Spinning The Wearisome Wheel

The continued existence of the self-concept is facilitated by the turning of the wheel of illusion. If that wheel didn’t turn, and didn’t keep on turning, then there could be no self. The identity needs illusion just like a fire needs fuel. The turning of the wheel of illusion generates the fuel for the maintenance of the everyday purposeful self.

The wheel of illusion turns when we believe that plus is different (and preferable to) minus. This is an illusion because plus and minus aren’t different and since they aren’t different neither is preferable to the other! The wheel that we are talking about here is the gimmick used by the System of Thought in order that it might disguise the fact that nothing real can ever happen in it. If we saw this then we would see that the SOT is ‘a fraud’ and so we’d have nothing whatsoever to do with it; the SOT never reveals this about itself however. The SOT is after all the domain that is created when plus is assumed to be fundamentally different to minus and that it is very much preferable!

This system of thought is a very peculiar place to spend all of our lives. The SOT gets to be the SOT by not allowing anything to happen that hasn’t been specified by the set of rules governing it; the realm that we are talking about here can only exist when nothing new (i.e. nothing unspecified) is ever allowed to happen, and yet it represents itself as being that domain within which meaningful change can and does take place. It represents itself as being the only place meaningful change can take place; even though this representation of itself is a perfect inversion of the truth.

The wheel of illusion is the gimmick by which the System of Thought conceals the fact of its own sterility. Nothing new can ever happen in the Continuum of Logic (that continuum where everything is explainable in terms of rules or precedents) and this means that the COL isn’t a real place. Because it isn’t a real place it has nothing to offer us, nothing to sustain us, nothing to maintain our interest or nurture us and so, whether we realise it or not, we are always looking for some ‘special ingredient’ to make life worthwhile (or at the very least tolerable) when we are living within the System of Thought. We’re always hungry, in other words. What we’re looking for is newness, i.e. an actual event that can interest us, something that can give us some relief from being continuously stuck in the mind-created ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario. The SOT snares us by getting us to think that the transition from negative to positive is this change, is this ‘breaking free’ that we are looking for. We don’t yearn for freedom therefore, we yearn to succeed at the task at the thinking mind has set us.

The more we look for release from the starkness of the mind-created game (or the mind-created task) the more we spin the wheel therefore; the more we try to redeem our situation the more irredeemable it becomes. The wheel of illusion is what keeps us trapped in the SOT, and the other (complementary) way putting this is to say that ‘the wheel turning’ (i.e. ‘polarity’) equals ‘itself’. The gimmick that the SOT uses to disguise the fact that there is no possibility of creativity within it is therefore at the same time the gimmick that creates the everyday purposeful self. No wheel turning means ‘no self’ and since ‘no self’ seems that the very worst thing in the world when we’re caught on the wheel we have no choice but to keep on spinning that wheel as fast as we can, hoping through our diligence to win the jackpot, hoping that this is how we are going to find the pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow.

Putting things like this helps us to see the irony and the clearer we can see the irony the better it is for us! The clearer we can see this particular irony the better it is for us and yet this is the last thing we want to see – the further we can get from the irony we talking about here the happier we are going to be (in a manner of speaking). The irony in question has to do with a pot of gold that we are hoping to find at the other end of the rainbow. The prize we are hoping to find is ‘the prize of being a self or identity that doesn’t have to struggle the whole time to maintain/validate itself’. This is the prize of being ‘an All-Time Winner’ as James Carse says – the winner who doesn’t need to prove themselves any more. We finally get to break free from the gravitational field of the deterministic or mechanical life, in other words. This is the prize of having definitely won the game so we don’t ever have to play the game anymore.

Our wearisome struggle is made worthwhile by the promise of this glorious release from our repetitive labours. The irony is therefore that by putting all our emphasis on the positive pole we hope to be free from the ongoing conflict of polarity (i.e. the ‘ongoing conflict of positive versus negative’) whilst actually it is our one-sided emphasis on the positive that constitutes the very conflict we want to be free from! Or as we could also say, we put more and more effort into spinning the wearisome wheel because we see this as the way to get to the blessed realm of freedom where we don’t have to spin it any longer. What we don’t see though is that we ourselves are the spinning and so of course we will never be free from ‘the onerous need to keep on spinning’. We’re buying into that ‘need’ more and more with every day that passes…

Two Views of Mental Health

There exist two diametrically opposed (and therefore incompatible) views with regard to what mental health is or is not and which view we hold depends upon whether we are in Being Mode or Doing Mode.

Doing Mode –

When we are in this modality our ‘sense of self’ is based entirely on our doing, which means that when there are ‘problems’ with our SOS, then these problems have to be corrected with yet more doing (since in this modality ‘doing’ is the foundation level).

