‘The presence of doubt destroys the armor. Every unsteady stone weakens the tower'. The Call
‘Suffocate the doubt, which often extinguishes the fires of the heart. Free yourselves from the worm if you want to escape the dragon. Especially today doubt is destructive, because the sword must be one only; we cannot go to battle with two swords, two lances or two arrows. The victory is achieved with only one blow and with the virtue of harmonious fervor. It is a difficult thing, but success is attracted by the fire of the heart'. Heart
The stern words on the topic of doubt are taken from an eastern, archaic and traditional teaching that has produced many Commentaries of Agni Yoga (a level superior to the Raja Yoga, which is the philosophy of the mind).
Such Commentaries have successfully overcome the criticism of many generations before reaching us; this could be the proof of their philosophical consistency and their good initiatory nature. But the eye disaccustomed to studying the sense of words can end deflecting the meanings of an ancient lexicon. Therefore it is better to maintain the terminology of a more modern era where, despite the passing of time, we still ‘philosophize' on the principle of doubt.
Descartes, which we have already mentioned as an example, takes the idea of doubt and states that when it is present it's better to ‘practice' the suspension of judgment. The idea of an action that can suspend our will, posing a veto to our drive to choose (irresistible drive for an impulsive person), is a paradox that can only be achieved through a strong ability for self-criticism. And this is a gift appreciated by the aesthete.
If the view on a matter, a person or an idea is insufficient or imperfect, it is desirable to ‘take our time'. But we must not be deceived by the halt, because it is only apparent.
Like the ‘warrior' studies the enemy looking for a weakness into his defense, the scholar studies the aspects of a problem to penetrate the secrets of its structure. He does that until he reaches enough knowledge to allow him to express a judgment that is not an opinion or a preconceived idea.
Doubt, then, can be a chance of self protection and security, of our thought and knowledge.
Every individual memory has the right to exist, but it must always be ready to face reality, adapting to the changes, updates and improvements that the adding of new elements involve. If it wasn't so, we would be intellectually stationary and spiritually dead. Indeed, evolution is perpetual motion; therefore the world of men undergoes continuous metamorphosis. To oppose it, which is by the way impossible, means to oppose our own progress that will advance regardless.
All moves and all changes; only a fool will want to hold on to perennial and unchangeable certainties. It is also true, though, that before accepting the new and the different, which must never be rejected a priori, the wise man has a cautious and thoughtful attitude. This is not doubt, though; it is only caution.
In front of new and different things that appear continuously to his mind, the wise man is aware that every idea, sound, word, image, impression and feeling ends up by irreversibly modifying his psyche and himself. In order to protect his own self there is no need to follow every impulse of curiosity to the extreme; it is better to take a careful and considered attitude.
Before becoming nourishment for the mind , every idea, impression and feeling must undergo comparison and common sense.
In absence of direct knowledge, comparison can give meaning to an unexplored idea; but lacking certainty, common sense is a natural yardstick that, starting from the heart, can ‘perceive' the legitimacy of who or what wants to impress us.
Therefore doubt is most of all an ‘interlocutory' stage of the confrontation between the observer and a new reality.
In other words doubt is a space for verifying a reality that, in actual fact, could be ‘different' from what it appears. Also, doubt is a state of suspended time that lasts as long as it's necessary to reach the fair judgment that precedes a sensible and conscious choice.
It is said that ‘consistent doubt' is the result of wisdom and that ‘inconsistent doubt' is the result of uncertainty. Therefore it would be a contradiction to put them on the same level.
Uncertainty is the companion of insecurity; the doubt of the coward cannot be compared to the caution of the researcher. This difference offers us some basic principles. First, that doubt can be synonym of caution; second that doubt can also be a symptom of uncertainty and lack of self-esteem.
Lack of self-esteem and irresoluteness are the biggest restraints to individual progress. The latter develops in the general ‘recognition' of the Idea, but it is not subjected to the flattening of conformism.
Separation as well, perhaps experienced with destroying pride, is another strong sign of lack of self-esteem. And the lack of self-esteem causes any sort of uncertainties about the reality the surrounds the person affected by it. But self-esteem is not achieved with our own or other people's approval; we need to overcome the trials that face us day after day.
Facing many trials produces awareness of ourselves and our limits but also of our strengths and potential. Every trial puts us in touch with ourselves, with the part of ourselves that perhaps we don't know yet; every victory brings self-esteem.
This is the way to conquer our own certainties and the way of abstract knowledge (study, reading, etc.) is only the shadow of self-awareness. Therefore the overcoming of any sort of fear is a long process of approach to the spiritual victory which, far from being abstract, is a hard but very real conquest.
At the end of this short dissertation, I'd like to remind you of two of the main psychological triangles that make the barycenter to ‘opposed extremes'.
Draw a triangle on a piece of paper; put at its top ‘spiritual comprehension' (which we cannot discuss here); place ‘common sense' (which we have mentioned) at the basis and at the center of its vertical. Put ‘doubt' (which we have mentioned) on the left side and ‘dogmatism' (which we cannot discuss here) on the right side.
Add another triangle to the first one. In the same order it has ‘spiritual energy' at the top, ‘the strength of a balanced personality' at the bottom and the center, opposed to ‘weakness' (left side) and ‘violence' (right side).
These two emotional triangles are used in psychology to demonstrate the mediated resolution for a conflict between opposites. In the first triangle the conflict is between doubt and dogmatism; in the second triangle the opposition is between weakness and violence.
The synthesis that solves the conflict between doubt and dogmatism is spiritual comprehension; the second conflict is overcome by the intervention of spiritual energy.
In absence of synthesis (or in the time that the student needs to reach it) we use a compromise to mitigate difficulty and conflict.
The compromise will be common sense , as we can see at the basis of the first triangle and the strength of a balanced personality as we can see in the second one.
At this point, though, the discussion becomes far too practical, long and articulated for us to include it within the limits of a short essay.
I only hope that this demonstrates how many interesting aspects there are beyond the literal meaning of every word. Bringing to light (unveiling) the inner meaning of every form and expression used to represent (without being it) a reality, is the way for the purest esotericism.