Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Automatic Value Judgments

"Feelings are automatic value judgments," was a statement made by the American psychotherapist Nathaniel Brandon. If you consider this statement deeply you can understand how feelings can deceive you. If your assumptions (automatic values) are based on falsehoods (things you picked up from your parents, and unexamined experience), trusting your feelings may keep you on the wheel of samsara.

An automatic value judgment is a determination, an assumption of value, that you no longer question. Animals have instincts, but we humans have feelings. Most are developed in childhood when we have little choice about inculcation. We take on automatic value judgments to respond quickly and correctly in the environment we find ourselves. 

No matter how strong our feelings are, these judgments may not be in line with the truth. If our feelings are exceptionally strong, we will have a hard time examining them. There is no doubt that questioning strong feelings causes insecurity. The threat to our psychological security is reason enough not to question them. We take our feelings to be the truth.

Unexamined experience and feelings may be presenting a false view of reality. This is where Advaita Vedanta has tremendous insight. Vedanta tells us that it is knowledge that sets us free.

For knowledge of reality, feelings and unexamined experience need to be questioned. Vedanta is a means of knowledge to examine our assumptions. It takes courage to view ourselves in the light of knowledge, but the end of suffering is a worthy goal.

Swami Dayananda wrote a book called "The Value of Values." This would be a good start. You can look at your feelings and see what values they express. Are they in line with freedom and true security? Examining our values based on the knowledge revealed in the Vedas is a proven path to freedom and out of samsara. 

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