It may not sound rational, but experts say emotions and gut feelings are more important than intellect in making choices. “We’ve never succeeded, never, in having people recognize the irrational influence of incidental emotion,” Lerner laughed. “Never?” Spencer said. “And then to make steps, no. Never.”
“Never” she says! Never say never, right? Actually, it is somewhat possible to tame “the irrational influence of incidental emotion”, or in other words, manage the bio-hoodwink. First, regarding all my decisions, perceptions, and actions as actually symptoms of something deeper helps calm down incidental emotion, see Symptoms Point Of View. Next, correlations offers me a way to look deeper enough to nip many irrational and hypocritical emotions in the bud.
This research on decision-making matches my observation that, how I feel drives how I act, just like any other animal. When a duck feels hungry, it goes and eats. When I feel hungry, I go and eat. The difference being how I feel drives how and what I think. If a duck could think, it would do the same. As far as I know, we are the only species that thinks, and that is where the trouble begins.
Thoughts cycle back and influence how I feel. This easily turns into a neurotic vicious circle. Thought has a firm impression that it knows and controls. This is our difficulty, as chapter 71 puts it, Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. Cognitive certainty is a self-fulfilling prophecy where the truth it fulfills is delusional.
Probably the best way to avoid living this lie is, ironically, through thought and reflection. That mainly comes down to maintaining a constant background awareness of the fact that the bio-hoodwink is always pulling your strings through your own needs and fears, desires and worries. It is quite insidious!
Note how Buddha’s Fourth Truth says, “There is salvation for him whose self disappears before truth, whose will is bent on what he ought to do, whose sole desire is the performance of his duty”. Maintaining a sense of priority — duty — is essential. And that requires constant review and reflection. (See also, The Decider)