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Innocent Ignorance and Willful Ignorance Pt. 1

Innocent Ignorance and Willful Ignorance Pt. 1

We Choose to be Clueless.

I’ve noted that there’s a widespread tendency for people to divide into two groups; those who are ignorant but want to learn, and those who know better but stay willfully ignorant. As a human race, we’re naturally choosing to be one or the other.

In life there is fate and free will. Only two things are “fated:” 1) To be born where you were, when you were, to the people you were born to, and 2) the timing on certain choices. Not what choices you will make, but when you will have to make them. Everything else is free will, either our own or another’s.

All Beings have the power of choice. Regardless of circumstances, we have the power to choose how we will respond in that moment to those circumstances. This brings up the issue of why some people choose to abuse others even when they know better. All who abuse have a choice not to be abusive, but healing the tendency to abuse self or others only happens when we choose to become conscious of what we’re doing in a given moment.

So why would some people choose to remain unconscious when given a choice to awaken and live in conscious ways? Can an abusive person "help it" if they’re abusive? They often say no, but that’s not true. We all can use our free will to become more aware and turn our bad behavior to good. In this article and the next one we’ll explore how much choice a person has whether to be abusive or not, and the difference between innocent ignorance and willful ignorance.

Awakening From The Sleep of Unconsciousness

I gave you the "prelude" to some of these themes two years ago in Who Is Part of Our Soul Group and How To Forgive Abusive People - Pt. 1 and The Spiritual Dimension of our Soul Group and How to Forgive Abusive People Pt. 2. All abusive behavior is chosen, but not all of it is consciously chosen. The subject of how much ability an unconscious person has to control their behavior has been the source of countless discussions. In the next part of this article we’ll examine these questions from a psycho-spiritual angle to identify key factors in dealing with unconscious behaviors.

We all suffered abuse and went through traumatic experiences at the hands of others when younger. This article originally resulted from a dialogue with a client about abusive people, and just how much ability they have to awaken from their abusive state of mind.

In the original discussion my client thought that because a person is incapable of "seeing things" another way, they are not really responsible for their behavior. They felt someone who is totally self-involved, egocentric, ego driven, egotistic and immature is incapable of seeing themselves accurately or changing their behavior. Basically, if a being cannot see a different way to be, how can they change?

As it was put, "In other words, how can we fault those that have no curiosity about their world, and think that sleep, sex and the anesthesia of their choice are what constitutes the universe? They simply can't see it differently."

Innocent Ignorance vs Willful Ignorance

This view that others are incapable of seeing things differently gives more power to the illusion than it deserves, which is none. If we all have free will to choose our actions, feelings, and thoughts, how can anyone be trapped by the ego’s choice not to see or understand certain things? The answer of course is we all have opportunities to awaken to better behavior in this life once we see our power to choose a different pattern of doing, feeling, and thinking.

This is where we hit the razor’s edge of the difference between innocent ignorance and willful chosen ego ignorance. We all are innocently ignorant until we hit a situation which forces us to choose whether we will be deliberately ignorant or become aware. When the Truth comes knocking on our door, we either open the door or we choose not to open the door because our subconscious mind knows a truth has come to visit and doesn’t want to face it.

While fully aware from the moment of birth, all of us are ignorant when we’re younger. We learn to act, feel, and think in alignment with the coding of our family and cultural systems, and are encouraged from our youngest days to adopt and perpetuate the values of the family and cultural matrix. However, life being interactive with countless value systems from a multitude of subcultures, at key points we are exposed to values outside the default patterns in our subconscious mind.

As I explain in Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend, our family and cultural matrix keeps us comfortably ignorant until we start having questions which can’t be answering with the conventional wisdom of those systems. Then, as exemplified by the Buddha’s path, we “slip over the wall of the castle” and find ourselves in a world we never imagined. By stepping outside our own ignorance, through our own discoveries we get glimpses of Light, and by pushing the limits of the boundaries we feel heat, the “Fire by Friction” which keeps Life moving forward.

All of us are ignorant when we are young. However, through our encounters with the world, we hit points of awakening because we’ve a) seen the light or b) feel the heat. When we find ourselves in situations that offer us the Light of awareness or the heat of necessity, ignorance gives way to the sense of, and eventually knowledge of, a different perspective.

When we hit an experience involving the Light of Truth or the heat of necessity, then we all choose one of two responses. We either choose to move into a greater understanding of that experience, or choose to attempt to ignore the important lessons that experience is showing us. Basically, when we see the Light or feel the heat, either we choose to grow or we choose not to grow.

