Q : What do you mean when you say that some people are ignorant?
DISCLAIMER : Please be mindful that when I say ignorant, I do not meant it in a derogatory way. The word ignorant has been used that way in normal conversations and it has been subject to that biased interpretation. I am referring to its true meaning, lacking knowledge or awareness in general. Just like when I say that this flower is ugly, I intend to highlight a point to the reader about a subjective quality of that flower. I have no ill judgement on that flower whatsoever. But to create some sense around this subjective quality of the flower, I need to talk and use the word ugly. And saying that the flower is ugly does not in any way meant that I am asserting that I am not ugly. If you fail to understand this, then I advise you not to read any further…
There are two kinds of ignorant beings.
One is that you’re ignorant because of your body limitation. For example, if I lose my Hippocampus, I cannot use my brain to store memories. I cannot synthesis or analyse wisdom. Without wisdom, I will not know things that needs knowing. What is a computer without a RAM? And with that, you might be bound beyond your control in being ignorant.
The second one is that you’re ignorant not because of your body limitation, but because of the level of maturity of your mind. When your mind is immature, by definition it meant that it has not developed to hit a threshold of maturity.
With immaturity, ignorance is hardwired into the mind, and there can’t be no way the mind would know that it is ignorant.
Imagine that the mind is a logic solver that takes sensory information as inputs, and translate those input into outputs as thoughts that can be acted upon. That logic solver is programmed with a faulty logic with little room for error.
By error I meant to equate it to mutation in cells. Mutation can bring positives and negatives. Here, I am talking about errors as positive mutation.
Imagine that over time as maturity grows, that error will also grows. Maturity is grown through mindfulness and wisdom.
Eventually this logic solver will adapt to this increasing error and transform itself into a new version.
A new logic solver that accounts for its ignorance, and applies the right formula onto those sensory information.
A logic solver of such (that accounts for its ignorance), is one to meant a mind that understands emptiness, or that ignorance is the root to afflictive emotions.
Most people are ignorant in the second way.
They choose to believe things without deep thought.
They choose to believe things without rationale investigation.
They choose to believe things without considering the whole picture, the holistic view.
They only ask why for one time, but not the second time over the first one, third time over the second one and so on.
Because it is hard with a chaotic mind, hard with a mind that is not tamed.
Only with a calm mind, and the right intention, that one would posses the ability to tame the mind.
Once tamed, the mind posses the power to see things in a more holistic way through focus, because no distraction is capable of taking its place with superficial thoughts.
Most of us will die being ignorant in the second way our whole life.
Ignorant to the fact that we have the ability to reduce our suffering.
Now let me make a case as to why I believe ignorant is important in the past
I believe that all the traits of the mind that Buddhism is trying to tame, especially ignorance, was necessary for human survival, in the distant past.
It’s a path that the consciousness would need to exist/manifest in the physical world in order to survive for the lifetime of a human life, in the distant past.
By consciousness, I meant literally the consciousness that exists in continuum, in the context of Buddhism.
The one that we come to know in us as ‘I’ in ourselves. The one that goes through cyclic existence.
But there exists an evolution progress threshold, where this manifestation of consciousness in the physical world with ignorance is no longer that important in order to survive for the lifetime of a human life.
This understanding was realised, 2500 years ago by Buddha. And it seemed to me that, we as a human species, have passed this threshold thousand of years ago, probably even before Buddha’s lifetime.
Take for example, 100,000 years ago, when we were still hunter and gatherers with no concept of civilisation.
Our life was pretty simple; we hunt, we eat, we sleep, and we were able to survive by living through a few simple rules. There is no need for complex human construct like money or law to survive. However, we do need ignorance to survive.
Because it is through ignorance, that afflictive emotions such as desire to have more and better happiness is what drives human to expand. To expand is a hallmark of ensuring the survival of the species.
The desire to reproducing more beings creates an economic force to innovate new technologies to accommodate that rise in population, and that in turn leads to more beings.
More beings = More chance of survival as a species.
This eventually led to the development of complex societies that we see in Buddha’s life time and our life time now.
In some life time since the beginning of the evolution of the consciousness, this trait of ignorance is no longer required for the advancement or survival of the human species.
If ignorance is to go on forever, we will develop amazing technologies, as the desire to want more will continue forever as long as ignorance exists.
Yes. We will.
But we will also develop technologies that will lead to our destruction! Think about nuclear weapons! And the consequence of global warming because of over production in the name of survival and happiness.
Why? Because a mind that is ignorant is not tamed. And when a mind is not tamed, it is not able to see things in a holistic way. And when a mind cannot see things in a holistic way, then it does not know the commonly not so obvious indirect consequence of its actions.
The ignorant mind believes that through the mastering of the art of controlling the physical world, that it could achieve happiness and its survival in this complex world.
But, no. We are at a stage where we can achieve happiness not by mastering the art of controlling the physical world. But by mastering the art of taming our minds.
At this stage of evolution, the formula for protecting the existence of the human species and the continuous evolution of the consciousness, no longer requires ignorance.
Put it another way.
What we need instead is to shed this ignorance, so that we can protect our existence as a human species and the continuous evolution of the consciousness.
The environment has change. So our formula of thinking has to change.