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The Illusion Machine

The key idea in esoteric psychology is the idea that our normal state of mind is unconscious, which is to say, it is the idea that we exist for most of our lives safely secluded in a sort of ‘mental comfort zone’. The reason we use the term ‘mental comfort zone’ is because all we ever (generally) get to know about is a slanted version of reality that is specifically tailored to suit us. The idea is that all we are ever (generally) aware of is a managed, processed or ‘controlled’ version of reality that provides us with a sense of illusory security (or comfort).

 

 

This mental comfort zone can be looked at as a bubble of ‘pseudo-awareness’ which we manufacture for ourselves and which has the property of being essentially ‘non-challenging’ or ‘non-threatening’ for us. Although this insulating bubble of pseudo-awareness comes into being through our participation, we rarely have any insight into this fact. Why this should be so is obvious enough – the knowledge that I am managing my awareness so that it contains nothing too challenging or too threatening would in itself be highly challenging and highly threatening! Obviously, any intimations that I might get regarding the fact that I am ‘conspiring against myself to prevent myself seeing reality as it truly is’ is bound to be disturbing. There is no comfort at all in such a thought – this is of course the basis of what we call ‘paranoia’.

 

 

The way we are describing the state of psychological unconsciousness here is somewhat different to the way that classic psychology would tend to describe it. What we are basically saying is that ‘unconsciousness’ is the capacity to deceive ourselves without knowing that we are doing so. Or, to put this another way –

 

Our normal (so-called ‘unconscious’) type of awareness is an insulated, edited, protected, controlled or ‘managed’ state of mind in which certain key beliefs or belief-structures can exist without being challenged.

 

 

The implication here is that without the management (or editing) of incoming information, these belief structures could not continue to exist.  Therefore, we can say that the function of the managed mental state that we are calling ‘unconsciousness’ is to allow those belief structures that are important to us to remain stable, which is something that they cannot do without the provision of some sort of stabilizing ‘artificial mental environment’.

 

THE SELF-IMAGE

 

At this point it is natural that we should start to get curious and wonder exactly what sort of beliefs we are talking about here and why they should be so important to us (not to mention why they should be so inherently unstable). One way of answering these questions is to think in terms of what Krishnamurti calls the ‘self-image’. My self-image is the way that I like to perceive myself; it is also the way I think that I ought to be, which in turn has a lot to do with the way that other people think I ‘ought to be’. To give a crude sort of an example, let us say that I like to imagine that I am a decent, honest, committed, unselfish and essentially ‘justified’ sort of person. Let’s say for the sake of the argument that I like to imagine that I am ‘one of the good guys’. Now the fact of the matter is of course that a self-image like this comes cheap, which is to say, I can obtain it easily – I can obtain it without any work, without having to go through any pain change or personal growth. This self-image is basically a comfort-zone that I use to insulate myself against any painful awareness that might come my way. It is protection against the truth, when it comes down to it, because ‘the truth’ and the ‘self-image’ can never co-exist happily. In fact the truth and the self-image cannot coexist at all!

 

 

Sometimes it happens that I have a type of reversed or negative self-image, i.e. an image of myself as a lazy, useless, stupid, wicked or evil person. This is like a mirror image of the positive self-image and it is no more ‘true’ than it is. In fact all images that I might have about myself are bound to be false representations without exception. An image is a superficial and static description (i.e. it is a ‘label’) and as such it cannot ever even come close to the deep, dynamic and mysterious individuality which is who we really are. To put this another way:

 

Self-image is a matter of form (appearance), whereas individuality is a matter of content.

 

Going back to our original question, then, we can say that the belief-system that we want to protect includes all the beliefs that are connected in some way with the ‘self-image’. The truth of this is very easy to test – if someone says something to the effect that I am a crappy, useless, ridiculous person I will feel very stung. This is what we call an ‘insult’ and an insult almost always provokes an instantaneous reaction – I feel the need to say (or do, or think) something to justify myself. When this happens it is invariably a manifestation of the self-image protecting itself. Who I really am is not touchy and humourless and constantly self-validating like this because it is not based on lies. It is at home in itself, relaxed in itself, at ease with itself, whereas the self-image is not. The self-image is completely dependent on ‘a comfort zone made up of ideas that it cannot allow to be challenged’

 

EXTERNALIZING THE PAIN

 

In general, we can say that the self image is a view of ourselves which we are at all times in control of, without realizing that we are actually controlling anything. In a similar way, we can explain the nature of the unconscious state by saying that it is a type of ‘freedom from reality’ which allows us to put a favorable slant on everything that happens, without us realizing that this is what we are doing. It is a state of existence in which we are at liberty to put any spin on reality that it might suit us to! ‘Favourable’ means ‘not challenging the image that we have of ourselves and the world’. It is where reality is manipulated (or ‘controlled’) so that it validates or confirms the idea we want to have about ourselves.

