The Glue Of ‘Identification’

The everyday mind creates an image or idea of who we are that is based upon its own unacknowledged limitations (the everyday mind can only ever do anything on the basis of its unacknowledged limitations) and then the next thing is that we become flatly convinced that this really is who we are, that it isn’t ‘just an image or idea’. The narrower our mind is therefore, the narrower will be the sense of self that is produced by that mind.

 

The sense of self that we are talking about here so very casually is no small thing – it may be only a ‘sense’ but it’s as entrapping as a Category-1 prison. The SOS isn’t just like a prison, it is a prison – it’s the most formidable prison ever constructed. The idea that we have of ourselves may be only an ‘idea’ but in practice it’s like a deep dark hole that we fall into and can’t ever climb out of. Our conceptual identity is only ‘an abstract description’ it’s true, but we’re stuck fast to it as if by the strongest glue ever invented. It is as if we are bonded to it on the molecular level.

 

The power that the everyday mind has to trap us in its picture or image of us is absolutely overwhelming – we have no more ability to escape from it than an iron filing has the ability to escape from an ultra-powerful magnet. It is such a very unequal fight that we’re talking about here and in this context it just never happens that David overcomes Goliath. So powerful is ‘the glue of identification’ that we don’t even know that we’re ‘stuck’ to the mind’s description of us. We just can’t get it, and even if we did – by some fluke – catch a glimpse of this truth, then we’d still have that immense magnetic pull to content with and the thing about this pull is that when it ‘sucks us in’ we lose whatever bit of perspective we had gained and with the loss of this precious perspective we forget what we had learnt. What we had just learned makes no sense to us anymore. And even if we do still remember it is very hard to trust our insight or give it any credence when the Tyrant of Thought is exerting its full hold on us. It’s very hard not to be browbeaten by the Tyrant of Thought…

 

Certain states of mind cause the thinking mind to tighten its grip on us even more than usual. Examples of such states would be anger, anxiety, obsession, desire and jealousy – when we are under the power of these constrictive states of mind we are identified with image or sense of ourselves that is extremely narrow and this causes us pain. Rage or jealousy, for example, causes us to become a veritable caricature of ourselves – as we all know. We become distorted, laughable, ‘cartoon versions’ of ourselves and yet somehow – we ourselves don’t know it, even though everyone else and plainly see the transformation that has occurred to us. [Thought always turns us into caricatured version of ourselves, but it’s not usually as dramatic as this.] When we are in the grip of what Tibetan Buddhists call an ‘afflictive emotion’ such as anger we aren’t directly or honestly aware of the pain that being trapped in such a very narrow ‘sense of self’ is causing us – instead of seeing the pain where it belongs we project it outside of ourselves and see it as being the ‘fault’ of someone or something else, which – of course – fuels the anger all the more. Anger is a ‘self-fuelling mechanism’ therefore – it doesn’t need a basis in reality in order to continue to exist!

 

The very same ‘displacement mechanism’ is at work in all the afflictive emotions, as well as operating in anxiety and the obsessional states – which are not strictly speaking ‘emotions’. When we are in the grip of desire then our sense of self narrows viciously and causes us pain but because we are fixated upon the object of our desire we believe that the pain we’re in (which is the suffering of craving) comes about because we don’t have whatever it is we want to have. When we have obtained the prize – we believe – then the pain will end and instead of the suffering of craving we will experience transports of joy. This then – in an exactly parallel fashion to the case of anger – fuels and reinforces the ‘desire state’ and so it is – as a consequence – very hard to escape from this loop of logic. In the case of anxiety we don’t feel ‘the pain of restriction’ because we are – again – ‘fixated entirely upon the outside’; we see our distress as being due to the possibility of ‘things going wrong’ (not because of our assumed identity being so painfully restrictive) and so we see the only possible solution to our predicament is as being ‘the correction of the situation that is threatening to go off the rails’. We are always ‘looking for solutions’ in other words and this automatic mental activity of ‘looking for a solution’ feeds back into the anxiety-cycle and reinforces it. Once anxiety starts up it can (and it does) keep on going all by itself, in other words.