When someone hasn’t had an experience leading them out of ignorance into awareness, they are innocent. When someone has an experience that forces them to take note of a different way to be, they are no longer innocent. Their choices create karmas from that point on, whether they choose to be conscious or unconscious of their actions as their future unfolds.

Rationalizing Abusive Behavior is A Sign of Willful Ignorance

A being who has an experience that awakens them but chooses to avoid growing or continues to cling to abusive behavior is operating out of lower ego willfulness. This is where seeing which part of the mind is at work makes things very clear. When lower ego willfulness is present, so are rationalizations.

Rationalizations are explanations which justify abusive attitudes and behaviors. An abuser will always have a reason for being abusive. This is not the “innocent ignorance” of a child, but the deliberate willful ignorance of an adult. The lower ego is heavily invested in refusing to grow beyond itself.

Those who are willfully abusive have chosen the way of fractured ego separateness, and from one angle of approach, are refusing to "join the human race." We are here to learn to BE the Loving Wise Intelligence which is our eternal nature, but beings who are willfully ignorant have chosen the way of separation, fear, and exploitation. They are capable of giving up this misguided attitude any time they want, but have decided they just don't want to.

The paradox is the moment anyone chooses to grow, their entire lives change instantly for the better. They may or may not recognize these changes for the better, since to be human is “not to know” many things until we can pierce the veil between the known and unknown without fear. It is as though part of the human journey is to awaken to “the dream within the dream” so we may see clearly our most natural way to BE our loving, wise, intelligent Self.

While we're all living our lives in the dream of this apparent material reality, there are different levels of dreaming. While some will awaken through a life altering event, there are many who will experience such events but refuse to awaken, believing the dream is real, and the reality of awakening was a dream. Their mental defaults require that they rationalize why their previous state of mind is the only reality they’ll accept.

We All Awaken To Accepting or Rejecting A Greater Truth

Anyone can awaken at any time, but the quality of that awakening is determined by the imagery and symbols of the one who is awakened. In this sense, those who are awakened only do so within their metaphors. There is the possibility of awakening into good, truth, and beauty, and there is the possibility of awakening into evil, untruth, and ugliness. Each chooses in each moment.

Awakening to the good we could accomplish is a blessing beyond description, and fills the life with promise and a sense of boundless possibilities. However, our ego mind is the gatekeeper of whether we embrace the adventure or cling to old ways, frustrating our Higher Self from externalizing our Love, Wisdom, and Intelligence in the world of activity.

Those who cling to willful destructive behavior have allowed their ego-mind to fall prey to one or more of the four primal emotions of fear, desire, attachment to experiencing strong sensations, and vanity, in various combinations. These are hardwired into the human condition, and we all feel these. However, throughout our lives we make choices to embrace, reject, or modify these emotional responses as we move through various experiences.

That’s why when someone chooses to act our abusive behaviors it is entirely their choice to behave that way. From one point of view, there is nothing unconscious about it, though there may be unconscious factors present. A default to destructive behavior is always a choice.

In one of the most ancient and venerable books in the world, Light on the Path, we find there are three "Eternal Truths" for humanity:

"Regard the three truths. They are equal. These written above are the first of the rules which are written on the walls of the Hall of Learning. Those that ask shall have. Those that desire to read shall read. Those who desire to learn shall learn."

"There are Three Truths which are absolute, and cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech.

"The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendour has no limit.

"The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard, or seen, or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.

"Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.

"These Truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them."

The Third Truth, that each is the decreer of their own life, rewards, and punishments, stands as an affirmation of the Law of Karma. Each chooses to awaken or sleep, to progress or regress, to abuse or to serve the afflicted.

Any being, no matter how ignorant, can choose to become more aware of better actions, feelings, and thoughts. Any being who wants to learn can learn. If a being won't learn from the example of good people, then it's willful ignorance, and makes them entirely responsible for all choices and actions that follow.

Tomorrow we'll continue by examining how intention relates to karma, whether free will can override ignorance, and how an unconscious being can choose to become more aware.

Reprinted on with written permission from Robert Wilkinson. Copying this article to other blogs is strictly prohibited. It is copyright protected. 


About the author:

Robert WilkinsonAn internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
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Reprinted on crystalwind.cawith written permission from Robert Wilkinson.

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