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When Essence is Lost

When essence is lost there is nothing else for it, no other possibility left to us other than to get totally controlled by mechanical impulses originating in the patterns of our past existence. We are possessed by these past patterns, we are grotesquely animated by them like wind-up clockwork dolls, and yet the thing about all of this is that it seems very current to us – which is to say, the patterns seem very much to be of the present rather than of the past. Neither do we seem to be in the position of being controlled by them!

 

 

Because essence has been lost there is nothing to suggest otherwise to us, there is nothing to contradict this conditioned perception. There is no possibility for us to see things in any other way. The ‘echoes from the past’ are not seen as echoes from the past therefore, but rather they are simply seen as ‘what is’ (i.e. ‘what is going on’) in this present moment. We could even go so far as to say that these repeating patterns constitute the fundamental framework of ‘what is and what always shall be’. Or at least they function in this way – they function so as to provide the fundamental framework by reference to which we act out our lives. It cannot however be said that we see this fundamental framework (which is being perpetually resurrected from the dead past) as ‘a fundamental framework’ because we don’t see anything of the sort. In order to see the framework we would have to reflect on what is going on in our lives and we don’t generally do this very much. Without essence, we don’t do very much at all in the way of ‘reflecting’ – in fact without essence ‘reflecting’ is a basic impossibility for us! 

 

 

So we don’t see these echoes from the past as providing the framework which determines ‘what is and always shall be’ for us, that’s just the way it is. We don’t see that the framework determines reality for us – it just does so, that’s all. We have no awareness or interest in either the existence or the operation of the framework. We don’t see the forever frozen patterns of the past as providing a template (i.e. an ‘unquestionable authority’) which then has the function of shaping and determining our lives – that’s just how things are. The framework is really a complete blind-spot for us and it is the continued integrity of the blind-spot as a blind-spot that ensures that the show shall go on…

 

 

Naturally if we could see the framework of the past as absolutely determining how we understand reality then this framework wouldn’t be absolutely determining how we understand reality. The way it all works is that the framework that determines our understanding only determines our understanding when we can’t see that it does! The unquestionable authority of the template only is an unquestionable authority when we don’t actually see it for what it is. To see it is already to question it. To be aware of the existence of an unquestionable framework of meaning that determines our thinking is to depart from the unquestionable authority of that framework!

 

 

What we are essentially talking about here are rules and the basic mechanics of how rules work. A rule is only a rule (or only acts as a rule) when we can’t see it to be a rule. Or to put this another way, a rule only properly functions as a rule when we just do what it says, without really seeing what we are doing, and without really seeing that we are ‘obeying the rule’ . Whatever we’re doing just feels ‘right’ to us and so we never question it. We don’t reflect on the whole business of what we’re doing and why and if there are any other possibilities. A rule tells us what to do (or how to think) in such a way that there is absolutely no choice in the matter. There is no question of there being any choice – the question of there being or not being any choice never arises. It never arises because the rule doesn’t ALLOW it to arise! The only type of stuff that gets to happen under the rule is stuff that the rule has previously specified as being ‘allowed to happen’, and the one possibility that it NEVER specifies is the possibility that we might question ‘why the rule has to be the rule’. What type of rule would it be, after all, that allowed for the possibility of not automatically obeying it? That would be the same thing as ‘a rule that doesn’t actually insist on being obeyed’ and a rule that doesn’t insist on being obeyed isn’t a rule…

 

 

A rule gets to be a rule therefore because of the fact that there is no freedom to do anything that has not been previously specified by that rule. This is how rules work – which is of course a very obvious thing to say! The rule must be obeyed – end of story. But as soon as we can see the rule then we can also see how the rule gets to be the rule. We can see how the rule gets to function as a rule – i.e. we can see that the rule only gets to be the rule by not allowing anything that it has not specifies to happen. When we see this though we are at the same time (of course!) seeing that there ARE other possibilites other than what the rule has specified and seeing this is in itself not obeying the rule. Seeing this is going beyond the remit of what the rule permits because the rule never tells us about what it doesn’t permit! For the rule to mention any other possibilities other than the ones it allows would be the same thing as allowing them…

 

 

As we have said, seeing how the rule works is not something that the rule allows us to do. So what this means is that as soon as we can see the rule (i.e. as soon as we can see the rule for what it is) then we are no longer being controlled by that rule. We are no longer being ‘absolutely determined by it’. To see the rule is to be free from the rule, in other words, because – as we keep saying – the rule only functions as a rule when it denies us the freedom to see that it is the rule.

