Our minds manage to distract us from the terrible reality by filling our lives with stories about hopeful goals and encouraging us to strive to achieve them. The ups and downs of that struggle are part of our common history of striving for what we desire. And that same struggle gives our existence the illusion of meaning and diverts our attention from the frightening truth.
Quite simply, it is impossible to understand the human condition without storytelling.
We are all fictional characters. We are the biased, partisan, stubborn creations of our own minds. Our brains lead us to believe things that are not true so that we think we are in control of the external world.
Among the most important beliefs are those that corroborate our supposed moral superiority. Our brains are constructing heroic characters capable of spreading lies that are seductive. In doing so, they want to make us feel like the fearless and courageous protagonists of the story that is our life.
I think that’s a pretty good description of our natural state. Religions engage that state in two ways.
For the general population, who are busy making children and the income to support them, religions give them a ready-made story, so they don’t have to spend time figuring it all out themselves.
For those who want to dedicate more time to the project, generally speaking - the monastics, there is a different program. I think it exists in all religious flavors, but may be easiest seen in Buddhism.
In this program, practice is aimed at making all stories go away. At first glance, this is the essence of meditation - to learn how to quiet the chattering mind. The long goal being to make that storyless state the default mode.
And this is possible because, in the final analysis, that “terrible reality” and “frightening truth” that you mention, is itself just another story.
We should never strive to be perfect. Our best hope is to be, on balance, caring and constructive persons.Yes, all of us sometimes believe things that are false. We are storytellers-- that is how we construct patterns of meaning which define our lives.
I feel fortunate that the majority of my close friends do not need to be heroes. I do have a few friends and family that have that need.
Constant striving to prove one's superiority is irritating to most people around you.
As a small child of about seven, I do remember creating a utopian world for everyone everywhere. I told my parents of my plan and they explained to me that my ideas were horrible and communistic.
I was fortunate to have a dog who appreciated my dictatorial tendencies. I do not think I wanted to be a hero but instead I wanted everyone to live the best life possible.
I believe this and think these are very true words. We are storytellers and are the very fictional characters that we create. This is why we have tall tales of certain people. Truth gets exaggerated to account for the myth. Some things we are aware of like stories of Paul Bunyan. Let Jesus come along and all of his stories are accepted by the gullible. There is an inner fear that something bad will happen if you do not lay claim to this.
In a recent phone call to a widowed woman I had not seen in over 40 years she immediately got defensive when she mentioned her faith and bible belief. I told her I understood what she was talking about and things became normal again. I'm sure she had heard that I am no longer a believer and she possibly thought I would verbally attack her. We become what we want to become, or as close to it as we can imagine.
Yes I would not argue with that, we certainly are story and myth inventing creatures, and that can inspire us and be our greatest gift. But it can also divorce us from reality, blunt our senses and be our greatest tragedy, we become victims and slaves of our cultures, rather than their masters.
We are all creations of our own imaginings I do agree…but to assert that each of us sees ourselves in a heroic role is pure supposition on your part. We may be fictional characters of our own making in our heads, but many of us are in fact filled with self doubt and insecurity and feel quite the opposite of heroic. Our beliefs are largely formed early in life, certainly our religious and political ones are and they require very little invention by us as they are formed due mainly by adopting the family and social mores into which we are born, and they’re absorbed by us almost subliminally merely by being accepted as the norm. I really don’t think most people ever think very deeply about the beliefs they profess to have, even though in many cases they would fight to the death to protect them.
I think we humans are full of contradictions, we can usually be quite predictable in our behaviour, but we can also have a habit of confounding stereotypes too, so no doubt some would fit your profile, but not all. The most interesting thing about the human condition in my own view is that there is no such thing as one universal definition of what makes us tick… it’s pretty safe to say we are a fascinating study!
Wish I was in control of my life . Just had two nurses here who came into my home , locked me into my chair , then they rearranged my home getting into things they had no business getting into , then ordered costly stuff behind my back . They act like badly misbehaving children . I hate when they come to my home .