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Lack of Being

Lack of being causes pain, is pain, but the curious thing about this – the very curious thing about this – is that without being who is there to feel the pain? Without being there can be no feeling of pain – only being can feel pain. And yet if there was being there then there wouldn’t be the pain in the first place, since it is the lack of being that causes the pain. So how does this work? What happens to the pain when there is no one there to feel it? Where does it go?

 

 

The answer is of course that the pain is displaced or deflected. It is not dealt with honestly but filtered and cunningly re-configured through some sort of devious game. ‘Displacing’ or ‘deflecting’ the pain means acting it out, in other words, it means turning it into something else, turning it into some form of activity – activity that carries the false promise of escape from pain. Even though the pain in question has not been acknowledged as pain, is not directly perceived as pain.

 

 

Lack of being manifests itself, therefore, in constant activity. Not just any sort of activity however but a very unreflective, very ‘closed’, disconnected and insensitive form of activity. Lack of being manifests itself in ‘over-valued goal-orientated behaviour’ – activity that is the direct enactment or expression of a fixed and limited way of seeing and conceptualizing the world. Goal-orientated (or purposeful) behaviour is a direct ‘mapping out’ of a definite (and therefore closed) picture of the world, it is the logical extension of this picture. Where else do our purposes come from apart from our fixed view of the world? Thus, we can say that the unacknowledged pain of ‘lack of being’ gets translated straight-away into a definite way of seeing and conceptualizing the world. This definite way of conceptualizing the world then gives rise to rational thought and the off-shoot of rational thought which is purposeful activity.

 

 

A shorter way of putting this is therefore to say that the ‘pain of not-being’ gets displaced into the rational or everyday mind and all of its characteristic activities. This everyday mind is nothing other than the everyday self – after all, where else does this fixed or definite self, this taken-for-granted ‘idea of ourselves’, come from apart from the everyday mind?

 

 

The everyday mind (or the everyday self) is therefore not the primary phenomenon that we always take it to be, but rather the mere automatic (or ‘unreflective’) displacement of pain that is caused by our inner lack of being. This is a totally unexpected and utterly astonishing conclusion – that the primary phenomenon in psychology is not the ‘empirical self’ which always gets theorized about, but an absence or lack. This puts a new spin on what Abraham Maslow calls deficit motivation – the motivation for all our characteristic activities is not to obtain results for the sake of our actual being (or the ‘True Self’) but to prevent us from realizing that where this actual being, this ‘True Self’ ought to be, there is nothing but an achingly painful hole. We think our motivation is ‘straightforward’, but it is not.

 

 

Whether we happen to be interested in psychology or not we all take it totally for granted that the everyday mind, the pragmatic or empirical self which we operate out of, which is the basis of our activity, is our true ‘being’. Not only is this self devoid of any actual genuine being however, its whole (apparent) existence is there only for the covert purpose of distracting or diverting us from seeing that we are painfully devoid of true being.

 

 

What I understand to be my ‘self’ is in other words no more than a smokescreen – a decoy production which exists for the sole purpose of preventing me from becoming aware of the uncompromising fact of my own essential ‘absence’. Because of all its likes and dislikes, its wants and fears, its constant clamouring to get its own way, this pseudo-self is superlatively good at absorbing all the available attention, leaving practically none left over for anything else – anything not related to its likes and dislikes. As a distraction or decoy, therefore, the everyday mind simply cannot be bettered – it is as demanding as a badly spoilt child who is only happy for the very brief period of time when it gets what it has been clamouring for. The more power it has over us the less peace we have, and the less likely we are to ever catch even the remotest glimpse of a world that is unrelated to its positive and negative projections (i.e. its attachments), which is the unconditioned world, the world ‘as it is in itself’.

 

 

This self is in its nature quintessentially aggressive, quarrelsome, suspicious, competitive and ‘invasive’. It is always on the move, always scheming, always extending the range of its influence, always consolidating its power base, always securing itself against its real or imaginary enemies. The everyday self is like a business corporation – it can never rest on its laurels but, instead, must be always seeking and striving for the advantage, trying to get one-up on the opposition, trying to suck up all the available resources for itself so that there is none there for anyone else.

