When we interact with the world it is almost always via our internal map, almost always via our ‘neat and tidy logical understanding of the way things are’. Every time we interact with the world in a purposeful way (which is to say, in relation to some sort of goal or ideal state) this is done via our map, via our logical construct of how things are. This can’t be any other way since our goals or purposes come out of the map. Our purposes are extrapolations (or extensions) of our ‘theory of the everything’, our systematic way of looking at the world. We are never free from this system because everything we (purposefully) do and think is the system. We are not spontaneous in our mode of being therefore but ‘predetermined’.
Spontaneity of course is widely seen as a good and desirable thing and we all like to think that we are spontaneous in some way or other (however true this might be, and the chances are that it isn’t going to be anywhere near as true as we would like to believe it is) but – from what we’ve just said – it’s clear that we are nowhere near as spontaneous as we like to imagine. It is also clear that we don’t value this thing of ‘being spontaneous’ anywhere near as much as we say we do. We value logical consistency more; we value the Purposeful Mode of being more. Our mind-set is such that we value the purposeful mode of operating in the world more than anything else, and yet – as we have indicated – this means that we are never interacting with the world as it is in itself but only ever with our lazy ideas about it, our mechanical reflex-driven thoughts about it. Valuing the purposeful mode of interaction more than anything else is a guarantee of our continued separation from reality, in other words.
If we say that purposefulness or goal-orientatedness is ‘the most important thing’ then what we are also saying – without realizing it of course – is that it doesn’t matter if the world were engaging with isn’t the real one but only the phantom-like projection of our thoughts (or of the invisible assumptions that our thoughts are based on). But who goes around saying this, who goes around saying that ‘purposefulness is the most important thing’, we might object? We don’t need to say it however – our entire way of life is based on ‘the Paradigm of Control’, our culture is the very embodiment of this belief. We would like to say that we are a scientific culture and that – as such – we’ve gone beyond such a primitive thing as ‘belief’ but if this is what we’d like to think then that is only vanity on our part. We idolise science it is true, but only because we can translate this into technology. Technology is all about control – who could possibly argue that technology isn’t all about control? What else would it be about?
Science itself is not about control – it is about appreciating and understanding the basic principles that are at work in this particular universe. As scientists, we’re not in the least bit interested in changing things – we’re interested in discovering how those things actually are. We couldn’t possibly investigate reality with some sort of agenda in our head with regard to ‘how things should be’. That wouldn’t be science at all – that would be the enacting of our unconscious biases. Technology is the way in which we exploit the insights that we have gained via the unbiased scientific approach, it’s the way we make use of them. This in itself is not a problem (it’s not a problem when we are guided by wisdom with regard to the uses to which we make use of our discoveries) but where it is a problem is when we idolize technology (or the paradigm of control) and allow ourselves to believe that the application of control is ‘the most important thing’, is ‘the secret to a happy and fulfilling life’.
If we use science in this way (as we are doing) then the consequences are most definitely not going to be good for us. The consequences of our love affair with control are not going to be beneficial to us with regard to the planet we live on, and they are not going to be beneficial to us with regard to our mental health. When the emphasis is all on control then this is always bad news for our mental health – it’s bad news for our mental health in a very big way. What we’re talking about here is neurosis pure and simple, we’re talking about a neurotic state of being. In neurosis what is happening is that we are ‘controlling in order to protect a delusion that is precious to us’. It’s not that we see the delusion that we’re protecting as being delusory – if we did then it would be no use to us! What we’re fighting for is the possibility of continuing to see the illusion as being truth; we’re fighting against awareness itself therefore – we’re fighting against the awareness that ‘the delusion is a delusion’ and we are locked into this struggle. We are locked into controlling because constant controlling is the only way we can maintain the apparent truthfulness of the illusion that we are so attached to. We’re compelled by a force that we (necessarily) can’t understand to keep on fighting on behalf of the illusion that we can’t see to be an illusion and this is suffering; this is suffering because it’s a losing battle with fighting and also – just to add to the irony – because the setup that we are struggling to protect is no good for anything other than causing us pain anyway. It is essentially our prison…
In the neurotic struggle everything is ‘back to front’, therefore. We think that we are struggling to solve the problem, whilst in reality we are creating and maintaining that problem. We’re putting a whole heap of energy into creating and maintaining an enormous problem, despite the fact that ‘being saddled with an enormous problem’ is the very last thing we want. This is exactly what neurosis consists of, no more and no less; it comes down to us creating problems for ourselves as a result of our fixing or avoiding-type behaviour, both of which come down to the same thing. This is something we have a certain degree of understanding into – we know that avoidance makes the problem worse and we also know that obsessively trying to fix ‘the neurotic issue’ only serves to aggravate the situation all the more (just a scratching a rash in order to find relief makes the itch worse) and somehow we still think that neurotic disorders can be rectified by the right type of rational approach, the right type of methodology. What this means – going back to what we were saying at the start of this discussion – is that we firmly believe that there is such a thing as the correct ‘map’ or ‘model’ or ‘theory’ of what is going on.
