Non-Equilibrium Psychology

The Mercurius Phorum

A Non-Equilibrium approach to psychology could start off by making the very simple statment that the way the everyday minds works is linear and limited without knowing that it is linear and limited.

 

This deceptively simple little statement straightaway leads us on to consider the pragmatic existence of a ‘virtual reality world’ which is the mental domain of unconsciousness. This mental domain is fundamentally unfree in nature, and yet – for its inhabitants – it appears perfectly free. When I am in the virtual reality world that is produced by the mode of psychological consciousness I am like a man who is utterly destitute, clothed in the filthiest of rags, living in the most draughty and thoroughly dilapidated of sheds, who imagines himself to be a Lord of the land, draped in silk and ermine, ensconced in a palace of great beauty, opulence and grandeur. Alternatively, I am like a man in a prison cell who – oblivious to the facts – believes that his cell is the world itself, and that there is nothing outside of it. This man does not see that he is unfree because his pragmatic world has shrunk to the size of the ‘unfree domain’ that he exists in. This way of talking about our normal mental situation indicates our limitedness, but by boldly and uncompromisingly confronting the matter, it also draws attention to the fact that we do not have to be so limited – it allows us to see that if our pragmatic reality is petty, narrow, and mean, then this all the same our choice. It may not have been our conscious choice, but it is nevertheless the inevitable consequence of a deal that we have willingly made. This deal can be seen in terms of the short-sighted choice that we made, when under pressure we exchanged freedom for security.

 

The psychological model that we have just set out does not exist apart from considerations of the type of world that we live in, and a straightforward way of looking at the relationship between our normal mode of mental functioning, and the world which this functioning is supposed to mesh with, is by asserting that the rational activity of our minds is linear, logical or ‘simplex’, whilst the world-as-a-whole is a non-linear, chaotic or ‘complex’. The basic incoherence between the simplex mode of apprehending the world, and the unruly and complex world that we are trying to apprehend, is (as David Bohm observes) the cause for a vast amount of unnecessary hardship and suffering, and the fact that we are culturally determined to ignore the real cause of our troubles, and concentrate instead on ever more powerful modes of linear interventionism (which includes at this present moment in time the absurd attempt to cure mental illness by controlling neurotransmitter levels in the synapses, and possibly – in the near future – by the even more absurd strategy of modifying so-called ‘genetic causes’ for mental illness) just goes to show how great, if not all-consuming, our unacknowledged desire for psychological security is. For the dubious prize of remaining stubbornly ‘in control’ we are willing to exchange anything, even – if the truth were known – life itself.

 

Furthermore, it is not just the case that there is a mismatch between our linear thinking and the non-linear, multi-tracked world that we are trying to think about; it is actually more the case that there is a mismatch between us and ourselves. To put this more precisely:

The essential problem-creating glitch that we are subject to arises from the fact that there is a gap between our normal mode of mental functioning and our innate ‘non-rational’ capacity of understanding, which is itself the very same capacity that the world has for functioning in more than one logical groove at the same time.

This is exactly what Alan Watts (1997, p12-3) is saying in the following passage:

When you really want to find an answer to something, what you need to do is contemplate the problem. Visualize your question as well as you can, and then simply wait. If you don’t, and if instead you try to find the solution through brute mental strength, you may be disappointed, because any solution that comes in that way is likely to be wrong. But when you have waited for a while, the solution will come of itself. That is how to use your brain, and it will work for you in the same way that your stomach will digest your food for you without your having to supervise it consciously. Our attempts to supervise everything consciously have all lead to consequences that aren’t too good for our stomach, and the reason for that is quite simple. Conscious attention, which employs words, cannot think of very much. We are forced, therefore, to ignore almost everything while we are thinking. We think along a single track, but the world doesn’t proceed along a single track. The world is everything happening altogether everywhere, and you just can’t take all that into consideration because there isn’t time. However, your brain can take it all into consideration because it is capable of handling innumerable variables at once, even though your conscious attention cannot. Verbal symbols are not capable of handling any more than a single very crude and simple track, and that is why we have to trust our brains. We are much more intelligent than we understand ourselves to be. …

CASTANEDA’S ‘WHEEL OF TIME’

If we put the psychological approach together with the cosmological approach, so that they make one thing, we end up with a curiously unfamiliar sort of a picture. Right back in the Introduction we gave a simple explanation of the system of thought in terms of a series of parallel grooves in a flat surface. The system of thought, we said, is not this endless series of grooves, and neither is it ‘any one of these grooves in particular’, but rather it is the situation that prevails when our viewpoint is conditioned by a particular groove. In such a situation, ‘what we see’ is determined by what we can see from the bottom of the particular groove that we are stuck in, so to speak. Regarding this conditioned (or ‘entrenched’) viewpoint, we can make two related points: [1] we can say that all other grooves are invisible, and [2] we can say that the true nature of the groove that we are stuck in is also obscured, since we do not see it as ‘one groove’ among many, or even as a ‘groove’ at all, but rather we unquestioningly accept it as ‘the way things are’. What has happened, therefore is that we have become utterly incapable of appreciating the arbitrary nature of the conditioned viewpoint that we are using, and as a result of this constitutional incapacity we implicitly understand it as being absolute. The substitution of ‘absolute’ for ‘arbitrary’ is what makes the system of thought what it is.

 

The system of thought is the fundamental basis from which we understand, and interact with, the world which we exist in. This world can also be understood in terms of a series of grooves in a flat surface (where each ‘groove’ equals a ‘level of description’ or, alternatively, a ‘qualitatively distinct mode of organization’, only if we are to try to objectively talk about the world as it is, we would have to say that it constitutes all of the grooves. Whilst we are not saying that it is impossible to have a viewpoint which is capable of seeing all the grooves, we would have to stipulate that such a viewpoint would have to essentially independent, and so free from of the conditioning effect of any particular groove. In other words: Zero perspective as the same thing as ‘any particular groove’, whereas Maximum perspective would be ‘the position from which all grooves are visible (or, alternatively, the position from which zero perspective can be seen to be zero perspective). When we try to describe reality in this sort of a way, we end up making statements that have the following basic kind of structure:

[1] Reality as-it-is-in-itself consists of an infinite array of parallel tracks.

[2] Each of these tracks possesses a practically irresistible tendency to ‘pull us in’ and thus represent reality to us in its own way.

[3] Therefore, reality-as-we-normally-see-it consists of the extremely limited and highly misrepresentative view that is all we have access to when we are stuck in one particular track.

The reason we are labouring this point somewhat is to emphasize the startling similarity with ideas put forward by Carlos Castaneda (1981, p 273-4) in his book The Eagle’s Gift. In this passage Florinda, a highly accomplished female sorceress, outlines to Castaneda a very pragmatic ‘sorcerer’s model of reality’:

Florinda assured me that that very night, while we sat in formation, they had their last chance to help me and the apprentices to face the wheel of time. She said that the wheel of time is like the state of heightened awareness which is part of the other self, as the left side awareness is part of the awareness of everyday life, and that it could physically be described as a tunnel of infinite length and width; a tunnel with reflective furrows. Every furrow is infinite, and there are infinite numbers of them. Living creatures are compulsorily made, by the force of life, to gaze into one furrow. To gaze into it means to be trapped by it, to live in that furrow.

GODEL’S INCOMPLETENESS THEOREM

There also exists – although one might not at first suspect it – a link between the above ‘sorcerer’s model’ and a certain very well-known mathematical theorem. The theorem we are alluding to here is generally known as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, although as Rudy Rucker (1995, p 267-8) here explains, there are actually two and not one of them:

Gödel’s two Incompleteness Theorems state that all formal systems of a certain kind are subject to two limitations. By a formal system we mean a set of mathematical axioms and a set of rules and procedures by which one combines axioms to produce proofs of theorems. Gödel’s results apply to any formal mathematical system T that is i) finitely describable, ii) consistent, and iii) as strong as Peano arithmetic. The two Gödel’s theorems state that any such system T is, firstly, incomplete … in the sense that there will be some statement about the addition and multiplication of natural numbers that can neither be proved nor disproved by T; and that any such T is, secondly, unable to establish its own consistency … in the sense that T is unable to prove that no contradiction can be derived from T.

To understand the niceties of master logician Kurt Gödel’s reasoning (or indeed, the niceties of Rudy Rucker’s explanation of Gödel’s reasoning) requires a mathematical aptitude that not all of us possess, and so we will vulgarize the maths by making the following statement:

The Incompleteness Theorem states that there is an absolute constraint on our ability or capacity to see the truth or falsity of all possible mathematical assertions from the standpoint of any one particular set of logical assertions.

THE ‘DESKTOP’ METAPHOR

This ‘law of limits’ indicates the existence of a logical discontinuity that lies between all possible logical continuities, rendering the nature of ‘mathematical space’ granular (or discontinuous) just as certain theories necessitate the existence of granular (or discontinuous) time, and granular (or discontinuous) space. We could explain this law another way by saying that between every set of logically coherent statements, there exists an impenetrable and unfathomable abyss, a kind of ‘Irrational Zone’ that logic cannot navigate. The logical continuities are like currents in a vastly huge and mysterious current bun, or – rather – like the multitudinous icons on a giant desktop belonging to some infinite computer. In this case, we can say that where the ‘limitation’ comes in is not in the size or scope of the desktop itself, but rather it refers to the double impossibility of [1] jumping from one application or program to another without first returning to the desk-top and [2] at seeing or comprehending in any way the operation of one application or program from the basis of another one.

 

Finally, we can explain this ‘infinite computer’ analogy in the terms that we have been using in this book by saying that the various icons (and the logical worlds to which they lead) are Finite Games (i.e. they are realms which are characterised by determinism and trivial uncertainty) whereas the desk top represents the Infinite Game (i.e. it represents the realm of Radical Uncertainty).