This gives rise to ‘the knot’ – it gives rise to the knot that only gets tighter and more intractable the more we try to fix it! Doing cannot cure the pain that is caused by too much doing. Rationality cannot undo the knot that is itself.

When one level of doing goes ‘wrong’ (according to its own terms, that is) then another level of doing has to be brought into play to fix it and this – of course – gives rise to an infinite regress. The internal contradiction in doing can never be undone by using yet more doing. This is equivalent to saying that the systematic error which lies hidden in the System of Thought cannot (as David Bohm says) be eliminated by ‘thinking about the problem’, or ‘analysing the problem’. That simply amplifies the error.

‘Doing Mode’ and ‘the System of Thought’ are one and the same thing since ‘doing’ can only come about as a result of ‘thinking’. ‘Doing’ (which is to say purposeful activity) is the expression of thinking, it is thinking translated into reality. In Doing Mode we are trying to get reality to accord with our thinking. Rationality and purposefulness are one and the same thing.

Being Mode

The modality which is based on being doesn’t give rise to any Sense of Self (oddly enough, as it may seem to us) because the only way a sense of self can come about is as a result of doing (i.e. we have to ‘do’ a boundary or ‘make’ a boundary or ‘decide on’ a bundary). There can’t be any sense of self without a boundary, after all! ‘What is a soldier without a foe?’ asks Robert Wyatt. ‘What is a self without the other’, as we could rephrase this line. Being does not exist in a state of opposition to itself, it has no good or bad in it, no right and no wrong. Only doing has this – doing has to have a ‘good versus bad’ or a ‘right versus wrong’. If it didn’t then there would be no basis for our doing, nowhere to start from and nowhere to go to. Purposeful doing can’t exist without a right way and a wrong way – without a ‘right’ there can be nothing to aim at, without a ‘right’ there can be no purpose to what we’re doing.

Being is therefore ‘nonlocal’ – it cannot be located within a framework. Frameworks are examples of doing, after all; frameworks are examples of doing because the separation of the two poles, separation of the two opposites, the separation of plus and minus, is itself a doing, and there can be no framework without the separation of plus and minus. The FW equals ‘a separation of plus and minus’.

Saying that being as nonlocal is another way of saying that there can be no self in being! ‘Being’ isn’t a limited thing, it doesn’t take place within a framework, it doesn’t occur in response to certain conditions having been met. Being cannot be tied to any conditions or related to any conditions.It cannot be defined or measured…

Part [2] – The self is a ‘solution’ to an apparent ontological problem

When we look at being (or non-locality) from a particular or specific point of view it appears to be ‘a problem’. Non-locality inevitably presents itself as a problem’ or ‘an error’ when seen from a particular POV – there’s no way that it can’t do. Non-locality ‘does not compute’. How can a logical system understand non-locality, after all? NL flies in the face of logic – it appears, from this perspective, to be infinitely paradoxical. We can’t get any purchase on it at all. It’s like saying that the answer to any conceivable question is always going to be ‘yes’! (or that the answer to any question we may ask is always going to be ‘no’!). This falsifies the question we are asking; more than this, it falsifies the basis for asking any question that we might ask. It falsifies ours framework since a framework needs for there to be a right and a wrong, if everything is equally YES (or NO) then that does not compute and that is always going to be the situation with non-locality.

All of our questions come down to ‘Where is it within the FW of our terms of reference?’ (i.e. ‘What is the answer within the terms of our particular way of thinking about things?’ and ‘Where is it?’ is of course a fundamentally meaningless question when it comes to non-locality! Another – simpler – way of putting this is to say that because we have no concept for NL (obviously we can’t because ‘a concept’ equals ‘a location within the FW of thought’) and so when we come across it in our day-to-day lives (so to speak) we can only register it as ‘error’. Anything that doesn’t make sense within the terms of the taken-for-granted framework equals ‘an error’ – this is the only way the framework can maintain its integrity. Whenever we encounter any manifestation of being therefore (any manifestation of non-locality) then we do two things – [1] We write it off as error, and [2] we attempt to correct for it. Correcting for the ‘error of being’ comes down to maintaining the Mind-Created Sense of Self, as we have said. That’s the only way we can maintain the MCSOS. Most of the time this seems to work just fine; we can say that the correction ‘appears to work just fine’ because the Mind-Created Sense of Self appears perfectly viable to us and we don’t perceive any serious problem with it! It functions flawlessly as our ‘basis’ in our day-to-day lives and we don’t have to worry about it…

