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King Of A Small World

The everyday sense of self is created by limiting the ways which we have of seeing the world; it is created by ‘a restriction of awareness’, in other words. We divide or fragment reality by determining what is allowed and what is not allowed and in this way we end up with a particular partitioned version of reality that suits our purposes in creating it. This constrained perceptual stance then creates and maintains our everyday sense of self. Once we start imposing our limitations on reality then reality ceases to be reality however, since the real must be taken whole or not at all – it cannot be subjected to petty regulations. When we do impose our regulations or limitations on reality then what we end up with as a result are these very same limitations or restrictions reflected back at us, only they come back to us in a deceptive guise as ‘the world’. This isn’t the world as it is in itself (which is based upon the principle of freedom or ‘non-exclusion’) but a ‘world’ that is made up of restrictions, a world that is  – very evidently – founded upon the principle of ‘the unqualified exclusion of whatever doesn’t fit’. We cannot question this positive world because it is the only world we know – we cannot conceive of how things could ever be otherwise. We cannot understand any other principle other than that of limitation (or exclusion’). This is ‘the Fall of Man’ – the loss of freedom we are not free to know about. This is the original ‘cosmic catastrophe’ (or ‘great forgetting’) that creates the world as we know it. What we now see is ‘a genuine creation’ is actually the result of an information collapse of unimaginable proportions – instead of inhabiting a world which is forever new, and forever unprecedented, we now live in the Domain of the Known, where instead of ‘the unfolding of the new’, we now have ‘the repetition of the old’.

The Holographic Principle means that there is ‘a little bit of everything in everything’, as Anaxagoras says. The other way of expressing this is to say that nothing (no one thing) is ever truly isolated from anything else. All things are inescapably enfolded in each other. But what happens when we do separate one thing from another, which is what the thinking mind does all the time? What happens when everything is placed in its proper category or class and everything reflects the order that we ourselves have imposed on it (so we then see everything as being just fine and dandy? The snag that we don’t see it is the snag that comes into being as a result of us shamelessly breaching the Holographic Principle. We have separated out everything into categories and we can’t see anything wrong with that; we have separated out everything neatly like this and we have made a world or environment and then – having done this – we have completely devote ourselves to the ‘task’ of living in this environment. We live our lives ‘in defiance of’ the Holographic Principle, it might be said – we disdain it and seek to rise above it in all we do. We cultivate (and are trapped within) an identity that only works as an identity for us because of the way in which we contrast ourselves with everything that is not us. The ‘not-us’ is excluded. There isn’t a little bit of everything else (or everyone else) in us because excluding that awareness is how we get to feel that we are ourselves and no one else. That is how the concrete identity is created – by us ‘excluding awareness’ of everything that we don’t want to see.

This is of course how logic ‘processes’ (or ‘deals with’) the world – by dividing everything up into classes and then maintaining these classes strictly, not allowing any exceptions, not allowing any fuzzy areas. This is Aristotle’s Law of the Excluded Middle – the cat may be on the mat or it may not be on the mat but it can’t be both at the same time. This is the ‘exclusive’ (or either/or) logic that the thinking mind imposes on the world; these are its rules. Pragmatically, there can be no doubt that imposing classes (or a framework that is made up of classes) on the world is helpful to us – if we couldn’t differentiate the word in this way then everyday living will be all but impossible for us. We would no longer be living within the Domain of the Known but within the ‘Unknowable Whole’ and none of our skills for living in the world (the skills that we have so painfully acquired) would be of any use to us anymore. This corresponds to what Jung is referring to when he warns of the danger of the rational ego losing itself in the Unconscious – the Unconscious is a terrible mother who will devour her own children. To be devoured in this way doesn’t just mean losing our pragmatic skills for being in the world (or – rather – for operating in the world) but also all sense of ourselves as ‘separately existing entities or agents’. It is our purposefulness (and the field of rational knowledge that it arises from) that gives us our concrete sense of ourselves. In order for the concrete identity or ego to be strong therefore it must continually assert its boundaries, its separateness. As Jung says – “strong natures – or should one rather call them weak? – do not like to be reminded of this [their unconscious nature], but prefer to think of themselves as heroes” We always try to move in the direction of differentiation because this is where the benefit seems to lie – being clearly differentiated makes the ego strong and not being contrasted against the world in this way makes it weak.

