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Fear Makes Fools Of Us All

This is the characteristic human activity – to be constantly and untiringly striving to prove our own nonsensical assertions. We can never prove them (because they are nonsensical) but that doesn’t stop us trying! We can’t actually stop trying, when it comes down to it; we’re trapped in a finite game and we can’t stop playing it. A neat definition of a ‘finite game’ might to say – therefore – that it is ‘the never-ending attempt to prove that something is true when it isn’t’.



The activity that we’re talking about here doesn’t make any sense at all, therefore. It could be said to be a form of insanity, since it takes up all our energy and doesn’t do us any good. Our premise – when we’re playing this game – is that succeeding at validating our nonsensical assertions (i.e., proving our ‘untrue assumptions’) is the ultimate form of joy, the ultimate form of fulfilment and bliss, and that – therefore – every attempt should be made to do so. Our premise – in short – is that striving to prove that what is untrue is true is the only type of activity worth engaging in.



To say that the ‘defining human activity’ is to be constantly trying to prove that our nonsensical assertions aren’t nonsensical isn’t very flattering for us of course, and for this reason most of us aren’t going to be very pleased to hear such an idea being articulated. We won’t make any friends by going around saying this, in other words, and this might be considered to be something of a drawback. No one likes to be dismissed, excluded, ignored or generally derided, after all. On the other hand, being in denial of what is actually true is hardly going to do us any good in the long run.



What keeps us trapped in this situation is of course fear – what else could it be? ‘Love makes fools of us all’, we say, but it isn’t love that does this but fear. Fear makes fools of us every time. It’s not that we are afraid of anything in particular but rather that we are afraid of everything. We’re afraid of reality, we’re afraid of ‘the Big Picture’. We are afraid of the Big Picture and so we spend our lives running away from it; we spend our lives seeking refuge in the petty details, so to speak – we hide out in the part (or the fragment) because we are terrified by the Whole.



We can relate this to Stan Grof’s dichotomy of the Holotropic versus the Hylotropic modes of existence – the Holotropic Mode being that mode in which we are orientated towards ‘the Whole’ (or towards ‘the truth’), whilst the Hylotropic is where our fundamental orientation is towards ‘the part’, towards ‘the fragment’. To be orientated towards the part necessarily involves a thoroughgoing avoidance of the truth since there are no parts – ‘parts’ are abstractions that exist only in our own minds. They aren’t by any means an intrinsic feature of the reality that was there before we started picking and choosing what we want to see, before we started ‘playing our games’.



The part can only have the type of provisional (or ‘relative’) existence that it does have as a result of entropy; entropy – when we’re talking about the psychological rather than the strictly material side of things – means that we are functionally incapable of seeing the Whole. We can only see the Whole when there is Zero Entropy, which we can equate this to what Krishnamurti refers to as ‘total attention’. Total attention is something we simply never come across in everyday life; it sounds like something we would come across (or should come across) at least every now and again, but that just isn’t the case.



If we were paying total attention then this would be ‘an experience like no other’, it would without any doubt at all be the profoundest experience of our entire lives. In fact – as Krishnamurti says – it wouldn’t even be an experience – it wouldn’t be ‘an experience’ because there would be no centre, because there would be no concept (or illusion) of there being ‘a separate or disconnected ‘experiencer’. Krishnamurti is nothing if not clear on this point –


…there is only infinite watching. There is no watcher in watching, but the extraordinary vitality, and the energy in watching, because you have watched the whole psychological world, subjective world before you come to that point. And now when you are watching there is no background which is watching, there is only watching ‘as is’. I don’t know if I am making myself clear? Because you see that means in great attention, in that attention there is no entity who is attending, there is only the attention that has space, the attention that is totally quiet, silent, attention that has tremendous gathering of energy, and therefore there is total absence of the self-interest.


The sense of that there absolutely is a ‘localised, self-existent watcher’ who is doing the watching, that there is a centralized special ‘vantage point’ slap bang in the middle of everything, is a function of entropy, a consequence of our lack of perspective. The feeling that there is an experiencer isn’t so much a ‘trick of the light’ as it’s a trick of ‘the lack of light’…



It is our fear of what we might see in this state of complete attention that we’re fleeing from when we’re in the Hylotropic Mode of Existence; we’re on the run from unfettered or unconstrained consciousness – we have our backs to it and we’re facing squarely in the direction of ‘the part’, the ‘disconnected fragment’. It’s not as if there’s actually anything there to be afraid of in the Whole – why should the Whole be afraid of the Whole, after all? – but rather it is the case that the disconnected fragment we mistakenly think we are is afraid of the Whole. It can’t comprehend that the Whole is the Whole (it can’t see what it is afraid of or why it should be afraid of it) but at the same time it has an intuitive kind of awareness that were it to encounter the Unitary State then that would be the end of it. When we are identified with the separate or disconnected ‘abstract experiencer’, then to lose the security that is provided by this thought-created pseudo-entity is terror itself. Instead of the ‘ineffable joy’ that we hear mystics talk about, we experience ‘ineffable fear’.