 

Because of the compensatory mechanism that comes into operation just as soon as we get subsumed within the ‘afflictive emotion’ in question, we never see what has happened to us; we never observe that our awareness has been restricted to the tremendous extent that it has been. All of our attention is ‘on the outside’, all of our awareness has been consumed by whatever passion it is that has afflicted us. We can point to this mechanism very easily in the case of the afflictive emotions (which are known as ‘the seven deadly sins’ in Christianity and ‘the five poisons’ (or ‘five Kleshas‘) in Mahayana Buddhism, but there is a subtler point to be made here and that point has to do with the way this mechanism operates in the case of the mind-created sense of self, which is also ‘a pain-producing restriction of our being’ – even when it’s ‘in neutral’ with regard to emotional state. Exactly the same applies to the everyday identity that we have been supplied with by the thinking mind and which we understand in all good faith to be ‘who we are’ – we are effectively prevented from spotting the trick is that has been played on us by our mind by constantly having our attention drawn (compulsively drawn) to various ‘issues’, various things that either need to be either fixed or escaped from, gained or avoided. When we see someone who is always running around trying to attain their goals we say “How inspiring!” – the one thing we don’t say “Here is a person with a lot of pain-displacement activity going on…!”

 

We don’t say this because we are not a psychologically-minded culture, we don’t say this because our entire way of life, our entire modus operandi, is based upon seeing the ‘concrete identity’ as being fundamentally and irreducibly real. This is ‘The taboo against knowing who you are’ that Alan Watts speaks of. When we put the thinking mind on a pedestal, as we have done, then this absolutely means that we have to accept the mind-created sense of self as ‘something that must never be questioned’ – this is the price we pay for adulating the everyday mind in the way that we do (instead of seeing it as simply being ‘a useful tool that must not be on any account be allowed to ‘run away with itself’ and switch places with the one who is supposed to be operating it). Putting our total trust in the TM means totally and unreservedly buying into the package of ‘the mind-created sense of self’, obviously enough…

 

We idolise the thinking mind in the way that we do because we are afraid to learn that the thought-created world isn’t the only world that there is. If we ever did discover that there is ‘a reality outside of the reality that the thinking mind allows us to know about’ then this might turn out to be ‘the thin end of the wedge.’ If the thin end of the wedge is discovering that there is a reality outside of them so-called ‘reality’ that the thinking mind has provided for us then the thick end of the wedge is realising that the world the thought-created world isn’t actually real at all! With a wedge like this the only thing to do therefore is make very sure that it is never allowed entrance in the first place and this is exactly what the system of thought (which is the same thing as ‘the system of society’) does. The ‘wedge of space’ is never allowed entrance, not even to the smallest degree. To allow any space at all would be the same as allowing the awareness, in a game, that ‘winning’ is a perfectly meaningless proposition – an awareness like this would finish off the game on the spot, just as a dose of cyanide taken by mouth would put a halt to the vital Krebs cycle operating in all the cells of the body that this poison has reached. ‘Awareness of the freedom that we have not to play the game’ is cyanide for the game, which is why James Carse says that we need to ‘veil our own freedom from ourselves’ in order to play a finite game.

 

Excluding ‘space’ (or eradicating ‘intrinsic freedom’) is the prerequisite of being able to live in the world that thought has created for us therefore – that’s how we get to play this particular game. The ‘plus’ side is that we get to be able to ‘play the game of positive reality’, whilst the ‘minus’ side is that this puts a very big pinch on us. The ‘pinch’ is that we don’t have any space available to us any more – none at all. To say that the positive or mind-created world is ‘a tight fit’ is putting it mildly – it fits like a glove, but the problem with this is that it doesn’t fit ‘us’ but the mind-created construct of us – the positively-defined reality is perfect for the mind-created sense of self (it’s actually an extension of it) but because the mind-created sense of self isn’t in the least bit congruent (in any way) with who we really are, the ‘straitjacket-like fit’ between the false idea of ourselves and the positively-defined environment that this idea needs to be surrounded with on a full-time basis just isn’t any good for us. It’s actually the worst thing ever!

