How Do We Disengage From The Mechanical World?

How do we disengage from the mechanical world? We concern ourselves with lots of questions, but rarely this. Very possibly, never this. The question of how to disengage from the mechanical world isn’t very high up on our list of priorities. Actually, it isn’t anywhere on our list of priorities; we’d concern ourselves with anything rather than this – how many boiled eggs we can eat in the one sitting perhaps, or which celebrities have been spotted with the telltale signs of visible cellulite…


We might not wonder how to disengage from the mechanical world but we do however ask ourselves how we might free ourselves from the unbearable neurotic misery that is created by our immersion in the mechanical realm, which is a closely related matter. Until we see that the neurotic pain that we are suffering from so dreadfully is caused by the situation of us being in thrall to mechanical processes we are never going to get very far in our efforts to help ourselves. We’re never going to get anywhere; we’re never going to find an answer. This is because there are no mechanical answers to the question of how to free ourselves from the sheer unholy misery of being immersed on a full-time basis in the mechanical world. There’s no ‘fix’ for this predicament.


The problem (or glitch) that we cannot recognize the mechanical as being the mechanical just as long as we are immersed in it – it’s all we know, after all. We just can’t spot it. Naturally we can’t spot it – we don’t have anything else to go on, we don’t have any perspective on the matter. When all we know is the mechanical world then there is no way we can recognize this world for what it is. Instead, we take it to be something else – although what exactly this ‘something else’ might be is another question entirely! When a simulation dreams of non-simulated reality its dreams of ‘non-simulation’ are every bit as simulated as everything else that it produces. When we dream of waking up there is of course no more ‘wakefulness’ in this part of dream than there is in any other part. Just as we can dream of anything at all but when it comes right down to it it’s still just ‘the dream’, so to the mechanical realm can simulate anything at all but no matter how hard it labours (no matter how sophisticated its algorithms might be) it’s never going to produce an unsimulated (or non-mechanical) reality.


Just as a non-mechanical system has zero means of relating to the ‘non-mechanical’ it also has no means of guessing or inferring that there even might be such a thing – as far as it sees the matter, what it knows is all that can be known and so the suggestion that there might be ‘something else’ is a complete non-contender. This suggestion can never be made. Just as long as we are immersed in the simulation the idea of ‘disengaging with the mechanical world’ can never arise therefore. When we are immersed in this world however then neurotic suffering is an absolute given; that we will suffer neurotically is an absolute certainty, just as it is an absolute certainty that a cart will always follow the horse that is pulling it, to use the Buddhist metaphor. This suffering is showing us (in a very practical way) that we are in a situation that is utterly inimical to our very being, even though we don’t recognize this as being so, and for this reason the curse is not really the unmitigated curse that we take it to be. Being unable to understand this message however – as we are when we are stuck in ‘mechanical mode’ – we do see this suffering as being a curse and we do our level best to get rid of it. All of our attempts to rid ourselves of the ‘curse’ of neurotic suffering fail however because we don’t understand the nature that we are trying (in vain) to free ourselves from…


Neurotic suffering is the suffering that comes about as a result of have no freedom. Without freedom we are compelled to ‘be what we are not’ because in our essence we are freedom. The mechanical world can be succinctly defined as ‘a world without freedom’. It can also be described therefore as ‘a world in which we are always being compelled to be what we are not’. In this world we can never be ourselves – that’s the one thing that we can never be. It’s not hard to see why the MW is a world without freedom – whatever happens in a mechanical system happens because it has to happen. Events happen because they have been instructed to happen by the constraints written into the system so if the events haven’t been specifically instructed to happen then they don’t. This is fine for the various components of a spring-driven watch or the parts of a car engine (that’s the only way a watch or a car engine can get to work, after all; they can’t work when freedom is allowed back into the situation) but it’s not fine for human beings. Lack of freedom is not fine for human beings at all!


