The beliefs that you hold, whether deliberately chosen or indoctrinated, create a model for interpreting and structuring reality. This model is sometimes called a personal reality paradigm. In Avatar, we usually just call it your viewpoint.
If you want to take a very broad look at consciousness, you will discover that it consists of viewpoint and some attendant ability to reason (meaning to observe, integrate, predict and act).
One of the remarkable things that you discover in Avatar is that as you change your viewpoint, the attendant ability to reason changes as well.
Viewpoint determines how you see the world and how you see yourself. Not liking something is a viewpoint.
Even when you feel your opinion is on rock-solid ground, there is still this little suspicion that maybe someone else might feel differently. (Of course, you are right, and they are wrong.)
Protecting a viewpoint is a refusal to see something in a certain way. Have you ever heard someone say, “Everyone’s entitled to their own viewpoint,” or “I’m not going to change my viewpoint just because you disagree”? Yes, these are viewpoints too-fixed viewpoints.
When people lock themselves into certain viewpoints, they lock themselves out of other viewpoints. As they limit how they are willing to look at something, they also limit their ability to observe, integrate, predict and act. Their ability to relate to others is limited. Their ability to handle life is limited. Their ability to cope with change is limited.
Sometimes a little thing, like showing someone how to deliberately change their viewpoint without being struck dumb on the spot, can produce a remarkable recovery of his or her zest for life. Problems disappear and opportunities reappear. It’s a simple act that has magical consequences.
How much choice did you have over selecting your current viewpoint? Probably not as much as you should have had. That is one of the first things that Avatar sets about fixing. It restores your choice. It allows you to test drive different points of view without having to buy any of them. You may notice that after testing several points of view, there are one or two that you come back to just because you find them interesting and like the way they feel.
Invariably, the viewpoints you settle into after a broad exploration are more flexible, responsible and compassionate than any indoctrinated viewpoint that was ever shoved off on you, whether from gangsters in the hood or the local deacon.
Entertaining different viewpoints is what makes us civilized, and the more we entertain, the more tolerant and understanding is the viewpoint we choose to deliberately hang out in and view the world from.
How Did You Arrive At Your Viewpoint?
The lowest form of consciousness is instinct. Instinct has three basic concerns: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? The answers to these questions determine whether an organism will relate dominantly, submissively or indifferently.
Dominance is not always a display of physical force. Sometimes it’s costuming, sometimes it’s voice control, sometimes it’s the display of an example. Sometimes it’s a paper diploma on the wall. It can take many forms.
When a doctrine is taught from the attitude of dominance, the intention is to indoctrinate a viewpoint into the student. Indoctrinated viewpoints are often invisible to the being who is forced to wear them. Being invisible, they cannot be easily changed or removed, and yet they determine how a being will reason. If this sounds like social brainwashing, you’re right.
Indoctrination is dominating someone with beliefs. It’s eating a mind. Some of you will find that your minds have been chewed like old bones. There are so many scars and patches that it’s a wonder that it works at all.
Indoctrinated viewpoints work for a short time, but as soon as the circumstances of the world change, as they always do, indoctrinated viewpoints become studies in stupidity.
Sometimes indoctrinated viewpoints are held in place by painful emotions. It’s not always easy to let go of them, but until you do, they will narrow your appreciation and understanding of life. Outdated indoctrinations, confused with ideas of domination and submission, are the prime cause of human suffering.
Teaching someone to be flexible in viewpoint and to reason from different angles is always better for the person than indoctrinating them, always! It involves more work and greater patience, but in the end you will have a tolerant, compassionate being that can reason. You will have an Avatar.
Reprinted with permission from Star’s Edge International. This article appeared in the Avatar journal September/October 1996 Volume X, Issue 5. Avatar is a registered trademark of Star’s Edge International.
For more information on Avatar visit: Star’s Edge International
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