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The Arrogance of Thought [1]

Life takes place between two states: the state of locality and the state of non-locality. The local is what we believe in whilst a non-local is what we don’t believe in, but just because we don’t know or don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘non-local state of being’ doesn’t mean that it isn’t part of our lives, however. Non-locality doesn’t make any sense to us, it doesn’t make the least bit of sense to us (and we don’t generally have any interest in trying to comprehend it anyway) but this doesn’t mean that we can do without it!



We can’t do without it because it’s what’s real and we can’t do without what’s real. We might have no awareness of it whatsoever, we might have no interest in it, we might have based our entire life on the principle of ignoring it, but that still doesn’t mean that we can do without it. In effect, we love locality and we are absolutely averse to non-locality – we’re so averse to it that we won’t ever pay any attention to it. We refuse to admit that it exists. We don’t actually know that we hate non-locality therefore, we don’t know that there is such a thing and, what’s more, you couldn’t tell us that there is such a thing. We’d fall about laughing.



Locality and non-locality aren’t two opposites – they aren’t ‘poles apart’ but rather they are incompatible. They don’t belong on the same page. We could say that they are ‘ultimately the same’ if we wanted, since  – as the Buddhists say – ‘form equals emptiness and emptiness equals form,’ but at the same time if we’re not to do violence to the concept of locality we have to acknowledge that – within the terms which it itself presents itself – the local world has no connection whatsoever with the non-local one. Locality cannot take on board the principle of non-locality without ceasing to be locality, just as a lie can’t take the truth on board without ceasing to be a lie. When a lie acknowledges itself to be a lie then it immediately becomes the truth, after all!



The problem that we have with the non-local world is simply that we have no way of comprehending it, no way of proving or demonstrating it. To us – operating as we are from the standpoint of the rational intellect – this means that it simply doesn’t exist. This is proof positive that it doesn’t exist. Who could possibly believe in something that cannot in any way be detected or logically inferred? If reality is not a ‘positive phenomenon’ (i.e., something that can be definitely asserted or definitely known) then it isn’t anything as far as we’re concerned. If it isn’t stated then it doesn’t appear on our radar and if it doesn’t appear in our radar then we won’t give it any credence – we’ll denounce it as an hallucination. The positive (or local) world is made up of ‘bumps on the carpet’ (or ‘wrinkles in the tablecloth’) however and so what we doing here with our very limited way of relating to reality is that we’re using the provisional existence of the bumps on the carpet to argue against the carpet. We’re using the apparent existence of a wrinkle in the tablecloth to prove conclusively that there isn’t a tablecloth. We’re using the positive reality to disprove the negative, in other words.



So, we have said, life takes place between these two states, the local and the non-local, but we are in full-blown denial of the latter. We absolutely can’t do without it, but we act as if we can. There is a kind of an arrogance going on here therefore, the arrogance that comes before a fall! If we could have a little bit of awareness that there is an inconceivable and intangible reality which supports and sustains everything then this arrogance wouldn’t arise, but we don’t have that awareness and that’s the whole point. We don’t have any respect for anything that we can’t lay our hands on and measure, for anything that we can’t conclusively demonstrate to ourselves as existing within the terms of the thinking mind. This ignorance – and the lack of respect that it engenders – spells big trouble for us further down the line, therefore.



It is starting to sound here as if we’re talking about ‘not respecting God’ or ‘acting as if God doesn’t exist,’ which is a rather familiar message in monotheistic religions, needless to say. In one way, the parallel is worth taking note of, whilst in another way it can be deceptive because for almost all of us ‘God’ is just another concept – it is one more concept in a world that is made up of them and so to think about God a lot (or to try to relate respectfully to the idea of God that we have in our heads) is just another form of ignorance, just another aspect of our denial of the transcendent. As Krishnamurti says, when we worship ‘thought’s image of God’ we are simply worshipping thought, and since thought also provides us with our sense of concrete identity (i.e., our sense of self) what we’re talking about here is actually narcissism!



Everyone has some sort of an idea about what is meant by the word ‘God’ and for this reason using the word is not helpful – it has too many associations and so when we try to think about God all this does is fill our heads with unnecessary and misleading mental clutter. This is what all thoughts are, after all – mental clutter. It doesn’t matter what we’re thinking about, it’s all the same. One thought is as good as another; our thoughts about God are just as trapping as thoughts about anything else because we’re trying to represent everything in concrete terms, these being the currency that is used by the rational mind. Concrete terms don’t mean anything outside of the thinking mind, however; when we say ‘concrete’ what this signifies is that it seems to be real or reliable with respect to the point of view of thought and what this means is that thought is validating itself, as we’ve already said. The thinking mind will only take its own productions seriously, when it comes down to it, and so where is this ever going get us?



If we keep our discussion to the psychological domain, and make sure that we stay clear of any metaphysical assumptions (which is what Jung advises) then what we can say is that when we turn up backs on the non-local this is where all our troubles begin. When we’re in rational mode then any talk of a primary reality that is undetectable, immeasurable, intangible (and also therefore totally unprovable) sounds foolish to us. It sounds foolish in the extreme and we will all have a good laugh about it. This is how the arrogance of thought shows itself, of course. Thought only ever takes itself seriously, as we have just said, and thus we have the situation where ‘the branch denies the existence of the trunk from which it sprang’. ‘Closed’ can only have the type of provisional existence it does have because of ‘open’, but at the same time ‘closed’ is only be ‘closed’ when it doesn’t acknowledge the existence of anything that isn’t on its page, that it doesn’t already ‘know about’. If ‘closed’ could acknowledge ‘open’ then it wouldn’t be closed after all.