The problem is however – as we have already said – that when we are immersed in mechanicalness then we can’t recognize the mechanical for being mechanical. We really don’t get it that the world which we have created for ourselves is a world without freedom. We don’t get it at all – we just can’t see the unfree nature of our situation and we won’t believe it if someone comes up and tells us. We will fervently deny it to the end of our days; we will deny it with our dying breath – “I am free”, we will say. We say this however because we are not free to see that we have no freedom. Our heartfelt claim that we are already free (our fervent and aggressive believing of this) is a symptom of our lack of freedom, a symptom of our conditioned inability to see the truth. The reason we aren’t free to see the truth is a very easy thing to explain – we aren’t free to see the truth because we live in a world that has been made by thought and thought is a mechanical thing. Thought proceeds by logic alone and there is no freedom in logic. The whole point of logic is that there is no freedom in it!


We simply don’t recognize that we live in a world that has been entirely organized by thought – to say that we ‘underestimate the role of thought’ is an understatement of the most immense proportions. We don’t relate to the world as it is in itself (or to other people as they are in themselves) but to our mental image of the world, our mental image of other people. Life comes as no surprise to us and the reason it comes as no surprise is because we already have it all figured out. We’re not surprised because nothing is happening to surprise us and the reason nothing is happening to surprise us is because we’re only ever seeing what we expect to see. We are only ever encountering what we already expect to encounter. The thinking mind has its categories and everything we see, everything we encounter, always matches these categories, always gets to be processed in terms of these categories. If it didn’t then we’d know about it – we’d know about it because we’d realize to our very great surprise that we really don’t know what’s going on. We’d be gobsmacked in a big way. When we realize on a very deep level that we don’t know what’s going on then this is called ‘being alive’, this is called ‘actually being conscious’…


Thought has overrun us – the servant is dictating terms to the master. Instead of using thought as and when it serves us we have unwittingly allowed thought to create a whole world for us and we have become immersed in this false world without realized that anything untoward has happened. We have been hoisted by our own petard, as the French say – we have been hoisted good and proper. It’s not just that we’re ‘thinking all the time’ (as people often say) – that doesn’t make the point properly at all. Rather, it’s that we have made everything in our lives to be subservient to thought and this is a very terrible thing. We don’t even have the imagination to see just how terrible it is. If there is something that doesn’t agree with thought, something that doesn’t accord with our categories, then that ‘something’ doesn’t exist. Unless thought gives its ‘say so’ first, then nothing gets to exist. As we have just said, the chances are that we don’t see the true horror of this situation; very possibly we don’t see anything wrong with it at all. We are after all perfectly happy – it would seem – to sit back and let the thinking take responsibility for steering the ship in this way. We certainly don’t seem to be very concerned with the situation. We might be concerned by a lot of things but we aren’t in the least bit concerned about letting thought be the undisputed master of our lives!


Despite the evident fact that we seem perfectly OK about thought being in charge of everything it isn’t really OK. It isn’t really OK because – as we have already said – there is no freedom at all in thought and because there’s no freedom in thought there’s also no freedom in ‘the world that thought has’. Thought has made this world for us to live in, and it compels us to believe in this world (we haven’t got the wherewithal to even start questioning it) and this world is fundamentally lacking in freedom. It is a very strange thing to observe that we are so happy to go along this world that we have been provided with – it’s as if we don’t care what uses are made of us by thought (or by society, which is its production). And yet deep down, we do care – we care very much. Deep-down we care and we know this because we are suffering – the suffering is our caring, it is our ‘not being OK about having no freedom. Neurotic suffering isn’t a curse in the way we take it to be therefore, it’s how we get to be aware of something that otherwise we would simply have no way of ever being aware of…


So the art of disengaging from the mechanical world has nothing at all to do with getting rid of this suffering, in whatever way we might try to do so (be it via therapy or via medication). Instead, it involves listening to it, and appreciating where it comes from. Instead of taking against our pain, and roundly condemning it as ‘an evil’, perhaps we can begin to relate to it a bit more respectfully, since to respect our suffering is to respect ourselves. Perhaps we can begin see the neurotic pain that we are experiencing in a more positive way (whilst at the same time acknowledging that it is pain and acknowledging that we would very much like for it to go away) and instead of a curse see it as ‘an invitation to freedom’…






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