This is our ‘sticking point’ – we can’t get away from our conviction that models, maps or theories are always needed and that there must be a valid theory to account for every phenomenon, even though we may not be able to find it. In other words, whatever we come across must always be capable of being described, we say. The axiom we follow is: if there is a thing, then there must be a description of that thing. This is ridiculous, however, and it is based on a completely backwards way of looking at things. Exhaustive descriptions or models can only work when what we are dealing with are situations that can be seen in abstraction from reality. When we have a situation that can be removed from everything else (which is to say, surgically extracted from ‘the greater context of things’) then we can rigorously describe it. The obvious qualification here however is that nothing ever can be abstracted from what is real, nothing can be legitimately removed from its context! To swear by the validity of our abstract descriptions is to depart from reality for the sake of security therefore, and the type of activity that proceeds from these descriptions is incoherent, which is to say it is bound to be inherently conflicted and will never produce the outcome that we are looking for. The result that we are looking for is after all itself an abstraction from reality, and abstractions from reality (needless to say) don’t exist in reality… We are aggravating the original problem with our purposeful activity therefore – the original ‘problem’ being our unacknowledged separation or removal from reality.
Neurosis is the quintessential example of this sort of thing – when we get caught up in a situation of neurotic conflict then it’s not just the case that our behaviour doesn’t have quite the result that we want, but rather that the results we get are the exact opposite of what we wanted. Abstractions from the Universal Flux don’t really exist (as we have said); they only exist as pairs of self-cancelling opposites, which is of course just another way of saying that they ‘don’t’ exist. The incoherence involved that we’re talking about here is total therefore – what we’re looking at here is perfect incoherence. Having noted this therefore (if we do notice it, that, which is very far from being guaranteed) we can then ask what we can learn from it; we can ask ourselves what this unexpected state of affairs is telling us. Were we to follow this through then this would turn out to be the sort of conceptual jump (so to speak) that we are never going to be ready for; it’s actually the sort of jump that takes us right out of our concepts entirely. Our basic taken-for-granted ‘guidebook for reality’ is being demonstrated to us as being false or untrue in the biggest way possible and so understandably this is going to come as a radical challenge to us. We could go so far as to say that – as far as radical challenges go – this is the Great Grandfather of them all, without any doubt whatsoever!
Our basic taken-for-granted map of reality is there is ‘the self’ and in contrast to this, there is ‘the other’. This is our fundamental model of reality stripped of all its frills and details, and it is a maximally incoherent model! Our model of reality is incoherent because – in our mental representation of situation – we have created two things where there are over only one. We have not just ‘created two things’, we have created two things which are supposedly ‘the opposite’ of each other. We have created – as the basic format for our map – a polar situation, and this polar situation exists nowhere but in our own imaginations. As a rough and ready map of things polarity generally works very well of course – suppose I need to climb up to the top of my house in order to remove a build-up of dead leaves in the guttering. In this case the basic polarity of <up versus down> is indispensable to me; without being able to orientate myself in terms of this polarity of <up versus down> I am not ever going get anywhere with my task! Similarly, if my task is to fill a glass with water then without the basic orientation of <in versus out> or <empty versus full> my situation is going to be quite hopeless. No purposeful activity can take place (naturally enough, since purposefulness assumes polarity). We can say therefore that polarity as ‘an angle’ to take seems to be perfectly legitimate in these – as in many other – situations.
When it comes to the neurotic struggle however the Paradigm of Polarity is supremely incoherent and it is guaranteed to backfire on us in the biggest way possible. We are trapped in a never-ending sterile reverberation and we can’t see it – ours is the freedom of being caught up in a paradox without ever been able to know it. When the intimations of futility, frustration and self-contradiction come our way then we don’t want to have anything to do with them – such feelings or intimation spell out to us what we don’t want to know. We don’t want to go any further with this type of doom-laden awareness, understandably enough; we understand what the awareness is telling us, on some deep instinctive level, but at the same time we absolutely don’t want to understand. It’s just too dark for us, we might say. This is the ‘forbidden awareness’ – the awareness that our existence is inescapably jinxed. Struggling against this forbidden awareness – and exacerbating the pain that is caused by the jinx – is what the neurotic endeavour is all about. We’re struggling against the truth itself and our efforts to fight against the truth are only serving to make that truth more visible, not less.
