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The Threshold of Uncertainty

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message 1: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Sly (christophersly) | 6 comments I read this article How Authoritarian Leaders Get Away with It that provides a list of authoritarian characteristics disturbingly familiar. As Visionary Fiction writers and readers, I expect that when most of us consider the transformation of consciousness, we are thinking of it as benefiting the individual. But clearly there are those involved in transforming consciousness of others that intend it to benefit themselves, no matter the damage done to either the transformed or to society.

I would like to get some feedback on a model I have proposed that suggests that "authoritarian followers" are largely made, not born. This is a rip, sort of, on the Hero's Journey -


Every moment of our lives is a forced response to the stimulus of uncertainty. We are born into a guessing game in which Reality is continuously poking us with The Question - “What should you do?” - and through both our actions and our inactions, we are continuously answering. Those responses have consequences, and you might think that it would not take long before the epiphany that we are guessing would be triggered by the painful experience of guessing wrong, but there is a factor involved which the I Ching calls “Danger at the Beginning.”

Uncertainty can be frightening, particularly for inexperienced children, and especially when their fears are intentionally amplified with hellish threats in order to drive the child into the imagined safety of a true story that promises to protect them from their fears in exchange for their obedience.

Will the young player answer “the call to adventure” and move courageously forward across the Threshold of Uncertainty to begin the rising spiral of evolution towards Reality and awakening? Or will the young player refuse the call, retreat fearfully from the Threshold of Uncertainty, and seek refuge in the imagined safety of a “true story” that pretends uncertainty away.

A player that refuses the call must blind and distort their perceptions lest they observe evidence that contradicts their true story. They must freeze their learning cycle lest it produce answers that challenge their right answer. Rather than a rising spiral towards Reality and awakening, they begin to spiral downward into delusion and paranoia, separating further and further from a Reality that is increasingly perceived as the enemy.


My questions -

Is it possible that "authoritarian follower" is a mental illness that is being intentionally propagated by authoritarians and their followers?

If it is an illness, is it curable, or does cumulative damage make it irreversible?

Can it be prevented by public educational policy?

message 2: by Allan (new)

Allan Ramsay | 12 comments Hi Christopher,

Put my vote in the "Made" column, not "Born."

This world is dense. It feels real. Because of that, what we experience from the moment of birth "socializes" us. We follow the learning curve that takes us from being a helpless infant into all the way into adulthood. Everything we learn stabilizes and fixes our understanding of the world. We value that learning and even seek after getting more of it through advanced degrees, etc.

Sadly, much of that learning focuses on fear and avoiding things that produce fear. If you review the list of eleven characteristics the referenced article lists, you'll find many of them revolve around some kind of fear. Fear can be produced by many things, but the form fear takes is always the same. It's the fear of losing something the person considers valuable, whether it's self-esteem, worldly pleasures, love, riches, or life itself.

I'd say our "socialization" -- the learning process we are all exposed to -- teaches us to be afraid. Then, once we have fear we take all kinds of insane steps to prevent being hurt. So yes, I'd say authoritarian followers, like the rest of humanity, are Made, not Born.

For an excellent example of a man who did not take the usual path, read Michael A. Singer's "The Surrender Experiment." It's quite a story.

message 3: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Sly (christophersly) | 6 comments Hello Allen. I agree with you, I think socialization plays the major role. I suppose the good news is that education may be able to solve the problems of war and poverty. The bad news is that authoritarians have large committed organizations and thousands of years of experience at propagating followers.

I added The Surrender Experiment to my read list. Thanks for the tip, it looks interesting.

message 4: by Allan (new)

Allan Ramsay | 12 comments Hi Christopher,

I follow A Course in Miracles; it's my teacher. Lesson 189 is one of my favorite lessons. You can find it at

Paragraph 7, when I first read it, grabbed me. I wondered how I could do what that amazing paragraph asked. Not being shy about discovering what lies underneath the seeming world, I went to a hypnotherapist and asked her to help me do what paragraph 7 asks.

She led me into a super-quiet state of mind. I didn't notice I had a body or that anything outside of my mind existed.

Once there, in the "place" that isn't a place at all, it became clear that I am not who or what I always thought I am. I understood with certainty that I'm Mind. All the "learning," the socialization I experienced through my life, meant nothing.

It was one of the most important realizations of my life. It's led me to see that what we think we are is the result of a lifetime of learning, of teaching us to believe we are simply bodies walking around with an intellect stuffed into our heads. With attitudes and opinions, some of which we would defend to our death.

Hope you enjoy the Lesson 189. Another resource you might like is Dan Millman's "Way of the Peaceful Warrior."

message 5: by Christopher (last edited Jun 10, 2017 12:53PM) (new)

Christopher Sly (christophersly) | 6 comments Thank you for sharing this with me, Allen. We are kindred spirits of the journey. I have a model for the cycle of transformation in which experience triggers epiphany. A special case would be the experience of Awakening triggering the epiphany of Enlightenment. The experience and realization you describe sounds very similar to an experience/epiphany I had while living in a tent in the woods that I had describe in a post called High Ground: The Bizarre Story of my Awakening.

There appears to be many paths to the "place" you refer to. I read the Way of the Peaceful Warrior many years ago. I would put my novel The Lord's Bedchamber on the same shelf. If you think you might be interested in reading it, I would be happy to send you a free copy. Just let me know where to send it, and your preferred format. I too am moved to share what I have learned. Well met, Allen.

message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Sly (christophersly) | 6 comments By the way, Allen. In The Lord's Bedchamber there is a story about Juan and Pablo, two young seekers who take different paths to "The Winner's Circle."

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