THE GATE AND THE FALSE GATE

We can sum up our summary by making the following two contrasting statements:

[1] Consciousness is the gate through which everything is allowed to ‘enter’, and this Gate, when it comes right down to it, is the very same thing that we call ‘Reality’.

[2] The rational mind implicitly portrays itself as being the same thing as the ‘Gate’, but in actual fact it is only a construct, and since all constructs are prejudiced, it can only allow in those elements which it is favourably disposed to. This unacknowledged prejudice, which effectively makes the rational mind more important than Reality itself, is the source of the inversion implicit in rationality. Rationality is thus ‘the False Gate’.

LOGIC AS ‘TAUTOLOGY’

We have outlined the positive view of logic, which has to do with its inherent reliability and consistency (which provide us with the sense of security that we like so much), and we have outlined the negative viewpoint on it, which we looked at in terms of ‘loss of freedom’ or ‘constraint’. Another way to get at the same idea – a rather more frightening way – is to say that ‘logic equals tautology’. A tautology is of course when the same thing is said in a different way, so that we don’t actually get anywhere new at all, but rather we get to be right back at the initial statement. There is in this the implication of deception because the fact that we are saying the same thing in a different way means that it starts off looking as if we were going somewhere. This means that we can break down the experience of a tautology into an ‘inflating’ and ‘deflating’ phase:

[1] INFLATION – the initial, positive step forward as we think we are getting somewhere.

[2] DEFLATION – the complete ‘collapse’ of the progress we thought we had made as we realize that in fact we had never got anywhere at all.

The term ‘tautological’ is usually used to denote improper grammatical behaviour, i.e. explaining one word with another word that actually contains no new information at all. A general type of tautological description would be where we come up with a new word or term to explain something that doesn’t actually add anything to our understanding – in this case we have created the impression that we have learned something through what is at heart no more than mere verbal contortionism. So, to give an example used by the physicist Richard Feynman, if a physics textbook claims that apples fall from trees because of gravity this is tautological, since ‘gravity’ is just another way of saying that there is something there that makes apples fall from trees. This example shows just how insidious tautological descriptions can be, and given that the tautologies in language are so hard to spot how can we be sure that our whole world isn’t a tautology? It is, after all, through language that we know the world, and so if our language is self-referential and riddled throughout with hidden tautologies, then the same must be true of the conceptualized world within which we pursue our daily affairs.

LINEAR AND NON-LINEAR PROCESSES

When we become aware of a large-scale tautology operating in our day-to-day lives this experience is of course inherently unpleasant. It produces a nasty, empty, echoey sort of a feeling – a feeling that is somehow instantly familiar to us. Everything is instantly thrown back in my face, in such a way as to leave me in no doubt whatsoever as to the worthlessness or meaninglessness of my original attempt to say something about the world. This is ‘personal negation’ in a very total sort of a sense, it is ‘life with the life taken away’. By relying on the false or circular meaning produced by the system of thought I have effectively excluded non-circular (which is to say, independent) meaning and so when the circular meaning shows itself up as false, there is nothing else. This is ‘lack of meaning’ at its most vicious – to say that the experience is like an existential kick in the head with a steel toe-capped boot is a very weak and inadequate simile. It goes without saying, really, that my normal inclination, when faced with such an unpleasant encounter, is to run a mile (metaphorically speaking).

 

We will come back to this idea of meaninglessness more thoroughly later, but for now we will stick to our discussion of the cause of the experience of meaninglessness, which is our unwise adherence to a diet of logic and ‘all things rational’. Now the idea that language contains hidden self-referential loops is not too hard to take on board. We can –as Alan Watts says – find examples of this sort of thing by opening any page of the dictionary and ‘chasing back’ definitions of definitions until we come right back to the same old word. The idea that the whole of language (or the whole of our conceptual universe) is a ‘hidden loop of logic’ is obviously going to be a lot more difficult to swallow. But this conclusion is unavoidable, once we accept that logic itself is tautological. So – how can we say this? How can we say that logic itself is tautological?

 

Actually, we have already answered this question when we said that logic always involves an unbending, incorruptible fidelity to whatever ‘assumptions’ where implicit in our starting off position. When we talk about logic what we are referring to are the immutable ‘rules of conduct’ that govern the transformation of mathematical statements, so that the information content of the original statement never increases or decreases. It is absolutely essential that whatever ‘proportionalities’ existed in the original statement be preserved faithfully in all subsequent transformations, and this is precisely what is meant by the commonly used terms linear (as opposed to non-linear or exponential) change. A non-mathematical definition of linear versus non-linear processes might be as follows:

In linear processes the rules governing the change do not themselves change, which means that we are talking about change within ‘a fixed framework of understanding’.

In non-linear processes, on the other hand, there  are no rules governing what goes on (which is to say, there is no framework) and this means that there actually can be such a thing as ‘genuine change’.

DECEPTIVE CHANGE

Logic is linearity in a nutshell, therefore – it is the very essence of what it means to be ‘linear’. If a series of statements are logically related, then that is the same thing as saying that they all make sense within the same framework, and that is another way of saying that we never at any time go beyond this framework. So the one thing that definitely never does change is that framework, and this shows that linearity (or ‘control’) is all about staying the same. This is odd because we think of control and logical progressions in general as ‘going somewhere’, whereas the fact of the matter is that linear processes or linear developments never go anywhere. This flies very much in the face of common sense because the whole point of goal-orientated activity (control) is that we achieve an outcome that we want, and presumably if that outcome were already the case then surely we wouldn’t have bothered to instigate our goal-orientated operations in the first place. But we have to look a little deeper than we are doing because there is in all this a sort of a conjuring trick that is being played on us. The change I obtain (or that I want to obtain) is ‘change that makes sense within my rational understanding’, and my rational understanding is a very different thing from ‘that which my rational understanding seeks to understand’. The key point that we want to get across here can therefore be stated like this:

The ‘inverted snapshot’ which is my rational understanding does not bear any true correspondence to the dynamic (i.e. whole) aspect of reality.

If we use the word ‘Reality-with-a-capital-R’ to indicate the actual wholeness of things, then it has to be the case that Reality contains more than just one framework of reference. In fact, we can say that it contains all possible frameworks, just as the Universal Set contains all possible sets. However, logic is restricted (as we keep saying) to one particular framework, one particular perspective, one particular set of assumptions, and so when we act on the basis of our rational understanding, the place that we go to (or want to go to) is still within that same framework. To me my goal is somewhere different to where I actually am, but this perception is a delusion created by the fact that I am passively identified with the system of thought. Even though the logical set of possibilities that is the system of thought is not the same thing as Reality, it represents itself as being so, and so the trivial (or ‘tautological’) change that takes place when I travel from one spot within my rational mind-set to another appears meaningful to me, it appears to correspond to a ‘change in Reality’. We can therefore say that the system of thought operates by making the tautological seem non-tautological, which – it has to be admitted – is a very peculiar idea indeed to get to grips with (and not a bit disturbing either).

 

Krishnamurti explains this idea by saying that the change from one known to another known is not change at all, since at no point are we actually going anywhere new. And yet the operation of the system of thought means that the ‘old’ is presented as the ‘new’ – in the time-honoured fashion, mutton is dressed up as lamb, and an old boiler is dressed up as a spring chicken. This is the ‘deceptiveness’ inherent in linear (or directed) thought. Another good way to get at the idea that thinking is deceptive (why in control nothing ever changes) is to point out that control is all about getting things to be the way I want them to be. Therefore, in successful controlling the one thing that never gets challenged or changed is the ‘me’ that wants to get its own way. This ‘me’ is as we have been saying basically the same thing as ‘my way of looking at the world’ – it is an arbitrary prejudice that refuses to see itself as it really is – and controlling is its sneaky way of validating itself, of making sure that it never ever has to change. If our wish to change was genuine, then as Krishnamurti says in The Urgency of Change (1970, p 188-9), we would have to lose completely our misplaced trust in thought and the possibility of movement thought seems to give us:

Any movement from what I am strengthens what I am. So change is no movement at all. Change is the denial of change, and now only can I put this question: is there a change at all? This question can be put only when all movement of thought has come to an end, for thought must be denied for the beauty of non-change. In the total negation of all movement of thought away from what is, is the ending of what is.

THE PRINCIPLE OF ‘SELF-REFLECTION’

It is hard to accept that the rational mind cannot produce ‘real’ change. Even if I agree that I do stay the same throughout, don’t the things that are outside of me change as a result of my controlling activity, when I get them to be the way that I want them to be? The answer to this question is rather chilling, to say the least. When I do successfully manage to control the world all I am doing is getting the world to reflect the (false) way that I think it is – I get the world to humour me, in other words. The result of successful controlling is therefore that I create a virtual environment around myself that mimics or copies or reflects the assumptions that I am outwardly projecting with my controlling. The designed world that I live in is a logical development of my thoughts about the world; it is a restatement of original theories and ideas about the worlds which I spuriously perceive to be ‘new’ and ‘not mine’. We are therefore inevitably led to the same conclusion that David Bohm (1980, p 58) arrived at, which is that our thinking and the world which our thinking creates (which is the world that most of us live in) is all one and the same system:

…Indeed, all man-made features of our general environment are, in this sense, extensions of the process of thought, for their shapes, forms, and general orders of movement originate basically in thought, and are incorporated within this environment, in the activity of human work, which is guided by such thought. Vice versa, everything in the general environment has, either naturally or through human activity, a shape, a form, a mode of movement, the content of which ‘flows in’ through perception, giving rise to sense impressions which leave memory traces and thus contribute to the basis of further thought.

