Let's consider dogmatic and abusive trance.
I mean, you can probably see the potential for abuse right off the bat. Trance not only alters your ability to think rationally and skeptically, it alters your resistance to losing your ability to think rationally and skeptically. Where you find cultish behavior, you will find prolonged, multi-layered, trances.
When you find someone trapped in an abusive relationship -- but the doors of the house aren’t literally locked… why don’t they leave? Because leaving is rational and they are in a type of prolonged trance.
What is Dogma?
Dog+ma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
Dogma is when your parent, your boss, your religious or spiritual leader, your teacher, your government, or other authority presents their ideas and rules as absolute. If you want to be in, if you want to be safe, if you want to be saved: walk this way, talk this way, think this way, be this way. Love what we love. Hate what we hate. The good guys are us, and the enemy is who we say it is.
Dogma creates Trance.
Dogma creates trance, but rather than riding a repetitive rhythm to open ourselves to unique thought, dogma tells us what to think. Repetitive talking-points and commandments invite us to slip sideways out of rational consciousness. Suddenly, we don’t know why we bought Folgers coffee instead of our usual brand. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.
We think of most marketing and advertising trances as obvious, avoidable, and innocent. I mean no offense to Folgers. It’s just coffee. But then, there are plenty of manipulative advertisements that don’t just sing about which brand to pick over others, or list their own merits.
They sing about how you aren’t good enough, not thin enough, not young enough, not well-dressed enough, not sexy enough, not organized enough, not happy enough, enough, enough, enough. They manufacture a void or a flaw in your spirit that their product can fill or fix. Take it on their authority. You need to smell this way to succeed with “the ladies.”
Who else stands to benefit by manufacturing desire? Who wants you to want them?
Politicians have jingles. Religions have their promises. Hate groups have slogans.
As we enter the group trance through repetition, we become less rational, less critical, and we ask less questions. Dogma shuns questions. Dogma says, “Questions are an infectious darkness that will draw you away from the True Mission.” The things the opposing candidate is pointing out are distractions! The real issue is this. The devil put the dinosaur bones there to trick us! Hold fast to God and do not doubt his holy book.
The embedded mission is key. A mission is meaning. Yes, dogma is trance-inducing so we forget to question the authority. And the trance created by the dogma is alluring because it offers dissociative escape from the complexities of reality. And a trance shared within a group feels even more powerful and safe.
But dogma’s strongest power is that it gives our lives meaning.
Dogma shuns doubt. It says doubt is the enemy of Truth. As we struggle to gag and silence our doubts, we end up silencing great swaths of our inner landscape, our unique virtue and spirit, and our inner voice and conscience.
And a human without a conscience...
...well, we know what happens next, don’t we?
Our Ancestors knew it too. Every continent has had its Dark Ages, wars, crusades, and ceaseless violence against the Other. Dogma is not a new problem, and it is not a tool wielded exclusively by corrupt authorities.
While the effects of dogma may be intensified for those with mental illness, dogma does not require mental illness to make truly monstrous behavior possible.
Dogma is our paradigm, and a paradigm is pervasive: you will find it at all scales of human organization. It can be as innocuous as a frustrated parent telling a child to do something, “Because I say so.” It’s something we all fall back on when we get desperate or just too tired to think.
Dogma can be our own inner-authority defining irrefutable boundaries around our identity: “I can’t dance.” So don’t try. Stay safe and don’t try.
Dogma, like Trance, and Zoning Out, is almost instinctual for us, it’s a deep-rooted method of survival. It is relative to our tribal nature.
Ever look at a company that’s destroying the environment and wonder how the employees live with themselves? Dogma makes it possible: People need energy. We are helping people. We’re the under-appreciated heroes.
Thanks to dogma, most people can live with meaningful, positive intent.
I’m protecting the interests of the people who elected me. I’m ensuring the salvation of my parishioners and keeping them from sin. I’m maximizing the profit for our shareholders and putting food on the table for my family. I’m protecting this country from foreign threats.
Dogma is a very narrow path, and everything off the path is perceived as the dark, deceptive, negative, demonic wilderness. Dogma is so narrow that once we ascribe to it, not only do many of our fellow humans fail to fit within its acceptable, safe range...
...most of OUR OWN SELF AND SPIRIT doesn't fit either.
From a perspective of Spiritwork, there is universe inside of you, wild and diverse beyond measure. Dogma means not only missing the opportunity to explore that universe and bring it’s incredible unique gifts into the world, it means denying that universe exists and throwing it completely into shadow and holding it below consciousness.
But denying its existence doesn’t eliminate its influence. What we refuse to see in ourselves is no less empowered to pull our strings and gnaw at our dreams. All we deny haunts us and contributes to a sense of doom.
The more afraid we become, the more we seek safety, the more we clutch the comfort of our dogma. The more we clutch it tightly, the narrower our world gets, the more shadows we have to fear, the greater our sense of doom. The greater our sense of doom, the more afraid we become, the more we seek safety, the more we clutch the comfort of our dogma… Got it?
This is a trance.
And it is in states of great fear, doom, and desperation that we feel justified doing “anything it takes.”
Ever wonder how a whole group of people can be convinced the world is ending? It’s not just that we’re gullible. It’s that this narrowing process that results from dogmatic trance creates real, pervasive dread and an unshakeable sense of doom. The doom we feel is real, so the one preaching the end times becomes the only one to trust, the only one who understands our real feeling of doom.
So, if dogma is pervasive, if it's as natural for mankind as trance...
...are we doomed?
Next: Dogmatic Trance + What can we do?