Life isn’t what they say it is in the adverts – that’s just some fantasy world that is being used to manipulate us. Life isn’t what we’re told it is when we are at school – that’s just propaganda for the social system, as Ivan Illich says. Life isn’t what we imagine it to be in our heads either – that’s just our thoughts, spinning webs of illusion. What life actually is is completely unknown to us, and not only this, it’s also something that we’re not in the least bit interested in…
We’re not interested in life precisely because we think we already know what it is. We’re not interested in life because we are totally invested in our games – we think that our games are life because we kept so busy within them that we don’t have any time to ever examine what we’re doing. Games have this particular nature or quality – they have the particular nature or quality of being compulsive, the particular nature or quality of keeping our noses to the grindstone so that we never have the opportunity (or the incentive) to question what we’re doing. All we care about is ticking off the next box on our ‘To Do’ List.
This suggestion that we are not at all interested in life (because we have something more important on our minds) would be completely outrageous, completely repugnant to us – we wouldn’t accept it for a moment. If we were to see this that would immediately banjax our games – we would no longer be able to play them, we would no longer be able to be immersed in them in the way we want to be. The only way we can be immersed in our games is when we do mistake them for reality, and this is what disincentivizes us from looking too closely at anything. A concrete, ‘hard-headed’ frame of mind is required, in other words – a mind that never questions.
Instead of using the word ‘games’ we could talk in terms of logical systems and say that we are so attached to our systems, our rational models of the world, that we refused to deal with any aspects of reality that haven’t been filtered through our models and theories. We create logical systems wherever we go and then we proceed to inhabit them, which means that we won’t acknowledge anything that isn’t part of our systems. We have a blind-spot with regard to anything that doesn’t fit within our systems. Games or systems are, as we have just said, only immersive when they completely substitute themselves for the real world, and what this means is – of course – that there is no reality in our games, no reality in our systems.
This all tends to sound rather strange – why on earth would this be the case? Why on earth would we want to be 100% immersed in our games, 100% immersed in our systems? The obvious answer is that we must be hiding from something, and if we were to pursue the matter a bit more we would probably work out – again, pretty obviously – that what we’re hiding from is reality itself. This might sound like a peculiar statement to make but this is no different to saying that we are ‘afraid of freedom’, which is an idea that we have long been familiar with within the field of existential philosophy / psychotherapy.
This connects with what we said earlier about the particular nature (or character) of games – the key point about games – we said – is that they are compulsive, which is to say, that they don’t have any freedom in them. The only freedom we have in a game (or in our systems) is the freedom to obey the rules, and rules are the perfect antithesis of freedom. So the point here is that the terms ‘freedom’ and ‘reality’ are actually totally interchangeable – the two words are synonymous! This isn’t necessarily easy to appreciate, but if we were to think about this in terms of our current understanding in physics we could say that the very essence of reality is that it is symmetrical in nature, which is to say, it’s like a perfectly flat surface, a surface without any bumps or grooves in it. Because there are no bumps, or no grooves, a marble (or some similarly spherical object) can roll around perfectly freely on it; one direction is the same as any other direction on a flat surface and so this is why we can say that the situation we are discussing here is a symmetrical one.
Rules are the antithesis of freedom because there is no freedom, no leeway in a rule – if we were to use the metaphor of a flat surface again we could say that a rule corresponds to a groove and the thing about a groove is that once the marble (or similarly spherical object) falls into it then it has no choice but to follow it. Reality is an equivalent term to freedom; it is an equivalent term to freedom because it contains no grooves, no rules, no pre-existent pathways (or biases) in it there is nothing there but total freedom. When there is no bias there is freedom. The thinking mind is inescapable biased (because it is based on logical rules) but the reality which thought can never see – the reality which underlies everything – is perfectly unbiased, and this is why the nature of reality is profoundly incomprehensible to us.
Once we see this then we can see that it’s got to be the case that the type of life which is based on rules (which is to say, the type of life that is guided by thought) is actually an escape from life, rather than being ‘life itself’, as it claims. The Thought-Created World is an analogue of reality that implicitly claims to be the real thing. It is utterly impossible for us to comprehend what freedom really means when we are existing in the Thought-Created Simulation of Reality therefore – the only way we have of understanding freedom is to say that it is when we are not obstructed in obeying the rules (or following the grooves that thought has cut), which is of course ‘seeing everything backwards’.
We could therefore say that the reason we are so very keen to be immersed in our games (or conditioned by the rules that we have agreed to follow without knowing that we have in some way ‘agreed’) is because we are fleeing from reality. We are on the run from what’s real. This isn’t the whole story however – it’s not the whole story because the self we think we are doesn’t have any choice about ‘avoiding reality’ (since to encounter reality would be to encounter the truth of its own non-existence). The self is ‘the act of fleeing from reality’ – we might say – but this is just a trick; it’s just a trick because the truth of the matter is that there’s no one there to be fleeing, no one there to be engaging in avoidance-type behaviour…
Image – ypoa.co.uk