Swami Lego Ver explains the benefit of letting go of pessimistic fears.
via Anxiety Culture
Once upon a time, people performed ritual sacrifices in an attempt to avert natural disasters. Nowadays, the most popular ritual for avoiding disasters is to accumulate money. Our ancestors didn’t know when to stop spilling blood, as their gods never announced: “That’s enough”. Modern people can’t stop accumulating money for a similar reason.
A conviction (or suspicion) that the world is essentially hostile probably underlies this behaviour. In which case, no amount of sacrifice or money will remove the underlying sense of insecurity. No burglar-alarm can make you feel safe, if you believe the neighbourhood is dangerous enough to require it.
Feeling safe requires an alteration of your belief-system to remove the archaic “programming” concerning the hostile/dangerous “nature” of things. The gimmick is to do this without offending your sense of “reality” (which might be difficult if you live in a war zone). In other words, you experimentally “stretch” your beliefs further towards “optimism” than you might normally allow.
Pessimists need not find this distasteful. It doesn’t mean subscribing to rose-tinted stupidity. Cognitive dissonance can be avoided by viewing it as “nothing more” than a temporary experiment/gamble.
If letting go of pessimistic fears made us more susceptible to harm, we’d be in peril every time we went to sleep. There’s no cause for physiological unease: optimism never undermines the biological fight-or-flight response when the latter is needed.
Two obvious things help with the gamble: i) reasonably convincing evidence that the universe is not essentially hostile towards you – eg you still exist; ii) reasonably convincing evidence that no metaphysical entity wishes to punish you for your moral failings – eg you still exist despite your laziness, selfishness, unkind thoughts, perverted lusts, etc.
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