 

 

A further ramification or development of this ‘spin-doctoring’ business is the way that we have of automatically shifting the blame away from ourselves, whilst remaining convinced the whole time that we are doing no such thing. As Carl Jung says, when we are in the unconscious state the blame for our misfortunes and unhappiness always belongs safely ‘out there’ – any deep-down pain that I feel (such as self-doubt, insecurity, shame or self-hatred) is projected onto someone else, or onto some generalized group of people (a particular race or creed for example). This allows me to feel validated in myself, and it also allows me the satisfaction of ‘striking out’ at the carrier of my own shadow. I say that everything that is wrong with the world (or wrong with me) is your fault, and this externalization of the pain means that you are the problem that needs to be dealt with, not me. Jung pointed to the Nazi movement in Germany in the nineteen thirties and forties as a particularly horrific and catastrophic example of this sort of unconscious process, but this very same process of pain-deflection occurs everywhere all of the time, every single day of the year, in all strata of society, in the course of all ‘normal’ human interactions. If we are unconscious, then it goes without saying that we are in the business of pain-deflection, one way or another.

 

SELF-HUMOURING

 

Another way to look at the idea of the mental comfort zone of unconsciousness is to think in terms of ‘self-humouring’. We can explain what we mean by this slightly odd term with the following statement:

 

Self-humouring means that I am seeing things in a prejudiced way without actually acknowledging that I am seeing them in a prejudiced way.

 

The fact that I am looking at the world in a prejudiced way without acknowledging the prejudice in question means that I am playing a trick on myself – in practical terms, this amounts to an act of self-deception. I manage to avoid seeing that I am prejudiced by validating the prejudice, which means that instead of seeing that my way of looking at things is arbitrary I put my viewpoint ‘on a pedestal’. I say (by implication) that it is the one and only correct way to see the world. Basically, I am seeing things in a thoroughly biased way, and then escaping from seeing the bias by saying that the bias isn’t a bias at all, but rather that it is the true and unquestionable orthodox and officially-sanctioned position on matters.

 

 

In The Social Construction of Reality, sociologists Berger and Luckman refer to this sneaky manoeuvre as reification. An explanation of what they were getting at with this idea would be something like this:

 

Reification means that we make a rule (or a bunch of rules) and then say that we didn’t make them up at all but that the rules in question are part of the natural order of things.

 

This is exactly what happens when we play a game. For example, suppose we want to play cops and robbers – the first thing that happens is that I choose to be cop and you choose to be a robber, and then, having done this, we must both ‘forget’ that we actually chose our roles and start taking them seriously. It is of course only when we forget that we chose to be in such-and-such a role that the game can begin. The point is that ‘taking the game seriously’ means forgetting that it is a game. To play the game we need to forget that we invented the rules of the game.

 

REIFICATION EQUALS ‘SELF-VEILING’

 

As James Carse says in his book Finite and Infinite Games, we veil from ourselves the freedom that we have not to play, and the sense of compulsion or necessity that this produces is the essential ingredient of the game. Obviously, if I don’t feel compelled to try to win (and compelled at the same time to try to avoid losing) then it wouldn’t be much of a game! The important thing here is that I don’t start questioning why it is so important for me to win – I just do my very best to win. This unreflective motivation (or ‘compulsion’) arises out of my lack of freedom, and ‘a game’ is where I ‘freely give away my own freedom’.

 

 

Going back to Berger and Luckman, we can say that reification means that we choose for a rule to be a rule and then say that we didn’t choose it, but rather it was chosen for us. This is how we ‘hand over responsibility’ or ‘hand over our freedom’. The point about handing over our responsibility is that it has to involve an element of self-deception: I cannot allow myself to see that that I am deliberately handing over responsibility otherwise I would see that I am ‘responsible for handing over my responsibility’! If I saw that I had freely handed over my responsibility that would of course mean that I am responsible anyway. There is absolutely no way that I can honestly get rid of responsibility – that is one of life’s impossibilities. If I want to have ‘no responsibility’ (or ‘no freedom’) then I have to deceive myself in order to get it.

