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The Glory of Ignorance recently there was mention in NondualitySalon of the value of eliminating ignorance. as the apparently lone expositor of the Avidyana (Vehicle of Ignorance) tradition, it is my duty to defend the sadly neglected and maligned skill of ignorance which serves as the foundation from which most if not all knowledge-based mystical paths obtain their authority to ignore a thing is to, intentionally or no, keep it from one's conscious attentions. as a child the ability to ignore portions of our oceanic and chaotic experience is one of the first skills we learn. without it we would never develop a personality, orient to the world, or focus on tasks as we grow up we are informed by guides like parents and teachers of the limitations and problems which ignoring things can bring when taken too far or misplaced (e.g. ignoring the feelings of others, information about the world such as the history of oppressed peoples, and objects or complexes which interfere with our development). it is this type of 'misplaced ignorance' which people generally identify AS ignorance and of which they seek to rid themselves when it comes time for personal refinement and spiritual growth, ignorance becomes very important. ignoring everything but what we've identified as the 'self' and ignoring the self for the benefit of others are both commonplace. meditation often involves the active focus on a single object, ignoring all competing perceptions; it is in fact a refinement of the ignoring skill so as to refrain from misplacing our application of it which provides the fuel for most mystical disciplines. we are taught INTENTIONAL ignorance in most spiritual practices, even while being taught that we are setting out to 'destroy ignorance' the history of religion with respect to ignorance is a litany of disrespect, demonization, and antagonism. in order to bolster the aspirant to combat misplaced ignorance, spiritual traditions assault ignorance as The Enemy, The Problem, and The Cause of All Our Ills, conveniently ignoring the fact that ignorance underlies all spiritual training and mature human experience. entertaining simplistic notions about the cosmos, we may rest easier in our ignorant certainty and supremacy to take just two illustrations, the iconographic depictions of many Indian and Tibetan gods have them standing atop a dwarf or child (the famous Dancing Siva Nataraja for example) which is often said to symbolize 'victory over ignorance'. while this icon can be said to mean many things, inclusive of the possibility which I have been instructed that the gods themselves stand atop ignorance as their foundation (i.e. that without ignorance there would be no gods), tradition has it that these icons indicate that ignorance is to be dominated, destroyed, and eliminated even as a personal being (crushed out of existence; what this says about dwarves and how they should be treated I leave for others more persistent than I to pursue) another illustration is the way that 'vidya' is glorified in Indian and Asian traditions to the detriment of *a*vidya (sometimes personally, sometimes as just a metaphysical principle of perfection). pages and pages of sutras, hours and hours of lectures, detail the many fabulous qualities of what is often translated 'wisdom' and 'spiritual knowledge', but only those of the Avidyana tradition have come to understand the supreme importance of avidya. faint exceptions to this are occasional reference in Zen Buddhism to a strong anti- intellectualism, or the wisdom of Laotse and his description of 'emptying the mind and filling the belly' (Tao Te Ching: this phrase describing how the sage should help the people, by emptying their minds and filling their bellies, is often ignored or passed off as a reference to emptying their minds of something specific like intrusive worries) traditional Buddhist teaching has it that avidya is the FOUNDATION of Conditioned Arising, the context within which most if not all sentient beings find ourselves, and this serves as the basis for the development of a series of 11 elaborations in a kind of 'Wheel of Samsara' (the 12-link Chain of Causation). it is avidya which is given the place 'sin' has in Western religion -- the reason that spiritual and religious enterprises have become necessary and important like sin in Western religion, very often the aspirant is told that avidya is a particular kind of ignorance (say, ignorance of the Real, or ignorance of the fabulous teachings of the Buddha or some bodhisattva) rather than ignorance as a whole, yet never is this general avidya described as necessary or integral to the human experience. the general concept (e.g. sin as 'missing the mark' -- aiming for an ideal and failing to attain it; an event which happens to most people throughout their lives) is often left behind for some cosmic Bad Thing one does (e.g. against the dictates of the divine) or experiences. in the East the aspirant is told that hir ignorance is a kind of SICKNESS, and that the spiritual authority will attempt to help hir CURE hirself of it, remove its troublesome symptoms by addressing its root cause: ignorance this medical-type assessment is accepted as a condition of ALL sentient beings by many Buddhists ("all life is suffering") and it colours a sometimes dour and depressive vision of human and nonhuman life. instead of seeing ignorance as an important and necessary aspect of living in the world which is sometimes misapplied, it is treated like a 'problem' which must be solved in the same way that one must do penance for the sins one has committed (through one's own efforts, guided by the masters, one can be saved/cured/fixed) the lack of understanding and the propaganda campaign surrounding ignorance merely attests to the severe lack of successful introspection taking place in the places of mystical development!