The bubble that we are trapped within is the Bubble of Our Own Controlling. Once we understand this then we can understand why we are so trapped – we are confined within the bubble because we can’t stop controlling. Or if we say that the bubble is our thinking then we can’t exit the bubble because we can’t stop thinking.
Controlling includes interpreting or evaluating the world around us, and this is controlling because we interpret or evaluate in the way that we want to. We’re in charge of the process, in other words, and so what’s going on here is that we are controlling the meaning that the world has for us. We’re calling the shots, not reality, not ‘what’s really out there’ (whatever that is).
This is what ‘having a belief’ comes down to – whatever it is that I believe in colours how I see the world, how I understand the world, and I have my belief because I myself have freely assented to it. Whatever I believe I believe because it suits me to and this means that I am, in this way, controlling the meaning that the world has for me.
To say that our perception of reality is almost always spin-doctored on an unconscious level (or that we only see what it suits us to see) doesn’t mean that we invariably see a picture of things that pleases us because of course, it doesn’t. We would be going around completely euphoric the whole time in this case and we clearly aren’t. But whether we see our situation in a way that makes us pleased or in a way that makes us displeased it’s still ‘all about us’, and that’s what we want. This centrality is what we want.
We want the world to be all about us or for it to be relevant to us so this is what we get; sometimes this unwarranted personalisation of the world causes us pleasure and at other times it causes us pain. Either we are flattered or we are insulted, but either way it’s all about us, either way we’re ‘central to the scheme of things’, so to speak. The ego or self-concept has to be central to the scheme of things if it is to exist at all!
There’s no such thing as a ‘non-central ego’ (or ‘a self that doesn’t perceive itself as being right at the centre of things’). That’s what it means to be a self after all, and having this awareness allows us to see just what it is that we’re achieving with our constant controlling – we are getting to feel that we are central, we’re getting to feel that everything is revolving around us. We’re getting to feel precisely localized.
What ‘the bubble of controlling’ does therefore is that it allows us to feel that we are this specific particular self, that we are ‘this defined point on the page’. This is the illusion that is being facilitated. This is interesting because it means that we aren’t trapped in the bubble at all (not in the sense that we would usually take this to mean, at any rate). We aren’t really ‘trapped’ in the bubble of thought because it is this bubble that conveniently generates the compelling illusion of ‘who we think we are’. We’re not trapped in the bubble of thought, in other words, we are it. Escaping from thought is thus a perfect impossibility for the concrete identity. Being in reality is also a perfect impossibility for it.
We’re not ‘trapped’ because we – as the conditioned self we experience ourselves to be – simply couldn’t exist anywhere else. The bubble isn’t what traps us, it’s what creates us. It’s a prison that we don’t actually want to escape from therefore, even though we say that we do. Unless we were being continuously hoodwinked on a thoroughgoing basis (in the way that we are) we’d have to encounter unconditioned reality and that would mean a radical revision of everything we understand to be true. That would mean a radical revision of what we understand ourselves to be.
The bubble is what protects us from the necessity to radically revise everything we ever thought to be true, and it turns out that this protection is more important to us than anything else in the world. It’s certainly more important to us than going eyeball-to-eyeball with the truth, and so even though life in the bubble is inherently frustrating and ultimately futile, it’s better – or so we unconsciously assume – than having to confront a truth that we don’t want to know about, but which we imagine on some repressed level of awareness to be ‘the most terrible thing in there ever could be’. The fear that we are not conscious of is calling the shots, in other words.
This puts us in a perfectly absurd situation that we are also profoundly unconscious of; we can’t allow ourselves to see that our situation is absurd because we can’t allow ourselves to be aware of anything, this being the way things are when we live under the rule of fear. Fear doesn’t encourage a questioning frame of mind. Fear creates absurd worlds that we can’t see to be absurd, which is to say, fear obliges us to take them seriously. Fear obliges us to take these worlds seriously and taking absurdity seriously means suffering. As the saying has it, ‘our situation is desperate but not serious’.
Life in the bubble is desperate but not serious – it’s desperate because we’re struggling to repress our fear without letting on to ourselves that this is what we’re doing. We don’t want to know that an external motivational force has us on the run, and when we are identified with it we absolutely won’t know because fear is reinterpreted as free will. The absurd world that fear creates for us to live in obliges us to be continually running from what terrifies us whilst validating what we doing as ‘not running’, whilst validating what we are doing as ‘our own perfectly free or volitional activity’, and what could be more desperate than this? And at the same time life in the bubble is ‘not serious’ because there’s absolutely no basis in truth for what we think is going on.
In short, the All-Determining Bubble of Thought is ‘our way from escaping the truth’. We succeed in escaping from the truth by creating a substitute version of reality for ourselves (which is ‘reality as it appears to be from the made-up point of view of the concrete identity’) but in so doing we stitch ourselves up big time because now we have to do everything in relation to an all-important reference point which just doesn’t exist! Life has been turned into a meaningless exercise which we can never allow ourselves to see the truth about. The only true ‘meaning’ to our conditioned activities is that we are trying to escape from seeing the truth by engaging in absurd activities that we can’t see to be absurd, but that’s not a meaning we want to see!
How the Bubble of Thought creates the conditioned world is by distorting all incoming information so that it seems that everything is happening to this imaginary centre which we call ‘the self’. That’s the conditioned life in a nutshell. Or – alternatively – we could say that the Bubble of Thought works this trick by making it seem that our entirely arbitrary way of seeing the world is in fact the one-and-only ‘right’ one. We only recognise information that supports our unconscious bias, in other words, and so our perception of reality is conditioned on the basis of this unexamined or unquestioned hypothesis, on the basis of this deeply unconscious bias. Our core assumption is confirmed on all sides and thus the ego-identity gets to be pragmatically real for us. And it doesn’t just seem to be ‘real’ either but the most real anything could ever be. Even though it isn’t at all…