 

What a terrible trick this is, therefore! The only place we have to look for freedom is in the ‘extrinsic space’ that we are surrounded with on all sides, and which is a projection of the ‘positive self’ that operates mechanically and deterministically within it. ‘Extrinsic space’ is the same thing as Krishnamurti’s ‘psychological time’ – psychological time is the time between wanting something and getting it, it is the virtual space between the formulation of the goal and the realisation of it. Extrinsic space is the space between defined locations on a logical continuum, which isn’t space at all. It is the space between ‘where I think I am’ and ‘where I think I’d like to be’! We have eased the pain of our cruel existential restriction by searching for freedom, meaning and fulfilment within the Realm of Extrinsic Space but this is a barren hunting ground. There never was a more barren hunting ground than this…

 

We can never find freedom or meaning or fulfilment in the Realm of Extrinsic Space, obviously – how could we ever find freedom, meaning, or fulfilment in the space between ‘where we think we are’ and ‘where we think we’d like to be’ when both of these propositions are entirely non-existent? How can my search for freedom ever get anywhere when the one who is striving so hard to find it isn’t real, any more than the goals through which it believes it can find release through are (and they aren’t real because they are only ‘the deficit-fuelled projections of the unreal self-concept’)? How is this ‘misplaced endeavour’ of ours ever going to come to anything? And yet at the same time the thing that we are most resistant to ever seeing is that there is any ‘pain displacement’ going on, and that the self-concept we think we are doesn’t exist, any more than its cherished and super-attractive goals do. The illusion fuels itself, reinforces itself, and continually reinstates itself, and we’re fast stuck to that self-fuelling illusion with the ‘glue of identification’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas Are Never True

Every single thing we believe to be true only gets to be true to us because of the way in which we secretly select the context of understanding that makes it seem true. We make such a big song and dance about ‘these things that we hold to be true’ – we couldn’t make a bigger song and dance than the song and dance we make about ‘these things that we hold to be true’! The history of the human race is full of the bloody dramas that have resulted from disputes over ‘what we hold true’, and yet – as we have just said – what we claim so portentously to be true only gets to seem true to us because of the way in which we have chosen a particular way of looking at the world without admitting to ourselves that we have done so. This is the irony that underlies all of the conflicts that makes up human life, both in the past and in the present day. It is also an irony that we are oblivious to…

 

This is a remarkable thing to consider – our view of ourselves and our history tends to be rather pompous and overblown but really human history comes down to nothing more than an endless series of squalid squabbles over ‘what gets to be accepted as true’ when actually all our so-called ‘glorious truths’ are nothing more than self-serving fictions. We have a strange relationship with the truth both on an individual and a collective level – we hoot and bray about how much we value it and yet at the same time we couldn’t actually care less about it! If any one of us were confronted and told that the things we most seriously hold to be true are no more than fictions that we have set ourselves up to believe in we would deny this in the most vigorous way that we possibly could. Because we put so much energy and dedication into saying something is true when it just plain isn’t it stands to reason that we are going to react particularly violently to anyone who comes along and asks us to be so good as to acknowledge the fact of our self-deception in this regard. There is no way we can be unbiased about our bias – it wouldn’t be a bias otherwise! Maintaining the bias is the name of the game – this is our ‘major obsession’, this is the ‘pet project’ that takes up pretty much the whole of our life. Saying that the thing which isn’t true actually is true is a full-time job because we can never afford to relax too much in case it all starts to come unravelled on us.

 

‘Maintaining the fiction’ isn’t just a thing we do at weekends therefore – it subsumes everything else and becomes our whole life. What’s more, we all get together to form collectives dedicated to saying that the fiction we uphold isn’t a fiction at all, that it’s totally for real. When we all get together to say this it seems like the greatest thing in the world to us – it seems noble and wonderful to us, it stirs our spirit and makes us feel good about ourselves. It makes us want to wave a flag and cheer. And yet the bottom line is that what we so fervently hold to be true, isn’t true. We’re just conforming to the party lines – we’re just conforming to what everyone else is busy doing and at the same time we’re all telling each other that doing this is a great thing. It doesn’t matter how fervent we are, it doesn’t matter how many of us conform to upholding the narrative – none of this hoo-ha is going to make the slightest bit of difference, obviously. We simply don’t have the power to make what isn’t true be true, no matter how zealous we might be at the task. Just because fifty million people believe unquestioningly in a fiction that doesn’t make it any less fictitious!

