Post number 9 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

We all have to live with doubt, and decide where it sits in our perception of things. Doubt is our capacity to question, and perhaps recognise the shortcomings in our own perspective. To doubt is to recognise that we are not omniscient, and that our perspective like all perspectives is narrow when compared to the overarching manifold of the Force. We doubt because we are not certain.

Doubt is a sign of flexibility, which is opposed to concrete, fixed ideas. Like the reed, our openness and flexibility lets us bend, rather than break, when the wind of doubt blows through. If I say “No cars are green”, then see a green car, I will have a hard time defending my initial position. I can either bluntly ignore the green car and tell others they’re seeing things, or through doubt reevaluate my initial assertion, and amend it to include the evidence I’ve received.

But to be capable of doubt is more than just altering what we assert as truth. It is recognising the very nature of truth is flexible. We are wise to avoid such assertions in the first place, to recognise the place doubt has in a reactive, response, “alive” approach to the Force. We haven’t seen it all and we don’t know it all, and we never will. And that’s OK. It’s OK to doubt ourselves, to doubt others, to doubt received wisdom or new ideas. It’s fine to evaluate, and reevaluate, and to change one’s mind. That’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Too much doubt can be an obstruction. We can’t get things done if all we ever do is evaluate things. It’s important to accept that at some point, we must act. We can become paralysed if we doubt everything, but again this stems from a fixed mode of thought: that there is a “right action” in every situation. Sometimes, we just have to go with the best we have, and improvise. Sometimes we have to act and be wrong, to learn the lesson and be forced to see the error first-hand. Does the baby doubt every move, never touch the hot radiator because it may be hot, and never touch the toy because that may be hot too? They touch both, they learn from both. Doubt should be the application of learning and understanding, the acceptance that “this is a risky area” or “this is a convincing argument”, not a blind “but what if? but what if?” cycle.

Doubt gets a bad wrap from a lot of people. Those who are fixed in their modes of thought think of doubt as weakness, and of course they are fixed in that despite the hardships they face in their inflexibility. I posted a quote I found interesting on the wall here a few days ago:

“Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.” – Albert Camus

It takes a degree of courage to allow ourselves to doubt our perspectives, our preconceptions and existing ideals. But every one of us will sometimes be wrong. Every one of us will mess up, let ourselves down, make a mistake. It is essential to be able to doubt in order to learn. And it is equally essential to live with a degree of unresolved doubt, of internal conflict and risk in order to act at all.

Held in balance, doubt makes a lot of sense, and is certainly preferable to stoic certainty; but it is also preferable to be able to act than to be crippled by our uncertainties. Do we trust this person? Do we agree with this idea? Do we feel confident that we’re making the best possible decision? Answering yes or no to any of these has its difficulties. Answering “I think so, so far” is more realistic. We can’t know, because each of these questions rely on a huge number of factors and preconceptions.

Whilst we are great forecasters in a number of ways, we are not good at predicting things which relate to behaviour, or development, or our own growth. We know we can plant a tree, water it, give it some sun, and chances are it will grow. But we can’t predict the direction and size of every tiny branch in our lives. We can’t predict the sway and turn of every leaf. The system is simply too chaotic, too vast. And that’s the truth of life in the Force, particularly when it comes to humans with their own interior lives.

Jedi do well to hold this in mind; to hold their decisions until the opportune moment, to conserve their activities to that which is most likely to provide benefit. We must act where necessary, where appropriate. And we must act to correct our misconceptions and mistakes. We should not beat ourselves up for these, of course; rather, we should understand that to fail is part of every life, to be too fixed is a lesson in flexibility. And that to doubt is an opportunity to grow.