TAUTOLOGY AS ‘NEGATIVE FREEDOM’

We have been saying that logic, whilst appearing on the one hand as being pristinely beautiful, elegant and above all meaningful, has another distinctly less charming side to it. This other side is less easy to see because we have to look beneath the surface that logic shows to us, but in short we can say that the dark side of logic is dark because it represents (or rather, can represent, if we choose to collude with it via the process of passive identification) a sort of dishonest misrepresentation of reality. The logical viewpoint shows us a picture that it pleasingly neat and systematic and ordered, as well as being delightfully intricate and full of ‘apparent surprises or developments’, but in addition to this picture there is the hidden subtext – so to speak, which lets us know that ‘this is all there is’. Therefore, when we fall in with any particular logical system of constructing the world – which is remarkably easy to do – we become restricted without seeing that we have been restricted. This state of affairs corresponds to what John Bennett calls negative freedom, which is basically ‘inverted freedom’, i.e. slavery that declares itself to be perfectly free.

 

Furthermore, it is not merely the case that we are irksomely constrained – we are utterly constrained. This absolute (yet invisible) absence of freedom is implicit in our definition of logic as a ‘disguised tautology’. Tautological statements are statements that have no meaning in them, and so we can say that when I definitely assert something about the world that I live in (when I buy into a ‘positive knowledge system’) and my statements (or my thoughts) bounce back in my face in the manner of a ‘tautological echo’, then what I am experiencing is the utter sterility or redundancy of the logical viewpoint that informs my statements, my thoughts, my beliefs, my descriptions, etc. This tautological reverberation is not just an unpleasant set-back for me in my attempt to know (or ‘grab hold of’) myself and the world, it is a clinically devastating and fundamentally terrible negation of my whole position. When this unsuspected backlash principle is seen clearly, our dangerously sentimental and pathologically sort-sighted ‘love of logic’ is seriously weakened. In conclusion, then, we can say that the perception of tautology is an indispensable first step for the development of mental freedom, despite the fact that this perception manifests itself as despair.

THE ‘RATIONAL COMFORT ZONE’

But if logic – by which we mean a particular train of logic, taken to exclude all other such trains – is so unrewarding and hollow (not to mention potentially pathological) then we do we not learn to discard it, or at least learn to treat it with the caution that it most certainly warrants? The answer to this may be said to lie in the undeclared function (or benefit) that rationality so-very-effectively provides for us. The comfort zone of rationality can be understood very easily once we start looking at it in terms of tracks or grooves which basically propel us along in a predefined direction. Once we engage, or adapt, to the viewpoint in question, then everything is spelled out, everything makes sense in one way and in one way only. This is an important point because it means that we do not experience ourselves as being coerced in any way as we proceed down the train-tracks of the logically-prescribed thought and the logically prescribed action – on the contrary any angst or sense-of-responsibility that we might feel about letting ourselves be arbitrarily forced or taken down a particular track vanishes more or less instantaneously because we have this all-pervading (though unstated) sense that ‘there is really no choice in the matter’. The logic of my situation is inescapable, and my response – made on the basis of that logic – is validated for me as soon as I start thinking that way. What is basically happening is that the ‘logic which is inherent in my narrow way of thinking about things’ substitutes itself for any wider (and therefore essentially irrational) understanding that I might have had before. This is the Principle of Substitution and Inversion ‘in action’, so to speak.

 

So strong and so ‘anaesthetizing’ is this principle of substitution and inversion that even if I am engaged in a truly pathological train of behaviour (for example, the self-destructive behaviour that manifests itself in anorexia, OCD or drug addiction) the logic of the game that I am playing has the ability to make what I am doing seem perfectly reasonable, and actually ‘the indicated course of action’. Of course, there are times when I see through this spurious sense of ‘rightness’ and become aware of the horror of what is going on in my life, but what generally happens in this case is that just as soon as I re-immerse myself in the behaviour this uncomfortable awareness recedes safely into the background. Playing the game validates the game, and for this reason we can say that the logic-of-the-game is a dangerously seductive comfort zone that allows us to escape from the pain of reality just about any time we want. Here is a button that we can hit anytime we feel bad, and the beauty of this button (the ‘unconsciousness’ button) is that we can make the ignoble decision to push it and at the same time become unaware of what we just did.

 

Once in the game, all my decisions and actions become falsely validated, so behaviour that at its root is purely selfish and cowardly (‘tawdry’ as Krishnamurti says), becomes conceptualized as ‘doing the right thing’. It is like ‘being a good American’ or ‘being a good sport’ – it looks good to me and it looks good to everyone else who is playing the game, but really it is a way of not being honest. Actually, it is a way of ‘acting nefariously whilst enjoying the pleasantly rewarding feeling of doing the correct thing’; to take a more extreme instance, I could be a good fascist or a good racist and thus find myself enjoying the rightness of what I am thinking, saying and doing. In general, we can say that the game isn’t real and so it’s easy to be ‘the good guy’ in the game – it doesn’t involve any Work, which is to say, it doesn’t involve me facing any of my deep-down fears. Quite on the contrary, the game of rationality is how I avoid seeing the reality of my situation.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The rational comfort zone comes into play (potentially, and in practice, usually) any time I ‘do’ anything. If I am feeling stressed and I start drumming my fingers on the table, the immediate slight decrease in my stress level is due to the fact that by ‘doing’ something, however arbitrary, I now have a new (and more narrowly defined) sense of purpose, and once I successfully obey this ‘narrow sense of purpose’ I start to feel better. I feel competent. I feel like I am achieving, I feel like I am ‘doing the right thing’. I feel like a winner rather than a loser. This of course sounds absolutely absurd: so I drum my fingers on the table (or fiddle repetitively with my biro) in order to feel competent; I pace up and down the room in order to feel ‘in control’, in order to feel like a winner rather than a loser? How stupid is this suggestion, and how ‘sad’ would it make me if it were true? The idea seems bizarre but when one reflects deeper, it is obviously perfectly true. Psychologists sometimes refer to this sort of thing in terms of the ‘pseudosolution of life’s problems’ – life is undefined and messy and often appears to be hideously problematic, but if we substitute some shallow and easily defined problem for the original and ‘unsolvable’ problem then we have found for ourselves a neat way out.

HAIRS WHERE’S IT’S AT…

The sheer volume of adverts seen daily on the TV promoting all kinds of ‘hair products’ (conditioners, shampoos, hair-dyes etc) is evidence (if any were needed) of the relevance of this basic psychological principle of ‘taking the easy way out’. I don’t feel able to deal with the demands that life makes on me, so I concentrate on getting my hair to look perfect instead. I can’t fix life but I can – if I can afford all the latest hair-care products – fix my hair. I can’t be a winner where it counts, but I can successfully control certain aspects of my physical appearance. Generalized angst becomes re-formulated, therefore, in terms of ‘having a bad hair day’ and whilst angst is notoriously insusceptible to corrective re-manipulation, I can always hold out some hope of getting over a bad hair day. In place of fixing our hair, we can substitute absolutely anything at all – any meaningful activity can be used for the secret purpose of alleviating angst, whether it is something as trivial as drumming my fingers on the table, or something as apparently ‘big league’ and ‘super-important’ as running for president.

SHOPPING FOR HAPPINESS

It is true that we can’t all run for president, and it is also true that not all of us give that much of a damn about how great our hair is looking (indeed, some of us don’t have any hair to look great in the first place) but this doesn’t meant that we are exempt from the need to pseudo-solve life’s insoluble problems. If we participate at all in the consumer society (and who doesn’t?) then we are by definition participating in the biggest, most gigantic whopper of a collective ‘pseudo-solution’ ever seen upon this planet. Consumerism, as everyone knows, works by creating ‘needs’ out of thin air and then coming up with goods or services to meet these needs. First the market research people come with a new need and a product to meet it, and then the advertising people make us aware of this need, and the solution that they just happen to be selling. After this, man-the-consumer steps in with his credit card in his hand and the wheels of commerce start to turn in the time-honoured fashion; the machinery of industry and commerce is kept in motion and profits are generated. So, for example ‘shyness’ is medicalized and made into ‘an illness’. Drug companies field revolutionary new pharmaceutical products to ‘cure’ the ‘illness’. Doctors prescribe the new wonder drugs, pharmacists dish them out and plenty of money is made by all concerned; lots more business is generated for the healthcare industries. If medical ‘science’ could diagnose ‘lack of happiness’ as an illness (as it does pain in general), and if the drug companies could come up with a drug to correct (or rather supposedly correct) this condition, then their triumph would indeed be complete! This would be the perfect consumer society.

 

If anyone doubts this particular thesis – that we are sold stuff that we don’t need, and which is in all probability bad for us, just so the machinery which researches / advertises / designs / manufactures / markets the stuff can remain in business, then the only possible answer to this baffling display of naivety can only be that – for whatever reason – they have taken great care never to think about it. The types of products and services which we are exhorted to buy become more and more bizarre ever year, and though we may laugh at such ridiculous concepts as ‘pet therapists’ one day, it doesn’t take too long before we start to take the idea seriously ourselves. All one needs to do in order to be convinced of the redundancy of what we are being told on all side is ‘essential’ is to look through the pages of any catalogue, or watch one of the ‘shopping channels’ on TV. If you manage to stay conscious long enough, it is inevitable that you will find yourself asking in wonder something like, “What exactly is a person supposed to do with all this crap?”

