“We are living in the time of paradigm shift…new ways to see old information. Things we thought were meant one to be way, now point to something wholly another way…information that was once accepted without question, now begs to be examined with a new understanding. These are times of cognitive dissonance…it’s uncomfortable…it can be fearful…But things won’t change until you allow yourself to be uncomfortable…to feel the fear till it passes. Denial won’t stop it…Denial only intensifies it. Loosen your grip on what you believe…allow new ideas to enter.” ~ Duane Townsend
It is true that when “information that was once accepted without question, now begs to be examined with a new understanding”, there are times of cognitive dissonance because we will have to find ways to reconcile the old way and new way of looking at things. Such feelings of uncomfortableness and fear can be a positive thing as they show that we are thinking for ourselves instead of just following established ideologies and traditions and practices in the past. Like what he said, accepting the fear and discomfort is part of the process of growth and evolution, so to speak. It is not easy to loosen the grip on what we believe and allow new ideas to enter especially when we have been taught to believe in something for a long time or when an ideology has been accepted without question for a long time by many people.
When it comes to religions or belief systems, I have experienced one paradigm shift after another as I explored Buddhism, new age, Christianity, and so on, and it is a continual process of assimilating, evaluating and reconciling ideas and practices that sound contradictory or different, and at the same time, finding commonalities and similarities that are shared among these belief systems. I am coming to a place where I think maybe truths are found not in clear-cut cases of either-or, but in paradoxes and mysteries, which are necessary grey areas. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is an example of duality that proposes either good or evil, whereas the tree of life goes beyond duality. Yet the paradox is that both trees are necessary as part of the whole. There is a place for duality, such as hot and cold, light and dark, and good and evil, faith and doubt, happiness and sadness, etc, and there is a place for non-duality or unity or oneness. Similarly, materialism or science and spirituality may go hand in hand in order for us to have a holistic view when making sense of our perceptions in life. Concepts and ideologies are ultimately tools for us to choose to make sense of life as we know it, and we can follow that which resonates the most in our hearts at a particular point in time of our journey. As a saying goes, “Trust the wisdom of your soul. It knows the way.”
This song came to my mind even as I am reflecting on the above thoughts, and I have googled the lyrics just now, and i find the lyrics are surprisingly apt to express the angst of coming to terms with paradigm shifts, contradictions, paradoxes and mysteries, and the reality that sometimes life doesn’t make sense especially when bad or unfortunate things happen. Here’s sharing this song called “Show me the way” that I used to listen to in the 90s.
“Every night I say a prayer in the hope(s) that there’s a heaven.and everyday I’m more confused as the saints turn into sinnersAll the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clayAnd I feel this empty place inside so a fraid that I’ve lost my faithShow me the way, show me the waytake me tonight to the river and wash my illusions awayPlease show me the wayAnd as I slowly drift to sleep, for a moment dreams are sacredI close my eyes and know there’s peace in a world so filled with hatredThat I wake up each morning and turn on the news to find we’ve so far to goAnd I keep on hoping for a sign, so afraid that I just won’t knowShow me the way, Show me the wayBring me tonight to the mountainAnd take my confusion awayAnd show me the wayAnd if I see a light, should I believeTell me how will I knowShow me the way, show me the wayTake me tonight to the riverAndwash my illusions awayShow me the way, show me the wayGive me the strength and the courageTo believe that I’ll get there somedayAnd please Show me the wayEvery night I say a prayerIn the hope(s) that there’s a heaven…..Show me the way”