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  • Writer's pictureRishika

How to kill a bad idea

Protest march.
There are ways in which resisting a thoughtform can actually make it more powerful.

As we can see from the political world right now, a thoughtform, once born, can take on a life of its own. I'm talking about slogans, nicknames, reductive reasoning and either/or arguments that package "right" and "wrong" exclusively as part of one worldview and acknowledge no nuance or middle ground. (Bear with me as I try to write this post without naming/reinforcing any of the thoughtforms I'm alluding to.)

Disempowering such disingenuous thoughtforms is tricky, because the ability of a thoughtform to remain manifest and "real" is inherently reinforced every time it is acknowledged, named, debated or vociferously shouted down. If you label me "X" and I object by saying "I am not X," I've just intensified the vibration of the thoughtform of "X".

Unscrupulous political operatives instinctively know this, which is why they deploy mocking nicknames and slurs for rivals they hope to defeat. In the same way that advertisers try to install the thoughtform of (and desire for) a particular product in your mind with catchy slogans and jingles -- if I say "the quicker picker upper" you know exactly which product I mean -- those who launch smear campaigns intend for you to unconsciously internalize their definition of a particular person as unsavory, incompetent or some other disqualifying trait. It's the high school rumor mill writ large, and with much higher stakes.

None of the nicknaming and gaslighting is accidental; this is not a case of simple bad manners. Done in an organized fashion on a mass scale, we call it propaganda. And unfortunately, it's a practice that can sway the minds and behavior of large groups of people if they are never exposed to competing thoughtforms and/or don't have the skills or an independent desire to drill down to a more accurate perception of reality.

Slogans and nicknames are just too convenient, because they allow our minds to condense a huge, confusing mess of information down into a few snappy words that are easy to remember. Our digital-era brains are already tasked with processing untold terabytes of data every day; on some level we may recognize a disparaging nickname as inaccurate, but it's also a very handy shortcut that gives us a feeling of mastery over an extremely complex, competitive environment.

To make matters worse, internet SEO and keyword protocols reinforce all kinds of thoughtforms on the digital platforms we use every day. As I write this, yet another politician has been targeted with accusations of misconduct. A particular slur naming this person is being driven and debated in social and mainstream media, and every time someone uses or searches that term -- amplified by algorithmic calculations -- it gains "strength." You may notice that I'm not repeating it here and just how awkward it is to do that and still write an elegant sentence, but that's exactly my point. Said person will probably forever be associated with that thoughtform now, even long after it has faded from the public forum, and regardless of its accuracy.

As I explain in the course, thoughtforms never really die; they reverberate forever in a variety of forms. We can, however, disempower them by refusing to uphold them. Because actively resisting a harmful idea will actually reinforce its reality -- "what we resist, persists" -- the solution is instead to regard undesirable thoughtforms with non-attached curiosity, as mistaken notions that hold no legitimate place in our experience. You can even do this with compassion and love, much the way you would redirect a child's attention when they misbehave.

Example: I have a friend who likes to tell me I am "too thin" every time he sees me. I could legitimize his opinion by actively disagreeing or feeling offended by the fact that he feels entitled to comment on my body. We could have an argument, but that might cause his ego to feel threatened, and dig in its proverbial heels. I could go into self-consciousness about not inhabiting a more voluptuous physical form. But I like my body just fine, so I simply ignore his comments and over time they have mostly subsided.

Mother Theresa is one who clearly understood this dynamic. She reportedly said, "If you hold an anti-war rally, I shall not attend. But if you hold a pro-peace rally, invite me." Naming the thoughtform of "war," even to state one's opposition to it, gives it legitimacy and sustains its ability to shape reality. By contrast, to rally for peace -- without ever naming its opposite -- instead upholds the legitimacy of the thoughtform of "peace," and strengthens its ability to manifest.

In a bygone era, people routinely responded to insults and accusations by saying, "I will not dignify that with a response," and if you spend any time debating political reality in social media, I would encourage you to keep this tactic handy. A more effective way to delegitimize bad ideas is to instead promote a competing vision that is more attractive, functional and sane. This isn't to say that we shouldn't also work diligently to correct the mechanisms and structures that uphold harmful thoughtforms, such as through legislation, peaceful demonstration and consciousness raising. But an effective way to counteract dysfunctional thoughtforms is to spotlight their dysfunction by voicing and embodying their opposites. We really do need to "be the change" -- to steadily introduce our vision over and over again until its thoughtforms are able to vibrate into reality "on their own" and be sustained on a much larger scale.

There is nothing easy about this. It requires great courage and occasionally demonstrable risk to one's well-being. But many great spiritual and political leaders have accomplished significant change using exactly these methods. When large groups of people practice these tactics simultaneously, we can call it civil disobedience and peaceful nonresistance, which have the ability to effect widespread social transformation. The world will continue to evolve for as long as it exists; we help shape that evolution with the thoughtforms we use to describe it.

Regardless of our situation, and regardless of any sense of futility or even outright hopelessness, we can always choose to deftly sidestep provocative thoughtforms and disempower misleading, dysfunctional public narratives. We can uphold and demonstrate the thoughtforms we wish to see more of -- peace, love and inclusion, perhaps -- and let the ones we find abhorrent expire, starved of the fuel of attention, participation, and ultimately, any and all claims to legitimacy in our chosen experience. ~Rishika


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