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In the Perfect Symmetry of the Uncreated World…

In the perfect symmetry of the uncreated world there is no better and no worse, no improvement and no disimprovement, no advantage to be gained and no disadvantage to be avoided. In the uncreated world therefore there are no ‘serious’ pursuits – if there is no real advantage to be gained, nor disadvantage to be avoided, then how can there be a serious pursuit?

 

 

In the perfect symmetry of the uncreated world there is no need to go around improving things, no scheming to be done with regard to how we might improve things, and no excitement to be had thinking about how great our situation will be once we have improved them. Since thoughts of either improvement or disimprovement (along with the emotional states that go along with these thoughts) are pretty much our only interest, our only concern in the created world, the idea of having this all-important preoccupation taken away from us sounds utterly dreadful. The idea of there being neither better nor worse, neither advantage nor disadvantage, appears utterly appalling. That takes the wind out of our sails in a big way!

 

 

In the perfect symmetry of the uncreated world our agendas are empty, our plans are pointless, and our goals don’t really matter at all! In the perfect symmetry of the uncreated world our purposes are self-defeating, our efforts are futile, and our greatest hopes are as profoundly meaningless as our most terrible fears.

 

 

Alan Watts is making the same point when he says that life isn’t really serious. We think that life is a serious business – in fact we are flatly convinced that life is a very serious business indeed – but it isn’t. We regularly get wound up to an extraordinary extent thinking that it is serious, we get stressed to the gills thinking that it is serious, we make ourselves positively sick thinking that it is serious, but no matter what we think, no matter how flatly convinced we might be on the matter, life isn’t actually serious at all.

 

 

I want to catch a certain bus at a certain time and for me this is very serious. The fact that I take the business of ‘catching the bus’ very seriously is demonstrated by the degree of bad grace I manifest when I miss the damn thing, but in reality it isn’t serious at all. It doesn’t really matter at all. I want my team to win and they don’t and so as a result I am gutted, I am demoralized, I am despondent, I am down in the dumps. The implication here is that it ‘is serious’ but obviously it isn’t – it’s just a game of football! Similarly, I want to find my lost car keys and to me this is also extremely serious – I will get very stressed out and very frustrated if I can’t find them, but this still doesn’t mean that there is anything remotely serious about it! I just choose to take it seriously…

 

 

This isn’t just true for minor things like missing buses and losing keys – it is true for EVERYTHING. Suppose that I have found out that I have a terminal illness and that I am shortly to die. For me this seems like the most serious bit of bad news ever – it sound just as serious as serious can get. As Alan Watts points out, we think that life ‘is serious’ and this means that it is very seriously important that we go on living, and very seriously important that we don’t stop living. But this manifestly isn’t the case at all – it clearly isn’t serious at all, it’s only serious because I have ‘agreed for it to be serious’.

 

 

What we’re talking about here is therefore what an exercise in ‘things being so only because I have said that they shall be so’  – the matter under consideration is only serious because I have chosen to look at it in the way that makes it serious, because I have tacitly agreed for it to be serious. That’s just how things look when I play the game of it ‘being serious’. That’s the view I obtain when I take the narrow view, the narrow perspective. If I were to take the bigger view of things, the wider perspective on things, I would see with absolute clarity that what I am worried about doesn’t matter at all…

 

 

Jupiter doesn’t stop orbiting the sun just because I have missed my bus, or just because I have lost my car keys, or any of those things that I say are so overwhelmingly important. Jupiter doesn’t stop orbiting the sun just because I happen to drop dead. And even if – by some fluky cosmic accident Jupiter did stop orbiting the sun this wouldn’t matter in the slightest either, not in the bigger picture of things! If the galaxy we live in got sucked into a gargantuan black hole and vanished without a trace this wouldn’t even matter, not in the ‘bigger picture’ of things. It would be just one of those things that happen from time to time, the same as all those other ‘things that happen’…

 

 

The plain and unadorned truth of the matter is that the underlying medium that supports and facilitates all the comings and goings, the ‘to-ings’ and ‘fro-ings’ of the physical universe is perfectly indifferent to all of these comings and goings, all of these frenetic to-ings and fro-ings. This is like saying that the ocean which supports and facilitates all the waves that occur on its surface is indifferent as to which waves come and which ones go. It couldn’t care less, and that is only as it should be – what could possibly be more ridiculous than an ocean that frets over its own waves, an ocean that gets ‘over-involved’ in the ripples that occur on its surface? Or as Richard Bach (1977, P 83) says in Illusions

 

Reality is divinely indifferent, Richard. A mother doesn’t care what part her child plays in his games; one day bad-guy, next day good-guy. The Is doesn’t even know about our illusions and games. It only knows Itself, and us in its likeness, perfect and finished.

 

 

The idea that reality is ‘divinely indifferent’ is of course just another way of saying what we already said, that in the perfect symmetry of the uncreated world there is no better and no worse, no advantage to be gained and no disadvantage to be avoided, no winning and no losing, no possibility of either gaining something or losing something, no possibility of either improvement or disimprovement…

 

 

This – as we have said – sounds quite appalling to us. It sounds unremittingly depressing, utterly depressing, infinitely depressing. Such an assertion – that there is no such thing as better or worse, etc. – appears to us to be the very height of nihilism (‘nihilism’ meaning ‘the absence of all values’, or being completely negative about everything just for the sake of being negative). We will roundly condemn such an appallingly negative view of things, even if – deep down – we might tend to agree with it. And the chances are in fact that we will on a more-or-less unconscious level tend to agree with the idea that everything is pointless because this is what rationalism will ultimately say on the subject of ‘life, the universe and everything’ – rationalism is in fact the very same thing as ‘nihilism’ only for some reason we don’t generally see it this way. Very curiously, we are a rational culture which balks at looking at the logical end-point of our own rational argument! We imply it at every opportunity, but we refuse to be honest about just what it is we are implying…

