Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The (Meta)physics of Doubt

Dissipation or Redirection?

(Note 2: I wanted this post to show up on August, but the draft was dated March, so there it sat, back in among the March posts. I've now re-posted with an August date - sometimes this technology stuff gets a little confusing.)

(Note 1: I drafted this one in March of this year. August, as it turns out, has been less about effort and more about "being". So I figured now would be a good time to turn this one into a post!)

I've been working very hard lately - lots of long hours and exertion. I feel, in general, pretty good about this, in spite of how it sounds. I enjoy what I'm doing, and I am very grateful to be living a part of my life -- this part, right now -- in service to a big dream.
And yet, it's still "hard". I don't always know whether what I'm doing is making a difference. It's challenging to continue to exert yourself and then wonder whether it's worth it.

All the familiar kinds of self-doubt have emerged over the last several weeks.

"I'm not doing the right things."
"Nothing is working."
"I'm wasting time and money."
"I can't possibly pull this off."

Etc., etc., etc.

Now, as usual, I'm not satisfied to just "experience" these doubts and then "process" them and move on. Oh, no. The metaphysicist in me says, "Wait - there must be a message in this. Why am I going through this? What is its purpose?"

And my attention alighted upon Doubt itself. I have never really examined doubt - I had just struggled with it. What is Doubt? How does it work? In essence, I began to ponder the physics of Doubt.

And this morning, as I took a leisurely snooze-in, I think I made a little progress.

I was looking at doubt, and examining its effect. Well, says I, "effect on...what?"

It came to my awareness that doubt was affecting my intention, somewhat like the way friction affects motion. It was using the energy of my intentions, and diluting or decreasing the force of them.

OK, maybe this sounds obvious on the face of it. But I actually saw it as a vector of force that I was allowing to feed on, and that worked counter to, my intentions.

So then, of course, I had to look at Intention (because doubt itself was making me question the validity of my inquiry).

What the heck is Intention? On the one hand, an intention can be this very large, grandiose, "I'm going to execute this vision" kind-of-thing. On the other hand, it can be something as simple and small as, "I'm going to open my eyes now," or "I'm going to pay attention to my breathing."

And somewhere in the middle, "I'm going to get up, put on my running shoes, and go the rain."

And I looked at intention somewhat carefully to see if "intention for the easy/possible" was structurally the same as "intention for the difficult/impossible". Were they really the same thing? I had to conclude that they were. It was really just a question of scale regarding the resources and knowledge needed. "Open my eyes" requires little resource. "Become President" requires a lot. But the actual functional role of "intention" is the same. So, to a (meta)physicist, the same forces, fields, and conditions should govern the operation and understanding of each.

A little deeper on intention, then. If this whole gamut, this whole range, qualified as "intention", what actually is Intention? What is the physics of intention? Intention has been called "focused attention". I think of it as "directed willpower". Note that there is a subtle difference between "directed willpower" and "applied willpower"; applied willpower implies that one is actually taking action. That's a second step, separate from the intention itself. That's the application of resources. But directed willpower implies both "potential energy" and "direction".

Notice also that there is a minimum "quantity" of potential energy that is required, even in the presence of sufficient resource (as in, I didn't go running in the rain, even though I certainly had capable shoes and plenty of rain to run in...).

What makes intention strong enough to "activate"? That is, to cause tangible change in the Universe? Still working on this one. But one thing was clear - doubt was "dissipating" what force existed within the intention.

With these perceptions in hand, I had another look at doubt.

My first impression was that doubt was dissipating my intention. It was "decompressing" it, reducing its voltage, its power, its potential for forward motion. And the odd thing was that the application of doubt was coming from me! So odd to see one part of myself gathering energy, creating the potential, building power, and then another part of myself venting off that energy, dissolving it, adding an "effect" to it that causes it to lose coherence.

I got up and started my day, satisfied that I had uncovered something important about doubt - "Doubt dissipates Intention".

Later, as I began to contemplate writing these insights down, I thought, OK, but is that the ONLY thing doubt is doing? Doubt has to have a purpose - a useful, evolutionarily valuable function, or we wouldn't have it. So what constructive role does it play?

I started to look at Doubt like "attitude adjustment thrusters" - pushing the Intention vector left or right, up or down, in little puffs of exertion. Properly applied, Doubt is a tool for redirection and adjustment. It takes just enough steam from the main thrusters to provide a moment for realignment through examination. And it doesn't require the application of external energy -- handily, it uses the energy that is already present. An excellent safeguard system.

Unfortunately, I suspect many of us don't use Doubt so constructively. We let Doubt establish itself, but somehow don't have the discipline to manage, monitor, and control its application. So it continues to fire, releasing the pressure in the Intention tank, firing wildly, pushing our Ship of Intention up, down, sideways, in a random and unproductive ways. Taking us off course while at the same time sapping us of "directed willpower".

Why is that, do you think? Is it simply a matter of training? Of discipline? I'm still working on it, but if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them.

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