How exactly do you avoid fooling yourself?
Fooling oneself happens whenever we follow anyone. This anyone could be your parents, your teachers, your friends, a political system, a nation or a religion. Because whenever you follow someone you give that person authority to decide what is life for you.
But as you can see, to not follow, is not very easy. We all want to follow someone, depend upon someone because of several reasons. The first reason is that we think we are not capable of understanding life by ourselves. The second reason is that if we question people who are in authority, they will give you painful consequences. In both cases you will have to stand alone, not depending on anyone in society. You may have very few or no friends. People may not give you respect or status and even stop talking to you. You will not receive any awards and rewards. On the other hand they may think you as a danger to the society. Socrates, considered a wise man today, was given poison by the people of Athens because he was questioning the Gods of Athens. The church threatened Galileo with the guillotine because he was showing that the earth moves around the sun and not the other way.
The design of whole society is such that you have to follow someone or the other or you will be thrown out of society. One feels that if the majority is right then it has to be the truth. So if one has to avoid fooling oneself, one has to stop following the majority. The whole world following something does not make it truth.
In order to avoid fooling oneself, one has to go deep into oneself, look at all one’s fears and desires. It is because of fear and desire that we follow someone. And the person whom you are following, knows what is your fears and desire, so he manipulates you using that.
A person who is not fooling himself is constantly questioning, never reaching any conclusion like “life is this” or “truth is this” or “right is this”. Because whenever you make a conclusion, you have stopped thinking. When you stop thinking and questioning, one has started fooling oneself.
This does not mean that a person who is questioning does not have any clarity. He has the clarity of knowing what is false, and this is a tremendous clarity, a clarity by which he always comes out of the situation of fooling oneself. Ultimately he may reach a clarity far beyond the present human consciousness, if he goes the full extent in his journey of self inquiry, and does not settle down anywhere with a conclusion.