The Hollow Dreamer [1]

The idea that we have of ourselves spends all its time dreaming of what it would do if it were real – not that it ever will be, of course. Not that it ever could be! Or perhaps we should say that the idea we have of ourselves spends all its time making plans as if it were real, as if its plans genuinely did have a chance of being realised. The idea of who we are calls this exercise ‘positive thinking’. ‘Believe in yourself’, we tell ourselves, ‘believe that you can succeed, believe that you definitely ARE going to succeed…’

This is very bad advice however because this ‘idea that we have of ourselves’ is only an idea and for this very good reason it simply can’t succeed, no matter how hard it tries. The self-concept can’t ever ‘succeed’ (not in anything) because there’s no one there to succeed; it can’t ever ‘realise its plans’ because there’s no one there to realise them. We might talk a lot about ‘following our dreams’ but this turns out to be the worst advice ever – it’s the worst advice ever because these dreams don’t lead anywhere. They’re hollow dreams; they’re hollow from beginning to end (although we could never be told this).

The self-concept’s dreams are always hollow the cause the SC is itself hollow – there’s nothing in it, although we’re convinced that there is. As Krishnamurti says, ‘the ego is a ring of defence around nothing’. Or as he could also have said, ‘the ego is an advertising campaign that is all about promoting an illusion’. There’s no product there but we spend all our time promoting it all the same. The campaign itself may be very impressive, but it’s all a sham – it’s all a sham because there’s nothing there to sell. The defence of the presumed or assumed ‘value’ is fought very bitterly, just as the promotional activity associated with it is pushed as hard as we possibly can, but there’s nothing behind any of it. It’s all an empty drama.

The one thing we’re not allowed to know is that there’s nothing behind the drama, nothing that warrants the super-intense excitement of ‘gain and loss’. This is of course the one bit of awareness that would make it impossible for us to carry on with the show – this is the crucial bit of information that has to be withheld from all parties. The one thing we’re not allowed to know is that there’s no one there hiding within the defensive circle that we have put in place (or that there’s no one there who needs to be promoted at every opportunity) and so if we aren’t privy to this particular bit of information then what’s to stop us ‘dreaming our lives away’?

A mere unsubstantiated idea is never sufficient basis for dreaming, we might say. An idea simply has no business dreaming or making plans for itself, and yet this is what the idea we have of ourselves does all the time. Strictly speaking of course, it isn’t ‘the idea’ that is doing this but us, when we act as if the idea isn’t an idea but ‘who we really are’. We are ‘willingly immersed’ in a whole sea of dreaming – it’s a sea of futile dreaming, to be sure, but we don’t know that. There’s nothing more futile than ‘the dreams of the idea that we have about ourselves’ – it’s not merely that these dreams could never come true but rather that they are profoundly meaningless, profoundly absurd, right from the very start, right from the moment they were first produced. The dreams of the self-concept are predicated upon the proposition that the SC isn’t the SC but ‘who we really are’, and this particular proposition is always going to be false.

If it happened to be the case that this proposition were true then the dreams wouldn’t be absurd, of course – they might never come true, they might be totally unrealistic, but they wouldn’t be absurd. We can make this point but it doesn’t get us very far to make it because the one thing that could never happen is that ‘who I am’ could be the same thing as ‘who I think I am’. To imagine that this might be feasible is to imagine that one day chalk could be cheese, or cheese chalk. ‘Who I am’ is ‘the actual genuine state of affairs’ (this is ‘what is’), whilst ‘who I think I am’ is some kind of abstract notation that I have made up in order to signify ‘myself’. I might for example invent the notation of three stars and the little squiggle underneath them, and say that this arbitrary arrangement of symbols stands for who I am. This arbitrary notation is only ever going to be ‘an arbitrary notation’ however – it’s never going to be the reality of ‘who I actually am’! To imagine that it could be is bizarre in the extreme…

‘The idea of who we are’ dreams away all day long, it dreams (by preference) of pleasant possibilities, it dreams of good things that might happen. It dreams of some kind of extraordinarily marvellous fulfilment. When it seems that good things might indeed be just around the corner then the self-concept experiences pleasure, and when it starts to look as if the pleasant possibilities were looking forward to will never come to pass then we experience disappointment and frustration – leading eventually to outright despair. But whether our dreaming is euphoric (or ‘pleasure-producing’) in nature or dysphoric (pain-producing) really doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. It’s the same both ways because concept’s dreams are all utterly futile, all utterly absurd. The SC’s dreams are – without any exception at all – futile to the nth degree.

When we’re optimistic (as ‘the identified self’) then we can very easily believe in a future where things are going to work out well for us, and when we’re feeling pessimistic, when we’re feeling down in ourselves then we find ourselves being obsessed with thoughts of how it’s all going to turn out badly for us and that our future is not going pleasant one (which naturally makes us feel not good at all. The point we’re making here however is that the identified self doesn’t have any future, either good or bad! It doesn’t have any future and it never could. It’s not a case of ‘will I be lucky or unlucky?’ or ‘will I succeed or fail?’ since for an illusion there is neither good luck nor bad. Lucky or unlucky, an illusion is still only ever ‘an illusion’ so all its thoughts about ‘luck’ are really quite nonsensical.

For an illusion there is no succeeding and no failing – there’s no one there to succeed or fail, and this means that the essential dichotomy of conditioned life (which is centred upon the key question of ‘Will I gain or will I lose?’) is completely meaningless. It’s completely meaningless despite the huge emphasis we put on it! All the dreams of the dreaming self are absurd, whether they are pleasant or painful, hopeful or despairing. This being the case, we’d have to ask just what the hell it’s all about! We’d have to ask why we identify with an unreal image or construct of ‘who we are’ and then live entirely in terms of that construct’s projections, infinitely sterile as they are? Why would we want to put ourselves through this? Why would we want to put ourselves in line for the never-ending disappointment, frustration and total confusion which is all that ‘the state of identification‘ can ever bring us?

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