When we force ourselves to do what we were going to do anyway – without any forcing – then we take the good out of it. We ourselves take the good out of it, no one else. The reason we force ourselves to do whatever it is that we were going to do anyway is because that way we get to avoid any risk, avoid any uncertainty. We’re afraid of taking the risk that we might not do it, and so we force ourselves. We take matters into our own hands, and this is ‘the way of error’.
Out of the avoidance of risk (or out of the avoidance of uncertainty) comes ‘evil’, in other words. Out of the avoidance of risk – when it is psychological risk that we’re talking of – comes a long, long road of suffering. The Via Erratum isn’t ‘an error’ because we have broken any rule, or because we have rebelled against the proper authorities (and have wilfully gone against the way that was preordained for us), it’s ‘an error’ simply because it leads us into suffering. We could also say that the Via Erratum is ‘an error’ because it’s a dead end, because it simply doesn’t get us anywhere. Eventually we’re going to realise this and so then we are going to have to come all the way back again. We will have to come ‘right back to Square One’…
When we force ourselves to live our lives (because we think we have to, because we think it’s the right thing to do, because we think it’s our ‘duty’, or because we are afraid of what might happen if we don’t) then this takes the good out of it. This takes all the creativity, sensitivity and joy out of it. This inevitably takes all the humour and poetry out of life and so what are we left with then? This is Alan Watts’ central message, the message that he reiterated in many different ways – “a life which is forced, a life which is conducted deliberately or on purpose, is a life not worth living”. What a terrible mistake this is to make! What could be more precious than life, and what could be more tragic than to utterly corrupt and despoil this gift – for no good reason at all?
This is the error that we all make, every last one of us. No matter where you look you will always see people making this error; there is no shortage whatsoever of people making this error. To ‘do as others do’ is to make this error. Society itself demands that we go down this road – it tells us every day that the right thing to do is to live life deliberately, on purpose, in strict accordance with our rational intention. It is through the purposeful activities of the Concrete Identity that we will find meaning and joy in our lives, so we are told. This key message is beamed out at us a thousand times a day, out of a hundred different media outlets – just in case we are a bit slow in picking it up. And yet the purposeful activities of the concrete identity are quite, quite worthless. They lead to nothing but suffering and frustration. They are suffering, pure and simple.
As we have said, there couldn’t be a bigger mistake than the mistake of ‘living life deliberately’, living life ‘on purpose’, and gravitating ceaselessly thereby towards our mind-created goals. There couldn’t be a bigger error than ‘the error of believing life to be nothing more than the fulfilment of the Concrete Identity’s agenda’! The fulfilment of the Concrete Identity’s agenda doesn’t bring us any joy; this isn’t life – it isn’t anything! The realisation of our goals isn’t life, life is when we realise that our goals don’t actually matter! Life is the falsification of our ideas about life. The person who does nothing other than chase after goals the whole time isn’t living, they are simply obsessing and obsessions are – by their very nature – always sterile. There is nothing more sterile than obsession; there is nothing more sterile than obsession because obsession is always all about the Concrete Identity and the key point to understand about the Concrete Identity is that it doesn’t actually exist.
‘What’s your problem?’ Wei Wu Wei asks, ‘Mistaken identity’ he replies. The Concrete Identity is obliged to force itself to do everything and when once we go down this road of forcing then that’s it – there’s no turning back. There’s no turning back because forcing is now the only thing we understand and so if we stop forcing ourselves then nothing will happen. We have become dependent upon control in other words and so we have to keep on controlling even though controlling everything is nothing but neurosis. Forcing is suffering and yet forcing is all we know – we have to see it through to the bitter end, therefore. ‘Forcing’ is the only card we have to play and the terrible thing about this is that no good can ever come of it, not matter how far we push it…
Art: Tyranny RPG