The thinking mind excludes, that is its operation – the ‘operation of excluding’. Excluding information is how it defines reality for us. Consciousness, on the other hand, includes – consciousness is All-Inclusive, it happily includes (or accepts) everything, which is the very antithesis of thought therefore. If we are to understand anything about our situation then it should be this! We need to understand thought for what it is, and we also need to understand that there is something else aside from it, something that is so much, much bigger than thought and thought’s world.
There is a problem with understanding this however and that the problem is that the thinking mind is jealous god and it will not tolerate any competition all. It will not tolerate something, some view of reality, some way relating to the world that shows us so much more than it ever could. ‘The better is the enemy of the good’ Jung says, and what this means with regard to the thinking mind is that once we have hit upon a description or definition of reality then any challenge to the fundamental integrity of this description or definition automatically becomes an enemy to be fought against. Any change to our basic way of seeing the world is straightaway interpreted as error, in other words. Psychologically speaking, we can say that this principle means that when we are completely aligned with thought and thought’s models of the world then we are always going to be ‘afraid of the new’. Who we are in our essence isn’t afraid of the new, isn’t neophobic, but when we have allowed ourselves to be defined by thought such that ‘all we are is what our thoughts tells us we are’, then the radical new is always going to be seen as the enemy. Fear is born out of divisions made by thought, therefore.
The operation of thought itself ensures that we shall fear and fight against ‘the other’. To be defined is to be pitted against anything that is not us, and ‘anything that is not us’ is a pretty big field – it covers an awful lot. It covers just about everything when it comes down to it! When we have been defined as being this, that or the other then ontological terror immediately comes into existence. If I am this – and nothing but this – and this brings about fear with regard to any movement that might threaten to take me beyond the world that thought says is real and this is going to be an ongoing and insoluble problem since the movement of life itself is always acting so as to take us beyond this artificial domain. The movement of life is the movement out of equilibrium, out of the state of adaptation to whatever fixed pattern of existence thought has provided us with. It’s ‘the movement into the unknown,’ in other words. Life is a relentless movement out of what seems to be ‘safe’ to us and so just as long as we refuse to question what or who we are have been defined as being, we are always going to be in a state of permanent conflict with something that is inconceivably bigger and more potent than we are.
When we have thrown our lot in with thought then our only genuine concern is with maintaining and protecting boundaries. Boundaries are what we value – the boundaries that make up our conceptual world matter more to us than what is being bounded. Actually, ‘what is being bounded’ matters not at all to us; when we relate to the world we relate to what our boundaries, rules, and definitions say the world is, not to the world as it is in itself, which has absolutely nothing to do with this ‘game of boundaries’ that we are playing. The actual substance of the real (not that the real has any ‘substance’ to it in the sense of ‘something substantial’ that we can grab hold of) is – astonishingly – something that we couldn’t care less about, we only care about our games. We only care about what we have said to be true. The actual ‘substance’ of reality can’t be defined or described and what can’t be defined or described doesn’t figure for us. It’s ignored on principle, as it were.
The thinking mind – as we have said – operates on the principle of exclusivity – there is a very specific finger (or arrow) that points, and everything that is not specifically pointed out is excluded, dismissed, screened out. We define by excluding, in other words. Thought takes no heed whatsoever what it has excluded or dismissed or screened out and that’s why we say that thought excludes, dismisses, screens out, etc. What thought is doing here therefore is that it is creating entropy – creating entropy is how thought works, and how the principle of exclusion works. Entropy, from a psychological point of view, is information that has been thrown away, and which we can’t get back. We can’t get it back (we can’t retrace our steps and recover our prior position) because we didn’t (or thought didn’t) take the slightest bit of interest in what we were discarding. The perfectly blank face of ‘absolute disinterest’ is what creates entropy therefore. We might also speak psychological entropy as being neglect – it’s a mental blind-spot that engulfs the whole world.
There’s nothing ‘good’ or ‘wholesome’ about entropy, we might say – we have thrown away perspectives on the world without knowing that we have; we have crassly oversimplified without knowing we have. We’ve lost something without ever knowing what it is that we have lost, and what good could ever come of this? And yet this entropy that we have created is essential for all of our measurements and classifications and determinations of the world – without psychological entropy there could be no structure, no form, no system, no black-and-white theory of ‘what everything is’. Inasmuch as we are attached to our definitions then entropy is very valuable indeed to us; information that we cannot access and cannot know about is very valuable to us. Because we could also say, our ignorance’ is very valuable to us! For this reason we aren’t in any hurry to get rid of our blindness, or ‘cure’ it. Our ignorance – in a strange, unacknowledged way – is sacred to us and we won’t tolerate anything that might come along to spoil it. The unpalatable truth is that when we are operating on the basis of thought then consciousness is our enemy. Consciousness can only ever be our enemy because all it can ever do is falsify our prized beliefs! Consciousness always works negatively, we could say – it subtracts rather than adding. It subtracts what we thought we knew and gives us nothing in place of this…
As we started out by saying, if the thinking mind works on the basis of ‘exclusion’ then consciousness runs (so to speak) on the basis of inclusivity. Whatever there is, it is ‘included’; nothing whatsoever is ever excluded. How could consciousness exclude and yet still be consciousness, after all? When we operate on the principle of exclusion then we will inevitably end up mistaking the black-and-white thought-created reality for the genuine article, even though it can never be more than a thin fiction. We have a kind of strange ‘fractional’ existence, as Joseph Campbell puts it; we are fractions that don’t know themselves to be fractions. We have a false type of ‘False Wholeness’ going on; the type of False Wholeness that is created by our ‘ignorance about the fact that there is anything else’. This is not ignorance that is easily remedied either because it is double-ignorance; we are ignorance of which we are ignorant. We don’t know what we don’t know, and we don’t care either – our invisible ignorance is highly aggressive and all-pervasive. As far as we are concerned ‘this is all there is’, even though what we take to be reality is a mere two-dimensional thought-created fiction and what there actually is (outside this fictional or virtual world of ours) is so much more than we assumed to be the case that it is utterly impossible for us to ever imagine it.