 

 

No matter how well it does, however, the voraciously invasive pseudo-self is never happy – it may be industrious but it is never content. It cannot be happy because it has no being – its nature is that of a ‘compensatory device’ which is there to pull our attention away from witnessing the painful fact of our lack of being, and so no matter how well it does in its games this central fact is never going to change. If the pseudo-self were to relax in itself and let up on its constant clamouring for a while then straightaway the real reason for its existence would start to become apparent – we would see it for the fake or hollow decoy that it is, and because this self-system is an autonomous entity which knows no other law other than protecting its own interests this is the very last thing that it wants. Just so long as I want to be dominated and controlled by this system – so that I can be safely distracted by its perennial bullshit – its ‘interests are my interests’, but the moment I start trying to go my own way, and endeavouring to be ‘who I really am’ rather than ‘who the distraction-machine says I am’ I realize that I am up against a frighteningly implacable enemy. I am up against the implacable enemy of ‘who I used to be’ or ‘who thought I used to be’. I am up against the implacable enemy of my ‘former mechanical self’.

 

 

Because the mechanical everyday self is not happy (and cannot be happy any more than a bucket full of holes can carry water) it cannot stand to see happiness around it. This is not simple jealousy – the decoy-system only works if it can pass off its goal-orientated version of happiness as the real thing, it only gets to continue existing because of the illusion that it creates that its wretched pointless carry-on is ‘a worthwhile endeavour’ in itself. Its aversion to seeing happiness around it is not a matter of mere common-or-garden begrudgery therefore but a matter of actual survival. The only way that the essentially perverse carry-on of the purposeful self can continue as an on-going concern, a continuingly viable proposition, is in the absence of genuine actual being – after all, the whole point of the purposeful self is that it exists to deliver us to the promised destination, which means that if this destination is already reached, there is no more need for the delivery system. This would be like the match-maker hanging around after the match is made and the happy couple are married – just as it is vitally important for the match-maker to be there in the initial stage of the process, it is equally important for him to quit the scene when in the next phase, when his job has been accomplished. He is – at this point – entirely redundant! The purposeful self’s motivation is not however to make itself redundant – it pays lip-service to the idea of reaching the promised destination, which is the overt agenda, but its covert agenda is to make sure that there is always a need for it to be there. It is the ‘centre of operations’, and the thought that this centre should one day be unnecessary (and therefore be promptly and unceremoniously dispensed with) is – to it – utterly unthinkable.

 

 

Looking at this in terms of cognition, we can say that the essential perversity of the purposeful mind is that it implicitly claims to be there in order to relate us to a genuine external reality – a reality that is ‘not itself’, a reality that it itself has not created, whilst the truth of the matter is that this is the one thing it will never ever do, the one thing it can never ever do. If the purposeful or rational mind did ever bring us to the point of perceiving unconditioned reality then it would immediately be exposed as being infinitely irrelevant, infinitely redundant. All of the conjectures, all the constructs of thought that it has built up like a city in the clouds would be instantly shown up to be profoundly unreal, and therefore of no use or value at all. This sort of ‘self-sacrifice’ isn’t ever going to be on the system of thought’s agenda, anymore than giving away all its money to charity is ever going to be on the agenda of some multinational corporation. A commercial corporation exists for itself, not for some higher cause, just as the psychological ego exists for itself and not for some cause greater or more important than itself, and so self-sacrifice – no matter what benefits this act might bring to the Whole – is simply not on the cards. So whilst the rational mind claims to be working away to relate us to the greater reality it does no such thing; it relates us or refers us simply to itself, to its own convoluted constructs and games, which is falsely presented as being the ‘external or objective reality’.

 

 

Thinking (or ‘doing’) is one side of the counterfeit coin which is the system of thought, the other side is ‘the thinker’, or ‘the doer’, which is to say, the one who is availing of the services of the system of thought. The ‘one who thinks’ and ‘the one who does’ is of course the self, or the ‘I’, but there is a very big problem here that the system of thought needs solve. We said that if thought were to relate us to the actual unconditioned (or uncreated) reality then it would disappear in a puff of smoke, and in the same way, if the one who is being related to the supposedly ‘external reality’ by the system of thought were itself a ‘genuine, unconditioned, and uncreated reality,’ then that system would again instantly collapse.

 

 

The conditioned mind can only do business with its own productions, its own creations; it cannot do business with the genuine, uncreated reality (which is to say, with actual being) because for it to do so would inevitably constitute an act of self-sacrifice.  So what it does to get around this problem is to simulate an independent self, it constructs an independent thinker or doer the same way that it constructs everything else and then presents its creation as an independent entity. In other words, the system of thought not only produces a simulated external reality which is to be related to, it also produces a simulated self to relate to this simulated world, and in this way the need for an actual reality is neatly side-stepped. The map replaces the reality.