 

What a tremendous thing it would be – we might say – if we put all of that effort, all of that dedication into something that wasn’t a lie. When we go against the truth then we don’t get anywhere, despite all the fine talk and elegant clothes, when we go with the truth however then there’s no limit to how far we can go. When we band together to go against the truth then there might be a fine spectacle that gets produced, there might be a great display of pomp and circumstance, but underneath all that show the misdirected energy is only ever going to turn into rivers of toxicity. It doesn’t matter whether the ‘lie’ we are claiming to be true is the ego, the organization we are a member of, or the nation or country we see ourselves as belonging to – toxicity is always going to be produced as a result. To paraphrase Philip K Dick, ‘we are in service to a wrong thing’ so toxicity or pain-displacement is inevitable; pain is produced and ‘passed on to someone else’. When we are unconscious we have to pass pain on since psychological unconsciousness may be defined as ‘that state in which we automatically displace pain’.

 

When we aren’t in service to a false master however, and we don’t turn all our energy against ourselves (like the scorpion which stings itself) then instead of toxicity and socially-sanctioned lies something happens – something which is necessarily mysterious and indescribable and yet at the same time the truest expression of what it means to be human. Our true nature – very clearly – is not to be as we are now. What we find so very hard to see is that it is perfectly possible to live, and yet not turn this living of ours into the fervent embracing of a socially-sanctioned lie! We can’t see this – of course – because the very last thing we are ever going to do is consider, even for a moment, that the things which we hold to be true are actually only fictions that we have ended up – for whatever reason – promoting and defending. Life – as we have said – has become synonymous with this business of ‘promoting and defending fictions’. The fact that this is a complete travesty of what life ‘ought’ to be never dawns on us. We never pause to consider this. What happens with us is that our ‘basic energy’ (if we may call it that) goes immediately astray – it goes astray because our fundamental way of being when we are in the unconscious mode is to defend our ‘idea of ourselves’ whilst remaining oblivious to who we actually are. The idea always comes first, in other words!

 

The effect of this orientation is to profoundly alter our way of interacting with the world, and with each other. The simplest way to explain this is to talk in terms of ‘sensitivity versus aggression’. When we are operating on the basis of our ideas then we are inevitably aggressive – everything then becomes about changing the world in accordance with our presuppositions about how it should be. Everything becomes about control, in other words. If you were to ask why there is such a pronounced tendency for us all to want to be in control, and to consider this a ‘good thing’, then this is the reason – it is because we are always operating on the basis of our ideas. Everything is always about making the world (and other people, of course) conform with our ideas for it (or for them). We create systems and then we put all our energy into trying to get everything to fit into these systems of ours, on the basis that when that happens then this will be a ‘good thing’. But everything is not just about trying to get the world and other people to conform to our ideas – it’s about trying to the world and other people to conform to our untrue ideas, our false ideas. It’s about trying to get everything to fit into a system (or construct) that isn’t actually real!

 

Ideas are always untrue. This is because they are ideas! Ideas (or thoughts) are necessarily unreal – they are only ‘provisional conjectures’, exercises in ‘what if…?’ Thoughts or ideas are ‘simplified descriptions of reality’ rather than being reality itself. We could also say that our ideas are metaphors, even though we very rarely understand them as being so. This is the ‘truth’ of ideas – that they are playfully made ‘versions’ of reality that aren’t really meant to be taken seriously. Having said this, we have to make the qualification that although thoughts aren’t ‘serious’, they very much do present themselves as being so! We could say that thoughts play at being literal descriptions in a very serious or deadpan fashion. The way our thoughts work is that they make ‘playful statements about reality’ that don’t in anyway declare themselves to be playful – their nature is akin to that of a person who is telling a joke whilst keeping a very straight face the whole time. Their deadpan expression doesn’t mean that they aren’t joking, it just means that they are pretending that they aren’t joking for the sake of the joke. Pretending that you aren’t joking is an essential part of the joke, in this case. The bottom line is that thoughts simply don’t have the flexibility to be ironic. Thoughts don’t have the flexibility within them to be ironic because – as Robert Anton Wilson says – they are based on Aristotelian logic and Aristotelian logic can either say YES or it can say NO and that’s about the size of it. Very clearly, there’s not a lot of humour or playfulness in this! Actually there’s no humour or irony in it at all. There’s zero humour in it and there’s also zero reality.There’s simply no category or facility for irony (which is to say ‘YES-that-doesn’t-really-mean-YES’) in logic and this is just the way logic is. That’s logic’s ‘necessary deficiency’. This doesn’t mean that the universe itself is lacking in irony or humour, though! The deficiency lies with us, not the universe. The joke’s on us, though we can’t see it…