 

When it happens that we do become aware of the cynically exploitative nature of the commercial process, we tend to forget what the consumer gets out of it all. Although we may very often seem to be buying instantly disposable and inherently useless rubbish (not to beat about the bush unnecessarily), we are still obtaining a benefit because whenever I successfully service a need (no matter how spurious) I am pseudo-solving life’s insoluble problems. I am escaping from the excruciatingly indefinable pain and anguish which the Internal Task brings to bear on me, as it demands my undivided attention. Instead of tackling this ‘biggy’, all my attention goes into shopping instead, in accordance with the dimly conceived notion that if I manage to shop successfully, I will become happy as a result. We all know this, when it comes down to it. I feel bad, listless, angst-ridden, I wander into a shopping centre, I look around, I have a coffee, maybe I buy a few things, and ‘Hey Presto’ – the pain recedes far far away into the distance. “Angst – what angst?” I ask. The narcotic power of consumerism makes heroin look like aspirin – what we are looking at here is not just a bit of comfortable numbing around the edges, it is ‘total anaesthesia’. And whilst a junkie has an addiction that is plainly visible to all, this particular habit goes unnoticed. After all, if everybody does it, then there’s no need to feel bad about it. We can explain – in a nutshell – where exactly the comfort in the ‘rational comfort zone’ comes from by putting it like this:

The comfort inherent in rationality derives from the fact that once I start trying to obtain any goal (no matter what sort of a goal it is) the technical challenge of “How do I do it?” effectively drives out any consideration of the complementary question, which is “Why do I do it?”.

SELF-REFERENTIALITY BREEDS PARADOXES

The question of “How do I do it?” might sometimes be tough, but it’s always a hell of a lot easier than “Why do I do it?” When we chase “why?” back far enough it always leads slap-bang into an infinite logical regress. If you were to pick a man or woman at random in the street, with your clip-board in one hand and a pen in the other, and persuade him or her to submit to a short survey, you could very easily ascertain this fact. All you would need to do is to keep asking, as a child does, “Why…” Any parent can tell you that this sort of thing very quickly pushes the frontiers of enquiry way beyond what the ‘rational answering process’ can handle. First you ask what the person is doing, or where they are going. When they answer this, as in all probability they will be able to do with great ease, you nod your head politely and ask “Why?” This procedure is repeated until the person being surveyed can no longer think of a rational answer. So, for example, you ask where I am going and I say that I am going to the supermarket to buy some food. You ask me why and I reply that I intend to eat the food. You then ask me what reason I have for eating food and I patiently reply that I need to eat food in order to carry on being alive. Needless to say, it is at the next “Why?” that things start to get difficult. I could say that I want to continue living in order to attain certain other goals, but then these goals can be subjected to the same analysis.

 

I might – with rare honesty – admit that it is because I fear to die, or because I fear the pain of hunger, but then this too is questionable: why should we obey the biological imperatives of avoiding death, avoiding starvation, obtaining one or more sexual partners, having power over others, etc? Ultimately, no rational reason can be found. I might invoke the get-out clause of “Divine Will” and tell you that God wants me to carry on living, for reasons of His own. Traditionally this is a very good way to get out of the argument. Another tactic, more commonly used in these irreligious days, would be for me to get angry and shout “Shut up and leave me alone…!” Now we can this from this discussion that if there is one thing the rational mind does not like for breakfast it is an infinite logical regress… An infinite logical regression (like all paradoxes) basically means one thing and one thing only – logic is self-contradicting, and since the whole thing about logic is that it is supposed to be coherent, this is no small failing but a complete and utter disaster. The only conclusion we can come to is that – ultimately speaking (which is to say, in the bigger scale of things) – logic is a pile of crap. Strictly speaking, we ought express this idea a bit more carefully, and say:

 
On its own conditionally valid terms (which are valid on the condition that the logical viewpoint is valid, logic itself is perfectly and beautifully valid, but outside of these terms, outside these conditions, no logical statement ever makes the slightest bit of sense.

 
Therefore, what we are saying is that logic is utterly self-referential – it makes sense in relation to itself, but it doesn’t make sense in relation to anything else. Furthermore – just to cap it all with a final crown of absurdity – the system of logic itself has no relationship, no genuine ‘connection’, with the wider alogical reality that lies beyond it. Put simply, in the bigger scale of things, logic is redundant.

THE FUGITIVE TRUTH

A nice simple way to explaining why the logical mind is redundant (or useless) when it comes down to appreciating what ‘reality’ is all about is to make the following sort of statement:

The system of thought is a rigid and constrained affair which cannot permanently capture or hold essentially mobile (or ‘free’) reality which it seeks to model.

The creature that I am hoping to catch is elusive, and so even though I may appear to successfully trap now and in (and invest therefore all the more in whatever strategy it was that brought me victory) because my strategy is rigid and rule-based, I am doomed to be permanently at a disadvantage compared to my ‘prey’, which is as free as the wind. The only way to match the prey would be to become as free as it is, but this would then mean that I would also have to become free from my need to catch the creature in question, and so the whole point of the exercise would then become irrelevant!

POSITIVISM

This kind of idea, although simple enough to one who comes across it ‘innocently’, tends to present huge difficulties to most of us because our way of looking at things is inescapably biased towards rational positivism. Positivism, it will be remembered is where we base everything on the assumption that there is a ‘positive’ reality out there which we need to adapt ourselves to in order to function in a sane and effective way. Positive implies that reality exists in relief, that it stands out unambiguously in terms of some sort of ‘raised structure’; in this paradigm, the raised structure is the reality which we have to accommodate ourselves to, and the featureless plateau from which the structure was raised in the first place represents either ‘primordial nothingness’ or ‘primordial chaos’, depending on how we want to look at it. What the philosophical paradigm of positivism is basically saying is that truth exists objectively, out there somewhere, and it can be definitively described. If I can unambiguously describe the fundamental nature or truth behind the universe then this means that ‘the truth’ must be some sort of inert or passive essence that I can cup in my hand and hold up for everyone to see (that is, if you happen to be smart enough, since it goes without saying that this essence of truth will be expressed in some variety of exceedingly formidable mathematical language. In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter if only one or two super-intelligent genius-level scientists will be able to comprehend this ‘unified theory’ because the important thing is simply that it is understandable, and any one of us could in principle understand it if only we were bright enough. This in itself is all we require to comfort ourselves, and obtain the type of psychological security which we so desperately desire.

NEGATIVISM

The picture that we have presented above is the way that we are culturally conditioned to view things. That is basically ‘what we believe’. Curiously however, the ‘other’ way of looking at thing is not completely missing from our Western tradition of thought, it has simply been temporarily buried beneath the stifling weight of its opponent. This ‘other way’ does not see truth as a fundamentally inert sort of lump or nugget that passively allows itself to be examined by the experts, but rather it sees ‘the truth’ as a very mobile sort of a creature. Furthermore, not only is it fleet of foot, it is also diabolically deceitful (or ‘tricky’) and it delights in bamboozling ‘the expert’ at every turn. To give a very crude analogy, it is like one of those e-mail jokes that office workers swap around where a questionnaire appears on the computer screen asking the worker (in all seriousness) if they think they are paid <enough>, or <not enough> for their job. What happens next of course is that when you try to click the box for ‘not enough’ the box jumps to the other corner of the screen and you soon gather that no matter how much you chase it, the box will always be somewhere else. When we understand the trick that is being played on us we stop trying and have a bit of a laugh at our own foolishness at being caught out like this. With regard to our culturally programmed attempts to catch the truth however, we never get the joke and we continue grabbing after it, just like a bunch of incurably humourless dunderheads. Of course – as we have said before – we are not really ‘stupid’ as such, or if we are then it is Chogyam Trungpa’s ‘intelligent stupidity’ that we are guilty of because it happens to be very important indeed that we don’t get this particular joke. If we did get it, we would quite literally laugh ourselves out of existence!

THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE

We were not always ‘fundamentally humourless’ in this way, though. Way back in the golden era of alchemy, centuries and centuries ago, much was written about the elusive and tricky nature of the truth. The main thing that we can gather about the arcane science of alchemy was that they were very much concerned with this thing called the lapis (sometimes called ‘the philosopher’s stone’). This term is still very much in currency even now, although it is unlikely that you would be able to find anyone who could explain what the Hermetic Scientists, in all their wisdom, meant by this. One way to explain what is meant by the lapis is by saying that it is an arcane sort of a substance, a substance that is really nothing other than ‘the pure essence of everything’. There is a problem here however because although we are using the tame word ‘substance’ this particular substance is entirely untamed and it doesn’t sit placidly anywhere. No one is going to catch the lapis napping. The fact of the matter is that the more we look into the lapis and its ways, the more confused and frustrated and downright flabbergasted we tend to get. One term which the alchemists’ had for the lapis (and they had an awful lot of terms for it) was Mercurius. Mercurius is a form of the winged god Mercury (or Hermes) and he is in a sense the ‘patron saint or god of alchemy’. Regarding Mercurius, Carl Jung (who is one of the foremost if not the foremost modern interpreter of ancient alchemy) has much to say. In Alchemical Studies (CW Vol. 13, p 211, par 259) we read:

If Mercurius had been understood simply as quicksilver, there would obviously have been no need for any of the appellations I have listed. The fact that this need arose points to the conclusion that one simple and unmistakeable term in no way sufficed to designate what the alchemists had in mind when they spoke of Mercurius. It was certainly quicksilver, but a very special quicksilver, “our” Mercurius, the essence, moisture, or principle behind or within the quicksilver – that indefinable, fascinating, irritating and illusive thing which attracts an unconscious projection. The “philosophic” Mercurius, this servus fugitivus or servus fugitivus (fugitive slave or stag), is a highly important unconscious content which, as may be gathered from the few hints we have given, threatens to ramify into a set of far-reaching psychological problems. The concept swells dangerously and we begin to perceive that the end is nowhere in sight.