 

 

The simulated world is only viable in the absence of being since only when there is no genuine being can the simulation appear to possess any sort of virtue – its validity depends up there being nothing else other than itself and so for this reason it has to totally replace the whole of reality. It can’t just replace bits of it – it has to replace everything, lock, stock and barrel. What we are calling ‘the simulated world’ is simply an extended exercise in doing – thought replicates being via an active or purposeful ‘doing’. Being is the unconditioned reality, which is to say, ‘reality as it is in itself’, and ‘doing’ is the conditioned reality, the simulated world, the purposeful world that needs both to be actively constructed and actively maintained. This is the whole point of the purposeful world – it has to be intended, willed, wished, specified, designed, constructed, programmed, regulated, and so on. Nothing happens unless it is made to happen, told to happen, instructed to happen.

 

 

Similarly with the purposeful self, the deliberate simulation of the self, it exists only as long as I ‘keep it up’, just as the act exists only for as long as I keep it up. The intentional self, like the intentional world, is like a relationship that doesn’t work by itself, but needs to be maintained by artificial effort. It is like a lame-duck company that needs to be continuously pumped full of money by the government to prevent it from going bust, to prevent it from going belly-up. Like all such ‘forced endeavours’, the moment I start to slack off on my job of maintaining the construct the whole thing starts to come apart at the seams. This – needless to say – introduces anxiety into the picture.

 

 

Not only is the simulated world – the world where doing has replaced being – infinitely inferior in terms of its actual content (since it is at root nothing more than a dry formalism, a sketchy sort of tokenism) it also requires as we have said the constant draining expenditure of purposeful effort if it is not to collapse asunder – it has to be policed just like a totalitarian state needs to be policed. Given these tremendous disadvantages it really has nothing to recommend it and so the only way it can stand any chance at all of looking credible it has to be ‘the only alternative’, it has to be the only show in town. The simulated world’s survival is thus entirely dependent upon its ability to take over everything – like some sort of virulently proliferating virus – and leave nothing ‘natural’ standing. We can say therefore that ‘chronic purposefulness’ (which is busy-ness for the sake of busy-ness, proliferation for the sake of proliferation, expansion for the sake of expansion, control for the sake of control, and so on) is virulent just like some highly contagious disease is contagious. It spreads by contact, particularly with children, they being the medium in which the contagion is most easily transmitted.

 

 

The main sign or symptom of the ‘disease’ in which disguised or camouflaged non-being has replaced genuine being would readily recognizable to any psychotherapist worthy of the name – lack of being manifests itself in one of two ways, it manifests either as ‘self-punishing’ or as ‘punishing of others’. These are the only two possibilities and if I am suffering from a core ‘lack of being’ then I am either going to be one way or the other. Both self-punishing and other-punishing come down to pain-displacement. The core lack of being, as we have said, constitutes a fundamental form of pain and the ‘virus’ which we are infected with as children (or possibly later on in life) is essentially a way of deflecting this pain so that we do not have to be aware of it for what it is. The ‘virus’ is in other words a type of automatic procedure or mechanism by which the problem is not seen ‘for what it is’ but only in camouflaged form as ‘something else’. It is then seen in a format that is unrecognizable to us, and is thus ‘safe’ from the point of view of the game that is being played.

 

 

Via the operation of the acquired mechanism we are able to maintain the illusion that the problem is this or that, and thus the integrity of the game (which is all about kidding on to ourselves that we do have core being when we don’t) is preserved indefinitely. We may not be happy but at least the illusion of a genuine ‘I’ remains flawlessly intact, which is as we have said the whole point of the game that is being played. In reality there is no genuine ‘I’, only the mechanism which is made up of the ‘central lack of being’ and the automatic reflexes which displace or deflect the pain of that non-being into a ‘safe’ direction. There is no being anywhere, only the lack of being and the chronic doing that compensates for (or off-sets) this unhappy lack.

 

 

The essential nature of this displacement-deflection business is much more clearly noticeable in the cruder forms of the game. Its classic manifestation is in the creation of a harshly critical and judgemental atmosphere. The basic message of this atmosphere is that the recipient is ‘not good enough’, a ‘failure’, a ‘disappointment’, a ‘screw-up’, a ‘sinner’, a ‘loser’, a ‘bad person’, and so on. What happens as a result of internalizing this judgemental atmosphere is – needless to say – that I am now saddled with the internalized message telling me that I am always falling short of the required standard, telling me that I am ‘not good enough’, that I am inadequate, useless and unlovable, and so on. I end up feeling chronically bad about myself, feeling that I am a person of no account or value, or even feeling that I am irredeemably wicked or evil and deserving of punishment.