 

When we operate on the basis of our literally-understood thoughts then we are fundamentally unreceptive to any new information – this is of course going to be the case because ‘new information’ is precisely that information which will contradict what we already understand to be true. That’s what ‘information’ is – it’s something that we don’t already know! ‘Aggression’ means therefore that we are both fighting against anything new, and struggling to consolidate what we already know (or rather think we know). When we are living life on the basis of ‘our idea of who we are’ then, as we have already said, this means that our actual raison d’être is to be perennially fighting against new information, even though we will never admit this. The ongoing struggle to humourlessly and aggressively assert our ‘truths’ – which aren’t actually true at all – has become synonymous with life itself. The antithesis of aggression is(as we have said)sensitivity and sensitivity – needless to say – is where we are very much open to new information, very much open to new ways of looking at the world. Sensitivity – we might say – is where we understand all of our constructs as being essentially playful and once we understand our constructs in this way we can use them to honestly investigate reality instead of dishonestly shutting it down.

 

What bigger difference could there be than this, therefore? What bigger difference could there be than the difference between open to the truth, interested in the truth, and fighting tooth-and-nail against the truth whilst at the same time claiming dishonestly to be championing it?  Or as we could also say, what bigger difference could there be than the one that exists between of being ‘a lover of the truth’ (i.e. literally – ‘a philo-sopher’) and a ‘fearer of the truth’? When we are in ‘control mode’ we are forever chasing this fantasy outcome, this mirage that everything is going to work out for us just so long as we control successfully. We ‘know best’ so all we have to do is stick to our guns – all we have to do is to push ahead to make it happen regardless of what obstacles might lie in our path. The stubborn conviction that ‘we know best’ is of course nothing more than a ridiculous illusion – we’re simply charging blindly ahead because we’re afraid to open our eyes and see what’s actually going on. We actually know nothing at all but we’re far too scared to ever admit it…

 

When we’re being sensitive, or ‘exploratory wrt reality’, then we know that we don’t know best. We’re open to new ways of being, new ways of looking at the world. We’re not meeting life with a hard, unyielding surface – which means of course that we’re not meeting life at all. We’re not playing – we’re shut down! When we’re in ‘aggression mode’ then we’re having nothing to do with life. We only relating on our own terms, which means that we’re not relating. We’re making the experiment of ‘not being part of life’, but only ‘part of what we think life should be’. What we think life should be isn’t life, however; it’s just a fantasy, it’s just an extension or projection of our frozen mind-state. There is no happy outcome to this fantasy however, no matter how far we push it, no matter how good at controlling we are. Saying that ‘there is no happy outcome’ tends to sound pessimistic to us. It actually sounds worse than pessimistic; it sounds heretical – we aren’t going to take that on for a moment. The other way of looking at this however is to say that discovering that ‘the experiment of not being part life’ is never going to work out for us is actually the best news ever! What could be better than this?

 

Through this failure of our project (the project of making what is untrue be true, the project of making our fantasies be real) we find ourselves in the situation of being able – finally – to discover that there is infinitely more to life than we ever thought there was! What a happy discovery this is! Who wants to be proved right, after all? The impulse to ‘want to be proved right’ is the most terribly perverse impulse we could ever entertain – how is this ever going to be a ‘good thing’? What are we going to do when we have proved ourselves to be right? When we have authoritatively and indisputably ‘validated our own lie’ then just where do we go from this? Just what do we think is going to happen next…?