 

 

A parallel (psychological rather than sociological) version of the reification principle is where I choose to see the world in a particular way, and then avoid seeing that there was any element of choice involved in this process. What is happening here is that I am making a rule for how to look at things, and then saying that it is not my rule, but the rule. A rule for how to look at things is a ‘criterion’ and our evaluative criteria are the rules that we use for making sense of the world. Basically, the meaning that the world has for us is determined by the evaluative criteria that we choose to use when we are processing incoming information and so what we are doing when we see the world via the machinery of our rational-conceptual interpretation is that we are managing the meaning that the world has for us without actually acknowledging that this is what we are doing.

 

 

Another way of talking about the rules-of-interpretation that we use when we look at the world is to speak in terms of the ‘bias’ (or prejudice) that is inherent in our mental data processing. Our criteria give us our ‘slant’ and the slant that we obtain ‘suits us’ in some way. This obviously brings us back to our original definition of the state of psychological unconsciousness as an artificial (or phoney) version of reality that agrees with our hidden prejudices. A question that might come up here therefore is “What happens if I look at the world without any bias or prejudice (i.e. without making any assumptions)?” a very straightforward answer to this would be to say that in this case we are no longer unconscious, which is to say, we are no longer imposing our own (predetermined) meaning on the world, but rather we are seeing the world as it actually is in itself. What we see when we are conscious, however, cannot be described – which is to say, it cannot be made to match our static (unchanging) rational-conceptual categories of thought and perception. Another way to put this is to say that when we see the world without the ‘benefit’ of our conditioning, then what we see inevitably comes as a complete surprise. It is ‘something new’, it is not our own product, our own production, but rather it is wholly independent of our ongoing attempts to control the meaning that Reality has for us…

 

SUCCESSFUL IGNORANCE

 

As we have said, when we have the situation of a ‘prejudicial viewpoint that cannot see it is prejudiced’, then the result of this ‘successful ignorance’ (so to speak) is that we perceive the reality of what we perceive from this prejudiced viewpoint as being correct, right and legitimate. We do not ever question it, nor do we feel the need to question it. The product of the unconscious state of mind is, therefore, a world that is made up of plausible illusions – illusions that seem so real to me that I never doubt them for a second. We could in fact say that these illusions are not simply ‘plausible’ – they are utterly unquestionable. They absolutely dominate and control me, in other words.

 

 

We have defined the state of unconsciousness as a sort of ‘mental comfort zone’, which is to say, as an artificially maintained mental environment in which certain belief structures can exist unchallenged. We also said that these beliefs ‘suit us’ in some way – the implication being that we obtain some sort of ‘pay-off’ (or benefit) from them. These belief structures are the illusions that are effectively produced by my mental state of ‘non-questioning’, and so what we are basically saying is that our beliefs are believable to us because we want them to be believable.  They control us because we want them to control us! This is the same sort of thing as Berger and Luckman’s two-step ‘reification principle’ that we discussed earlier:

 

[1] First we choose to believe in something, and then

 

[2] We say that we never deliberately chose to believe it at all, but that we just do believe it (i.e. we say that there was no ‘agreement’ or ‘assent’ to the process on our part).

 

Needless to say, if I could see that all my beliefs seem real (i.e. believable) to me only because I have previously chosen (or agreed) for them to seem real, then the game would be up because I would no longer be able to take my beliefs seriously. Reification means ‘making into a thing’ (or ‘making solid’) and it is only because we have reified a certain arbitrary viewpoint that it gets to be ‘a belief’.

 

ZERO PERSPECTIVE CREATES ILLUSIONS

 

We can look at the mental situation of ‘being biased whilst thinking that I am perfectly unbiased’ in terms of having zero perspective. The state of zero perspective is synonymous with ‘an arbitrary viewpoint that does not know that it is an arbitrary viewpoint’ – it is ‘an arbitrary viewpoint that assumes itself (because of its lack of perspective on the matter) to be the one and only right way of looking at the world’. The state of zero perspective does not have access to the perspective that it would need to see that it has no perspective, and so it is this total lack of perspective that causes us to take illusions as being real! This is the same thing as saying that when we are in the state of total ignorance we are too ignorant to know that we are ignorant. It is also the same as saying that ‘zero perspective creates illusions’ – illusions which have absolute power or control over us.