This is the key point to make about ‘the closed state of existence’ (or ‘the closed state of being’) – that it can never see itself for what it is. The closed modality cannot acknowledge itself as being closed because it doesn’t acknowledge anything outside of itself – as far as a closed system is concerned ‘it is everything’ and so what could it be closed to? A closed system possesses a false type of ‘expansiveness’, therefore, it contains a type of expansiveness that doesn’t actually permit anything to happen. ‘Closed’ contains no new possibilities (because it doesn’t admit that there is anything that it doesn’t already know about) and because it contains nothing new there can never be any change occurring within it. A world that no contains no possibilities of change isn’t a world however because something has to be able to happen in a world for it to be a world and so, in order for us to ‘taken in’ by it, the closed state of being has to present itself as not being closed. It does this (we might say) by making up its own version of ‘change’, its own version of ‘new’, and this is the type of change that has to do with the attainment (or otherwise) of some arbitrary goal. Within this contrived scheme of things the attainment of thee goal is the attainment of something new and so ‘movement towards the goal’ appears to be change, therefore (as does ‘movement away from the goal’) and if some sort of change is taking place that has no relevance to the reference point of the goal then we discount it as being ‘random’ or ‘chaotic’ or ‘meaningless’. Movement that takes us closer to the goal is movement in the right direction and we will feel happy about this, whilst movement that takes us in the opposite direction is wrong and will cause us to feel bad. In the first case we see ourselves as ‘gaining ground’, in the second as ‘losing it’. This is how the game is played – this is how all games are played…



The Realm of Locality can thus be seen as a game – it’s a game because no matter what direction we head in it is always going to be in a direction we already know about! Everywhere we go we’re ‘on the grid’ and the grid is a game; the grid is a game because there isn’t a grid – we only say that there is. What there is really is is ‘space with no extension’, which is something we can’t comprehend. What there really is is ‘space with no directions’, which doesn’t make any sense to us at all. No matter what we might think to the contrary however, all our attempts to make sense of the world (i.e., all of our maps) are the purest fantasy; the only thing that isn’t ‘a game’ is the state of Original Symmetry, which is space with no directionality, space with no extension. When we transition into the game-reality of the closed situation (which corresponds to what we’re calling ‘locality’) rule-based or linear change becomes the only type of change we can know about therefore, despite the fact that nothing is actually changing. The closed situation is implicitly representing itself as being open and it does this by replaced genuine change with the trivial, rule-based variety and we never guess that there could be anything else than this, anything else other than ‘what we already know about’, which is actually nothing more than an absurd fantasy…



The type of absurd fantasy that we’re talking about here is – we might say – the fantasy that it is possible to expand a single geometrical point into a whole universe, and that we can somehow lead a meaningful life within this unreal expansion, this unreal universe. There are two ways of explaining what this ‘geometrical point’ might be:  [1] is to say that it is the self or ego, which means that the subjective world which we live in is actually nothing more than a projection of this assumed basis (as Jung says), and [2] is to say that it is the reference point that has been selected by thought for the purpose of constructing its ‘empire’. This empire (which is equivalent to what we have been calling ‘the local world’) doesn’t really exist – it only appears to exist because of the way in which we have ‘randomly picked a point’ and then expanded or extended this point outwards without any reference at all to the fact that we have picked it randomly. This is the same old thing that we keep coming back to therefore – the mispresentation of the ‘opus proprium’ as being the ‘opus alienum’, as Berger and Luckman say in The Social Construction of Reality.



The ‘opus proprium’ is us randomly picking a point, whilst the ‘opus alienum’ is where we say that the world which comes into (virtual) existence when we expand or extend the point outwards was already there, that it exists independently of our choice, that there was no choice, in fact. It is perfectly legitimate for us to pick a point (out of an infinity of them) and then look out at the world from this viewpoint; where the deception comes in is where we act as if there never was any choice on our part, which means that the closed world of our thoughts (which we don’t acknowledge to be made by our thoughts) is the only world there is. This is a lie and we can’t really call it anything else – it’s a lie because what our thoughts are telling us is [1] that the crappy redundant world that we’ve been consigned to isn’t crappy and redundant but perfectly wholesome and [2] that this is the only world going so we just have to get on with it.



Switching the opus alienum for the opus proprium (saying that we didn’t do it when we did) isn’t what we’d call a straightforward conscious decision however – we are actually handing over responsibility to a mechanical process and what this mechanical process does is to create the illusion that we’re going somewhere wonderful, when the truth is that we have been shunted ignominiously down a dead end. There are two illusions here (two for the price of one) – [1] is that we are on the journey to somewhere wonderful, and [2] is that we ourselves are freely choosing to go down this road, out of our true and well-informed volition. The truth is less inspirational however, as we have just said – the truth is that we’re stuck in a dead end going around in circles whilst being manipulated into thinking that we’re not going around in circles and that we’re operating on the basis of our own free will rather than coercion. This is ‘life in the local world’, and the local world (which – as we have said – isn’t a world at all) is where we always gravitate to when we are under the influence of thought.




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