The very big problem with purposeful behaviour is that just as long as we are engaging in it, we will never encounter unstructured space. Goal-orientated behaviour will only ever take us to our goal, obviously enough! We don’t want it to take us anywhere else. Even when we aren’t successful with what we want to do, our GO activity won’t take us anywhere near unstructured space – if we are goal-orientated and we miss the goal then all we’re going to recognise is error (or ‘not-goal’). When we’re in GO mode then the whole world is made up either of right or wrong, goal or failure to reach the goal, and how banal is this? We have reduced the whole universe to nothing more than a reflection of our petty intentions. Purposeful behaviour always simplifies things down in this way and can never do otherwise – it causes us to ‘throw away information’.
When we’re in GO Mode it’s not just that the designated goal is ‘the most important thing’ to us, it’s the only thing. Unless something has relevance in terms of ‘achieving the purpose’ then it simply doesn’t exist for us. As far as we’re concerned it is of absolutely no interest whatsoever – we are so disinterested in it that we don’t even bother to notice how disinterested we are! The state of mind in which were so uninterested in anything that is not related to our goals that we can’t even be bothered to notice our own disinterest is the state of unconsciousness – to be in GO Mode is to be asleep, in other words. When we’re in GO Mode then we have ‘closed our accounts with reality’, to use Abraham Maslow’s phrase.
It may not seem right to say that when we’re in the Purposeful Mode then were unconscious or that we have somehow ‘dissociated from reality’. Aren’t our purposes part of reality, after all? In one way they are because our purposeful activity evidently exists in reality, but in another way they’re not because our goals our purposes are abstract mental concepts and not real things. Goals don’t exist in the world and it is nonsense to say that they do – goals are a meaning that we project, they are an imposition of our own ‘self-centric’ way of looking at things and that’s all. It’s a goal only for me, not some sort of self-existent reality and to say that my goals are part of reality is to play a game. This is just like saying that the picture or understanding that I have of the world is a reality only for me and not something that actually exists ‘out there’ – which is very obviously true. The state of unconsciousness is where we project a (conditioned) reality without realizing that this is what we’re doing, therefore. It is when we play a game without knowing it.
The thinking mind is only interested in its own description of the world in just the same way that the goal-seeker is only interested in those details that relate to the attaining of their goal. The TM is flatly disinterested in any aspect of the world that does not have any relevance to its map and it is so disinterested that it never bothers to notice its own disinterest. ‘Disinterest that we are profoundly disinterested in’ is of course ‘disinterest that we can never know about’ and thought goes ahead and creates a whole world that founded upon ‘disinterest that we cannot ever know about’. This isn’t an accident either because the positive world that has been created by thought would collapse like a house of cards the moment we started to take an interest in our own disinterest!
To be ‘the thinker’ is thus the same thing as being the ‘goal-seeker’ – very obviously, our goals come out of our thinking and nowhere else. The entropy that is inherent in our thoughts about the world is inherent in our purposes or goal-orientated behaviour; our purposeful behaviour is all about the furtherance of the entropy of thought therefore, even though this sounds like a very unflattering way of putting it. Naturally we wish to be flattered, to be able to see ourselves in a good light, but the truth itself is not kind to us in this way. The truth is hard to hear and hard to bear and that’s how we know to be the truth!
Purposeful activity – with the exception of a small domain of purely practical tasks, tasks that have nothing to do with our perennial need to validate our concept of ourselves – seems all very splendid and all very progressive to us but it wouldn’t seem quite so splendidly progressive if we could see that what it is really all about is perpetuating and extending the collection of assumptions that we started off with purely because we are too lazy (or too afraid) to actually look at them. There’s nothing so very impressive or inspiring about this, obviously. What’s happening here is simply the mechanical (or predetermined) acting out of our denial – our denial of how things actually are.
There is a ‘covert pay off’ or ‘hidden gain’ in perpetuating our original set of assumptions and that has to do (as we have just suggested) with our idea or concept of ourselves. The reason we have to make sure to look at life only in this very blinkered way (the very blinkered way that comes from acting on our assumptions and never questioning them) is because that’s the only way we can ever preserve the integrity of the viewpoint to which this blinkered view makes sense. Unless we can continue to see (and continue to believe in) the very narrow view of things that our prejudiced or biased outlook causes us to see, then we won’t be able to continue believing in the narrow, stilted identity (or self-construct) that this view supports gives rise to and supports. Seeing that we are very much attached to this narrow identity, this provides us with more than ample incentive to hang onto our assumptions, no matter how ridiculous they might be (and no matter what trouble they may cause for us down the line).
