The problem with people who are not confused is great: they think they know, and they know not. Those who believe they have clarity are really in great trouble; their clarity is superficial. In fact, they know nothing of clarity; what they call clarity is just stupidity. Idiots are very clear – they don’t have the intelligence to feel confused. Confused and blessed to feel confusion needs great intelligence. The mediocre go on moving in life, smiling, laughing, and accumulating money, struggling for more power and fame. If you see them, you will feel a little jealous; they look so confident, even happy. If they are succeeding, if their money is increasing and their power is increasing and their fame is growing, you will feel a little jealous. You are so confused and they are so clear about their life; they have a direction, they have a goal, they know how to attain it, and they are managing, they are already achieving, they are climbing the ladder and you are just standing there, confused about what to do, what not to do, what is right and what is wrong. But this has always been so; the mediocre remains certain. It is only for the more intelligent to feel confusion.
Confusion is a great opportunity. It simply says that through the mind there is no way. If you are really confused, you are blessed. Now something is possible, something immensely valuable; you are on the verge of it. If you are utterly confused, that means the mind has failed; now the mind can no longer supply any certainty to you. You are coming closer and closer to the death of the mind, and that is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone in life, a greatest blessing because once you see that the mind is confused and there is no way out through the mind, how long can you go on clinging to the mind? Sooner or later, you will have to drop it; even if you don’t drop it, it will drop of its own accord. Confusion will become so much, so heavy, that out of sheer heaviness, it will drop and when the mind drops, confusion disappears.
I cannot say that you attain to certainty, no, because that too is a word applicable only to the mind and the world of the mind. When there is confusion, there can be certainty; when confusion disappears, certainty also disappears. You are simply clear…neither confused nor certain, just clarity, a transparency and that transparency has beauty, that transparency is grace, it is exquisite. It is the most beautiful moment in one’s life when there is neither confusion nor certainty. One simply is a mirror reflecting that which is, with no direction, going nowhere, with no idea of doing something, with no future, just utterly in the moment, tremendously in the moment.
When there is no mind, there can be no future and there can be no programmer for the future. Then this moment is all, all in all; this moment is your whole existence. The whole existence starts converging on this moment, and the moment becomes tremendously significant. It has depth, it has height, it has mystery, it has intensity, it has fire, it has immediacy, it grips you, it possesses you, and it transforms you. I cannot give you certainty; certainty is given by ideology. Certainty is nothing but patching up your confusion. You are confused. Somebody says, “Don’t be worried,” and says it very authoritatively, convinces you with arguments, with scriptures, and patches up your confusion with the Bible, with the Quran, with the Bhagwad Gita. You feel good, but it is temporary, because the confusion is boiling within. You have not got rid of it, it has only been repressed.
For clarity’s sake the intelligent person hesitates, ponders, and wavers. The unintelligent never wavers, never hesitates. Where the wise will whisper, the fool simply declares from the housetop. Lao Tzu says, “I may be the only muddle-headed man in the world. Everybody seems to be so certain, except me.” He is right; he has such tremendous intelligence that he cannot be certain about anything.
I cannot promise you certainty if you drop the mind. I can promise you only one thing, that you will be clear. There will be clarity, transparency, and you will be able to see things as they are.
There is a certain type of argument which, in fact, is not an argument, but a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent’s agreement with one’s undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure. It consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate. Example: “Only the immoral can fail to see that Candidate X’s argument is false.” The falsehood of his argument is asserted arbitrarily and offered as proof of his immorality.
In today’s epistemological jungle, that second method is used more frequently than any other type of irrational argument. It should be classified as a logical fallacy and may be designated as “The Argument from Intimidation.”
The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: “Only those who are evil, dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc., can hold such an idea.”
The Argument from Intimidation dominates today’s discussions in two forms. In public speeches and print, it flourishes in the form of long, involved, elaborate structures of unintelligible verbiage, which convey nothing clearly except a moral threat. “Only the primitive-minded can fail to realize that clarity is oversimplification.” But in private, day-by-day experience, it comes up wordlessly, between the lines, in the form of inarticulate sounds conveying unstated implications. It relies, not on what is said, but on how it is said—not on content, but on tone of voice.
The tone is usually one of scornful or belligerent incredulity. “Surely you are not an advocate of capitalism, are you?” And if this does not intimidate the prospective victim—who answers, properly: “I am,”—the ensuing dialogue goes something like this: “Oh, you couldn’t be! Not really!” “Really.” “But everybody knows that capitalism is outdated!” “I don’t.” “Oh, come now!” “Since I don’t know it, will you please tell me the reasons for thinking that capitalism is outdated?” “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” “Will you tell me the reasons?” “Well, really, if you don’t know, I couldn’t possibly tell you!”
All this is accompanied by raised eyebrows, wide-eyed stares, shrugs, grunts, snickers and the entire arsenal of nonverbal signals communicating ominous innuendoes and emotional vibrations of a single kind: disapproval.
If those vibrations fail, if such debaters are challenged, one finds that they have no arguments, no evidence, no proof, no reasons, no ground to stand on—that their noisy aggressiveness serves to hide a vacuum—that the Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.
Let me emphasize that the Argument from Intimidation does not consist of introducing moral judgment into intellectual issues, but of substituting moral judgment for intellectual argument. Moral evaluations are implicit in most intellectual issues; it is not merely permissible, but mandatory to pass moral judgment when and where appropriate; to suppress such judgment is an act of moral cowardice. But a moral judgment must always follow, not precede or supersede, the reasons on which it is based.
How does one resist that Argument? There is only one weapon against it: moral certainty.
When one enters any intellectual battle, big or small, public or private, one cannot seek, desire or expect the enemy’s sanction. Truth or falsehood must be one’s sole concern and sole criterion of judgment—not anyone’s approval or disapproval; and, above all, not the approval of those whose standards are the opposite of one’s own.
The most illustrious example of the proper answer to the Argument from Intimidation was given in American history by the man who, rejecting the enemy’s moral standards and with full certainty of his own rectitude, said:
“If this be treason, make the most of it.”
Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute. “There are no absolutes,” they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are uttering an absolute.
Just as, in epistemology, the cult of uncertainty is a revolt against reason—so, in ethics, the cult of moral grayness is a revolt against moral values. Both are a revolt against the absolutism of reality. A moral code impossible to practice, a code that demands imperfection or death, has taught you to dissolve all ideas in fog, to permit no firm definitions, to regard any concept as approximate and any rule of conduct as elastic, to hedge on any principle, to compromise on any value, to take the middle of any road. By extorting your acceptance of supernatural absolutes, it has forced you to reject the absolute of nature
- Absolute Truths (maasmith.com)