Our problem is that, in our search for ‘the truth’, we are examining with the greatest of care the image that the lens of our ‘rational-conceptual mind’ is producing for us, and not examining at all the actual lens that is doing the producing. Therefore, we are never even coming close to anything approximating ‘objective reality’, and in fact the harder we strain to focus on the projection in front of our eyes, the further away we get from gaining any insight into just exactly what we are doing. This is a bizarrely utterly preposterous situation to be in, but it is nevertheless the position that we, as rational positivists, are in. The lens of the rational mind creates a positive reality by virtue of the unacknowledged bias (or prejudice) in it, a bias which serves to focus our attention on one set of elements with the general field of awareness as opposed to any other set of elements. The precise curvature of the lens therefore corresponds to the rules that have been selected in order to create the particular positive ‘cognitive set’ that we now see in front of us. But this does not mean that we ought to strive to correct for the distorting effect that is inevitably going to be introduced into our perception of reality by our reliance on the particular ‘angle’ that we have settled upon. If we do this (if we try to ‘correct our thinking’) then we have to bring another set of assumptions – another systematic bias – into play, which we would then have to attempt to correct for. All that would happen then is that we would be inescapably locked into an infinite regress of having to ‘correct for our correcting’, and then ‘correct for the correcting of our correcting’, and so on. This is guaranteed to turn into one hell of a nightmare, no matter how you work it.

 

The point is that it isn’t the particular nature of the bias that we have to look at, but rather the nature of bias itself. The way to do this is simple – all we have to do is to consider the fact that when a bias is introduced, a curvature is introduced such that the ‘field lines’ of my thinking (my conceptualizing) eventually come right back to where they started. The system of thought is closed, in other words. Now this means that there really isn’t any escape because ‘the way out’ is not included in ‘the map of all possible possibilities’ which is my rational-conceptual mind. There isn’t any referent for ‘the way out’ because the system implicitly assumes that it is everything that possibly ever could be, and, this being so, how could there be any such thing as ‘out’? There is no ‘outside’ in a loop of logic that doesn’t know itself to be a loop, and this is of course the defining feature of any organizationally closed system. This peculiar character (or nature) of an organizationally closed system can be neatly (if negatively) expressed in terms of a single, cast-iron impossibility:

An organizationally closed system can never, ever, by definition, contain any reference to the fact of its own closure.

 
We cannot calculate our way out of the system of thought, because implicit in that goal is the notion that the system of thought is actually a valid place from which we can move. ‘Positive logic’ always looks at where it is going (or where it wants to go) and when it does this it cannot help assuming, at the same time, that it actually is somewhere valid (or ‘meaningful’. Positivism always assumes its basis, in other words; if it did not take its basis for granted it just wouldn’t be positivism any more – it would in fact be relativism, which is as we know a completely different thing. There is, needless to say, a perfectly good ‘way out’ from any positive (i.e. closed) system of logic and this way, known as negativism (the via negative or ‘negative way’) has been known since the time of Plato and beyond. The negative way – it could be said – consists of ‘questioning one’s standpoint’, which is to say, ‘rigorously examining one’s basic assumptions’. We could equally well say that the Negative Way involves the process whereby our beliefs about ourselves and the world are progressively shown to be false – the via negativa can be seen therefore as a ‘stripping away’ of all the untold layers of illusion that cocoon us (like the layers of cloth that are wrapped around a mummy). This process of unravelling, as teachers of the Negative Way always say, cannot be done by another – it can only happen through via our own personal insight. As the Tipperary-born Cha’n commentator Wei Wu Wei (1963, p 26) says,

The truth cannot be communicated: it can only be laid bare.

SEEING THE PARADOX

The quintessential way of ‘falsifying our beliefs’ is by seeing the inherent paradoxicality of all positive assertions, i.e. seeing the way in which each and every positive statement also involves the opposite statement. For example, if I assert that “God exists’, then I see that this statement, by reverse implication, also involves the assertion that “God doesn’t exist”. If I assert that God does exist, then I am unavoidably admitting that the reverse possibility must also be a valid one. If ‘God exists’ is to be treated as a meaningful proposition (which I obviously am doing) then the antithesis of this proposition must be equally meaningful, or else the thesis is admitted to be not meaningful. But if both thesis and antithesis are equally valid, or equally meaningful, then to assert the one we have to deny the other. As Krishnamurti says, we use one opposite to push away from the other one; I use <where I want to be> as leverage to push us away from <where I am> (which is the same thing as <where I don’t want to be>). In other words, I construct <where I am> and <where I want to be> as polar opposites, and the tension between these polar opposites fuels my ‘striving-type’ activity. The point that we are trying to put across can be expressed (a bit more clearly, perhaps) like this:

The situation of one opposite being stressed over the other is not ‘intrinsically so’, but rather it is ‘extrinsically so’ (or ‘dependently so’) – it is dependent upon me arbitrarily choosing one opposite over another!

Every statement assumes its opposite – you cannot have UP without DOWN, or RIGHT without WRONG, or EXISTS without NOT EXISTS. Opposites cannot be separated, yet in our positive assertions about reality that is exactly what we do – we treat each opposite as an independently existent ‘thing in itself’. Rationality works by ‘separating the opposites’ and what is more, it does not like to see that the way it works is by separating the opposites. As Jung says in the foreword to Mysterium Coniunctionis (tending almost to understate the matter):

…the conscious mind is usually reluctant to see or admit the polarity of its own background, even though it is precisely from there that it gets its energy.

 

The Hermetic Scientists of old were very familiar indeed with paradoxicality and they were not in the least bit averse to it. By all accounts they lived and breathed paradox, as we can see from this next quote from Jung (taken from his major work Mysterium Coniunctionis, CW Vol 14, p 42-3, par 36-37):

 

The tremendous role which the opposites and their union play in alchemy helps us to understand why the alchemists were so fond of paradoxes. In order to attain this union, they tried not only to visualize the opposites together but to express them in the same breath. Characteristically, the paradoxes cluster most thickly round the arcane substance, which was believed to contain the opposites in uncombined form as the prima material, and to amalgamate them as the lapis Philosophorum. Thus the lapis is called on the one hand base, cheap, immature, volatile, and on the other hand precious, perfect, and solid; or the prima material is base and noble, or precious and parvi momenti (of little movement). The material is visible to all eyes, the whole world sees it, touches it, loves it, and yet no one knows it. “This stone therefore is no stone,” says the Turba, “that thing is cheap and costly, dark, hidden, and known to everyone, having one name and many names.” The stone is “thousand-named” like the gods of the mystery religions, the arcane substance is “One and All”. In the treaty of Komarios, where “the philosopher Komarios teaches the Philosophy to Cleopatra,” it is said: “He showed with his hand the unity of the whole.” Pelagios asks, “Why speak ye of the manifold matter? The substance of natural things is one, and of one nature that which conquers all.”

 

Further paradoxes: “I am the black of the white and the red of the white and the yellow of the red”; or “The principle of the art is the raven, who flies without wings in the blackness of the night and in the brightness of the day.” The stone is “cold and moist in its manifest part, and in its hidden part is hot and dry.” “In lead is the dead life,” or “Burn in water and wash in fire.” The “Allegoriae sapientum” speak of two figures, one of which is “white and lacking a shadow, the other red and lacking the redness.” A quotation from “Socrates” runs: “Seek the coldness of the moon and ye shall find the heat of the sun.” The opus is said to be “a running without running, moving without motion.” “Make mercury with mercury.” The philosophical tree has its roots in the air (this is probably a reference to the tree of the Sefiroth). That paradox and ambivalence are the keynotes of the whole work is shown by The Chymical Wedding: over the main portal of the castle two words are written: “Congratulor, Condoleo.”

EXCLUSIVITY

When the rational mind performs its action of separating the opposites what it is doing is pinning down the truth in one place. We are pinning ‘what is’ down in its proper place just like a rare and beautiful butterfly is pinned down in a velvet display case, to be hung on the wall of a museum somewhere and never taken down again. The separation of the opposites lies at the very heart of Aristotelian logic, as Aristotle himself defined it. Regarding what is and what is not logical, Aristotle -very un-paradoxically it has to be said – made a statement to this basic effect:

Any particular logical assertion has to be either true or false; if it is true then it cannot be false and if it is false then it cannot be true.

This ‘rule of logic’ applies to all evaluations that we make across the board: either the car is parked over there or it is parked over here, and the one possibility thoroughly excludes the other. Either you did your homework or you didn’t do it, either you fed the cat or you didn’t feed the cat, etc. The thing is that there is just no wriggling out of Aristotelian Logic at all. This is in fact the whole point of this way of looking at things; there is no ‘wriggling’ allowed at all: you are where and what the logical categories say you are, and that is the end of the matter. This property of the system of logic is therefore rather unpleasantly fascist, to put it mildly. It is incredibly important to understand the coercive (or fascist) nature of exclusive logic, and we can explain just why it is so important by making the following two statements:

[1] Logical analysis, which is the action of the rational mind, is like a bully or a trickster who forces us to accept one of two alternatives, both of which suit his own purposes.
[2] The degree to which I am able to understand the above analogy is the degree to which I am ‘free’ from the bullying effect of rationality, i.e. ‘insight’ implies the existence of a point of view independent of the categories of exclusive logic.

SEARCHING FOR MERCURIUS

The trouble with the forceful application of self-serving and self-validating logic is that the ‘prize’ we end up with at the end of it is inert and lifeless – it is an artefact of the logic and nothing more. We could say that the ‘truth’ or ‘knowledge’ we obtain as the result of logically valuating the situation is just like the truth a totalitarian government obtains from the mouth of its own tame scientists: although the scientists in question probably seem to themselves to have the correct degree of scientific integrity, they are in fact no more than stooges for the regime – brainwashed to say what the ideologues want them to say. Therefore, our prize is not the Truth – as it would present itself – but the tamed version of the truth, which is of course no more than a grotesque mockery of the real thing. The fact of the matter is that the Truth serves no master, it does not obediently appear for us in the format or context that we have chosen for it to appear in; the Truth appears on its own terms of not at all. Of course, when we think about it deeply enough this all becomes perfectly obvious and we can see that the ‘tame or obedient truth’ (the lower analogue of truth) will always say exactly what we want him to say – which makes the conditioned truth a liar, when it comes right down to it.