 

 

Curiously, the rule cannot get to be the rule in the first place without freedom (even though it denies that this freedom exists) because in order for the rule to get established as a rule we have to freely agree that it shall be a rule! We have to agree to ‘take it seriously’, we have to agree that it is ‘a real thing’. Yet at the same time we have to freely agree that the rule is a rule, we have to agree not to see that we have agreed. We have to agree not to see what we have just done. So there are two ingredients that are needed for a rule to be a rule:  [1] is that we freely agree that the rule is indeed a rule, and [2] is that we also agree not to see that we have agreed. It is this ‘double-clause’ (this ‘double-whammy’) that sets the rule up in its unquestionable authority over us…

 

 

What we have referred to as ‘echoes of the past’ or ‘repetitions of old patterns’ are therefore nothing more than rules, and they are kept as rules by virtue of the fact that we don’t see what is going on, by virtue of the fact that we have no awareness of (or curiosity about) the framework within which we are operating. And the reason we have no awareness, no curiosity, is because we have ‘lost our essence’ – essence being on the one hand ‘what we really are,’ and on the other hand ‘the only true reality’…

 

 

So this is all very strange indeed – the echoes from the past don’t exist at all. These echoes from the past are unreal, they are ‘hallucinatory remnants’, they are ‘phantom limbs’, they are ‘residual ghost-images’ that are persisting in our minds and nowhere else. And yet even though these ghost images are nothing at all, have no existence at all, they determine how we see the world and how we are in the world. Notwithstanding their none-existence they determine everything about us. These ‘reverberations in an unreal dimension’ are not only real and substantial to us, they are for us the only reality! They make up the only reality we know or care about…

 

 

By going along with these ghost impulses we invest them with energy. They await us, as it were, ready in an instant to come back to life again with the vitality that we provide. Without us they are nothing, without us they are mere potentialities, waiting to enact themselves through us. So an impulse comes along and I think something, or say something, and because of the way in which the ‘activated pattern from the past’ simultaneously takes hold of me and excludes all awareness of anything else, it is as if it is the first time that I have ever thought it, or spoken it. Even if I know that this is not the case, there is still this deceptive sense of freshness and vitality that goes with the re-enactment of the dead impulse that makes it seem new. The impulse is reactivated (in a way, made ‘as good as new’) just as a ‘patched up’ body made up from corpses exhumed from the graveyard is reanimated by the electrodes in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory!

 

 

This phenomenon is equivalent to what Stuart Hall calls ‘false spontaneity’ – an opinion occurs to me (an opinion or prejudice that has been knocking around for a long, long time, being passed around heedlessly from one person to another like the cold virus) and I automatically verbalize it, and as I do so it feels to me as if this were the very first time anyone has ever expressed such a thought, such an opinion! And along with this ‘pseudo-perception’ there is the unquestioned conviction that the comment that I have just uttered is fully expressive of my authentic individual self.

 

 

It is for all the world as if I am a gifted artist or craftsman who has just produced, after great labour, a truly original piece of work, something that is quite remarkably unique rather than being what it is – an empty repetition of something a million people have (equally thoughtlessly) said before! ‘False spontaneity’ isn’t limited to the interjection of the odd comment either – it is a whole script, and as long as we can’t see it for a script (which we can’t when we are in the unfortunate position of having lost our essence) we end up reading it whilst imagining the whole time that ‘this is what we really think’, that ‘this is our own true voice’…

 

 

Put like this, this whole business of the echoes of the past being brought back to life through us, and getting a chance to live again through us in some strange and distinctly unwholesome way sounds thoroughly shocking. It sounds positively gruesome. What kind of a macabre carry on is this? What possible purpose could there be in such a farce? Seeing things in this way (were we willing to make the experiment of doing so) would cause us to radically revise our understanding of what human life is all about; in this (admittedly unpalatable) view, we are nothing more than the means by which these defunct, decrepit, degenerate shop-worn ‘patterns from the past’ get to reproduce and perpetuate themselves. We are the unwitting hosts and they – the repeating patterns or mechanical impulses – are the parasitic life-forms. It is as if the human race – for the most part – has become no more than a convenient storage device for these empty mind-echoes, these virtual constructs, these frenetically reproducing ghosts from the past. It is a similar situation to that which would come about if every computer connected to the internet were to be infected with a particularly effective virus that turned them into ‘zombie units’ which then become incapable of carrying out any (significant) function other than being a host to the virus (i.e. incapable of serving any purpose other than being yet another generic ‘virus factory’). These are all perfectly appropriate metaphors.