 

EXISTENTIAL SECURITY

 

Earlier on we asked the question “What are the supposed belief-structures that are so important to us, and why are they so important to us?” We answered by saying something to the effect that the belief-structures in question somehow support our self-image and that they are important to us because of this. There is another, equally good way to answer this question however and that has to do with something which we may call existential security. In terms of existential security, we would have to say that it doesn’t really matter to us at all what our beliefs are, just as long as we have them. It doesn’t, in other words, matter in the slightest what strong and unquestionable opinions we hold, just so long as we have them!

 

 

What the belief-structures (or opinions) are about isn’t the point; the point is that they provide us with a sense of existential (or ‘ontological’) security. They allow me to walk on the solid ground of my assumptions, and this is very comforting to me –

 

Having secure beliefs allows me to relate to a world made up of final realities, it allows me to exist in a world where everything is exactly what I think it is, and this means that there are never ever going to be radical surprises in store for me!

 

 

This ‘absence of radical risk’ is where the comfort comes in. The point about existential security is that it represents a relief (or escape) from fear. This is an important point because it indicates that the motivation behind the state of unconsciousness is the motivation of ‘hiding from fear’ – this in turn means that everything I do when in the state of unconsciousness is also driven by the motivation of ‘running away from fear’. [It also means that everything I do when I am in the unconscious state has no more meaning really than mere ‘fear avoidance’, no matter what I might imagine to the contrary.]

 

 

This way of looking at things allows us to define unconsciousness neatly in terms of its function: we can say that the function of the unconscious state is that it provides us with a way of escaping fear. We could also come up with an equivalent ‘positive’ functional definition by saying that the state of unconsciousness provides us with something that is very important to us – it provides us with a sense of safety or security. This shows us very clearly what the essential difference is between the conscious and the unconscious states:

 

When I am in the unconscious state my ‘master’ is my own comfort, whereas when I am in the conscious state my ‘master’ is not comfort but the truth.

 

 

An alternative version of this principle would be to say:

 

Being psychologically unconscious means that my allegiance is to comfort rather than truth, which in turn means that I am bound to live a life that is based on ‘self-deception’ rather than ‘inner honesty’.

 

 

FEAR OF CHANGE

 

Why exactly do I find comfort in not questioning my basic assumptions? Or, to look at it another way, why exactly is it so important for to me to identify myself with a fixed, superficial and essentially ‘limiting’ self-image? Abraham Maslow, founder of the humanist and transpersonal schools of psychology, has noted that our greatest fear seems to be the ‘fear of the new’, which also equals ‘fear of change’. When we fear change what we really fear is the necessity to grow as individuals. If I am to grow as a person then this means moving into new and unknown territory – it means leaving behind who or what I used to think I was. This does not mean learning more efficient or effective ways of interacting with the world on the basis of our old agendas – it does not mean figuring out how to get better at ‘playing the game’. What it does mean is going beyond our agendas and goals and going beyond the thinking which causes those agendas and goals to make sense to me.

 

 

Physicist turned popular author Fritjof Capra has made a helpful distinction between two types of change (or two ‘modes of activity’). These are [1] self-maintenance and [2] self-transcendence. The first type of change involves activity that is directed towards consolidating our position – activity that is self-promoting, self-defending, self-perpetuating, etc. It is change that is directed towards the end of ‘preserving the status quo’ – it is the conservative tendency that we all have. Self-transcendence on the other hand means giving up our fidelity to the existing pattern – it involves embracing radical change, ‘going beyond the known to the unknown’. We can also look at the two types of change in terms of risk, which allows us to make the following statement –

 

Self-maintenance is change based on the avoidance (or at the very least minimization) of risk; whereas self-transcendence means embracing the most radical type of risk there is, i.e. it involves risking the self.

 

TWO TYPES OF MOTIVATION

 

The crucial point here is that it is either one thing or the other – either we ‘risk take’ or we ‘act conservatively’. We cannot risk-take in a conservative way, and we cannot act conservative in a risky way!  We can therefore say that there are two diametrically opposed types of motivation associated with each type of activity. The type of motivation associated with self-maintenance is obviously the type of motivation that compels us to seek existential security, which means as we have said that it is ‘fear based’ (or ‘risk-avoiding’). When I am driven by this type of motivation I am concerned solely with thoughts of profit and loss, i.e. I am only thinking about what I stand to gain or lose.