 

 

This brings us back to the idea that lack of being manifests either in the punishing of myself or the punishing of people around me (often people who have been specifically selected for this purpose). For the most part, within the ‘middle’ regions of the spectrum of pain-displacement, so to speak, this self- or other-punishing goes entirely unnoticed because it is ‘normalized’, or ‘socially-validated’. So for example if I have a core feeling of being essentially undeserving then the displacement of this pain acts as motivation for a whole range of socially-prescribed and socially valued purposeful activity. Thus, in this mid-region of the pain-displacement spectrum my unworthy feeling about myself drives me to constantly exert myself to better myself, improve myself, promote myself, advance myself. I am of course basically trying win external acceptance (or obtain a sense of validation in myself) by proving that I am good enough (by proving to my ‘self-critical self’ that I deserve to have happiness). I work hard and drive myself hard but because at the heart of this striving is the need to compensate for an unworthy feeling inside myself that I don’t even know I have, the merry-go-round of purposeful activity will never reach a point where I feel that the end has been achieved. I will never feel that I deserve to be happy. This is always the way with displacement-type activity – I am not after all addressing the problem where it belongs but where it doesn’t belong, and for this reason nothing will ever change. I’m just going to keep running myself into the ground forever.

 

 

Where this is not too extreme, and too obviously damaging for the person concerned, this type of need to prove oneself, please others, find acceptance and validation within the social group or organization, is of course highly valued and is thus not looked upon as an unfortunate state of affairs at all. Society depends on this sort of inbuilt ‘neediness’ and ‘dependency’ – if everyone were to be self-sufficient in terms of ‘not having to seek external approval or acceptance’ then the institutions which comprise society would fall asunder. No one would worry any more about what the neighbours might say. Peer pressure would be an ineffectual force. Social collusions would disintegrate. People would not be driven to assuage their disowned sense inner insecurity by seeking social status, influence or wealth. Populations would not be susceptible to manipulation by fear, greed and envy. Corporations would not be able to persuade us that we need all the useless goods and services they have to sell. As is often said, a person who possesses inner freedom cannot be governed and so is a truly dangerous and radical force as far as those who would govern are concerned. A truly autonomous and free thinking human being cannot – very obviously – be ruled or controlled by external authorities in the way which we are all ruled and so the lack of autonomy (or genuine being) is the very lynch-pin around which the whole world turns.

 

 

Nothing works without this basic absence of being – without this central deficit the whole machine would simply grind to a halt, come apart at the seams, disintegrate into rubble. Without the all-important ingredient of lack of being, and the pain-displacement motivation that is there to help us avoid facing it, the system becomes instantly unviable since the only thing is has to offer us is a vastly-inferior unacknowledged substitute or analogue for ‘what we are missing, but do not know that we are missing’. Thus, the cure of this state of affairs isn’t the reinstatement of the true self, as we might think, but simply the honest perception of the true state of affairs, which then leads us inevitably to the understanding that what the system is offering us isn’t helping us at all, but is only serving to perpetuate our state of unconscious bondage.

 

 

On the more extreme end of the self-punishing spectrum the behaviour in question is more obviously dysfunctional, more obviously pathological, although at the same time still entirely familiar as a ‘way of being’ in the world. A classic example would be where I am constantly being critical of myself, negative about myself, hating myself. There are of course many ways in which I can punish myself, ranging from putting myself in second place every time, dismissing my own needs, never allowing myself any happiness, self-sabotaging, to physically self-harming in one way or another. Most of this type of behaviour and thinking is seen as ‘being unwell’ and thus not socially validated, which the exception of certain types of penitential behaviour which might be validated in a specific religious context.