 

 

 

 

The Wrong Horse

When we become aware of mental or emotional pain – of whatever kind – this pain is doing us a service in that it is making us aware of something that we would not otherwise be aware of. It is making us aware of something that, quite possibly, we will never become aware of – the untenable nature of the self-construct!

 

Suppose we never became aware of the self-construct (which is the same thing as becoming aware that it is untenable), what then? What happens next? Very clearly, if we never became aware of the self-construct, via the pain that it always brings about, then we would ‘carry on the same as always’ – we are bound to carry on not seeing the self-construct, and so we are also bound to carry on living life on this untenable basis. The status quo would go unchallenged and nothing interesting (or ‘real’) would ever happen to us. Nothing real / interesting would ever happen to us since the only time we can ever glimpse life or genuinely be a part of it is when we see beyond the self-construct and its ever-proliferating projections! Nothing else can be counted as ‘life’.

 

The ideal situation for the SC would be where it never does encounter any unpleasant mental pain or discomfort but this of course never happens!  As a consequence of things never really going the way it wants them to therefore, the SC has to spend a lot of time (or sometimes all the time) trying to evade pain and pain-producing situations, and ‘managing’ them when they do. Ideally, it would like to ‘solve’ them; then next best thing would be to ‘manage’ them. ‘Solving’ and ‘managing’ are its two favourite words! Managing the emotional / mental pain means putting a spin or interpretation such that it does not invalidate the SC.

 

The SC treats / responds to mental pain as an insult in other words, and this means that it has to excuse or defend itself in some way – it either has to say why the insult shouldn’t have come its way or it has to turn the insult back on someone else so that they get to be invalidated rather than it. Someone else always deserves to feel the pain rather than oneself, in other words! So to explain this in a more familiar idiom, this means that the SC will be spending most of its time (apart from the odd occasion when it gets its own way) either complaining about its situation or blaming / getting angry with other people…

 

There is another variation on this and that is where the SC does the opposite of justifying or excusing itself and responds to mental / emotional pain by blaming itself and perceiving itself as being defective or culpable in some way. The pain it is experiencing is its own fault and it cannot on this account forgive itself for this. This then means that the SC not has to bear the original pain but also the vicious lash of its own unforgiving self-recrimination. There is not only the original ‘insult’ but in addition to this (as if this original insult were not enough) the SC also insults itself for being insulted in the first place when it should have done something to prevent this. Instead of the pain being ‘acted out’ therefore, it is internalized.

 

All of this ‘pain-displacement activity’ is for the sake of preserving the integrity of the SC that has been insulted. Both responses work equally well in preserving the integrity of the SC because either way we aren’t ever going to ‘question the self’. No questioning or examining of the self is going on here – only ‘automatic pain-displacement’! There is however a third possibility which becomes visible at this point in the discussion and that is the possibility of allowing the validity of the SC to be called into question. Instead of either automatically justifying ourselves or recriminating viciously against ourselves we simply let the pain make us be aware of the SC being there, which is as we have already said the same thing as becoming aware of its essentially untenable nature.

 

Why is the SC’s position so untenable, we might ask? Is there no way that it might ‘strike the right attitude’ so that it can have its correct place in the world and establish a relationship with reality that is legitimate rather than being ‘untenable’? One way of explaining why this is something that can never happen no matter what is to point at the way in which the SC always does establish a relationship with reality – the way the SC operates is to validate all those aspects of its environment which agree with its way of looking at things and devalidate all the other aspects. It ‘selects its own evidence’ and steadfastly ignores anything that contradicts its central hypothesis (which is itself). Or as Emily Dickinson puts it in her poem of that name, ‘The Soul selects her own Society’.