 

 

Profit/loss-type motivation is the same thing as greed and fear, which is also sometimes called attachment. Attachment is what keeps us firmly and securely unconscious, and so it is only when we start to weaken the grip of attachment that we can begin to become conscious. The thing about greed and fear is that they both produce a ‘profoundly incurious’ state of mind – a state of mind that has no interest whatsoever in anything apart from the object of attachment! What is more, the object of attachment (i.e. the thing that we are either attracted to or repelled by) is actually not real at all – it is only real in a ‘virtual’ (or ‘provisional’) sense. We could say that the object of attachment is ‘a label’ because I am relating to how I label reality, not to reality itself. This virtual object is therefore no more than ‘an assumption’ – it is a mental projection which I am unable to question. I am in effect hypnotized, and it is this state of being helplessly hypnotized or ‘fixated’ by my own mental projections (my own descriptions) that constitutes the state of psychological unconsciousness.

 

THE PRINCIPLE OF SUBSTITUTION

 

Attachment is the opposite of ‘curiosity’ and yet it could be said that it somehow manages to mimic it, and therefore substitute itself in place of it. Attachment involves a profound lack of curiosity, but the curiosity is replaced a sort of ‘fixated concern’ which is a basically a type of compulsive interest in anything that has a bearing on my attachment. If I think something can help me gain what I am greedy for, then I am very interested, and if I think something can help me avoid what I am frightened of, then I am also very interested. Otherwise (if it has no bearing on ‘profit and loss’, no bearing on my ‘existential security’) then I have absolutely no interest whatsoever. We can therefore differentiate between curiosity and what passes for curiosity when we are in the state of attachment by saying that the former equals ‘curiosity without an agenda’, whilst the latter equals ‘curiosity with an agenda’. We could also note that ‘curiosity with an agenda’ is the same thing as selfish concern, which is where ‘the only thing I am really interested in is myself’. This – needless to say – is a fairly familiar sort of idea!

 

THE PRINCIPLE OF ‘INVERSION’

 

It would not be correct simply to say that unconsciousness is a sort of ‘passive filter’ through which we get to perceive only the bits of reality that we want to perceive. It is not enough to say that the unconscious state functions as a screen to cushion us from getting bruised, or from getting cut or grazed by life’s rough edges. Unconsciousness is like an insulator, but it is more than just an insulator, it is actually an inverter! What this means is that when we are in the unconscious mode we perceive everything in an upside down sort of way – we get it all backwards. There are a number of ways in which we can explain this.

 

 

One way is to say that because we implicitly elevate the importance of the instrument of thinking over the importance of the user of the instrument our basic priorities are reversed. When this happens thought is doing everything for the sake of consolidating and reinforcing its own usefulness. What thought really wants is to make itself indispensable, and that is the real reason that it is ‘helping’ us – this is like a government that pretends to have the our interests at heart so that it can get us to vote it back into power again! With regard to the tool of thinking, therefore, we can say that –

 

Inversion means that the thinking has become more important that the task it was supposed to be carrying out, the description more important that the thing being described, and the catalogue more important than the things being catalogued!

 

 

We can also get at this point by re-iterating the fact that when I am psychologically unconscious I am always being fundamentally dishonest – which is to say, I am effectively deceiving myself the whole time about what my true motives are. Because my fundamental, unquestionable agenda is to ‘safeguard my source of existential security’, and because (as we have said) doing this necessarily involves me not letting on to myself what I am doing, this inevitably means that the motivation I ascribe to my actions is not the true motivation. I think that I am interested in something for a sincere (or honest) reason, but really I am only interested in the issue in question because of how it allows me to successfully distract myself. The more compelling (or ‘compulsive’) the issue, the better distracted I am!

 

 

This state of affairs necessarily results in everything being ‘backwards’ or ‘topsy-turvy’. For example, suppose that I am in love with you, or rather, let us suppose that I am in the unconscious, reversed mode of love which is what we have called ‘attachment’. It goes without saying that I am going to claim to be interested in you for your own sake – I can hardly say otherwise! But the fact of the matter is that I am using you – I am playing at being totally interested in you, and then swallowing my own story that I am totally ‘into you’ so that I can get to feel good. This is why relationships always turn into games of power and control when we are unconscious. My real reason for being interested in you (which I cannot allow myself to see without spoiling the game) is that it is a highly effective way of distracting myself! Being this distracted (being this caught up in the drama of the ‘relationship’) feels good, and feeling good is what I am after.

 

 

To put this another way, I only ‘love’ you because loving you keeps me firmly unconscious, and staying unconscious is what I want, since this is how I am hiding away from fear. If I really did love you then this would be the very antithesis of attachment because then I would be ‘awake’ rather than ‘asleep’. There is no control in love because there is no fear in love. As Anthony de Mello says, Love and fear exclude each other –

 

What is love?”