Just because we don’t ‘see the problem’ with the MCSOS does not mean that there isn’t one there however – it just means that it hasn’t shown itself to us yet. The problem or jinx hasn’t manifested itself yet but this is no reason to relax! The MCSOS is a ‘problem waiting to happen’ (or ‘a jinx waiting to unfold’) and all the time that passes up to this point (however nostalgic we might become later on with regard to that time) is nothing more than a dream or mirage. Notwithstanding this, when we are in ‘Doing Mode’ then we see this period of time (the period of time in which the glitch inherent the MCSOS hasn’t manifested yet) as being the state of ideal mental health. Mental health is implicitly being defined as ‘that state of affairs where we can carry on identifying with MCSOS without there being any apparent problem with this’. It is possible to have this view of mental health, but only if we make sure to take a very superficial view of things. This definition of mental health can also be referred to as the state of being in which we are ‘limited without knowing that we’re limited’, or deluded without knowing that we are’. When we do start to become aware of ‘limitedness’ (or of our ‘deludedness’) then this necessarily painful awareness is – therefore – seen as mental ill-health and we will try to cure it (or at least, we will try as best we can to ‘dull the pain of the awareness’).

When we are in Being Mode then mental health is something very different. To be mentally healthy is to have some degree of relationship with the truth of our situation and this translates into ‘seeing the glitch’. ‘Seeing the glitch’ means seeing that there is a problem that we can’t fix; we can’t fix a glitch because our so-called ‘fixing’ actually makes the problem worse. Fixing feeds the glitch – fixing feeds the glitch because the fixing contains the glitch. Fixing is the glitch! When we truly see the jinx for what it is then we see very clearly the problem can’t be fixed and seeing this is the same thing as ‘dis-identifying with the MCSOS’; just as long as we persist in not seeing the glitch inherent in the self-construct then the state of identification will continue. Believing that we can ‘fix’ the problems inherent in the MCSOS causes us to continue to believe that this self-construct is who we are. It is telling therefore that our mental health industries insist on ‘promoting fixing’, ‘talking about fixing’, and ‘coming up with more and more doing-type ‘therapies’ designed to return us to what we fondly imagine was a state of ‘good mental health’…

To Think is to be Hypnotised by Thought

Thoughts are hypnotic, ideas are hypnotic, words are hypnotic – as soon as we think a thought or speak a word it becomes meaningful to us! It didn’t have to be meaningful, however; it’s not ‘stand-alone meaningful’, it’s not ‘meaningful all by itself’… The point we’re making here is at the thought or idea or word wouldn’t be meaningful to us unless we first engaged with it by ‘choosing to look at the world in its way’; we have to ‘buy into the construct’ first and this means making ourselves every bit as small, every bit as petty or narrow-minded as the word or thought is. We’re trapped by our own ‘compartmentalized’ or  ‘black-and-white’ language, in other words.


The same thing holds true for our beliefs (which are of course made up of our thoughts) – we are always bigger than any belief that we might have but when we buy into the belief then the world we live in will shrink down to the size of this belief. We often – if not always – tend to be very proud of our beliefs which is therefore rather odd – we are actually proud of being prejudiced or small-minded! It is very much as if we expect to be presented with a prize or medal (or some other type of honour) for being so appallingly, so mind-numbingly petty…


Any particular thought that we might have will show itself to be ‘meaningless’ (or ‘hollow’) unless we first adopt the very same framework that is assumed by that thought. Another way of putting this is to say that the thought in question only seems to be true when we look at the world in the specific way that makes it seem to be true. As soon as we spell things out in this way then this whole business is revealed as being somewhat ridiculous, therefore – the only thing being that we never do ‘spell things out’ like this! It is in fact profoundly alien for us to look at things this way.


This is the nature of thought – in one way we could say because that thought is a lens that brings specific details into sharp focus; this isn’t quite true however because – as we have just said – the details aren’t just ‘in sharp focus’ because of ‘the lens of thought’, they are only meaningful in the first place because of ‘the lens of thought’! This is the thing that is so very hard for us to understand – that the thought is only real to us because we ‘buy into it’, that the act of ‘buying into the thought’ makes it real. There’s no way to understand this point by thinking about it (obviously enough!) but if only we could get the hang of ‘not thinking about anything for a few moments’ it would then all become crystal clear.


Once we enter into the thought-stream nothing ever becomes genuinely clear – it might seem to be so but that’s only because we have ‘repressed one opposite in favour of the other’. This operation (which is  – as Jung says  – rationality in a nutshell) creates a type of clarity – the clarity of the dogmatist, the clarity of the rationalist, the clarity of the zealot, but this isn’t so much ‘clarity’ as wilful ignorance. Repressing one opposite in favour of the other isn’t wilful ignorance in the usual way that we understand it because we don’t know that we are doing anything, but it is intentional all the same. It is us ourselves who are doing it, rather than some external factor over which we don’t have any control. There is a choice there – we just make it automatically rather than consciously. We ignore the repressed opposite automatically, out of ‘long-standing habit’, so to speak.


