The force that is unleashed by the gnashing jaws of the polarity is a sublimely meaningless one. In terms of sheer coercive power we could say that what is being sought after in the polar struggle is the most important thing ever – if coercive force were to be equated to ‘the importance of the outcome that is to be attained’ (which is indeed how we do take it) then the outcome we’re struggling for must be supremely important, unimaginably important, and just not just ‘important’ either but fundamentally necessary. This is just not so however – the reverse of this is true. The reverse of this is true because nothing is ever attained within the context of a polarity.
The phenomenon we are calling polarity operates on the basis of these two tricks therefore, the first trick being to introduce this immense compulsion into the picture that straightaway sweeps us off our feet, whilst the second trick is to create the illusion that if we do what the compulsive force wants us to do, then this will actually be a very meaningful thing, something to get extremely excited about. Because the force that is operating on us is meaningless (i.e. purely mechanical) so too are all the activities that we engage in on the basis of this meaningless mechanical motivation. We seem to be on track for achieving something real, something worthwhile but we’re not – that’s the illusion right there. This is the great irony underpinning all games – games are all about ‘achieving’, all about ‘success’, all about winning, in the language so beloved of game-players – ‘winning is all,’ ‘winning is everything,’ and yet nothing is ever achieved as a result of playing a game.
Games are a null situation – nothing is ever gained and nothing is ever lost in them (despite the intensity of the fervour that goes into playing them. This is what Shakespeare was getting at in the line where he says that life is ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing’. Some Shakespeare scholars have argued that Shakespeare was expressing a nihilistic viewpoint in this line but that’s merely evidence of how obtuse we are – it’s not nihilism to say that our games (or rather what happens in our games) signify nothing because they don’t. The reason we misunderstand Shakespeare in this regard is because all we know are our games, which we don’t see as games at all. All we know is polarity, all we know is ‘conditionality’, and this means that we have no way to understand the phenomenon of polarity / conditionality. We’d have to be outside of the polarity to understand it.
We mistake the situation where we are held captive within a vicious polarity for life itself and so when we hear someone pointing out that our games are merely ‘a tale told by an idiot’ we take this as being evidence of a regrettably nihilistic outlook. We don’t understand that it is us who are the idiots; it is us who are the idiots because we embrace the most profound form of nihilism from there is, without ever having seeing what we’re doing. Even if we struggled continuously for a billion, billion years we could never find fulfilment within the terms at a dictated for us by the polarity – we would be no better off after a billion, billion years than we were when we started off playing the game and this is got to be somewhat on the disheartening side! Our normal concept of what the word ‘futility’ means can’t go far enough to do justice to this situation – this is futility taken to a level that is beyond our ability to grasp. To see it would be pain itself, in a very pure form. To see it would cause us to experience an unendurable feeling of horror and revulsion.
The reason the compulsivity that is set-up within the gnashing jaws of the polarity act so effectively on us (just as a full breeze acts so effectively on the open sails of a yacht) is because of the peculiar makeup of the polarity itself. Polarity (or duality) is what happens when we split reality in two, so to speak. As the result of our dividing of reality, our dividing of Wholeness, we end up with a PLUS and a MINUS, a YES and a NO, an UP and a DOWN, and so on, and the crucial point to make about this is simply that reality can’t be partitioned, can’t be divided, can’t be split in two. When we perform this ‘act of division’ we create two unreal ways of seeing the world, therefore. We create two halves of an illusion. The dynamic that exists between these two unreal – but nevertheless complementary – halves of reality is such that when we’re looking at the world from one of the viewpoints that we are provided with by the polarity, which corresponds to either one pole or the other (and it doesn’t matter which because each is the reflection of the other) the other pole, the other side of the coin, seems to be just what we need to complete ourselves. ‘Opposites attract’, as they say, and this attraction is the coercive force that we’ve been talking about, the coercive force that is is set-up by the clash in jaws of the polarity.
This is the hypnotic power that has got it under its control, therefore; this is what keeps us running flat out on the hamster wheel of polarity, day in and day out. When we are looking out at the world in a conditioned way (in the conditioned [+/-] way that has been given to us by the polarity) then we will always see what is out there in the world (and what we don’t have) as possessing this glamour, this entrancing promise of completion or fulfilment. The grass is always greener, etc. etc. This is Abraham Maslow’s ‘deficit motivation’. The other half of the polarity won’t complete us however – it won’t complete us because it’s just as unreal as the half we started out from! Both positions embody a ‘deficiency in being’ that we are unable to be directly aware of when we are identified with them. The only way we can become aware of our ‘deficiency in being’ (i.e., become aware of our unreality) is in a totally misleading way, which is to say, via the false perception that our wants or needs or hunger can be made good by ‘struggling for the complementary opposite’, which is of course how the game is played. This is the very mechanism of the game right here – the mechanism whereby the other side of the coin always seems to contain the answer, when actually there is no ‘answer’.
The answer – we might say – would be to realize that polarity is a trap, and that once we fall into this trap we end up chasing our own tails forever. The mechanism of the game that we have just been talking about puts us in a situation in which we are deficient in something crucial which we can nevertheless ‘make good’ by playing the game, because – so we’re given to understand – the game can supply us with what we’re missing. The game can only supply us with itself however, and ‘itself’ is an unreal thing – it’s an illusion that feeds on itself, an illusion that chases its own tail, and so there is never any chance of us getting anywhere. There is never any chance of the game making good the deficiency that it itself has brought upon us, and yet this is the promise that we are placing all our trust in – the promise that what has brought us misfortune in the first place will somehow remedy this very same misfortune, if we obey the compulsion that is acting on us, which is the compulsion to keep chasing ‘the goal’, the goal being ‘the other side of the coin’. The other side of the coin is always coming but it is never here, and this is what keeps us hooked in, doggedly chasing something that doesn’t actually exist…