“The total absence of fear,” said the Master.

“What is it we fear?”

“Love,” said the Master

 

By externalizing my drama (for example, by throwing myself into the drama of what I imagine to be a ‘loving relationship’) I effectively distract myself from myself. All dramas are of course only there so I can distract myself from something that I don’t want to see. Or to put this another way –

 

Successful ‘self-distraction’ means that I am able to effectively hide from the fear which is at the root of everything I do when in the unconscious state.

 

 

Where the ‘inversion’ comes in here (in the example that we have just given) is simple – I say that I am doing everything for you, but really I am doing it all for me. I say that I am ultimately interested in you, but really I am just interested in me. This has to be the case if I am unconscious because if my basic, underlying motivation is fear (or greed, which is the flip-side of fear) then everything I do, I do for me. Being under the rule of fear and being motivated exclusively by selfishness are inseparable. This would therefore make a good theme-song for our unconscious lives – “whatever I do, I do it for me”. And the real rub is that the ‘me’ I do everything for is the self-image, which is a production of the mind, and not a ‘real thing’ at all.

 

THE STATE OF ‘DISGUISED SELFISHNESS’

 

The unconscious state is all about disguised selfishnessselfishness that sneakily validates itself so that it gets to look good to itself. The ‘ultimate’ in selfishness is to be purely selfish whilst masquerading the whole time as being ‘genuinely concerned’! If I were honest about being selfish, then this would in fact be an unselfish thing to do. The reason for this is because there is simply no benefit at all to me in being honest…!  In other words –

 

Being honest does not contribute at all to my ‘existential or ontological security’, which is to say, I am not serving the master of ‘my own comfort’ (which equals ‘fear’) but the master of ‘Truth’.

 

Honesty is therefore always ‘unselfish’, it is unselfish by its very nature because when my commitment is to ‘how things are’ rather than ‘how I want them to be’ then my own comfort or sense of security is no longer the most important thing.

 

‘NEGATIVE’ OR ‘INVERTED’ FREEDOM

 

Finally, we can note that the state of unconsciousness not only inverts our perception of ‘the self’ and ‘the world’, it also inverts our perception of freedom. We can try to show this by thinking about compulsiveness, or the ‘state of being compelled’. When I am in the grip of intense craving, desire or ‘wanting’ it feels very much as if the wanting is my own, i.e. it feels that it is an expression of my own free will. We always say “I want…” not “The compulsion is forcing me to want…” But this wanting is not genuinely volitional because I am not free not to want! I can find this out in a second just as soon as I try not to want because try as I might, there is simply no way on earth that I can just calmly decide ‘not to want’. This is not a choice that is open to me. It’s not under my control. I cannot simply ‘drop’ my wanting on impulse and anyone who tells you that they can do this is either lying to you or lying to themselves. I can ‘want not to want’, but this is of course still wanting, and so I have not got rid of wanting! In reality, I am the helpless puppet of ‘wanting’ and the only way I have of making it (temporarily) go away and leave me in peace is to obey it.

 

 

Needless to say, if I was aware of this wretched state of affairs I would not feel very good. There would not be very much comfort in this and so what I do in practice is to identify with the compulsion in question. In other words, I align myself with the wanting and say (by implication) that this is what I want, not what the compulsion wants. I conform to the prevailing conditions. I ‘hand over’ my freedom in order to have an easy time. Therefore, by availing myself of the inverting property of psychological unconsciousness I can gain the illusion of free will. This reversed or inverted state of will is called by John Bennett ‘negative will’ and it is the same thing as fear. In other words, unconscious fear (fear that is acted upon) looks the same as genuine will, but it is actually the exact opposite. It is ‘reversed’ or ‘inverted’ will.

 

 

In everyday life therefore, it is the case that we routinely mistake inverted will for true volition, just as we are automatically ‘selfish’ (i.e. ‘exclusively self-concerned’) in almost everything we do, whilst feeling (for the most part) that we are being ‘unselfish’. We get to feel that we ‘love’ others, when really we are simply ‘attached’ to them for our own sake. There is a sting in the tail here however – when we are being motivated by purely selfish concerns (which is what unconscious living is all about) we aren’t actually being ‘selfish’ at all because the so-called self’ that we are serving isn’t ourself! The self we are serving so blindly and so helplessly isn’t ourself at all – it is simply a mental construct. It is simply an illusion generated by the rational-conceptual mind. It is simply a bunch of dead mechanical rules that we have identified with, and which we routine mistake for our true ‘self’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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