Another way of approaching this is to say that when we ‘enter the thought-stream’ the mechanism involved not only supplies us with a prepackaged way of seeing the world, it also provides us with our likes and dislikes on a very basic level – it provides us with our will, in other words, even though it’s not actually ‘our’ will. It only feels like that. We can slip very comfortably into thinking that it is our will that we are exercising – we do sit very comfortably into thinking that it is our will we are exercising. We slip into it so very comfortably indeed that – actually – no one could tell us otherwise. We simply wouldn’t believe them if they tried. We could probably go our whole lives without suspecting otherwise…


This is us being ‘hypnotised’ therefore – this is us being hypnotised by our own thoughts (although, strictly speaking, they are not our own thoughts, as we have just pointed out). To think is to ‘give away all responsibility’, odd though this might sound. It’s as if we are engaging in a type of experiment – the type of experiment that involves pretending very thoroughly to be somebody else, somebody else who we aren’t. Actually we are pretending to be somebody else – the thought is providing us not just with a prepackaged way of seeing the world, but also a prepackaged (or predetermined) way of seeing ourselves. If I am provided with a prepackaged way of seeing/understanding who I am, then it goes without saying that ‘who I understand myself to be’ isn’t the same thing as ‘who I actually am’.


Our words and thoughts are only meaningful in relation to this assumed identity, this identity that thought conveniently provides us with. What we are actually saying here therefore is that ‘the thoughts that the thinker thinks’ and ‘the thinker itself’ are one and the same thing – the thoughts are only meaningful if we assume the existence of the thinker and the thinker, in turn, only make sense as a real thing if the thoughts do so. The fact that we experience our thoughts as being volitional is clearly an illusion therefore – if I assume myself to be the identity that my thoughts are telling me I am then I have no choice but to continue thinking the type of thoughts that make sense to this assumed thinker! I’ll be in trouble if I didn’t because I’ll have to let go of my black-and-white identity. I’m being railroaded here in a very extreme fashion, therefore.


If it were only a matter of us ‘being fed a false reality’ (in a straightforward ‘conspiracy theory-type’ manner) then this would not be such a big deal. But not only are we fed false information about the world, we are fed false information about ourselves too, and so what happens is that our will gets replaced, so to speak, such that ‘the will or volition that we routinely obey’ is the will or volition of who we are told we are, rather than having anything to do with our own actual volition. This being the case, when any impulse or feeling originating in ‘who we really are’ arises what happens is that is that we suppress it or deny it, and do not at any point see it for what it is. As far as we are concerned the feeling or impulse is merely an ‘error’. We have become – as a result of becoming immersed in the thought stream – our own enemies, our own jailers.


This is why Krishnamurti speaks of ‘waking up’ as the ultimate revolution – we can’t rely on anything in the system that we have put in place all around us, and yet this system, this ‘mind’, is all we know. In the world of therapy we hear a lot of talk about therapeutic tools and strategies and models and methods and so on, but the ironic point that very few therapists ever realise (presumably very few) about that this is that it is precisely these ‘tools’, ‘methods’, ‘strategies’ etc, that keep us hypnotised! We imagine, in our innocence, that our tools and strategies and models can be trusted and that they will deliver us from our state of mental bondage that we’re in, and yet the truth is that they were working to betray us right from the very beginning. Strategies and systems are the very thing that was imprisoning us in the first place; the tried and trusted methods we used to fight against the enemy were actually working on behalf of the enemy all along.


Once we see the situation that we are in then we can have sympathy for the mind-set of the conspiracy theorist, therefore. We can see immediately where this all comes from; we can relate to it and – not only that – we can understand the truth of it. We can trust nothing and no one because we are living in a world where everyone and everything is against us whilst pretending to be ‘on our side’. The one thing we trust the most – our own mind – turns out to be secretly against us the whole time. It was working for the enemy. In conventional, contemporary therapy we try to use thinking to free us from our painful predicament, but thinking is the very thing that hypnotises us and causes us to think that we are who we aren’t! Even as we implement whatever strategies it is that we have been given, we do it not on behalf of who we genuinely are (which has been rejected as ‘error’ by the system of thought), but on behalf of the self that we are assuming ourselves to be, the self that our thoughts are telling us we are. No strategy, no method, no model can free us; as Chogyam Trungpa says, ‘There is no need to struggle to be free; the absence of struggle is in itself freedom’.


Our thoughts hypnotize us, our ideas hypnotize us, our beliefs hypnotize us, our ‘personal narrative’ hypnotizes us, our goals and our fears hypnotize us – the only thing that doesn’t hypnotize us is actually being, which is to say, being unconditionally in whatever situation it is that we find ourselves…




Image: ‘The brainwashing Of My Dad’, taken from progressivefilmclub.ie