How to Be Certain for Dummies

Mankind seems almost programmed to enslave itself.  It needs and craves certainty so much that it is willing to settle.  Throughout history, people of every stripe and class have tossed away their open skepticism for beliefs, words, and rituals bearing no actual connection to the physical world at all.

Think about it.  At some point back in the day, some dude killed himself for Zeus.  He did something to piss Zeus off so much that he felt he had to go and run himself through.  And where’s Zeus now?   Who the hell kills themselves for Zeus?  Or what about Chantico, the Aztec goddess of hearth fires, personal treasure, and volcanoes?  Yeah, that bitch.  You just know some dumbass Aztec, some time in the past, jumped into a volcano for Chantico.  Smooth move, idiot.  You were supposed throw yourself in the hearth fire.

Marx was only half-right.  Religion may be the opiate of the people, but that’s only because Certainty is the heroin of the brain.  The feeling generated by being certain and without doubt is so powerful that everyone wants it and most are willing to do anything to attain it.

Imagine being aware on a rock in space where there are no real rules other than death, disease and gravity.  Imagine that it is totally up to you what you do, where you go and who you go with.  There is nothing stopping you from giving someone a hug.  There is also nothing stopping you from hitting someone over the head with a rock.

It’s too much freedom.  It’s too big, too vast, so open that it gives you the shakes if you feel it for too long.  There is no obvious, inherent certainty to any of it.   No real understanding of what to do with ourselves and know this is the “right” thing to be doing.  So people look for an answer, a specific reason to the Why, a specific way to do the What.  And nine times out of ten, they look externally for it, in culture, tradition, and law.

At first, the mind is truly and honestly motivated to find the “Truth”, the right thing that leads to the right kind of Certainty.  Upon failing this (which is the lot for 99.9% of us if the Hindus are to be believed) they will then take anything they can reasonably delude themselves with.  If it sounds ok and it makes you feel good, just cover your eyes to the parts you can’t quite figure out and be certain that this is the tried and true path to everything that is right and good in the universe.  After all, look around you.  This place is packed to the hilt with a bunch of people that are all certain about the exact same thing you are.  And they look the same and have all these special words and everyone knows them together so much that they can break into group songs and dances.  This shit is Real, and if you got any doubts, ask that guy or that guy or that guy.  Same answer.  This is the Truth.

The greatest challenge for human beings, and the day they would truly evolve as a species, would be the day that they became truly ok with not knowing.  Because Certainty is a bullshit quest to begin with.  So much of what we call the “problems of the world” lie inherent within the quest for Certainty.   The dilemmas humans think they will overcome by attaining Certainty are those created by that very same search for it.

At the very center of “knowing” lies an existential prejudice that colors all of life.   Knowing creates Certainty, and Certainty is singular and peculiar.  It is this and not that.  Ego attaches to this Knowledge, this Mastery, and indentifies with it.  Now I have It.  Now I own Certainty.  My path is This and not That.  Your path, being different than mine, becomes That.  That cannot be right because I am Certain in this.

And that right there is the first moment in every second of history.  At least the stuff we record and pump into our children’s heads in schools.  Two groups of people, both singularly convinced that the Certainty their deity doled out was the true Certainty and not the illusory Certainty possessed by their enemy, met on an open field….


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