 

 

What we are saying here about the state of ‘perfect symmetry’ has nothing to do with rationalism however – the state of perfect symmetry is after all a profoundly irrational sort of a proposition, it is a state which has no causes and no consequences, no beginning and no end, no UP and no DOWN, no ‘in’ and no ‘out’, no ‘here’ and no ‘there’. We are not therefore saying that everything is meaningless, or that everything is pointless – we are just saying that ‘having a meaning’ or ‘having a point’ isn’t the point…

 

 

The reason I don’t like to hear that my goals, my purposes, my plans ‘don’t really matter at all’ is because I live in a world that is entirely made up of my goals, my hopes, my dreams, my plans, and so if this world is wiped out at one stroke I really don’t have a lot left! That’s all I have – that’s my whole world and so it comes as a terrible shock to have it unceremoniously deflated in this way. This is the reason the message that ‘my goals are only important because I choose to see them as important’ sounds so negative, so unforgivingly crushingly nihilistic in its tone and not something that I could even imagine coming to terms with. This goal-falsifying message is worse than just bad taste – it is heresy, it is a downright insult to everything I hold dear!

 

 

When we talk about a world that is made up entirely of my goals, my plans, my hopes, my dreams, my concerns, etc, it is clear that what we are looking at here is a world that is made up entirely of me! I would like for me to be centrally important in the scheme of things (even if it’s not quite the done thing to admit that this is the case) and so the revelation that me has really nothing to do with it whatsoever, that my own personal viewpoint on life is ‘only relevant or important because I say that it is’, is a very unwelcome one. It is a revelation that is not let in the front door, a revelation that – in the usual run of things – I don’t have any time for at all. It is a ‘game-spoiler’.

 

 

The reason that the non-purposeful symmetrical world is so splendid, so magnificently and incomprehensibly deep and profound, and the reason that the world we have made for ourselves out of our goals, hopes and fears, is so dismally mean-spirited, so squalidly banal, so desperately trivial is precisely because the former has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my personal concerns, my personal attachments (or ‘likes and dislikes’) whereas the goal-based asymmetrical world (where some outcomes are to be desired whilst others are to be avoided or shunned) is all about my personal concerns, my personal projections of ‘good and bad’, ‘like and dislike’. The ‘little world’, the ‘created world’, the ‘asymmetrical world’ is entirely constructed out of the desire of the everyday self to benefit itself, seek advantage for itself, look for profit for itself, and so on.

 

 

The ‘world of personal projections’ is (of course!) every bit as small, every bit as petty, as the self that is doing the projecting. This ‘world’ isn’t really a world at all but that very same self projected out onto the real world, in such as way that the real world becomes unreal, since it is now all about the self and nothing else….

 

 

The unreality (or the pettiness, since there is no pettiness in reality) comes about as a result of this ‘backwards-looping’, this closed ‘self-reference’, this ‘seeing things in terms of oneself’. Whenever reality is excluded – as a result of me projecting my ideas, my likes and dislikes onto the world and then becoming wholly or exclusively absorbed with these self-centred projections, then of course I am going to become unreal! How could I not become unreal when I no longer have any interest in relating to – or being aware of – anything that is not me? I am not concerned with Reality – I am only concerned with myself…

 

 

‘Advantages and disadvantages’ are all about the self, ‘better and worse’ is all about the self, purposes and plans are all about the self, hopes and fears are all about the self. ‘Serious pursuits’ are only ‘serious’ because the self that is involved in the pursuits is taking itself seriously! If it doesn’t take itself seriously, then its finished, then it will no longer get to be there…

 

 

My resistance to the Big Picture, the Grand View, the Oceanic Consciousness is therefore because I am resisting my own personal ‘non-existence’. I am resisting a world that doesn’t have the pipsqueak little me as the centre of things…

 

 

This ridiculously preposterous bias means that we ‘have everything backwards’: we see what is insignificant and absurdly trivial as being immensely important, and what is real and vital as being entirely unimportant. As J. G. Bennett says in The Dramatic Universe (Vol. 2, P 196) – “…the nullity strives for that which is unreal and turns its back on its own true potentialities.

 

 

If it has a relevance to me and my petty concerns then it is ‘important’ and if it doesn’t then it isn’t. The Big Picture (which is Reality itself) is thus dismissed without any further ado, thrust unceremoniously out of sight somewhere, dismissed, relegated to non-existence, whilst with great fanfare and blaring of trumpets and beating of drums and waving of flags the small picture, the infinitely trivial picture, is elevated to the level of supreme importance!

 

 

We are attached to the small picture and implacably resistant to the Big Picture, the view of Reality as it actually is in all its indescribable grandeur. We are attached to the petty world that we have created with our biases, with our likes and dislikes, with our arbitrary small-minded rules, and we as a result of this attachment we are mechanically compelled to deny the existence of the Big World, the Symmetrical World – ‘the World that was never created and shall never be destroyed’.

 

 

As we have been saying, this is why we are so very fond of having whatever concerns and preoccupations it is that we do have, and why we don’t want to let go of all of our goals and so-called ‘serious pursuits’. This is why we are so implacably averse to a world in which ‘there is no better and no worse, no advantage and no disadvantage, no beginning and no end, no possibility of gain and none of loss’.

 

 

This aversion is because I only get to exist (as that limited, short-sighted, narrow-minded and irredeemably petty and self-centred ‘me’ of everyday experience) through my goals, through my hopes and fears, through my likes and dislikes, through my plans and agendas, through my so-called ‘serious pursuits’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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