Our allegiance – when we’re in P-Mode – is always towards ‘getting things to be the way we think they ought to be’ and this has nothing at all to do with having an interest in how things might be when we aren’t imposing our own ideas, our own viewpoint, our own theories onto the world. When we’re in P-Mode (which corresponds, as we have said, to ‘the unconscious state’) we are fundamentally disconnected – we’re fundamentally disconnected because all we are interested in (when we’re in this mode) are our own ideas about the world, our own dusty ‘preconceptions’ of things. When we’re in this mode then it’s never ‘the thing itself’ that we are interested in but our thoughts about the thing, our idea of what the thing in question is or how it ‘should’ be. We are interested in what the thing in question means to us and this has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of the situation. Our thoughts about the world will never join up with the world itself; our thoughts will never connect us with reality because they are themselves disconnection – thinking is how we disconnect from the world, not how we connect with it. Or as we could also say, purposeful behaviour isn’t our way of connecting with things, it’s our way of staying in the state of thought-created abstraction. It’s our way creating and maintaining the separate (or extrinsic) self, in other words…
Naturally it is the case that calculated or purposeful activity can never enable us to ‘encounter unstructured space’ (which is to say, ‘the situation which comes into being in the absence of any manipulation or interpretation our part’). Nothing we deliberately do will ever allow us to encounter a situation which we ourselves have not interfered with – our attempts to do so (if we ever attempted this) would be nothing other than ‘an exercise in interference’ anyway. Our deliberate efforts to ‘connect with reality’ (or ‘encounter unstructured space’) are interference because they are all based on assumptions that we have made and then forgotten about (or assumptions that we have made without realizing that we have made them).
Our purposeful behaviour is the extension of our assumptions, the indefinite furtherance of our assumptions, as we said earlier, and this isn’t just interference, it’s out-and-out aggression – it is activity that is all about ‘blind or heedless self-assertion’! We could therefore say that the Purposeful Mode of being is where we unceasingly reiterate and restate our unexamined prejudices or biases without ever having any interest whatsoever with regard to how reality might be in itself. Or we could – equally well – say that P-Mode is the mentality of ‘blind or heedless self-assertion’. It is blind ‘self-assertion’ for a very good reason – it’s blind because it has to be blind – ‘not blind’ (or conscious) activity would be activity that is based on our interested awareness of our situation, not activity that is all about ‘charging ahead regardless’ without ever looking at our basis (or obeying rules without it ever occurring to us to question them). Conscious activity would be no good for asserting the self and its interests because if we were conscious then we wouldn’t be able to find anything to assert! That would be the ‘end of the road’ for the extrinsic self, in this case!
Charging ahead regardless may be called ‘aggression’ or ‘unwarranted and ill-advised interference’, or we may also call it activity that is fear-driven. We’re charging ahead in the way that we are precisely because we are afraid of looking at our assumptions, our basis, our starting-off point, and the reason we’re so afraid of looking at our assumptions is because we know that they are going to turn out to be false. That’s a basic intelligence that we just can’t get rid of – the awareness that thought’s statements about reality aren’t ever true. This repressed awareness is what creates the particular ‘aggressive’ quality of our actions, of our way of being in the world. The extrinsic self can’t ever be non-aggressive, therefore; it can’t ever be non-aggressive (or non-judgmental) because that’s the only way it can continue to exist. Awareness will bring an end to the extrinsic self’s existence, connection with reality will bring an end to the extrinsic self’s existence.
A simpler way of putting this is to say that the core assumption that we’re trying to preserve throughout all of this is the idea that we have about who we are. The prejudice that I can’t escape from is myself, in other words. We have the idea that the extrinsic self or concrete identity can be educated or trained to be unbiased and unprejudiced (or ‘without sin’, if we want to put it like that) but this can never be the case – naturally can never be the case if the extrinsic self is the bias that it seeks to straighten out! This is our ‘perennial purpose’ – the purpose behind all our purposes. Our underlying agenda or motivation is always to ‘improve the self’, to somehow cure it or fix it or redeem it. This is the ultimate red-herring however – this was never the real agenda; the real agenda is simply to continue the game, to continue being distracted or side-tracked forever.
For the most part, it is certainly true that we have no interest in ‘encountering unstructured space’ – we wouldn’t know what it what that was anyway, for one thing, and – for another – if we did find ourselves in some kind of a situation where reality isn’t matching our expectations for it, our requirements for it, then the chances are very much that we wouldn’t in the least bit like it. We won’t find that situation in the least bit convivial because it doesn’t support our identity. When we are attached to our identity (as is the general way of things!) then to be in some sort of a space that doesn’t support our biases or prejudices is not just uncomfortable or painful, it’s frightening – we run the risk of seeing through ourselves in this case and that’s no fun when we’re attached to the concrete identity. That’s no fun at all!
To encounter unstructured space is not usually a goal of ours therefore but even if it were that wouldn’t do us any good either since ‘a goal’ equals ‘structure’, and so there is absolutely no way that we can reconnect with reality on purpose, in a calculated way, as a result of whatever sort of thinking lies behind our activity. Purposefulness relates us back to our own projections but this isn’t actually any sort of ‘relatedness’ at all. How can we ‘relate’ to our own projections? That’s just an incestuous positive feedback loop…
There is no way we can find a connection with reality as a result of acting on whatever maps or theories or beliefs we might have, and it doesn’t tend to come naturally to us to act without there being some sort of map or theory or belief behind it. We just can’t function in any other way! ‘Action that takes place on the basis of an idea is inaction’ says Krishnamurti, and this is what he means. ‘Action that takes place on the basis of an idea’ keeps us trapped in the logical continuity (which is the continuity of the self) and the continuum of logic (or the continuum of the self) isn’t actually a real thing. It’s only a spurious feedback loop. We’re trapped in the infinite banality of our own thoughts and our own purposes; we’re trapped in the absolute restriction of a basis that we rigidly assume to be real when it isn’t.