 

Yet by making statements like the one above I put myself in grave danger of falling headlong again into the deadly trap of Aristotelian logic. If I say what truth is and what it isn’t, then I am ‘thinking in categories’ – I am in other words ‘agreeing with my own prejudices’ (which is as we know a redundant sort of a thing to do at the best of times). The philosophical stone is not to be found in any of my mental categories, and Mercurius, as we are constantly reminded in the alchemical texts, associates equally with the high and the low, the good and the bad, the true and the false. The problem of finding the truth is therefore a very tricky one: it is as if you are a private detective, hired to locate and interrogate some mysterious personage. Your sources tell you that he is a known associate of certain shady underworld characters, so you set about penetrating this ‘demimonde’. Then you hear that he is often to be found hob-nobbing with the rich and powerful – corporate executives, government ministers, top financiers etc. After pursuing this lead for a while you learn that the person you are looking for has been spotted hanging out with the street drinkers near such-and-such a tube station. But no sooner are you there when you obtain confidential information that in fact he is hanging out with the junkies, spending his time shooting up smack in a squat. Needless to say, this avenue of investigation also proves fruitless – the story everyone tells you is that the man in question is playing in a traditional music festival somewhere in the West of Ireland.

 

Your mind, quite understandably, starts at this point to boggle, “Just who is this guy,” you wonder, “and if he is able to fit in perfectly with every scene in town, then how on earth am I ever going to track him down?” The person you are searching for is a conundrum – he appears to belong in all sorts of diverse social groups, but the very fact of his bewildering mobility, his infinite freedom to chop and change, indicates beyond any shade of doubt that he doesn’t actually belong in any category. [Unimpeded mobility between categories bars me from belonging to any category, since a category is meaningless as a ‘category’ unless it effectively restricts any such movement.] Our man might look like a street junky but he isn’t a street junky, because a street junky can’t – at a moments notice – put on a suit, walk into a top-level board meeting and look as comfortable as if he were born and bred to it. The fact is that any features that this man shows himself as having, he also might not have, and so there is nothing to seize hold of whatsoever, of this mysterious character Mercurius.

THE UNION OF THE OPPOSITES

The lapis was or is the ‘goal’ of the alchemists, but it ought also to be seen, according to Jung, as a ‘psychological goal’. The implication of this is that the mysterious essence of all things, which we dearly wish to lay our hands on, is not some external value to be admired from afar, but a state of being to be lived. We could even refer to it as a state of mental well-being or health. This makes it an eminently practical thing to be concerned about, in fact we could go so far as to say that it is the most practical concern anyone could ever have. What could possibly be more important the state of being mentally well (or healthy)? Without it, nothing comes to anything. I could have the whole world at my disposal, and it would do me no good. On the other hand, no matter how adverse and generally difficult my situation, if I am dealing with this situation with genuine integrity (or ‘wholeness’), then there is nothing that can happen to me that will not help me. As Ram Dass says, when one faces life fearlessly, with sincerity, then everything is grist for the mill.

 

Deep down, we all know that there is some all-important ‘Value’ that we would do well to have some sort of a connection with, but the trouble is that the attempt to make this connection turns into a theatrical exercise – we end up mechanically chasing red-herrings, and it is absolutely guaranteed that by this stage everyone concerned has completely forgotten what its really all about. The circus show carries on as usual but if we were to admit the truth we would have to say that it is all just an echo, an echo of something that used to make sense, an awful long time ago (way back in our Western equivalent of Dream Time, perhaps). What rules the roost now is the mighty conceptual mind, which grinds on ceaselessly, relentlessly subjecting everything it comes across to its operation, and the way conceptual mind operates is as we know by ‘screening’, i.e. by the exclusion principle.

 

The exclusion principle works fine when we are dealing with the various elements within its proper remit, but it does not get us anywhere at all when we use it to find out, for example, the secret of happiness, otherwise known as the ‘philosophical stone’. Let us suppose that I am foolish enough to try looking for ‘a raven that flies without wings in the blackness of the night and in the brightness of the day’. Well, this creates problems right from the start – if I am looking for ravens then normally I would proceed by eliminating all ‘wingless creatures’; that would normally work just fine but clearly it doesn’t cut the mustard here. The other bit of information that I am provided with may appear at first glance to give me the opportunity of eliminating or excluding either ‘night’ or ‘day’, but no – both of these categories are given as equally good candidates and so this is useless to me as well. Equally, when I am advised to ‘run without running’, and ‘move without moving’, how helpful is my rational faculty going to find this? Where exactly do I start?

RETURNING TO ‘THE SYMMETRICAL SITUATION’

The end result is of course that I am given no characteristics that I can either include or exclude in the description that I give my ‘search engine’, and so the long and the short of it is that I am simply not going to get anywhere. The point about the lapis is of course (as we have already noted) that it has no ‘points’ – it has no defining characteristics. To the sincere seeker, however, this is not an insurmountable difficulty: we can, as it turns out, usefully approach this general sort of a conundrum as a problem in mathematics. The lapis doesn’t belong exclusively in any one category or set, but it can potentially be found in any of them. What this tells us is that the lapis must be associated with the Universal Set. In Jung’s terms, it can be said to represent psychological wholeness. It explains a lot to see this – it explains why we can’t go in search of it, after all who ever heard of ‘going in search of wholeness’? The thing about ‘searching’ is, after all, that it presupposes that there is one place where ‘it is’ and another place where ‘it isn’t’. But there is no such dissymmetry in wholeness. In the symmetrical state which is the Universal Set, there is no ‘in’ and no ‘out’, no ‘up’ and no ‘down’. There is no ‘winning’ and no ‘losing’ – there are, in short, none of the polarities of the rational-purposeful mind. Because there are no polarities in Wholeness, this obviously means that Wholeness is not about striving to achieve something, some outcome. That seems fine to us in a way perhaps, but then we get to thinking about it some more and we want to know, “Well, what is it about?”

 

What lies beyond the life of striving, what lies beyond the cyclical life of the rational mind, where the opposites perpetually rotate around each other, the one succeeding the other over and over again? The answer to this question is nothing other than the truth for which we have been looking so hard. The only problem is, when I grasp after this truth at the very same moment I automatically try to push away ‘that which isn’t the truth’, and so I create a new polarity, the polarity of <TRUE> versus <UNTRUE>. Because I have ‘separated the opposites’, I have moved away from mental wholeness, back into what Wei Wu Wei calls ‘split-mind’. So by the merest of mental motions, the motion that comes about as a result of me being more interested in what is true, than I am in what is not true, I am evicted from the symmetrical state, in which the truth about all things is (intuitively) known. The ‘original sin’ that caused us to be cast out so unceremoniously from Paradise can therefore be said to be due to ‘mental prejudice’ (i.e. rational thinking), which has to do with ‘favouring the one possibility over the other’. The complementary mental attitude to prejudice would of course be equanimity, which is where we are ‘equally interested in everything’. We can conclude this discussion by pointing out that this state of being ‘globally interested’ is equivalent to the all-inclusive (i.e. alogical) rule which says ‘there shall be no rules’.

THE ALOGICAL WHOLE

We have of course already taken a look at the Non-Defined (and therefore Non-Logical) Whole when we discussed set theory and the mechanism whereby a defined and logically ordered set is produced out the undefined and unordered Universal Set. In this Chapter we took a look at ‘the Whole’ in terms of intrinsic space (or radical uncertainty). It is also possible to approach the matter of Wholeness in a very straightforward way by thinking topologically. In a topological model the Whole can be modelled as a perfectly flat surface, like the top of immaculately machined and finished stainless steel table. One way to try to explain a flat surface like this is by saying that it is what happens when an infinite number of grooves are packed infinitely close together. Despite being packed so close together, each groove is forever unconnected to all the others – they never ever converge, in other words. If we further elaborate our model to say that each groove is a particular set of logically related possibilities we find that what we have in fact hit upon a nice way of topologically defining the ‘system of thought’.

 

In keeping with what we have been saying about the system of thought, each individual groove has the peculiar property of being a ‘pseudo-totality’ – what this means is that when we are ‘in the groove’, we are pulled into a fascinatingly intricate world that seems to be capable of sustaining or promoting an endless amount of highly intriguing ramifications. There is in all this the definite appearance of ‘richness’ and an alluring beauty, but if we were to focus clearly enough on the experience we would see that both the richness and the beauty are somehow implied at rather than actually being ‘here and now’; we know there is something marvellous is there somewhere but it is not quite to be found in the spot that we are looking at. It is this quality of ‘inferred value’ that sucks us in. This is ‘thread’ that we are dying to follow through to the end, to see what marvel we can find there.

COPYING THE GOLDEN TEMPLATE

Although there is a beauty here in this ‘universe of pure logic’ it is a beauty of the ‘crystalline’ kind – it is predictable once you know the basic rules. In a crystal, once the first sheet of ions or atoms or molecules is laid down, all the subsequent sheets faithfully copy the rules inherent in the geometrical template of the first. This is of course another way of saying that everything that happens in a crystalline realm is a tautological development of the initial set of assumptions – creativity is not allowed, only copying, and so what we have as a result is a continuous logical structure or continuum. Another way of explaining the particular type of beauty and order that we are talking about here therefore would be to say that it is like some sort of hypothetical small country in the middle of Europe somewhere (up in the Alps perhaps) where everything runs just like clockwork. All the trains and buses run exactly on time, there are no drunks or stoned hippies on the street, nobody litters or curses or acts in an antisocial way; furthermore, everyone knows exactly what their place is in society and what they are supposed to be doing and they all carry out their various duties and responsibilities down to the letter. All the citizens are dressed immaculately in highly colourful national costume and are unfailingly friendly, efficient and helpful in their attitude.

