There two things in life – two ‘impulses’, we might say. One is the impulse to ‘let go’ and the other is the impulse to ‘hold on’. These two impulses are enantiodromic – one is the mirror image of the other. So, whilst what we are calling ‘the impulse to let go’ is non-volitional (i.e. it happens all by itself, without any prompting, without any encouragement) the mirror-image impulse has to be enacted deliberately, on purpose, as part of some kind of a logical plan.
Furthermore, we can say that ‘holding on’ always orientates us towards ‘the world of the known’ whilst ‘letting go’ – by its very nature – releases us from the deadly grip of ‘the known’ and points us instead in the direction of the radically unknown. The fact that ‘holding on’ (which we could also call ‘controlling’, which might be a better term for it) always orientates us towards the known and the fact that it always has to be carried out on purpose go together of course – purposefulness implies the existence of a purpose and purposes are always known! Purposefulness can only take place within the Domain of the Known.
Contrary-wise, the fact that ‘letting go’ is in no way deliberate or volitional goes hand in hand with the mirror-image orientation towards the unknown since no one can have a known purpose, or inconceivable goal. What we have said so far may seem perfectly true, but unnecessary to spell out in the way that we have done since it is so very obvious. Everyone knows this anyway, we might say, and so what’s the big deal? What exactly are we trying to say here?
The next point that we’re going to make isn’t so obvious however. It is in fact very far from obvious and we absolutely don’t know it. Even our most learned professors don’t know it. We can be sure that our most learned professors don’t know it. It is not only the case that control mode orientates us towards the known and needs to be deliberately carried out, it is also the case that control mode provides us with this sense of self that isn’t real! Being purposeful (or being stuck in ‘holding-on mode’) is how the ego-construct is manufactured, in other words.
Controlling creates the sense of being a controller – how is it possible to be controlling without also having the perception that we are doing (or at least ought to be doing) the controlling? Controlling doesn’t do itself, after all! There can’t be anyone doing the ‘letting go’ however since ‘letting go’ means precisely ‘letting go of the idea that we personally need to do anything’! ‘Letting go’ happens all by itself, as we have already pointed out, but ‘holding on’ absolutely needs for there to be someone doing it. Or at least, there needs to be the functioning illusion of there being someone there who is doing the holding on.
Once we see this then we also see the secret reason for us being such a goal-orientated culture, we can see the real reason behind all our emphasis on control and purposefulness. We are committed to controlling in the way that we are because we are committed to maintaining the illusion of the concrete identity – the concrete identity which is the controller. Maintaining the perception that we are this controller, that we are this most splendid ‘efficacious causal agent’ is what it’s all about as far as we are concerned. That’s the name of the game. We play the game because we want to obtain the perception of there being an efficacious causal agent who is playing it – this is the experience we want…
The game in question is that we must try as hard as we can to be a successful controller rather than an unsuccessful one. The former state of affairs is (as is well known) ‘the best thing in the world’, just as the latter is ‘the worst’. Being successful in our controlling is the cause for buckets and buckets of euphoria, just as the converse situation is ample reason for us plunging catastrophically to the very pit of despair (and is also reason for indulging in savage self-recrimination at the same time). It is not enough just to fail, we must also have a bad opinion of ourselves for failing, and never give ourselves a break on this account!
We try to camouflage this very basic message (the message that we are worthwhile human beings only if we can successfully control) but this is nevertheless what we’re saying. We pay lip service to concepts such as ‘compassion’ or ‘love for our fellow human beings’ but this is all empty talk when it comes down to it. It is empty talk for the simple reason that the ego-construct can’t be compassionate, for the simple reason that it fundamentally isn’t able to love. That is a complete joke! Our money is really on the ‘ability to control’ however – that’s the thing that really matters to us, that’s the currency the social game runs on. Controlling is the only way the concrete identity can maintain itself and society is all about the concrete identity; without the CI (or rather without the persuasive illusion of the CI) society wouldn’t hang together. Controlling is what creates the game-player – no controlling means no game and no game means no game-player!
We control because we have to, in other words – the self’s only motivation (when we get right to the bones of it) is to perpetuate and further itself in whatever way it can and so if we stop controlling, stop playing, then that’s the end of the show right there. That’s what we don’t want to happen. What this means is that ‘the impulse to hold on’ is the same as ‘the impulse to be and maintain the egoic identity’ and as we have said this impulse is totally deterministic in nature – it is forced upon us by the situation that we are in and we can’t help going along with it. The egoic identity can’t help going along with it. The compulsive impulse that we’re talking about here contains a neat little inversion of perception therefore – an inversion of perception whereby we experience the illusion of agency where there is none.
We experience – in other words – the enacting of this compulsive impulse as being ‘our own agency’ and so we are fully behind it. The reality is that this is ‘the condition of our existence’; we identify as ‘the controller’ (or ‘the decider’) whereas the truth of the matter is actually that we are being controlled to think that we are ‘the agent’,’ the controller’, ‘the decider’. None of our thinking is true and this particular thought isn’t true either – the thought that ‘I am the thinker’ isn’t true anymore than any other of our thoughts are. We imagine ourselves to be ‘the thinker’ when really we are the thought; we imagine ourselves to be doing the thinking but really the thinking is doing us. We have the thought that ‘we are the thinker’ but (as we’ve said) that’s all it is – just another thought. To paraphrase David Bohm, thought provides us with the information that we are calling the shots when it is actually the other way around entirely. The shoe is firmly on the other foot.
The ‘impulse to let go’ doesn’t come from the self-concept (or concrete identity) and it isn’t enacted by it – it isn’t enacted by anyone. ‘Letting go’ doesn’t happen for a reason and it can’t happen as a result of any intention; ‘letting go’ (which corresponds to Fritjof Capra’s ‘structure transcendence’ as opposed to ‘structure-maintenance’) isn’t done on purpose, with any goal on in mind, there is no plan or agenda involved. There’s no doing and so there is no ‘doer’, as the Nondualists keep saying (there is no agency in the sense of there being no ‘agent’). There is no one who is doing the ‘letting go’ and yet at the same time this is the only activity that is actually free, the only activity which is coming from a real or authentic source. A ‘source’ that isn’t free can’t be a source, after all; whatever we do because we ‘have to do it’ (or have been controlled to do) doesn’t count…