Anatomy of our experience – Understanding the Connectors

In the earlier essay we observed that for the same activity, each of us end up with different “experience” as the net result of the three co-existing connectors and their relative proportion. If you think carefully and reflect for a while, you will find the existence of three co-existing connectors – Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance – as “self evident”!

In every activity we have certain level of knowledge, some aspects of knowledge that are clouded by our preferences, attachments or bias and there is also a certain level of genuine and total ignorance. All these three co-exist all the time!

You are in a three lane highway. All three lanes co-exist. Each lane has a set of properties. Left lane is generally fast, then the middle lane and the third for slow traffic. In your journey, you use all three lanes. While you are on the left lane, cruising at high-speed, it appears that what happens on that lane is all that matters. But, your journey is certainly influenced by what happens at the same time in the other two lanes! Your freedom to operate, traffic congestion, risk, etc. are all influenced by what happens in all three lanes!

A good driver is always aware of the traffic patterns on all three lanes. A good driver is also always mindful of his/her “blind spots”! We get into accidents or get speeding tickets, when our rational thinking is over ridden and we voluntarily take risks, “because I was in a hurry” or “I had to get there quickly to avoid the harsh judgment of being late”. Our bias to action overwhelms our need to reflect. Then there are genuine situations when we can readily admit ignorance, such as when accidents do occur and they are totally unavoidable. Example: Multi car pile up in a highway in bad weather. No one intentionally or even with biased knowledge wishes to be in such a pile up. Ignorance is the dominant theme, as soon as the pile up happens. Slowly we learn and become better informed and act rationally. Or, we get agitated and behavior irrationally.  These are the connectors of our experience for the subsequent moments! These are analogies, just to make the point. No analogy is a perfect statement of the original theme!

Such analytical approach (to understand our experience) by itself has profound benefits. Each experience is no longer a bolt of lightning or a single incomprehensible event that strikes you with speed and surprise. Instead we begin to see the composition of the “experience” and its evolution as the result of the cumulative effect of the three attributes. Yes, we admit that there is always some ignorance associated with our experience and we probe to find out what it is!  Instead of merely being limited by the partial knowledge and the bias from it, we probe and determine what they are and their relative proportion with respect to the other two connectors. We also acknowledge that even in the worst of times, there is some element of knowledge within us, which gives us the comfort and confidence to build on that.

Returning to our analogy of the road, let us say that the right lane is for slow traffic and represents inertia or ignorance. The left lane represents knowledge and the middle represents the “bias”.

We assume right hand side driving pattern! For those in the left hand drive, please adjust your reference accordingly!

No one who travels on a three lane highway would say a priori that I will travel only on the left lane or the middle. Each entry into the highway requires using the right lane! Same is true of ignorance. No one can engage in any activity and hence acquire experience from it, without acknowledging certain level of ignorance. One can not get out of the highway without moving into the right lane. Any change from one activity to another always involves exit and entry and hence excursion through some level of ignorance! 

Connectors and their identifiers: 

Knowledge or tranquility brings clarity to the situation. The cause and effect are clear. The objective or the purpose is well identified. The role and responsibility or the people responsible are all clear. There is clarity on the means or tools available as well as on the circumstances. The laws of nature at play are also well understood.

Bias occurs, when our knowledge is partial or incomplete. We do not acknowledge our incomplete knowledge. Instead we have an urge to act. We make choices driven by our attachments and preferences. Most of our body functions are perceived most of the time, through preferences of some kind. It is a quiet evening, a little bit after the sun set. It is a bit dark. I hear the sound. I have a thick wallet with some cash in it. I am attached to my money. I dislike the thought of loosing it. The sound I hear is the creaking noise of the door being slowly opened. I can imagine an intruder, ready to snatch my wallet. I wait a bit longer. I am sweating. Then nothing happens for a while. I gather my courage and move closer to the door. I learn that the door had swung open. I am ignorant of the effect of the blowing wind. There is no one in sight, but I am convinced that some one is lurking unseen. I grab my wallet and run as fast as I can, but I am not sure where to. In the process I trip and fall. I am mad at the stone that tripped me! It goes on …..

Ignorance shrouds our capacity to think and reason. Even our passion and desire and attachments are subdued by an envelope of lethargy and a total lack of purpose. The irrationality from ignorance is distinct from the irrational behavior of some one with partial knowledge and biased point of view. We shall see more on the details on this in our next essay.

Knowledge in its pure form adds illumination and knows of no ill effects).  This connector may be perceived through tranquility, contentment and pure happiness.      B.G. 14. 6.

Bias is evidenced through turbulence or agitated activity. It is rooted in desire or passion. It is seen as an outcome of our unbridled attachment to something.  This connector may be perceived through the endless chain of activities it creates, each unable to satisfy or full fill the need or the desire   B.G. 14. 7.

Ignorance leads to Stagnation or inactivity. It leads to irrationality or blind attraction.  This connector may be perceived through despair, gloom and hopelessness   B.G. 14. 8.

Knowledge is affiliated with happiness and contentment; Bias leads to end less chain of activities; Ignorance shrouds the knowledge and leads to lack of direction.            B.G. 14.9.

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