Via Negativa

Via Negativa

  There are many forms of ignorance and many devices that can be used to overcome it.  The most pernicious form of ignorance is perhaps the ego-notion, the mistaken identity assumed through identification with the body and mind.   This continues to be very difficult to understand and realize, but is a prerequisite approach to self-realization or self-knowledge, etc. The requirement is to achieve an absence of the notion of the body and mind as self.  This is the approach of via negativa, or getting closer to seeing what-is by learning to see what-is-not.  We learn to dissociate from the falsities we have accumulated in our discriminative mental functions through this via negativa.  The next step, through seeing what-we-are-not is to recover the understanding of what-we-really-are.

    Generally an individual does not perfect the capacity for reason; perfect ratiocination is nearly impossible due to the vast amount of knowledge required in making a judgement based on multitudes of facts.  Just achieving the ability to discern between the false and the true is uncommon in the average individual.   During childhood a lot of opinions are expressed to the child by those the child takes to be “authorities” on certain subjects. Parents, teachers, neighbors, and friends are who a child gets knowledge from early on in life.   These ideas are rarely investigated to find the degree of truth of falsehood they represent. Reason is not developed in childhood, and in later adult life reason usually remains sadly lacking.  All mistakes are made because of lack of sufficient information or lack of reason.   So a child naturally has accumulated quite a large amount of false or deficient knowledge and the discriminative mental function, a part of which is the reasoning function, operates at a low proficiency or perhaps at a dysfunctional level.   Most of the mundane levels of life we experience continually are associated with false or partial knowledge gained early in childhood and there are endless factors that produce habit conditioning at the physical, emotional, and mental levels.  Learning critical thinking can deliver us from most of the mundane conditioning we have been subjected to, and also from the false ideas we are accustomed to accept as true regarding what-we-are-not; this makes it much easier to understand what-we-might-be and finally to know in certainty what-we-really-are.




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