It’s the era of fake news. Why we should care.
News of every kind is flooding the world, and there is something new to report daily. Added to this is a new phenomenon - fake news, which completely distorts the truth and plays on the minds of people. As a result, there is no standard world view. Depending on the spin and what the minds of people are inclined to believe or disbelieve, such misstatements harden the positions of people who are for and against such news, which pulls people apart rather than rallying them together. Although the concept of fake news in the media may be a recent occurrence, the mind has all along been trafficking in such behavior. A thought can appear real, offering a perspective that has no basis in reality.
Fake news, whether it is on the airwaves or originating in the mind, exploits human weaknesses of fear and insecurity.
The mind is an analytical powerhouse. It processes so much information on a day to day basis. From all the data collected, the ones that are most relevant to an individual's habits and inclinations are packaged and presented in a version that brings out the highest amount of emotion. Just like dry news is boring to most people, making them turn to some other activity, the mind has an insecurity that an individual's attention will wane and switch to something else other than the mind. By spicing up information, the mind remains the focus of attention.
Since the mind is an 'insider,' most people are inclined to go with the mind's version.
Humans have the unique ability to be aware of and stand in witness to everything, including the mind. It is easy to perceive the differentiation between the mind-body complex and the outer world, but it is more challenging to create the separation between awareness and the mind. Both awareness and mind are subjective entities. Drawing a contrast between the two can be tricky. The world, on the other hand, is objective and the subject (mind) and object (world) differentiation are more clear cut.
Freeing awareness from the confines of the mind is requires effort, unlike the ease with which endless streams of thoughts mop up attention and awareness.
Falling prey to the mind happens where there is an expectation that the mind will bring peace, happiness, and calmness. Those qualities are part of our being, and the mind does not have an exclusive monopoly. Like diamonds which lie deep underground, those qualities have sunk to the depths due to the overwhelming influence of the mind. The mind is not the right tool for bringing to the surface peace, happiness, and calmness. It extracts too high a price.
The mind has stolen peace, calmness, and happiness, and it has become a reseller of happy times.
Thoughts carry the news from within and without, and they project them on the screen of the mind. Every projection can potentially trigger an emotion, either positive or negative. If there is no emotion triggered, thoughts pass through virtually unnoticed. All emotion in the mind is secondary and triggered in response to information of the past, which is forgotten or a new piece of news that comes in through the senses.
Emotion is the mind's tool for manipulating our awareness and attention.
Whether the information that the mind projects is real or fake, what matters is the degree of entanglement of awareness with the mind. As long as awareness remains localized to the notion of the individual self, the mind gets the upper hand. The moment the mind becomes part of the scenery of existence, and not the only entity, it begins to fade in importance. When awareness is localized and tied to the mind, it is hard to imagine otherwise. For most this is the case, and consequently, there is nothing known of the beyond. The mind keeps it out of reach.
There is a like, dislike, or indifference towards any information that the mind projects. Simply cutting off awareness towards likes and dislikes can cripple the mind. When there is indifference towards the mind, it has to work harder to trap awareness. The mind cuts corners and runs towards the future. It knows where fears and insecurities lie, and from this information which is readily available in the past, it conjures up an alternate reality.
Since the past is done and over with, the mind invents the future.
In the future, anything can be magnified, blown out of proportion, and taken out of context. There are two possibilities. The mind may paint a bright and rosy future which can offer solace in the present, or it may paint a dark, lonesome, and fear-ridden future. It suits the mind's plan to use fear and trepidation as the base for the future. The more the mind gains the upper hand, the more we cling to the mind.
Fear brings up questions that demand immediate answers.
The mind is good at giving quick answers, whether or not those answers are in the best interests of the individual are a different matter. The mind runs parallel to the present. Questions that fear brings up has nothing to do with the present. Through the eyes and the ears, the present is not a surprise. But the future can be a surprise, and fear suggests it will be an unpleasant one.
Fear destroys patience to wait it out and see how things pan out. Conclusions based on the quick answers provided by the mind take awareness further away from the present towards an imagined future. Once a fire is lit, all it takes is continuing the supply of fuel and combustible material.
Expectation is the mind's fuel, and fear makes it highly combustible.
Whether there is awareness of the present or not, life happens in the present. Life cannot exist in the past or the future, and no one can deny the truth that this moment exists. Everyone alive can quickly get the first-hand evidence of this moment by merely watching the process of breathing.
By becoming aware of the mind as a separate entity, and by watching it, the evidence for its lack of connectivity to the present moment will be apparent.
Whatever the mind presents, real or otherwise, is of the past or the future. To become aware of the present, the mind has to lose its opacity. When the mind becomes transparent, it cannot project thoughts and impressions of the past or the future. The present is not a personal experience or limited to one individual, unlike an individual past. It is common for everyone. When there is no interpretation of the present, emotions cannot be triggered.
The present has only one version, and when the mind is no longer the bearer or any news, real or fake, everyone will experience the same version of the present, without varying levels of emotion. There is neither fear nor insecurity in the present. Fake news cannot penetrate the openness of the present. It circulates in the closed quarters of the mind.
How we react to news from within the mind or from without, is a good barometer of how engaged awareness is in the present.