‘Self-existent value’ (or suchness) is of absolutely no interest to us, it’s completely invisible to us and so it means nothing to us. What we do instead therefore is that we nominate (or assign) our own value, which means that we can relate to it. The problem with value that we ourselves have assigned however is that we have to keep on maintaining it; we always have to be part of the equation. We can’t ever step away, we can’t ever ‘let go’. This is quite a big price to pay therefore, even though this is not something that ever occurs to us. This is a deal that we buy into without reading the small print! There are two disadvantages that come with this system of ‘assigning our own values’ (or ‘assigning our own meaning’) –  is that we are now tied into the maintenance of that value system, as we have just said, and  – and this point isn’t so obvious – is that we are actually ‘spinning a wheel’ when we do this, even though we don’t know it. All assigned value is ‘spinning a wheel’.
We might hear of the ‘Wheel of Samsara’ in Buddhism and this is what it means – when we assign a fixed value or fixed meaning than – unbeknownst to us – that fixed value or meaning always has two aspects, one positive and the other negative. When I say that something ‘is’ this or ‘is’ that then it is as if I am pushing a pendulum out to the furthest extent extremity of its swing. I am ‘asserting a literal truth, I am ‘asserting a certainty’ and this is a possibility that is perfectly allowable, but the thing here is of course that to do this means that the pendulum will then proceed to swing back to the opposite extreme. When I assert very strongly that something or other ‘is’ or ‘is’ that then I’m actually setting up ‘bi-stable’ (or polar) situation; I’m setting up a situation that is just as stable in the negative manifestation as it was in the positive, even though I think that I am making a positive statement of fact and not a negative one! Actually I’m making a positive and negative statement both at the same time, and the consequence of this is that I am, unexpectedly, asserting something and denying it simultaneously, the net result of which is of course nothing.
So when I assign a fixed positive value then this means that I’m assigning a fixed negative value at the same time – it’s all the one action, it’s all the one thing. The reason I am creating a perfectly self-contradictory situation is because there is no such thing as a fixed value. Fixed values simply don’t exist and they never could. The thinking mind works by assigning fixed categories, it has to – this is the only way it can work – but this does not mean that there actually is such a thing as ‘a category’! It’s fine for thought to work in the way that it does – there’s no problem here at all. When we don’t see that thought works one way and that reality works another (or when we don’t see that what we think about reality and reality itself aren’t the same thing) then this is when we end up with a deal that we didn’t know we were going to end up with. This is when we end up with a situation that is actively inimical to us, which is the situation of being trapped in the positive/minus value that we ourselves have assigned.
On the face of it, this is what we want – the very fact that we so determinedly assigned the values that we did assign means that this is the way we wanted things to be. We don’t see the glitch however – we don’t see the glitch because we have confused the way thought says things are with the way they actually are. We don’t see that when we assert such-and-such a thing to be true then we are also saying that it is not true and so we are stuck on a seesaw, stuck on an endlessly rotating wheel. We are put a lot of energy into fighting for (or consolidating) the statement that we say is true without realising that at the same time we are also putting energy into the antithesis of that statement. The more we affirm that such-and-such a thing is true the more we are affirming the opposite of this. The ‘violence’ of our action is rebounding perfectly on us every time – the more we insist on what we think is beneficial to us the more we are hit with what we believe to be detrimental.
What we actually do when we ‘assign a fixed value’ (or ‘assert that something is this, that or the other’) is that we create a perfectly unreal world within which everything is self-contradictory. This is in fact the only way we can create an unreal world; this is the only condition upon which an unreal world can exist (so to speak). An unreal world can be created just so long as it unfailingly contradicts itself (or ‘goes back on itself’) because this way no principle is being violated. Our self-contradictory virtual world isn’t making any net claim to be true, after all – it asserts something to be true and then straightaway asserts the opposite and so the books always remain balanced. No auditor will ever find any irregularity here! It’s true to the extent it is false. The paradoxical or self-contradictory nature of the unreal world which is made up of ‘literal truths’ or ‘concrete facts’ is again no problem at all – it really is perfectly fine and perfectly okay and no harm is being done by it. Where the ‘problem’ comes in is in us forming a strong attachment to one opposite, and – by inevitable implication – an equally strong aversion to the complimentary one. On purely practical terms, this constitutes a very big problem indeed for us; from the ‘attached’ point of view, being confronted with the opposite that we fear every time we try to consolidate the opposite we are desire constitutes the very biggest ‘problem’ there ever could be. It is no exaggeration at all sto say that this constitutes the Ultimate Jinx as far as purposeful behaviour is concerned.
When we assign our own meaning to the world then this creates a paradoxical or self-contradictory situation for us – we charge on ahead because we perceive there to be an advantage there for us (if we can manage to secure it, that is) but there is never any advantage to be had out of a paradox! That’s the one thing we can say for sure about paradox – that there is never going to be any net advantage to be had out of it. Nothing of value can be taken out of a paradox and yet this is the one thing that we are guaranteed not to see. We are ‘fishing in dry gulch’. There is no peace to be had out of this type of fishing either – we are constantly being tantalised by the promise of success only to have our hopes utterly crushed shortly afterwards. We are like a crazed gambler in the throes of addiction, unable to tear ourselves away from a situation that will never benefit us. Everyone else can see it but we can’t – we are stuck in a ‘non-learning’ situation and so there’s no end to our suffering. We are convinced that there is an advantage there to be had when there simply isn’t.
What brings peace isn’t our compulsive involvement with the tautological meaning of our own constructs but ‘self-existent meaning’ (if we can call it that), i.e. meaning or value that we ourselves haven’t assigned. What we’re talking about here is ‘the situation of things being just what they already are’ and this situation – as we started off by saying – is one that is of no interest to us at all. The situation of things ‘just being what they already are’ is of no use to us, it is absolutely of no use to us, and this is why we are always orientated towards getting the world to be what we want it to be. This is why we are always orientated towards finding an ‘angle’ that we can work. This is why all our money is on ‘assigning meaning’ – as counter-productive as this might be. In a very limited way we can say that the fixed value that we have assigned does help us – it helps us to the exact same extent that it undermines us; it rewards us to the very same extent that it punishes us. It is as if someone were alternatively giving us what we want and then taking it away again, over and over again. It is as if they are first flattering us and then insulting us (just when our guard was down and we weren’t expecting it) and then continuing with this treatment without cease. This is of course just another way of talking about torment – this is ‘a tormenting situation’, a situation that is the pure essence of torment. It is this tormenting situation that we create for ourselves every time we assign meaning, or assign a fixed value; which is as we have said how we go about ‘obtaining our angle’. Alternatively, we can say that it (assigning values) is how we go about perpetuating or maintaining the self construct.