Zeno would also say that nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”
(Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 7.23)
It’s my belief the concept of self-deception was, and is, important to me because of my experiences of emotional and psychological abuse suffered (and the PTSD that followed) at the hands of the woman who reared me. Gaslighting was the light in which I lived, and it was a daily struggle to remain aware in its dimness, and not deceive myself of my own worth as a conscious being, nor convince myself of the absence of my own inherent human dignity. Ultimately, I succeeded more than I failed… but I have scars. Fighting off self-deception leaves nasty scars.
Now, years later, with my religious vocation awakened again, I’m seeing my relationship with self-deception maturing and developing into a relationship with stronger, more defined boundaries… kinda like being in right relationship with a being that’d rather eat your face than chat with you, but you simply can’t placate them, hoping they’ll leave you alone. Self-deception doesn’t go away. It wouldn’t it if could.
*fondly reminisces* yeah… self-deception has been a personal interest of mine for decades. Truly, I’m kinda fascinated by it… of what is it made, and why does it arise? What are the factors that cause us to know better, and at the same time, choose worse? Where can it be found in our lives? In our religious practices? How can we combat it?
We can begin with simple, black-and-white answers… but those wouldn’t reflect the complex nature of the cosmos, reality itself. Polyconscious cosmotheologians (how I’m describing “pagans” today), by nature, believe in a more complex reality, and as such, there are more complex opportunities for self-deception to arise. So many chances for us to screw ourselves… all because paganism is ripe with opportunity to overinflate our opinions of ourselves.
Ego: not just a cute annoyance. Self-deception: can’t be fixed with euphemisms.
Epictetus said, “It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what (they) think (they) already know.” Applicable, no? How many people can you think of who could benefit from hearing Epictetus’ words? How many times in your recounting is that person you? For me, it was certainly a fair share.
All our lofty goals and aspirations will be for nothing because we won't be aware of the nature of ego’s trojan horse rolling through our virtue-gate. Ego and self-deception prevent us from achieving our goals because they’re sole function is to convince us that we’ve already achieved those goals. That makes them our enemies.
It’s our job to fend them off... every day… every hour… every moment.
(See y’all tomorrow)