Levels of Truth

I love getting my beliefs shattered.

I have formed opinions after reading books and listening to interviews that I thought were smart and contrarian, like “careers are shit and we humans aren’t built for them” or “marriage is pointless – if you love someone set them free”, “people are wasting so much money on useless stuff” or “you’re stupid if you try to be well-liked and normal” and so on.

Well, I think I was not right about many of these beliefs.
As I wrote last week, I thought about how we overestimate our own intelligence. But I don’t think I was necessarily wrong either. Yes but no.

Let me clarify.
I came to realize that there are different levels of truth, different levels of consciousness if you will (this is somewhat simplistic of course):

Level 1: Not thinking at all in abstract terms, not thinking about the world or the future much. People on this level are similar to animals that just eat, sleep and reproduce, if they can. My hypothesis is those people the happiest humans because excessive, abstract thinking makes us unhappy.

Level 2: Thinking about the world, but remaining on a surface level with little desire to dig deeper. Getting mostly hypnotized by mass media and the “common narrative” and mostly following the script. They rarely have contrarian thoughts and will lead a pretty normal life (with a job and trying to get a normal family life), unless they’re hit with tragedy or mental health struggles, then they might get to level 3.
They can be reasonably content with life, but they might become bitter as their expectations get shattered, e.g. when their career gets nowhere or they don’t find a partner. I would say the majority of people are in this category.

Level 3 (where I’m mostly stuck at): The “red pill” phase – recognizing that the world is fucked up wherever we dig deeper (it could be corruption, racism, sexism, war, animal abuse, and thousands of other things). This leads to a perceived “waking up” phase of questioning existing institutions and ways of living. People who think on this level are the most unhappy, I’d say. They dig deeper and get angrier the more “lies” they dig up. They’re a bit too smart for their own good – but not smart enough to really understand what’s going on, or to make themselves happy (because they are largely blind to their cognitive biases and echo chambers).

Level 4: With enough self-awareness, life experience and personal growth, I believe that this final level of wisdom and equanimity can be reached. It’s a phase of saying “I don’t know” alot. Recognizing that “Yes and No” is the best answer to most questions. People on this level rarely have strong opinions like “politicians are corrupt assholes”, they rarely identify with a group or political side. They don’t tie their ego to how they’re being perceived by others.
They have studied and understand the arguments of level 2 and level 3 – but they can see the holes where both are somewhat wrong, and how human nature skews the whole equation. They have an understanding of history and psychology which allows them to predict human behavior and macro trends quite reliably. They don’t need to be super-intellgent, though – most high IQ people seem to be tormented souls stuck on level 3 (and they’ll wish to be on level 2 and live a normal life).  People on level 4 will be quite happy (still less happy than level 1’s probably), because their mental framework gives them mental clarity and peace. But there are downsides too: They will have a harder time connecting with people on levels 1-3, i.e. almost everyone. It can be lonely.  

I believe that this phase is ultimately built on a fundament of love and compassion, an acute awareness of the shortness of our lives and how limited our understanding of the world actually is.

😴 What might help you find calm

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