Letting the categorising mind have free reign seems to be where benefit lies therefore – certainly from the point of view of the mental category known as ‘me’ it seems to be the only beneficial direction to travel in – but from any other viewpoint apart from the one which is itself which has itself been created by thought it can be seen that the only benefits involved here are superficial ‘cosmetic’ ones. It’s only Airbrushing. When the Holographic Principle has given way to the imposed hygiene of thought then there is no more flavour to anything; everything becomes bland, completely lacking in nuance and subtlety. Another way of putting this is to say that in the thought-produced world everything is about the wrapping rather than the content – it can’t be about the content because there isn’t any! Everything is about the boundaries, the demarcations, not what is being bounded or demarked. It’s our idea of things that we are concerned with, in other words, not the actual reality; we don’t have an idea about reality because to have ‘an idea’ about something means drawing lines all around it and ‘separating it from everything else’ and – as we have said – as soon as we separate some supposed element of reality from everything else it ceases to be a reality. It ceases to be anything, therefore. Reality always has a flavour – the Mind-Creating Virtual Reality never does. The MCVR is blank (just as Baudrillard says that hyperreality is blank) – the only meaning it has is the meaning we ourselves have projected on it and ‘projected meaning’ isn’t real. Projections are, by definition, fantasies!

Reality itself – reality as it is in itself – is ‘too rich for our blood’. We would rather have sterile neatness and tidiness than ‘richness’ or ‘flavour’. When thought has been given free rein then what happens is that everything gets turned into a system, everything gets turned into the system that is the projection of the thinking mind and all logical systems are by their very nature sterile. Logical systems work (as we have said) by excluding everything that disagrees with their ‘categories for inclusion’ and so of course it is sterile. Whenever anyone ‘gets their own way’ in everything the result is always sterility, and thought is no exception (actually – of course – thought is the culprit in every case). Logical systems are therefore ‘life denying’ just as bureaucracies are – the ‘error’ they so consistently exclude is the error of life itself. If we were to ask what happens when life itself gets to be identified as an error and is then ‘corrected’ then the answer would be ‘neurosis happens’. The neurotic is one who seeks to rectify the problem of life itself and the lacklustre Realm of Neurosis is where thought will always take us, if we go along with it. Neurosis is at root the fear of the richness and diversity of reality along with the ongoing, systematic attempt to tame it. It is ‘a love affair with the small and the petty’. What’s to love about the small and the petty, however, we might ask? There is nothing particularly lovable about the small and the petty of course but the point is that this is ‘the ego’s kingdom’, as Chogyam Trungpa says somewhere. The ego’s kingdom might be appallingly petty but it reflects what the ego wants, and that’s the main thing. That’s actually the only thing that matters to the ego – that its will should be obeyed. Rather a petty domain that faithfully reflects my wishes, my whims, my arbitrary stipulations than an awe-inspiring majestic realm that doesn’t! This ‘meanness of spirit’ is what informs the Realm of Neurosis.

This comes down to fear. The petty world of our everyday concerns has no intrinsic value of its own (how could it?) but it does have value to us all the same. It has value to us all the same inasmuch as it represents a refuge from all that is vast, all that is unaccountable or inconceivable, all that is untamed. The petty protects us from the vast, but this doesn’t mean that there is actually anything good about it (even though we might say that there is). We might make a lot of this ‘petty world’, and get all touchy and protective about it (just as a flag-waving patriot will be touchy if anyone says a word against his supposedly great country) but deep down we know that we are being phony. The same is true with regard to the ego, which we ‘love’ and hate at the same time. I might be all about this identity that I say I am, and which I tirelessly promote, but at the same time my positive self-affirmation masks a secret contempt which will come to the surface ever so often (in the form of virulent toxicity that is directed either towards others or oneself). To esteem myself is the same as despising yourself, hard as it is to see this. No one really loves the prison that they are stuck in, after all, no matter how much they may try to validate it to themselves. In our unreflective pursuit of neatness and orderliness we transgress the Holographic Principle and for our pains we are rewarded with the type of life that is made up of ‘all appearance and no content’, ‘all presentation but no actual flavour’. We are rewarded for our tireless efforts in the direction of safety with the ‘Blank World‘, the world that we make so very much of, but which we secretly despise and hate…

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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