We are supposedly sentient creatures. This word 'sentient' is tragically taken very lightly.
We must understand what it means before we decide to go any further:
The free online dictionary has a very nice way of putting it:
Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.
In all honesty this is complicated. What it means is, that sentience is NOT simply thinking or perceiving your surrounding, but it is the ability of realizing that SOMEONE is doing that thinking or that perceiving.
This is the point. That it is an ability. That it is not passively available all the time. It can be evoked on choice or by external prodding. And In my opinion this is a result of an advanced evolutionary effect shaping the complex neural network in hour heads.....
Thus sentience is not a magical quality but is brought into being by two forces: complexity of brain architecture and nature to question; Only when you begin to ask questions about your existence can you activate this ability. At this juncture I would like to define what is the meaning of the word choice:
I perceive it as : The power, right, or liberty to choose;
Only when YOUR IDENTITY is making a choice and NOT your reflex, i.e. only when you are conscious to the effort of a choosing can you really call the act a choice. The smart may already glimpse the dangers of choosing without awareness. The rest may as well stop reading.
And since the knowledge of sentience is essential for understanding the crucial concept of choice, its ignorance is termed weakness. And this weakness leads simply to your becoming a slave of environment; where you are forced to act in particular way despite your best interests.
So what happens when you discover sentience?
The answer is NOTHING! Nothing happens because you soon forget that there is such a quality and go back to your Pizza Hut squatting, Starbucks gulping and god forbid, heroine snorting, "friends".
The reason behind this is that, ONCE DISCOVERED Sentience does not remain turned on after-wards...
You will have to come back to kick-starting it again and again to keep in mind that your identity exists and is separate from the so called reflex your brain is programmed to perform.
This is the state of affairs, I believe, that can be termed true freedom of the mind. Because hence forth you can observe all your actions as an identity separated from your reflex: when you take a decision you know what prompts you take it, since you are allowed to search your memories about your history that caused the decision as a reflex; and thus you are given a choice to act against it or approve it.
Why act against it?
Because sometimes reflex is bad!
It tends to take you on roads that lead to your doom:
e.g. peer pressure is a reflex!
We are groomed to allow ourselves liked and conformed into the circle of our peers from the very beginning.. Thus trying to be 'cool' so you could impress your friends does not necessarily bode good for you... and eventually also results in robbing away that capacity of recognizing existence of self away from you. It is my belief that the tendency to impress people is the single most hazardous thing you can do to your Sentience. Because you are taming your brain to perceive through someone else's identity, who most probably doesn't himself possess it. (In Ayn Rand's words) This is simply mirrors reflecting mirrors and producing infinite images.
Now what is the use of having sentience as an active force instead of a passive one?
The answer is simple. NONE.
It does not guarantee success. It does not guarantee peace. It does not guarantee heaven. It definitely does not add the Monk bonus of +12 AC.
It is not an end in itself.
It is not an end in itself.
What it is, is means to a path.
It frees you from mental slavery of following reflexes of your mind and gives you a choice to improve your faculties when you so desire. It makes you independent of chance occurrence where you involuntarily depend on other people or events to point you the right direction (teachers, books, Jonathan Seagulls). It makes you free to recognize that there are reflexes and you have a choice to override them. It essentially gives you Free Will.
The rest is left up to you.