 

 

So to get back to the question of “What is the purpose in such a macabre carry on?” the answer is clearly that there is no ‘purpose’ at all – at least not as far as we are concerned! There is a purpose as far as these viral imprints (these ghost-patterns from the past) are concerned and that purpose is of course all about them. Our only purpose is to serve them, to facilitate them, to enable them. We are just their medium, like the agar jelly which a laboratory mould grows on. They ‘feed’ on us, that is all…

 

 

The ‘problem’ with this view of things is of course that it sounds completely ridiculous. It’s not something you can talk about with your friends without causing a general stir of amusement; either that or – if you keep on about it – people will start to seriously worry about your mental health. This is worse than ridiculous – it is an insult to our way of seeing ourselves. Such a grotesquely undignified view of human life cannot be tolerated for a second! We are the masters here, we are the ones who get to be the ‘king of the castle’ – not some pestilential resurrected mechanical impulse from the past!

 

 

The thing is that our lives don’t feel anything like the dreadful state of affairs that we have just described. On the contrary, we feel – for the most part – that we genuinely are in charge of our lives and that we are doing stuff that we want to do, stuff that is meaningful to us on a personal basis – NOT stuff that some highly infective mind-virus is making us do. This is only to be expected of course. How else would it be? The mind-virus is the provider of the rules and all we have to do is obey these rules. Obeying the rules means – as we have already said – not being aware that we are obeying the rules. That’s how rules work, after all. That’s the whole point.

 

 

The reason we don’t see ourselves as being controlled or determined by bunch of mechanically repeating patterns, left-overs from a past that refuses to be past, is because we’re seeing the whole show from the point of view of these patterns and this – as we might expect – puts a totally different perspective on things. We’re looking at everything the other way around – the ‘back-to-front way’, we might say. Our perspective on the proceedings is the perspective that has been given to us by the rules and so of course what we just described doesn’t seem to tally with our everyday experience. This is the only way of looking at things we know. We don’t live life from our perspective, we live it from the perspective of the structures that are governing and organizing our consciousness – it isn’t us we’re living for therefore but them…!

 

 

The thinking mind is ‘the echo from the past’ – it is the past, as Krishnamurti says so often. That’s all it is – the past, a collection of memories. The thinking mind is the basis for everything – it is the supreme organizing principle and it’s the only way that we have of seeing anything, usually. We’ve allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by the media and so now we’re ‘on the side of the government’ – we see things the way the establishment sees things and this is because, via the insidious process of passive identification, we have become the establishment. As Carlos Castenada says, ‘The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind’.

 

 

When we see the world we see it through the eyes of the structures that are being passively facilitated by our consciousness – when we talk it is with the voice of these structures, when we act it is with their will. When we operate at all, it is by reading the script that they have provided us with…

 

 

This interloper, this introject, this viral mind is what Carlos Castaneda refers to (in The Active Side of Infinity) as ‘a foreign installation’:

 

Every one of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, and it is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose, The other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self-assertion, doubts, hopelessness: it’s ourselves as the me-me center of the world.

 

We are not naturally petty and contradictory. Our pettiness and contradictions are, rather, the result of a transcendental conflict that afflicts every one of us, but of which only sorcerers are painfully and hopelessly aware: the conflict of our two minds! One is our true mind, the product of all our life experiences, the one that rarely speaks because it has been defeated and relegated to obscurity. The other, the mind we use daily for everything we do, is a foreign installation…

 

The curious thing about this is not that we are being possessed by some humourless mechanical mind, that it is not us but some generic viral pattern that gets to have the pleasure (or otherwise) of living our lives, but that this mechanical mind or viral pattern is quite unreal, as is the world which is causes us to believe in!

 

 

The pattern in question is a ghost pattern that has been ‘resurrected’, and yet it has not really been resurrected because it was never truly alive in the first place. No logical pattern – no collection of regularities – is ever real, is ever alive. Logical patterns are abstractions. What has actually happened to us is that – by allowing ourselves to be possessed by the pattern from the past – we have allowed ourselves to become unreal. We have allowed ourselves become concerned exclusively with unreal things and as a result of this ‘immersion in unreality’ we are deterministically fated to identify with an unreal image of ourselves and thus live out the course of our lives in a thoroughly unreal world…

 

 

 

 

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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