Hope and the Optimism Bias

From the Web

Science investigating consciousness by going through the mind and brain

In a recent extensive article in Time magazine about optimism and human behavior, author Tali Sharot lines out how humans are generally more optimistic than realistic, based on her own science-based research.  She adheres, “The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias.  It abides in every race, religion and socioeconomic bracket.”

Illustration by Noma Bar for TIME

She continues to say that even though a better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present and that “hope keeps our minds at ease.” Now here is an expression that we all would do good to abolish. After all, to ‘hope’ is to put one’s stakes into the future and thus one is not dealing with the here and now in any given situation. Hope gives rise to desire and does not “keep our minds at ease” but rather keeps the mind overactive.

“Hope is a kind of opium; it keeps you intoxicated. To tolerate the miserable present, your eyes remain fixed on a faraway star: your hope. Millions of people live without finding themselves – not because of any sin that Adam and Eve committed, or that they committed in some of their past lives. The sin is that people go on looking in the future and the present goes on passing by. And the present is the only reality; the future is a dream, and howsoever sweet, dreams never come true.

Self-realization is not a dream. It is a realization in the present moment of your own being.”

Osho, The Golden Future Ch 15, Q 1

She further lines out that “…a growing body of scientific evidence points to the conclusion that optimism may be hardwired by evolution into the human brain. The science of optimism, once scorned as an intellectually suspect province of pep rallies and smiley faces, is opening a new window on the workings of human consciousness … is the human tendency for optimism a consequence of the architecture of our brains?” And she ponders, “Why would our brains be wired in this way? It is tempting to speculate that optimism was selected by evolution precisely because, on balance, positive expectations enhance the odds of survival.”

So who exactly is this ‘evolution’ who hardwired the concept of optimism into our brains? Isn’t it rather thanks to the perpetual efforts of the priests and society down the ages that ‘hope’ was introduced as a promise for a better world, for a better life, future life, next life, but never for improvement in the present? This is a very sly way to keep the serfs quiet and exploit them, and it suggests that this ‘human tendency’ was brainwashed into humans by the same two groups mentioned earlier. And how can “the workings of human consciousness” be explained by scientific means?

As Osho says,

“Science now needs great meditators, otherwise this earth is doomed. Science now needs people who can use their minds, who are masters of their being, who can use science in a conscious way. Otherwise we are on the verge of committing universal suicide.”

Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 2, Q 2

Most scientists have an imbalanced view of life, flying only on one wing. They ignore the wing of religiousness, of the mysterious, of the unknown, the unknowable. Rather, they observe and dissect:

“Observation is one of the methods of science; certainly an observer is needed. For observation three things are needed: the observed, the object; the process of observation; and the observer from where the process will start. Observation is a connection between the object and the observer; between the known and the knower, knowledge happens. The scientist is ready to accept the known, he is ready to accept the knowledge; but he is not ready to accept the knower, for the simple reason that the knower himself cannot be made an object of knowledge – and he believes only in objective reality.

If you look at it in this way, science will look like such an idiotic approach – based on such a stupid idea; even a small child can understand this. But you can also see the trouble. The scientist also feels it in moments when he is not so totally a scientist and is a little more human. He can see the point; but this problem is that unless something is observed, its existence is not proved. It remains only hypothetical.

Religion’s whole work is that corner which science is continuously denying: to know the knower, to see the seer, to feel the feeler, to be conscious of consciousness. Certainly it is a far greater adventure than any science can ever be because it is going into the scientist himself. The scientist may go to the stars, may find the ultimate division of objective reality, but he will remain absolutely ignorant about himself.”

Osho, From Misery to Enlightenment, Ch 25, Q 1

The entire article is an essay on scientific observations that leave more questions open than having answers for because science itself is biased. The author concludes “I believe knowledge is key. We are not born with an innate understanding of our biases. The brain’s illusions have to be identified by careful scientific observation and controlled experiments and then communicated to the rest of us. Once we are made aware of our optimistic illusions, we can act to protect ourselves. The good news is that awareness rarely shatters the illusion…”

I beg to differ. Who will those scientists be that will come up with answers filtered through their own unaware minds? Are these scientists the new priests who will spoon-feed their findings to humanity who are to swallow this as the truth and thus can be kept quiet? Awareness absolutely shatters illusion and knowledge, and it is only through meditation that we can become totally aware.

“As far as I am concerned and my vision for a new humanity is concerned, I see science as having two dimensions: one, the lower dimension, working on objects; and two, the higher dimension, working on consciousness. And the lower dimension has to work as a servant for the higher dimension. Then there is no need of any other religion; then science fulfills totally all the needs of man.

But right now you are right that science transforms nothing. It cannot. Unless it approaches consciousness and works out how to develop more consciousness in man – how to make his unconscious conscious, how to transform his darkness into a noontide – it will not be of any great use. On the contrary, it is proving to be one of the greatest dangers.”

Osho, The Golden Future, Ch 36, Q 1


Link to article: www.time.com

Bhagawati for Osho News

Comments are closed.