The generic puts us to sleep, whilst the unique wakes us up, and that’s why no one likes dealing with the unique! That’s why the unique is never on the menu – only spam is on the menu, as in the Monty Python sketch…
The generic puts us to sleep and our world is made up of the generic! We’re all just bricks in the wall. We need to be generic bricks in the wall in order to fit into society – we won’t be let through the front door otherwise. A generic identity is the entry code – that is all that is required for us to be granted the freedom of the city. The one qualification – which we absolutely must submit to – is that we have to see the world in the predefined generic way, not in our own unique way. We don’t know what ‘our own unique way’ is – we even don’t know that there is such a thing…
When we see the world in the prescribed generic fashion then everything else follows on from this, of course. From the generic only the generic can follow. Or to put this another way, if our input is generic then so too must be our output.‘ Rubbish in and rubbish out’, as they say.
We will still experience ourselves as expressing ourselves authentically of course, but unless we truly are ‘ourselves’ then this cannot ever be the case. When we are made up of ‘other people’s stuff‘ (as James Moore puts it) then everything we come out with will be ‘other peoples’ stuff’ too.
Sociologist Stuart Hall refers to this phenomenon as false spontaneity, which is an obvious enough idea once we hear it. When we come out with opinions and judgements it feels very much as if we are the author of what we are expressing but we’re not – we are only passing it on! Everyone has an opinion, so it is said, but this plain isn’t true. No one has an opinion – the opinions have us. We are merely the passive mouthpieces. We are ‘channelling prejudice’…
All the ugliness we hear in the world, all that rotten old opinionated stuff, is attributable not to human beings but to the ubiquitous ‘mind viruses’ that possess us and use us to propagate themselves. This doesn’t let us off the hook of course because we let it happen; we collude in the process for the sake of whatever benefits it is that we think we are going to obtain. We are such a proud species, we human beings, and yet we let ourselves be used in this way – as mere ‘effluence outlets’.
We don’t think, we allow thought to use us and we contrive not to pay attention to this sorry state of affairs. This is what proud Homo sapiens (‘man the wise’) has come to – we are not the master of thought, thought is the master of us. Thoughts master us every day; from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we fall asleep at night we are mastered by thoughts.
This is easy enough to put to the test, if we ever wanted to: all we need to do is see if we can go through the day without thinking unless we want to. This, according to Eckhart Tolle, is his greatest achievement – ‘not having to think unless I want to’. Most of us won’t see this is a particularly impressive achievement of course but that’s because we don’t realise that ‘thought is running us, and giving us the false information that we are running it’ (to paraphrase David Bohm). We feel that ‘not thinking unless we want to’ is no serious challenge at all, and that’s how we get hoodwinked so thoroughly. We imagine we’re ‘thinking because we want to’!
We never imagine that there is such a thing as a difference between the unique mind and the generic mind. The generic mind thinks that is it is the unique mind, it cannot understand or perceive itself to be ‘not the original’. No matter how conditioned we are by this generic or rule-based mind we are we still feel ourselves to be very much ‘the individual’. We are ‘the individual who has been told what to do (and how to be) by the rules’! We are the ‘controlled individual’, the ‘compromised individual’. This is the thing about rules – as soon as we do what the rule tells us to do, as soon as we ‘be the way that the rule tells us to be’, then we become inauthentic, we become false. I’m not ‘the boss’ after all, the rule is the boss! The rule is the boss but just what the hell is ‘a rule’?
A rule isn’t really ‘a thing’. A rule is only a rule because we say it is, because we agree for it to be. This is the paradox that we never see – the ‘paradox of disguised freedom’. The rule is ‘disguised freedom’ because we have freely chosen to obey it (and also freely chosen not to see that we have so chosen). There is freedom behind everything, in other words. There’s nothing but freedom. Pull back the curtains and that’s what we see – reams and reams of freedom. We say that there are such things as rules, but they aren’t, not really. That’s just a choice we make – we choose to act as if there is no freedom!
We become inauthentic when we slavishly follow the rules because there is no such thing as rules. When we let the rules tell us ‘who to be’ and ‘what to do’ and ‘how to think’ we become inauthentic. We become inauthentic because they aren’t any rules, not really. When we let ourselves be defined by the rules so that all we can never be is what the rules say we can be, then we ARE the rules, obviously enough. We ARE the rules (there’s nothing else to us other than what the rules permit) and the rules – as we have said – don’t actually exist.
This is what the ‘generic mind’ means – it’s the mind that is made up entirely of rules. ‘Generic’ means ‘rules’ and ‘rules’ means ‘generic’. Despite what we have been saying about ‘rules not really existing’ (because they are a free choice that we have made and then forgotten about making) they nevertheless have total dominance over us. The generic mind may not be real, but it has mastery over us. The rules may be ‘made-up things’, but we can only ever do what they tell us to do. We can only ever be what the rules say we can be and we can only ever see what the rules tell us is there to see.
This situation of only ever being able to be what the rules say we can be, and only being able to see what the rule says there is to see is the situation of being asleep. This world of ours is made up of sleep therefore; it is founded upon sleep, it is predicated upon sleep, it is based upon the principle of sleep. The generic mind doesn’t deal in anything else apart from sleep, after all! The generic, as we have said, can only ever give rise to the generic….