 

The initial effect is just like being in a picture postcard – it is charming and everything seems so perfect you just can’t get over it. There is the feeling that everything is proceeding absolutely marvellously because it is all so efficient and purposeful, the only problem is that it isn’t actually going anywhere because nothing is every allowed to depart from the rules. We get the impression that things proceeding smoothly and efficiently, but what we don’t tend to see so easily is that what really matters in this set up is the perfection of the ‘plan’ itself. The flaw in this apparently flawless set up can be explained quite easily as follows:

It is more important that we have the perfect plan, and carry it out effectively, than it is that this plan should actually do any good at all. This is, in other words, ‘controlling for the sake of controlling’.

THE TYRANNY OF ‘ESTABLISHED ORDER’

This is the case with all ‘crystalline realities’ – the plan or template is what’s really important (or, to be more accurate, what is really important is the fact that there should be a plan or external authority). The assumption is of course that it is all ‘for something’, that all this marvellous order exists in order to serve some great purpose. The fact of the matter however is that the pattern is constitutionally unable to ‘let go of itself’; what ought to happen is that the orderly regime ought to be redundant once it has, indeed, done whatever it was supposed to do, but the problem is that once the tyranny of the crystal is established, it takes over completely and is fundamentally unwilling to let any higher purpose be served since (by definition) a higher purpose is not encoded into its all-important template and so it cannot be allowed to happen. The ‘order of the system’ looks as if it exists for something else, but really it just exists for itself. We can therefore say that the beauty of the crystalline realm is actually a terrible trap since we get ‘hypnotized’ by its power and subverted totally into its own ends – which basically comes down to serving the cause of its own endless self-copying and self-replication.

 

Each logical groove is as we have said a ‘continuity’, but reality taken as a whole, because it contains an infinite number of such grooves, can only be considered as a logical discontinuity, which naturally sounds rather strange to us since we expect reality to be a ‘continuum of possibilities’ which is congruent with the continuum of ‘all our possible thoughts’. All grooves exist in the Whole, but the state of Wholeness can only be perceived when we have no more preference for one groove than we do for any other, when all grooves are ‘equally allowed’. This is the Discontinuity which exists ‘at right angles’, so to speak, with our rational mind, and so is completely incomprehensible to us. Normally, the Discontinuity has no (pragmatic) existence for us whatsoever, simply because we, being entirely logical creatures, construe our situation in purely terms of ‘the continuum of thought’.

THE SITUATION OF ‘ZERO CONSTRAINT’

If we go back to our topological model now, we can use our spatial imagination to get a very practical understanding of what we are talking about. With reference to the perfectly smooth and flat steel surface of the table, “flat” basically means no obstruction, no impedance; it stands for ‘unrestricted possibility of movement in any direction’. If there is a ball-bearing on the table for example, then it can roll anywhere with no problem at all – there are no spots on the table that are ‘forbidden’ or ‘closed’ to it. Similarly, there are no locations on the table-top that are ‘specially indicated’ and which would as a result tend to attract the ball-bearing. If there were to be any biasing factor at all, either positive or negative, then this would mean that we could ‘get an angle’ on the ball – we would have a clue about ‘where to look’, and ‘where not to look’. Basically, we would be talking in terms of probability gradients – as a result of having this information we could generate a probability map of where we could expect to find the ball. In the absence of any biasing factors, however, we can say nothing at all – there is no probability gradient. The probability of finding the ball is exactly the same everywhere, and so we simply have no handle on the matter. The ball-bearing is perfectly ‘unimpeded’, and we are perfectly mystified as a result!

DELOCALIZATION EQUALS ‘MAXIMUM W’

The steel surface of the table is of course only a ‘physical metaphor’ for the type of situation that we are interested in imagining – what we are really getting at is this:

‘Totally unrestricted’ means that if you want get an answer to the apparently basic question “Where is it?” all we can say in answer is “It could be anywhere…” Essentially, the lack of restriction results in a state of delocalization over the entire surface.

Mathematically speaking, we can say that if all possibilities on the plane are allowed then no one specific set of possibilities can be elevated over the others – no one ‘answer’ can be said to be any more true than any other answer. Actually, of course, what we have just said is pretty redundant really because obviously if all possibilities are allowed, then no one possibility is going to be more likely than any other. There is a point to saying something so obvious though because this whole point about ‘allowing and disallowing’ shows how we automatically tend to look at things in a bizarrely back-to-front way. The reversed viewpoint of rationality can be explained thus:

The more possibilities I have to consider, the more disadvantaged I feel, and so I take an ‘increase in information’ (any increase in possibilities) as being ‘a decrease in my knowledge’ (or ‘a decrease in my ability to obtain knowledge’).

But this is absurd because I am actually gaining in W, and saying at the same time that I know less! I am actually happier when I am able to misrepresent the universe to myself as being composed of less ‘degrees of freedom’ than it really is, so that I can then be ‘technically’ sure that what I am saying about it is actually true. But if I have had to oversimplify the universe to gain this knowledge – without actually being able to see that I am oversimplifying the universe – then what exactly is this so-called ‘knowledge’ about?

 

Basically, when I can no longer have my questions about location answered I feel that this is unsatisfactory – I feel that I have lost my handle on things, I feel that my ability to know about reality has been compromised. Loss of definition is seen as a failure because it equals ‘decreased freedom to know’. But from our understanding of set theory we can see that the reverse is in fact true, i.e. ‘definition’ equals ‘limitation of freedom’. To define is to lose not to gain; the quintessential function of the rational mind (which basically comes down to the business of defining, categorizing, analysing, evaluating, describing, measuring, labelling, describing, etc) is simply the process whereby information is irreversibly lost. Not to put too fine a point on it, the principle which lies behind the characteristic mechanism of logical cogitation is indistinguishable from the second law of thermodynamics which says that the entropy of a closed system can only ever increase. In a nutshell:

Just as soon as I think (or categorize, or analyse, or describe, or generally ‘know something for sure’) a tremendously large amount of information instantly becomes inaccessible to me. Not only do I lose the information, but this information too I lose. In other words, I lose the information telling me that I have lost the information.

Success, as measured by the faculty of rational understanding, is when the ball-bearing skittering about on the frictionlessly smooth steel surface has been ‘pocketed’, for all the world as if I were playing a game of pool. The black has been potted, and that is that. This is the essence of what James Carse means when he talks about a ‘finite game’. When we successfully hunt down the truth, our ‘triumph’ is synonymous with the process whereby the truth is rendered immobile, so that it just sits there like a trophy wife sitting next to her rich businessman husband at some crucially significant social function. There is no real interest, no real curiosity here, only plain and simple brutality. Our triumph is, in actual fact, a testament to our utter insensitivity. The moment we know something for sure (and ‘knowing something for sure’ is what we mostly do, since the experience of ‘not knowing something for sure’ tends to be highly uncomfortable for us) then we have taken ourselves out of reality entirely, and entered into a claustrophobic psychological game which bears no relation whatsoever to anything outside of its own unreal frame of reference. We have retreated into a frantically meaningless cartoon world that is inexhaustibly played out in our own heads. This is like getting totally caught up in an utterly absurd issue, an issue which, despite seeming overwhelmingly important to us at the time, is in fact of no significance at all. When this sort of thing happens to us – which it does of course on a very regular basis –it is likely that we will be struck afterwards by preposterous nature of what has just happened (or at least, we ought to be struck by it, if we are given to being at all reflective about things). But if this sort of awareness or insight seems strange, that is nothing to how strange and disturbing it would be to consider that all of the time that we have spent in rational thinking (which as we have said, is most of the time) is ‘time spent obsessing over an issue that is no issue at all’.

DEMONSTRATING FREEDOM

Our topological model is a way of ‘getting at something’ in a non-rational way, it is a way in which we can intuitively approach a basic principle. What we are trying to ‘get at’ is freedom, not the idea of freedom, which we would be more familiar with, but the thing itself. Freedom, we may say, is not a thing that can be explained, only shown… The flat surface of the table is subject to obvious limitations in its capacity show freedom, although the demonstration works fine as long as we think purely in terms of the surface itself, which is – if we overlook the friction which is inevitably present in physical systems – perfectly good at demonstrating freedom. One still has the underlying of the table to contend with however, which means that there is an obstruction to movement in all planes other than the horizontal. So what we have to do, in order to transcend these limitations, is to abandon the table-top and ascend to an n-dimensional hyper-surface, which allows us unlimited freedom on an unlimited number of planes. The thing to remember here is that we are not specifying the hypersurface in any way; we are just saying “Well, however many possible aspects of reality there are out there, we’ll include them all, regardless.” We are saying that ‘we’ll take whatever you’ve got’, in other words!

 

The thing about constructing or creating a set is that a rule (or fiat) is needed, such as “Let M equal the set of all perfect squares having a numerical magnitude of less than 100”. In order to obtain a set, I have to perform a positive sort of an act – I have to say what is going to be there, I have to say what is going to happen. Obviously enough therefore, what I create is always going to be subject to the limitations of what I know, or can envisage, and so nothing genuinely new can ever come about as a result of a positive act of creation. But in order to arrive at the Universal Set, the ‘rule’ that we need has to be all-inclusive; which is to say, we need a rule doesn’t divide the universe into <ALLOWED> versus <DISALLOWED>, a rule that means everything is allowed, without exception or qualification. This might sound problematical since we haven’t really defined anything, but in fact there is no problem at all since we are simply agreeing with whatever ‘is’, and whatever is, already is, and so there is nothing special to achieve. The outcome that we want to accomplish is already the case, and so it is ‘done’ before we even set out to do it. This – we might say – is a quintessentially ‘sensitive’ approach, as opposed to the ‘arrogant and insensitive’ approach of exclusive logic.