We started off this discussion by saying that the characteristic human activity is to be forever trying to prove our utterly nonsensical assertions (or beliefs) are actually true. On the face of it this sounds incomprehensibly perverse, but when we consider the logic of the situation – which is to say, the situation of us being in the Hylotropic (or Fleeing) Mode – then we can see that our activity makes perfect sense. We couldn’t really do anything else, given our predicament. Promoting our nonsensical assertions or beliefs is how we deny the Whole; when we’re operating in Hylotropic Mode and we find ourselves able to successfully deny the reality of the Unitary State to ourselves then this feels the best that anything ever could feel to us. It’s quite simply ‘the ultimate good feeling’, naturally so since for us to believe that there is ‘no such thing’ as the Unitary State is the thing that we want most in the whole wide world. It’s the only thing we want – when we’re in Fleeing Mode then being able to prove this (being able to prove that we aren’t fleeing) is all we care about…



Not that we can ever admit this to ourselves of course (since if we did that then there would be no more good feeling there for us to enjoy) – denial cannot acknowledge itself to be what it is without ceasing to be what it is. Instead of saying that we feel good because we have ‘successfully hidden away from reality’ (or ‘successfully believed in our own nonsense’) we say that we’re feeling so great because we have attained some kind of very important value in the external world. We invert everything, in other words; instead of saying that we have zero autonomy and that we are therefore obliged to exist as slaves with within what we might call ‘the Operating System of Fear‘ we represent this undignified situation to ourselves as some sort of ‘heroic coup’ that we have somehow managed to pull off, against all the odds. We unashamedly cast ourselves in the ‘heroic mode’…



We see ourselves as a ‘winners’, in other words and with – respect to the arrow definition of the task at hand – we are winners. We have succeeded at what we wanted to do. We are ‘achievers’ inasmuch – as a result of our heroic efforts – we have gained something genuine, something special, something that is worth gaining. We don’t however see what this success or achievement actually means – we’re not taking a wide enough view for that. When everything has been inverted then what we are pleased to call ‘success’ is actually an utter catastrophe. ‘Nothing succeeds fails like success’, says Alan watts. When we finally get what we have always wanted to get, then that’s when we discover that we don’t really want it at all. That is the ‘unexpected turnaround’.



When we ‘deny the Whole’ then what we end up with is the mechanical world that is – in essence – a collection of disconnected parts, which we are one of. This is actually our default way of envisaging the world – as a mixed bag of non-communicating fragments – fragments that don’t actually have very much in common with each other. We sometimes hear of there being such a thing as ‘the whole which is greater than the sum of its parts’, which sounds nicely mystical (even if it isn’t really); it’s no good us talking, after all, about ‘the sum of the parts’ when ‘the parts’ don’t exist in the first place. The sum of the parts is zero and always will be, which means that ‘being greater than the sum of the parts’ isn’t such a great thing after all. The sum of a whole bunch of mind-created abstractions is just as unreal, just as illusory, as any of the component ‘mind-created abstractions’ that we started off with.



The characteristic human activity is really just a type of senseless Brownian motion, it is us ‘partaking in an ongoing senseless mechanical jostling’. If I manage to promote my nonsensical assertions better than you can then I get to feel that I’m ‘a winner’, I get to feel that my nonsensical assertions are actually true or valid. I’ve ‘won the argument,’ after all. This works on both a personal and a collective level my identity (whether it is a personal or collective identity) is itself a ‘hollow assertion’, just as any ‘assertion of fact’ is always going to be ‘hollow’. It’s only if we work away energetically stating it, promoting it, defending it, etc, that it gets to seem non-hollow to us – hence the universal adulation of purposefulness (or goal-oriented activity), hence the instinctive upsurge of horror that we experience at hearing any mention of ‘not doing’, any mention of ‘giving up’. No attention at all goes on to the ‘wider view of things’ – it all goes into the game, it all goes into ‘trying our best to make sure that we win rather than lose’, Our energetic playing of the finite game keeps this nasty hollow feeling (temporarily) at bay therefore, at the same time as creating it in the first place. Just like ‘Duff Beer’ in The Simpsons, it is both the cause of our malaise and the (temporary) ‘cure’ for it all rolled into one.






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