Instructions and methods are no good when it comes to the art of becoming free. All instructions and methods do is to make us ‘slaves to the system’. If I go to see a teacher or a guru or a therapist and they give me a method to follow then all they are doing is providing me with a logical surface to adhere to. But I can adhere to any given logical surface as hard as I like, I can adhere like a veritable limpet, I can adhere heroically, religiously, fanatically, and that still isn’t going to help me in the slightest. Adhering to a logical surface isn’t going to take me any further than that same logical surface and that isn’t freedom – that is just conformity to a system.
If you instruct me, if you tell me something or other that I can understand, then that is only logic and logic is only just a big climbing frame. I can use it to climb about quite handily but I can’t use it to climb off the actual climbing frame itself. No climbing frame in the world – no matter how extensive it is, no matter how well-built it might be, can ever help me climb beyond that same climbing frame. In fact the better built and more extensive the climbing frame, the more of a trap it is.
Anything that can be readily understood is a kind of mental climbing frame and mental climbing frames never lead to freedom. In order to free me from my own mental climbing frame (my own mind) you would have to talk in a way that is frankly incomprehensible to me since anything that is comprehensible, or potentially comprehensible to me, is by definition nothing other than my own climbing frame. But saying stuff that is entirely meaningless to me is not going to help me either because I won’t be able to get any purchase on it – it will be useless to me.
So if you give me instructions that I can understand that is a trap and if you give me instructions that are fundamentally incomprehensible to me, no matter how assiduously I study them, then that is merely useless. There are no other possibilities to be squeezed out of the situation and so there appears to be no way out of the fix.
If it is freedom that I am after, rather than a life stuck in a mental climbing frame of some sort or another, then what I want is a set of instructions for ‘jumping off’ that climbing frame, that logical surface. But instructions of any kind are always written on a logical surface – instructions are the mental climbing frame. What I am wanting is a method for becoming unstuck from whatever instructions or methods I am unhappily stuck to. So as soon as you give me a method to free myself from my old climbing frame I get stuck to this method instead. And so on ad infinitum, with no possibility of final release no matter how many times I repeat this process.
There is no such thing as a method for becoming unstuck to methods, or a procedure for freeing oneself from procedures. There is no such thing as a set of instructions for how to jump off the logical climbing frame. All methods, all instructions, are only just different ways of ‘holding on’, different ways of ‘staying in control’.
We are all stuck in methods, stuck in instructions, stuck in literal descriptions or formulations of one sort or another. This constriction of possibilities causes frustration, discomfort and distress – if not actual acute misery – and so as a result we are always in the market for ‘new improved’ methods, instructions, descriptions and formulations – new, improved ways of hanging on. But none of this equals freedom, the only thing that equals freedom is ‘letting go’ or ‘jumping off’ and nobody can tell me how to do that.
Telling people what they might do to be happier or freer is big business. On the face of it the idea of helping someone (or being helped) in this way seems to make perfectly good sense but in another way it is deeply perverse. The art of becoming free is a very personal thing, just as life itself is. No one can do it for you, though many might try. When somebody tries to show you how to be happier or freer he or she is actually taking away from you what is yours. Their only business is to learn how to do it themselves; I can jump off myself but I can’t explain to anyone else how to do jump off – that would fundamentally undermine the whole process. The art of becoming free, of moving in the direction of being free, is unique to each person.
It could be said that this art is what life is all about, that learning to be free is the purpose of your life. Anything else just isn’t life – it is stasis, it is the postponement of living, it is ‘waiting to live’. The process of becoming free is new for each person, as if it had never happened before. Every time it happens it is as if it were the very first time that it ever happened. It is not something that is ‘old hat’, that some expert can show you how to do, or that you can read about in a book.
As Krishnamurti says, there is no system to becoming free. If I give you a system then this is sabotaging everything – the freedom goes out of the process of becoming free. There is now a right way and a wrong way, a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ and wherever there is a right way and a wrong way, a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ there is a lack of freedom. Wherever there is a system there is a movement in the other direction – the direction of becoming less free, more controlled, more ‘duty-bound’…
There is no system for becoming free from the system. Systems are slavery and the only way to become free from this slavery is to leave all logic behind. The only way to become free is to jump right off the mental climbing frame, and step into empty space, and there is no system for this…
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.