 

Actually, despite the fact that we might baulk at the “how” of it, the operation of the all-inclusive law is the one thing in life that isn’t a problem. The n-dimensional hypersurface may sound like a sophisticated abstraction that doesn’t really have any place in the nitty-gritty of everyday life, but that is only because of the backwards way which we have of thinking about everything. As we said earlier on, this weird and wonderful ‘no-thing’ – this ‘frictionless fulcrum’ which facilitates everything equally – is supremely practical and down-to-earth; indeed, without it none of the so-called ‘nitty-gritty stuff’ could hang together even for an instant. Mark Watts, discussing in his introduction to ‘Way Beyond Seeking’ the question of why that which is vacant and unobstructing should be the most important of all, quotes a line from ‘Lao-tzu’s book’ which says:

Thirty spokes has the wheel, but it is its hub that makes it useful.

What we are talking about here is the Tao, which is the same thing as the ‘State of Perfect Symmetry’ that we mentioned in Chapter 1. The State of Perfect Symmetry tends to sound negative and unsatisfactory when we first hear about it because there is nothing at all that can be meaningfully said about it. If it were to have any defining characteristic at all (which it doesn’t), its ‘defining characteristic’ would be its complete lack of any defining characteristics. But this initial objection of ours is of course absurd. To say (or imply) that the indescribable ought to be afforded no respect at all since we can’t say anything about it is stupidity of a truly awesome nature. The point is that the very act of defining (or describing) relies for its operation on the undefined and undescribed. If I act so as to limit the field of possibilities that is available to me, then this freedom-restricting action arises out of the freedom which I have to restrict my own freedom. Freedom lies behind everything I do, even the act of giving away my freedom. To say that the defined must take precedence over the undefined is to put the cart before the horse in a big way; after all, the only way that I am able to perform the magician’s trick of pulling a finite set out of the bag, is because the bag is there. The bag (which is to say, the Universal Set) is the real magic, not the rabbit that I pull out of it, yet because of the rational mind’s unacknowledged greediness to take the credit for everything, I completely ignore the role played by Source Of All Things. It is not even that I give it second class status; rather, I exclude it completely, and then exclude the fact that I have excluded it. This ‘nefarious act of double-exclusion’ is, as always, the hallmark of the unconscious state, which is ‘a biased state of mind which declares itself to be unbiased’.

TWO TYPES OF FREEDOM

The key point about the Perfectly Symmetrical State (which we may call ‘a sublimely unbiased state of mind that has no need to declare or assert anything’) is that it is ‘something’ which is at all times wholly independent of our conditioned thoughts and conditioned perceptions. It is not a specific and particular construct, but rather it is that which allows the construction of all constructs. Normally, when we talk about freedom what we mean by the word is the inverted form of freedom, the degenerate analogue of freedom. I usually understand freedom in terms of ‘freedom for my constructs’. We can explain this by saying that there are two types of freedom:

[1] Freedom within the terms which we have constructed (or ‘reified’) for ourselves. This really equals ‘the freedom not to question our assumptions’.

[2] Freedom from our own terms (or from our constructs) e.g. freedom from our own irrelevant and obstructing ideas about freedom.

THE MIND MAZE

We have said that an immaculately machined steel surface was not an ideal model for the ‘logical discontinuity’, and neither is a groove in that surface an ideal model for a logical continuum, or ‘the system of thought’. A groove is a very good metaphor in one sense because once in the groove you are trapped in it, i.e. the only ‘freedom of movement’ you have is the movement permitted you by the groove itself. In other words, you are perfectly free to do whatever you want, just as long as you stick to the basic guidelines. In addition, being in the groove is like being in a maze – you can see immediately in front of you, and you can see what is just behind you, but there is no way to see over the edge of the particular narrow corridor that you are in. There is no way to see into any other corridors (which means that you can very easily fall into the belief that there are no other corridors) and you cannot really see where your particular corridor is taking you, since it is forever turning this way and that (which means that you can very easily believe that you are getting somewhere when you are not).

 

In short, being ‘in the groove’ means having no perspective – when I am in a particular logical groove I have only as much perspective as that groove allows me, and the whole point about logical grooves is that they don’t actually contain any perspective at all. Quite the reverse is true in fact – each logical groove has its own brand of ‘false perspective’: false perspective is something that looks very much like perspective, but which is in reality a trick or gimmick that means nothing at all at the end of the day. This deceptive analogue of perspective is nothing other than the automatically ‘self-validating’ property that each and every mental perspective possesses, which is a property that we have already encountered. We have already outlined the idea of ‘spurious self-validation’, but we can state it again as follows:

The more we focus on a problem from the point of view of the particular perspective we are using, the more ‘objectively correct’ this way of looking at the problem seems to us.

When I am in the groove, the only freedom (or perspective) that I am granted by the groove is the freedom of the groove, and the ‘freedom of the groove’ is defined freedom, which is Type-1 Freedom rather then Type-2 Freedom (going back to our definition of ‘defined’ and ‘undefined’ freedom on the previous page). This brings us to the point we made earlier regarding why a groove in a steel surface is not an ideal model for what we are talking about – a mechanical (or physical) groove has one degree of freedom, which is to say, I can move freely up and down along one dimension at least, and this motion is ‘real’ or ‘meaningful’ because the dimension in question is a legitimate dimension of space, i.e. it actually goes somewhere.

 

This is not the case when we are talking about the logical continuity which is the system if thought however, since, as we have argued at the beginning of this chapter, a train which is made up of a linked series of statements, each of which represents a strict logical development of the one before, is in fact a train to nowhere since each statement is merely ‘a different way of saying the same thing’. Because all movement or changes within the system of thought are tautological developments of the initial assumption, we would be better off modifying the image that we used of a ‘linear groove’ into a loop which unfailingly delivers us right back to where we started.

THE CONCEPT OF ‘CYCLIC DETERMINISM’

In this chapter we have been looking at the idea of ‘continuity versus discontinuity’, and we have said that the logical continuity is the domain of the rational thinking processes. In fact we could say that rational thought (which is the type of mental activity that never challenges its own basis) represents the simple mechanical process whereby we jump from one logically defined state to another logically defined state, in such a way that the transition obeys strict laws regarding what is and isn’t allowed. To be accurate, we would have to qualify the first sentence in this paragraph and admit from the outset that it is impossible to actually have ‘an idea’ of discontinuity since discontinuity can hardly be represented to ourselves by the thinking process, seeing as how it involves going beyond what is possible (or ‘allowable’) by that all-important and all-defining thinking process. From our normal everyday point of view, the discontinuity, if it were to be acknowledged at all, would appear as a kind of miracle – and not necessarily the kind of miracle that we would want to believe in either since it does not support all those mental constructs that we are so very invested in.

 

The logical discontinuity is unaccountably there (as experience will unfailingly show), but it has no basis in logic at all – we cannot account for it being there in the first place, and we certainly cannot understand, or bring ourselves to trust, whatever mysterious non-logical law it is that allows it to continue being there (always remembering of course that it isn’t actually there at all since ‘there’ is a location, a grid-reference belonging to the rational mind, and the discontinuity isn’t on any mental map that we might have recourse to). Rather than face the discontinuity, in all its majestic incomprehensibility, we adhere to the banal redundancy of our thoughts, and make of them a virtual world in which we can shelter ignominiously from the uncompromising glory of ‘the Alogical Whole’.

THE ‘TWO ODIOUS CONSEQUENCES’

Although the logical continuity has the potential to perform this ‘sheltering function’ with frightening efficiency, there are two distinctly odious consequences of this function that it is rather important to mention. The first consequence is obvious enough – once we are in a particular logical groove we are bound to follow it though, and so we have swapped ‘freedom’ for ‘determinism’. I can never deviate from the pre-programmed path that is laid out for me and so any notion of free-will that I might vainly entertain, is no more than a comforting illusion. The second consequence follows from the first – once I accept that I am deterministically bound to the logical groove that I have ended up in, I also have to accept that not only is my life ‘pre-determined’, it is also cyclic or self-cancelling.

 

This idea of ‘the two odious consequences’ is the icing on the cake, so to speak, because although it follows quite naturally from the idea of deterministic existence, it lends a new dimension of horror and futility to what is already a distinctly grim and uninspiring picture: not only is my life determined from beginning to end (in all the ways that matter), but it also goes round in circles. Because the logical groove that I am stuck in ultimately meets back up with itself, the journey that I am deterministically taking is guaranteed to cancel itself out, and so the ‘net gain’ of the exercise is always nil. This is futility taken to a new and previously unheard-of level.

SUMMARY

In conclusion, we can say that when I am in an particular logical groove without knowing that I am in a particular logical groove (and as we have said, being in a particular groove is synonymous with not knowing that I am in a particular groove, this being the nature of the ‘inversion due to zero perspective’ that takes place), then I am ‘prejudiced without seeing that I am prejudiced’, and this is a very good way to understand the state of psychological unconsciousness. When I am ‘prejudiced without knowing that I am prejudiced’, what has happened is that I have mistaken the bias inherent in specific viewpoint that I have become adapted to for Universal Truth. It is also the case that when I am ‘prejudiced without knowing that I am prejudiced’ I am identical to the system of logic to which I am adapted, and so I am bound to enact the pattern of this logic no matter what I do. I am bound to deterministically act out the system of logic with which I have unconsciously identified myself. It is no exaggeration therefore to say that the ‘glorified limitation’ which is the Logic of the System is my God, and I serve it – albeit unknowingly – in everything I do.

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