Ignorance may not be bliss, but often it’s a tempting option.
What “ignorance” is, from a mindfulness perspective, is simply tuning out. Specifically, tuning out and not being aware that we are tuning out. It is being unaware, and then being unaware that we are being unaware.
Some of us specialize in this particular form of unskillful behavior, but all of us do it to some extent, much of the time. Actually, we cannot be aware of one thing, if we do not tune-out other things. Much like a camera, we cannot focus on something without de-focusing something else.
When we are skillful, we choose consciously what we wish to tune-out, and we do so motivated by our values. When we are unskillful, we are not so aware of what we are tuning out, and we do so motivated by comfort and discomfort.
Like the main character of the rock opera “Tommy,” we are “deaf, dumb and blind” a fair bit of the time. We do not see what we do not wish to see. We hear what we want to hear, and disregard the rest.
Mindfulness involves becoming more and more open to what is — even the parts we are not so happy about, the information and experiences that we do not like very much on first encountering them. Practicing mindfulness, we slowly become more and more willing to see, hear, and speak what is not so pleasant, but what is in fact here, and is in fact important. We have less and less time for what is pleasant, but unskillful. We have less and less time for what is just a distraction from reality.
Do you want to see, hear and speak what is? Or would you rather be deaf, dumb and blind, but protected from unpleasant realities? That is the choice we make again and again when practicing mindfulness.