Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes
Level 4: Serious Player
ONLY a Sith Deals in Absolutes.
So elegant a blunt phrase to so accurately collect humanity's relationship with dogmatism.
A dynamic that is often so snakelike in its appearance, you can't tell when you're attacking someone else's dogmatism with a dogmatic view of your own.
This is the way it is, and YOU are wrong.
It's the same side of the same coin looked at with different lighting. And in those moments both sides are simultaneously good and evil.
If a Jedi can succumb to the sinister simplicity of Dogmatic Orientation, how are we, mere simple mortals, expected to figure this out?
It can be said that there are two orientations.
It would be ironic to say so. But for the purposes of this discussion, we will consider these two orientations. One tends to fall in one or the other, but not both.
Those two are Dogmatic and Scientific Orientations.
I'll skip some of the definitions as this topic has made its appearance in The Adaptive Dilemma.1
But, I do find on a personal level that many challenges can stem from holding a stark Dogmatic orientation, and on an interpersonal level many relationships can be challenged by holding a Dogmatic orientation.
And perhaps, a deeper understanding of how we get into these orientations, and how they affect us, may help get closer to what we want in life.
Dogmatic Orientation - The One Way To Be Always Right
This is the orientation of the absolute. The orientation of "there's one correct answer." The orientation of validity over usefulness. The orientation of "it needs to be a certain way."
Defined dogmatism is alluring. It's like a comfortable blanket. It makes us feel warm and safe because in a dogmatic viewpoint we KNOW we're right and everyone else is wrong. And in that "knowledge" of our own definitive correctness, we can forget about our worries or our stress.
"This is the way it is" removes the need for our own unique distinctive willful agency to figure shit out.
The correct decision is someone else's responsibility because it's defined by the dogmatic stance. The one correct answer is something that is easy to call a goal and head directly towards, never mind whether it's reasonable or useful to do so. It's a mindset that ignores all else but the end point that is pre-defined by the absolute orientation.
It gives us clear boundaries to define ourselves as the good and right people and our enemy the bad.
The Jedi states "only a sith deals in absolutes" revealing the truth that no one is objectively "good" in that story. Because the Jedi has forgotten who he is, he doesn't realize he's just looking into a mirror when he sees a Sith. In many ways he needs that viewpoint in order to define himself at all.
While Dogmatic orientation is absolute, Scientific orientation is anything but.
This is our preferred orientation not because it's the opposite side of Dogmatism, but because it's the orientation which we find most gets us all the things we want in life.
How much more difficult is it to be existing in a Scientific viewpoint?
When you operate from a Scientific Orientation, there is no one clear right answer. Everything exists in shades of possibility. This is HARD for people to confront. It's hard for people to exist in because it means giving up the idea that you have control over much at all.
It's challenging for Dogmatic people to interact with those in a Scientific Orientation because ... well ... a Dogmatic view is absolute, a Scientific View is the opposite, it's like oil and water.
"It Depends" becomes the answer to most questions a Dogmatic individual may answer with absolutism. This makes sense, as life shows us that in any given situation and scenario, there is no true "right" answer that "should" be taken ... but it requires a Scientific Orientation to see and accept this.
In Moo Doe teachings (Master Key of Wisdom), you can see this talked about as the Moo Doe Moral Compass. Where your choices fit on a triangular spectrum of true, right, and correct.2
The ideal scenario is you find the best balance given the situation being considered between True (what is True for you and the situation you're in) and Right (what may be objectively 'right' all things considered) to come to the Correct answer (the best answer for you in that circumstance).
The Scientific Orientation is open to possibility. It recognizes that though you may want a specific outcome, there is only so much you can control to get that outcome, so defining yourself around it is not useful.
There are MANY outcomes that are possible, and instead of focusing on the one that we want, we focus on where we are now, who we are now, and how best we can get toward the outcome we desire - but without defining our success around getting that outcome or not.
This orientation requires you to have self-awareness, to slow down, to focus not on willing the end result to be what you want it to be, but accepting what happens and constantly living with the change.
This is the orientation of learning to grow trees well as opposed to trying to grow the tallest tree. Where you become the gardener of you and nurture what you discover grows best within your own garden.
The Scientific Orientation can be seen curiously as an internalized orientation.
Your decisions and your focus are on the best decision-making for YOUR next best step. This is about presence of self and acceptance of open-ended possibilities. The Scientific Orientation is the way of The Earned Path Traveler.
By contrast, the Dogmatic Orientation can be seen as externalized.
It isn't about you, your self-awareness, or what is possible. But rather it becomes about your external judgment of what should be. Perhaps also driven by a need to identify or belong externally to a group that aligns with the stark dogmatic orientation. Dogmatism is the way of The Entitled Traveler, who blames other people when things don't go the way he expects.