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Cosmic Amnesia

When we resist what Krishnamurti calls ‘the endless current’ (the endless current which is reality itself), what happens then? What are the consequences of this action? In one way, we could say that this is an interesting experiment and that we might learn something important by embarking upon such a project. In one way, it is perfectly true to say this.

In another way – of course – we could say that such an exercise is perfectly futile since reality cannot be resisted. There is nothing outside of reality to resist reality and there’s nothing outside of the current to resist the current. Unreality cannot resist reality because unreality doesn’t exist! ‘The unreal never is and the real never ceases to be,’ says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

We don’t get anywhere then we resist the endless current and to try to ‘stand still’ because there is no such thing as standing still. The whole idea of standing still (or the whole idea of a ‘fixed point’) is absurd because something can only ‘stand still’ if there is an unchanging context or external framework for it to stand still in relation to and no such context, no such framework exists. We assume that there is such a thing as a framework because that is what the rational mind is, and we use the rational mind all the time, but what we don’t generally remember is that the RT is a made up or assumed thing. It’s an arbitrary yardstick. We invent it and then compare everything with it to produce ‘hard data’ but just because we are using our assumed viewpoint to compare everything with doesn’t automatically mean that there is such a thing as this vantage point! There are no vantage points, no viewpoints; there is only reality. There is no possibility of ‘simplification’, in other words.

So if we go back a little in what we are saying here, the exercise of trying to resist the endless current is futile because there is nothing outside of this current, but if we assume a static viewpoint that doesn’t exist, and then act as if it does exist, then of course there is the subjective experience of us existing as an unchanging abstract viewpoint. We all know this subjective viewpoint very well indeed – it’s called ‘being the self’! Of all possible experiences, we know this one the best – we ought to because we play at being the self every single day of our lives, more or less continuously, without any breaks…

What we can say therefore is that when we resist the endless current that Krishnamurti talks about then the result of this ‘resisting activity’ is the creation of the self. The self pops into virtual existence as if by magic and what happens then is that we can’t remember any time when we weren’t the self (so to speak). The self pops into virtual existence as if by magic (or rather, as if by inverted magic) and then – abruptly – we can’t imagine any other way of being. We are in fact flatly incapable of entertaining the suggestion that they could be any other mode of being. The suggestion is actually offensive to us, threatening to us, upsetting or annoying to us because there is a sort of great heresy here with regard to the primacy of the self or ego. When the self pops into (virtual) existence this is the very same thing as Cosmic Forgetting therefore. This is what we could call Cosmic Amnesia.

Cosmic Amnesia is when the thick velvet curtain of entropy comes down causing us to forget about reality itself. Instead, all we know about is the narrow reality that is perceived by the external/abstract viewpoint which is the ego construct. Reality gets to be perceived only in a second-hand (or ‘refracted’) way – everything that happens around me only gets to be validated or confirmed as ‘being real’ when it is seen in relation to (or by reference to) the ‘assumed vantage point’ that I’m now operating from. I never see the world therefore, I only see ‘the world as it appears to be from my assumed vantage point’, which is a mirage. It is a mirage because this assumed vantage point never existed and never could do…

Perceiving the world as it actually is in itself never happens – such a view would be terrifying, such a view would falsify the self which sees it. The self would perceive its own non-existence! The actuality of ‘how things really are’ is not something that we have any interest in therefore – the ‘terror barrier’ is too great for that, too forbidding for that. We would have to be on the other side of the terror barrier to appreciate that view and we are in no hurry at all to embark upon that particular journey – the ‘Journey into Reality’. Instead of perceiving the truth of how things are actually are we opt to perceive ‘how things appear to be when they are seen from the viewpoint of the self that doesn’t exist’, which – needless to say – isn’t quite as challenging! Far from being challenging, looking at the world in the way that we do look at it is constantly confirming the existence of the ego-construct. It confirms it every step of the way. It’s fair to say therefore that the only activity we are interested in the activity of ‘self-confirmation, the activity of ‘self-validation’.

If we were to see through the thick velvet curtain of entropy that has come down over everything then this would be the ending of Cosmic Amnesia but the thing about this is that there is, as we have said, an absolutely huge obstacle here, which is the obstacle of fear. The thing about identifying with the Extrinsic Point of View (which we are calling ‘the ego-construct’) is that we ‘lose all of our being’ without knowing it, without being able to know it. The Extrinsic Viewpoint isn’t just ‘a limited way of seeing things’, it’s a limited mode of existence. We are ‘on the outside of life looking in’ (like window shoppers) and this means we don’t have any being. If we were actually living (instead of ‘thinking about living’ or ‘taking a selfie of ourselves doing what we think is living’) then we would have all the being in the world, but when we’re stuck being ‘the external observer’ then there’s no being there. Of course there is no being there – there is no being when we’re outside of life, not engaging in life, being afraid to take the risk of engaging in life. There is no being in that at all.

There is being in ‘taking the risk’, however. When we engage in that and we are of course taking a risk – we’re taking the risk of discovering that we aren’t the same thing as ‘our idea of who we are’. We’re risking this idea; we’re risking it big time. We are actually going to have to let go of this idea; engaging in life always means sacrificing the idea that we have about ourselves. The two things never measure up – we might think that they will but they won’t. This sounds – perhaps – like rather a trivial thing to say, but it is true in a much more dramatic way than we would ever normally realise. Whenever we truly engage with the world (rather than merely ‘engaging with our ideas about the world’) then we discover that our notion of who we are simply doesn’t exist. In creativity we discover that our notion of who we are doesn’t exist, and that’s why creativity (or full engagement) so frightening – it’s so frightening because we lose ourselves in it.

We lose ourselves and what we gain instead is being, because there is no being when we are only looking at things from the outside, and we are ‘copying stuff’ or ‘replicating stuff’ rather than being genuinely creative. There is a big – apparently insurmountable – barrier to this (which is to say, to ‘being real’) and that is our allegiance (on a very deep, unconscious level) to the fixed idea of ourselves that thought provides us with. This is the self that is created by our resistance to the endless current. To say that it is ‘going against the grain’ to sacrifice the image of ourselves is putting it mildly. This is the Opus Contra Naturam spoken of by the alchemists – the ‘Work Against Nature’. Perversely, we don’t want to ‘remember’. We don’t want to wake up, even though remaining asleep is causing so much pain, and is denying us our very being. Being is in the movement, not in the ‘standing still’.

Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.
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