotion and love" (or to Self-realization in the case of Advaita in 1865, yet he held on to a very subtle sense of self in order to remain in the world, if I understand him correctly). He also found that realization enabled him to see how different traditions captured aspects of the Truth from different angles, because he could see Reality from the Absolute perspective, from a God's eye view, from all sides at once as it were. "When realization comes," he said, "then all these questions are settled."

    His best comment on narrow-mindedness is probably this from chapter one: "All the different Scriptures of the world speak of the same God...Yet the various sects quarrel with one another...This is narrow-mindedness...It is not our business to correct the errors of other religions. He who created the world will correct them in time. Our duty is in some way or other to realize Him. God can be reached through many paths; each of these sectarian religions points out a path which ultimately leads to Divinity. Yes, all religions are paths, but the paths are not God."

    He also addressed sectarian narrow-mindedness with the famous parable of the blind men and the elephant, which is also found in Jain and Buddhist texts, appropriately enough, and with a parable about two men arguing over the color of a chameleon in a tree. A man who lived under the tree and had seen the chameleon in "all its phases of color" told them that they were both right.

    Incidentally, another great broad-minded teacher was the seer or rishi (ṛṣi) Mārkaṇḍeya who was famously a devotee of both Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva.

    I think it helps to see how the medieval method of establishing a philosophy through criticism used by most of the Vedānta ācāryas (teachers) of the past seems to have been misunderstood. The philosopher would state the view of his opponent (this was the pūrvapakṣa, the "first side" or "preliminary position"), then he would refute this view, establishing a different conclusion (this was the siddhānta, the "established conclusion"). It turns out, according to a number of great scholars of Vedānta, that the goal wasn't so much to demolish rivals or disprove their philosophies as it was to establish, justify, and clarify one's own system. For example, the great Śrī Vaiṣṇava scholar S.M. Srinivasa Chari writes in the book Advaita and Viśiṣṭādvaita: "The criticism of the rival schools of thought, in so far as it leads to the perfection of one's own teachings, is a common feature of all schools of thought...criticism of rival schools is essential for building one's own system of philosophy." And Svāmī Tapasyānanda of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Order in his book Bhakti Schools of Vedānta observes, "criticism is the essence of philosophical development." (There are several other passages about this that I can't find at the moment.)

    praṇām
    Last edited by anucarh; 26 September 2014 at 02:36 AM. Reason: to change a word
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Cognitive Dissonance

    Namaste Anucarh,

    Thankyou for your fleshed out post. Very interesting read, I will do some further research on the points you raised.

  4. #4

    Re: Cognitive Dissonance

    Yeah I agree, that was a really nice post Anucarh

    The way I look at it, is God is this Great light that we all inadvertently view/ come into contact with.

    There have been profound thinkers from the beginning of man, and from numerous casts/sects/religions/philosophies.

    Many have realized this Great Light, but due to the human condition(subjective realities) it is only natural that we come to different understandings of what that Light is, how and on what level it manifests itself, and what the best way would be to live in accordance with that great Truth

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