We say that we want to fix the problem but that isn’t the case – when the ‘problem’ is nothing other than the actual truth of our situation then there’s no fixing of it, obviously enough, but what they can be is making that truth invisible to us and that is the endeavour that we are putting our money on. We become blind burrowers, frantically burrowing or tunnelling our way out of reality, for reasons that we do not understand. We don’t know what we’re doing nor why, and we ‘invent’ a whole narrative about ourselves that is completely at odds with what’s really going on. The only ‘true’ narrative would be that we are continuously attempting to escape from the truth of our situation and that is not a narrative that has much appeal to us. And even if we did buy into this particular narrative about us forever trying to escape from reality it still wouldn’t be true; it still wouldn’t be true because no narrative is ever true – all possible narrative accounts of what is going on are simply ‘the Mind-Created Virtual Reality’ and one MCVR is as good (or as bad) as any other…
We don’t see ourselves as tunnelling into unreality, but rather we perceive ourselves to be move moving closer to the ideal, which is of course putting a totally different perspective on things. We might be moving closer to the ideal in our perceptions but this is not a genuine type of movement since the ideal is not a real thing, and never could be. There are no ideals – there is no ideal state or an ideal way for things to be. They are just projections all of the thinking mind. We may approach what we see as an ideal value for sure, but we never arrive; We can’t ever arrive because – as we’ve just said – ideal values are projections of thought and nothing else. They exist in the abstract world, not the real one. We create ideal values via a self-reflexive act – we check the actual conditions against our mental yardstick and when there is a match between our specifications and how things actually nothing are we say that we have ‘attained the ideal’. It is not too hard to see what the problem is here – everything is hanging on the hook of the precise specifications that we have read off our abstract mental yardstick and the key point here is that this mental yardstick is only an abstraction, which is something we can’t really get away from! We don’t think about things this way, but all measurements are abstractions, just as all definitions are abstractions. All measurements are mental projections as are all definitions, and yet we live (almost entirely) within the confines of a world that is made up of our measurements and definitions! We are therefore perfectly justified in saying that we are almost always involved in orientating ourselves towards ideal standards, whether we are trying our best to get closer to an abstract value or trying as hard as we can to get away from one – this is what’s called ‘positive and negative attachment’ in the Eastern metaphysical systems.
The other way of putting this is to say that we are forever stuck to our map, and the map is our own gimmick, our own device, our own construct. We ‘made it ourselves’ (when we didn’t at all have to) and then we got stuck to it which means that we can’t see beyond it, or even allow ourselves to consider the possibility that they might be more to the universe than what it shows us, that there might be more to life than the map of it which we have made. This is the direst of all possible situations and yet we can’t see anything amiss with it. We are absolutely stuck fast to our artificial way of seeing the world (and also therefore to our artificial way of being in the world); we’re stuck fast to our mental map and the only reality we know is the reality that it shows us. We never have any chance of encountering anything else apart from the Pseudo-Reality that thought provide us with. We have no mechanisms or devices by which we might do this – there are no mechanisms by which ‘genuine reality’ can be detected or verified! Our mechanisms / devices / tools (which are extensions of our map) are all incapable of detecting reality; all they can do is ‘detect and verify the Pseudo-Reality’.
We never have any chance of encountering anything else apart from ‘the Pseudo-Reality’ because we are operating solely via the machine of thought and the machine of thought (as we have said) has no way of acknowledging anything real. That’s the one thing it can never do. Thought is based purely on rules and no rule can ever connect with the actual situation – rules are fixed and reality flows. Or as we could also say, rules are certain and reality is radically uncertain. Thought – or the devices or instruments which are an extension of thought – will never relate us to the real world, or to our real nature. The machinery of thought can only ever verify the Pseudo-reality which is thought’s own projection. This business of ‘thought validating or verifying the Pseudo-reality which is its own projection’ is a truly strange thing – this is an utterly bizarre kind of thing and yet somehow we have ended up in the situation where the self-contradictory knot of logic which lies at the core of thought’s verification or validation of the reality which itself has produced is profoundly invisible to us, utterly unsuspected by us, and where we are – as a result –100% hypnotised by this entirely spurious (and inescapably jinxed) authority.