 

The very same mechanism operates in all social groups (from the big one such society itself to the very small ones such as friendship groups) where we take care to associate with those who share our outlook (i.e. agree with us) and exclude those who don’t agree with us, those who don’t share our cherished views / beliefs. This is the only way that a group can work – the group wouldn’t hang together as a group otherwise. So the question we are asking is this: “Is there any viewpoint or belief that stands up alone and doesn’t need to be artificially supported or validated by some sort of ‘artificial context’ that we have created for the purpose?” Understanding this point clearly is the key to everything – there is no such thing as a viewpoint or belief that does not need to be supported by ‘selected attention to the evidence’.

 

Another way of expressing this is to say that there is no such thing as a definite statement about reality that accurately (or exhaustively) describes what it is supposed to be describing. When we put it like this the point that we are making becomes rather more obvious – if it were the case that there could be such a thing as a definite statement that completely describes reality then ‘the statement’ and ‘the reality’ would be one and the same thing and so there would no longer be any actually need for reality. The formal description itself would do perfectly well, which is Jean Baudrillard’s point when he talks about the all-consuming world of the hyperreal which is modern society. If it were the case that the description of (or theory about) the world and the world itself were the same thing (and everything is defined) then there would no space for anything to ever happen. There would be no space left for life since life is quintessentially ‘an unfolding of the new’.

 

The SC cannot exist in a truly open view of reality, in other words. It can only ever survive in a small world, a circumscribed world, a defined world. It can only exist in the world that is made up of its own narrow prejudices, which is a world of its own creation. This is why we say that the SC is an inherently untenable proposition – it is ‘tenable after a fashion’, it is ‘tenable just as long as we can maintain the narrow little world that is formed of our own unexamined prejudices’ (which is the closed world of our own unconsciously-made assumptions), but when we do this we put ourselves in a state of conflict with the wider reality, which is – needless to say – never the same as our unexamined assumptions / expectations about it! We have put ourselves in a never-ending conflict with reality that will not cease until we drop our frighteningly rigid requirement that ‘reality ought to be the same as our ideas of it’.

 

In summary therefore, the SC is a tenable proposition just so long as we maintain a ‘closed or shut-down version of reality’ for it to exist within, but this is no good because a ‘closed or shut-down version of reality’ is itself an untenable proposition! The problem hasn’t been solved at all therefore, merely extended. Maintaining a shut-down version of reality means ‘never learning anything new’, it means ‘fighting change to the best of our ability’, and we all know that this tactic never works! It never works any more than the resolute denial of a truth that we don’t like works – the more resolute we get in our denial the more the thing (eventually) explodes in our face! We’re trying as best we can to hang on to the ‘absurd and fragile make-believe pseudo-world which is the only world we know’; we’re trying to protect and perpetuate our half-baked ideas about reality, which actually have nothing to do with reality at all. We’re actually trying to maintain our own patented ‘shut-down version’ in the face of all the evidence that is contradicting it.

 

This endeavour – even if it may seem to be working for us on the short-term – is always going to prove untenable in the longer term and the way that this ‘untenability’ shows itself, as we were saying at the beginning at this conversation, is through the emotional / mental pain that we always see as having no helpful function at all. The ‘helpful function’ is that the pain we are experiencing brings us awareness of the way in which we are ‘putting all our money on the wrong horse’. The ‘wrong horse’ is the self-construct, which is the narrow and artificial perception that we have of ourselves, the narrow and artificial view of ourselves on whose behalf we are attempting to live our lives. All of our energy, all of our dedication, all of our resources is going in completely the wrong direction. This doesn’t mean ‘wrong’ in any big ‘moral’ sense, just ‘wrong’ in the sense that we are creating more and more suffering for ourselves, when this is the very thing that we are trying to avoid!

 

It is perfectly natural to resent and resist life’s sufferings when they come along, and then try to solve / fix / manage the mental or emotional pain that arises for us in these situations, and this is (almost) always going to happen. It is a rare thing to come across someone who can meet trouble with serenity. But even as we struggle against our pain, and react so as to try to control or contain it, there is always the possibility to see – with calm and clarity, and also a touch of humour – that the very pain which we struggle against is also the thing that is going to free us from the sterile prison of the self-concept, and that this painful process of ‘being freed from illusion’ is happening as a result of some sort of grace that is falling upon us, even though we don’t want it and are fighting tooth and nail to avoid it…