In writing the previous post, I was reminded of how we are all fundamentalists.
What we usually recognize as fundamentalism is the crude form of taking certain religious or political views as absolutely true and beyond what can be questioned.
But fundamentalism happens in other contexts too. Whenever we take something as absolutely true and beyond what can be questioned, it is fundamentalism. In those cases, we become the bearded fundamentalist guy ready to do just about anything to protect our belief, or rather what we know to be true.
It can take many forms. I may believe in aliens and UFOs, rigidly hold onto it and interpret lots of different things within that context. I may take as absolutely true the official view produced by science today, and that anything that doesn’t fit doesn’t exist. Or that the democrats have it right, and the republicans wrong. Or that nothing Israel does should be questioned. Or that getting the US out of Iraq justifies any means. Or that my kids should do their homework. Or my partner shouldn’t cheat. Or that the tea I bought should have been warm. That my computer shouldn’t break down in the middle of this important work project. That my idea of how to do this particular task is the best one. That I shouldn’t have stubbed my toe. That I am an I with an Other.
Any idea, no matter how apparently small or mundane, can become the seed of fundamentalism. If we take it as absolutely true, as something not to question for whatever reason, we have the dynamics of fundamentalism right away. There is the perception of right and wrong, true and false, of ideas being somehow solid and substantial and reflecting something inherent in the world, and of being justified in acting to protect our ideas and making the world conform to the shoulds in our ideas. We are typically willing to break quite a few eggs to make that particular omelet.
Most of us see this to a certain extent. There is nothing new here. In fact, it is a pretty banal insight.
But what is not banal is where it stops for us. What am I willing to question, and what am I not willing to question? Where is that boundary? What ideas do I use to justify not questioning certain areas of life? What do I fear would happen if I did sincerely question it? What is more likely to happen?
We could sit down and make a list of what we typically see as outside of what can be questioned. Or we could just let life bring it up for us. Whenever there is a sense of something being off, there is a pointer right there to a belief we have not yet sincerely and thoroughly investigated.
We can also explore the dynamics of fundamentalism through voice dialog or the Big Mind process. What function does it serve? How does it help the self? What does it ask of the self? How does the self relate to it? Does the self sometimes become blindly identified with it? What happens then? What would be more helpful? How can the self recognize it more easily when it happens?
- Can I speak to the voice of fundamentalism?
- What is your function?
I help P. feel right and decisive. I help him go beyond hesitation. I make things easy for him, diving the world into right and wrong, good and bad, the ones who got it right and those who didn’t.
- Does he appreciate it?
He does sometimes, when he gets caught up in it. But not afterwards. Usually, he feels ashamed of me afterwards, even if I came out in only a small way and on a small topic. Then, he tries to figure out how to get rid of me.
- Can he get rid of you?
No. I may change, but will not go away. He may change his relationship to me. I may change my relationship to the other voices and to him. I may be expressed in a different way. But I’ll still be here. I see that my essence is partly decisiveness, and I will for instance always be around in that form.
- What do you ask of P.?
I ask him to bring out decisiveness and force when needed, to not hold back. To go for what seems right to him.
- Does he listen to you, in that way?
Yes, sometimes, although much more before than now (before what he calls “the dark night”, which is just an excuse for him.) I am still around, and get out sometimes. I think it would help him to bring me out more.
- How can he bring you in more in his life?
Just by noticing me, allowing me, shifting into me, when needed. It is easy, and he knows how to do it. He just needs a reminder now and then.
- Can you see some of the ways you do not help him, and maybe gets him in trouble?
Yes, when he gets obsessed about something, about being right, and then compulsively expresses that in his life, including to others. In those situations, it is often less than helpful.
- And how do you come out in more helpful ways?
As I mentioned, through decisiveness and sometimes force. Through speaking up for certain views. Through going for what he sees as most helpful and effective in a situation.
- What is he afraid of?
He is afraid to lose his receptivity and ability to see the value in other views. He is afraid of being blinded.
- Does that happen?
Sometimes, but mostly far in the past. Nowadays, he could bring out the forceful much more and still stay receptive and fluid. He doesn’t have any trouble doing that, in most situations, although he doesn’t quite trust it yet.