 

 

Christianity in particular has tended to actively promote the idea that we are essentially inadequate (or ‘sinful’) and that we need to work very hard indeed if we are to stand any chance at all of redeeming ourselves from the inherent unworthiness of our original nature. ‘Being’, in this way of looking at things, is bestowed ‘from without’ – on the condition that we are found deserving enough, or compliant enough with the dictates of the external authority. This of course is a wonderful situation from the point of view of the institution that is the Church since all its members are immediately placed in the situation of being entirely dependent upon the external authority for that most important of things, one’s inner or spiritual life. It is no coincidence that the most castigated ‘heretical’ group of the Middle Ages, the Cathars, held that no agent or intermediary was needed to facilitate one’s inner life and that salvation was not a matter which needs external mediation. It is also not surprising that the repressed Gnostic Gospels are much clearer in articulating the idea that the Kingdom of God is not located outside of ourselves and therefore cannot be ‘bestowed from without’. The Gospel of Thomas (3) is very clear on this point –

 

Jesus said, “If those who lead you say, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

 

The other side of the coin to ‘inwardly-directed pain displacement’ is pain displacement of the externally directed variety – instead of putting myself down all the time, I put other people down instead. Instead of being mean to myself, I am mean to others. As is the case for self-punishing, this type of behaviour is socially-validated in its less extreme manifestations, and for this reason pretty much invisible to us. Socially-validated displacement of the pain caused by lack of being (i.e. the ‘inner poverty’ which Jesus talks about in the Gospel of Thomas) occurs widely in situations where some people are put in positions of power over other people. In the past oppression by the ruling classes was both endemic and extreme and this oppression only started to be questioned in the last few hundred years. In ancient times this type of behaviour was seen as the divine right of the ruling classes and as a result was not seen as an aberration or perversion of human nature. Although social reform (catalyzed by the likes of such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens) has succeeded in changing our awareness of the abuse by people in a position of power of the wider population so that we now see this as abhorrent and utterly unacceptable, it is still present in subtler but no less pervasive forms wherever there are authoritian structures, whether it be government offices, the police, security agencies, the armed forces, education, healthcare and civil administration. Wherever there is a post which puts a person in a position of authority – no matter how petty – there are always going to be pain-displacement going on. Wherever there is a ‘power differential’ there is always going to be a certain sort of ‘institutional unpleasantness’ – a nastiness that is invisible and unacknowledged because it is structural. Often pain-displacement in institutions is invisible because it occurs under the guise of helping people.  The type of pressure we find in the business world is an excellent example of invisible bullying – capitalism by its very nature operates on the basis of exploitation of the poor by the rich and yet far from condemning this system we regard it as an excellent way to run thing. We admire those pillars of the business world who demonstrate the prescribed type of hard-headed self-seeking ruthlessness – strangely, they represent for us a type of ‘culture hero’.

 

 

Following on from this ‘socially approved’ category, there is another part of the outwardly-directed pain-displacement spectrum which is something of a grey area in that it is neither validated nor particularly disapproved of. This grey area involves such behaviours as complaining, criticizing, bitching, gossiping, moaning, griping, and general grumbling and grouching. These complaining-type behaviours are of course extremely prevalent and although no one really enjoys being in the company of someone who is constantly displacing their pain by moaning or griping about this, that or the other, it is so widespread a phenomenon that we pay little heed to it and consider it more or less normal. The particular area of the spectrum that we are speaking of here could also be said to contain culturally-approved (or at least tolerated) forms of judgementalism and prejudice, such as racism, homophobia, misogyny, and negative attitudes towards certain elements in society such as criminals, drug users, hippies, gypsies, disabled people, unemployed people or street beggars. Having a condemnatory attitude to criminals or drug-users seems on the whole to be quite reasonable, if not eminently commendable, but this does not alter the fact that in reality it equals a covert or sneaky way of discharging our own unacknowledged negativity onto other people and thus it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything other than our own private need for ‘relief’ from our own unhappiness, no matter how we might try to dignify it.

 

 

Finally, there is the extreme end of the outwardly-directed pain displacement spectrum, the region that is too obviously vicious, unpleasant and gratuitous for anyone to validate (except perhaps the perpetrator and his or her cronies), and this is what we generally call ‘unacceptable’ behaviour. It includes bullying, aggression, random violence, cruelty, sadism, torture, sexual abuse and what in quasi-medical terms is referred to as general ‘psychopathology’. In all of these cases I am suffering from being a ‘hollow person,’ I am suffering from the pain of being a person with no core, and I am mechanically acting out the pain in accordance with whatever program I have been infected with. Although I look like a ‘bad person’, i.e. someone who is consciously wicked, the truth of the matter is that ‘the lights are on but no one is home’. I am profoundly unconscious – I am merely a perambulating mass of pain which comes with a pre-programmed fully-automatic mechanism for deflecting this pain onto whoever conveniently comes into my line of fire, and happens to fit the bill of a ‘safe target’.

 

 

Coming back now to the invisible (or ‘unacknowledged’) realm of pain-displacement, it is clear that there is a kind of basic ‘psychological principle’ that can be derived here, a principle that can be stated very simply as follows –

 

 

Whenever I am deliberately trying to improve myself or better myself, what I am really doing is ‘self-harming in disguise’, and when I try to improve or correct others what I am really doing is harming them instead of myself, whilst at the same time fooling myself that I am actually helping them.

 

 

The crux of the matter is that I have a displaced perception that there is some way in which I am ‘not ok’ inside and so I work hard at rectifying this situation, within some kind of ‘surrogate format’. But what is happening here is that I am working not for ‘my true self’ (which is temporarily lost or inaccessible to me) but for the system of beliefs and perception and the associated purposeful behaviour which is the displacement mechanism. So in the absence of a true or authentic self, I am provided with a false or substitute self, a mechanical analogue for the real thing, which – because it is phoney – needs an awful lot of compensatory-type activity to keep me distracted from seeing its inauthentic (and vastly inferior) nature.

 

 

I am now married to a false idea of myself which is – not to put too fine a point on it – like a leaky boat that needs to be bailed out the whole time if it is not to sink completely. So whilst on the one hand we can say that the primary mechanism behind everyday unconscious life is the need to safely displace the pain that is created by my lack of being, we can then go on to elaborate on this and say that this displacement mechanism necessitates us forming a delusory idea about who we are, identifying with a rational construct which – because it is at root nothing more than a very thin and inadequate ‘band aid’ that has been placed over the sore spot – creates further suffering for us as a result of its pitiful inadequacy. It is adequate only in a strictly nominal (or token) sense, just as a cardboard mask might be adequate for the purpose of putting on some kind of a show or performance, but as an actual substitute it is, naturally enough, an unmitigated disaster.

 

 

Of course the nominal or tokenistic self is inadequate, and not even remotely sufficient for the job at hand – there is no substance, no depth to it, no genuine integrity to it. This surrogate self is after all a rational construct, a system of baffles and blinds made up of two-dimensional surfaces; it is essentially a lifeless mechanism which feigns life by virtue of the fact that it reacts vigorously to stimuli or triggers. These reactions are quintessentially ‘pre-programmed’ or ‘mechanical’ in nature, the whole system is as we have said deterministically driven rather than being genuinely volitional in nature, granting us the superficial illusion of free will just as long as we identify instantly and unthinking with whatever impulses are triggered in us. Naturally this is not a great basis for living life and even though it exists as a blind or decoy to distract us from the pain of not being, it is no more than a manifestation of not-being itself, only full of tricks and gimmicks designed to sustain and perpetuate the apparent reality of it being an actual autonomous self. Because the false or mechanical self (known also as the ego or persona) is essentially a lack of substance rather than representing the actual presence of it, it too is pain and this pain must itself be effectively displaced (utilizing the same mechanisms that we have already discussed) if the fiction of the conditioned or mechanical self is to be plausibly kept up. This embroils in yet another level of pain displacement mechanisms, yet another level of games, the end result being the situation where there is an onion-like structure made up of multiple ‘neurotic veils’ – masks within masks within masks…

 

 

In summary, then, we can say that the game of the purposeful self is all about me avoiding seeing the truth about myself since that truth is extremely frightening. Seeing the truth of my situation is extremely challenging, extremely difficult, extremely painful and I just don’t want to go there. Strictly speaking, from the point of view of this specifically conditioned self the truth that we are talking about is actually impossible to see since as soon as I do see it the specific particular vantage point which is me (i.e. the tenuous illusion that is me) is irrevocably lost, just like a cube of ice is irrevocably lost the moment it is thrown in a saucepan of boiling water. Or – we might say – just like a dry stick of wood is irrevocably lost when it is thrown into a fiercely burning fire.

 

 

I can see the truth if I have the stomach for it, but the only thing is that as soon as I do I am no longer who I previously took myself to be. I am no longer the ice-cube, I am the freely moving water. I am no longer the dry stick, I am the dance of liberated molecules that we call ‘fire’.

 

 

The dynamics of the game in question are thus quite tautological – I avoid seeing the truth because ‘avoiding the truth’ is what the game is, and I happen to be playing that game. No better reason than this is needed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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