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Nothing More to Lose


Live life as though you have nothing more to lose, live life as though you were already dead.” This is the saying, in one form or another. Actually, you don’t have anything more to lose! By entering (as we all have done) into the realm of unconsciousness you have already lost everything – you have lost who you truly are and what more is there to lose than this? There is no greater ‘losing’ than this!



If I lose who I am then what else can I lose? And even if we say that there is something, that there is something more that I can potentially lose, what possible use is it to me if I am no longer conscious? What good are possessions to an unconscious person?



It is not possible to lose anything more when I have lost my actual being. When my being is gone then what good is anything to me? Is there anything out there that could possibly recompense me for the loss of my essential being? What type of a thing could that be?



And yet having said this, we do find all sorts of things to recompense us for our loss of being. We spend most of our time searching out things that could recompense us, and acquiring them if we can. That’s our main activity in life. Sometimes it’s our only activity. We see the promises of recompense all around us and we chase after them on a daily basis. This is what our lives are all about – the tireless pursuit of those tokens that seem to be offering us some kind of compensation for the fact of our loss of being…



The result of this constant urge to acquire advantage is that as time goes on we accumulate more and more stuff – not just material tokens of our situation being improved in some way but abstract tokens as well such as the approval of others, the good opinion of others, the recognition and admiration of others. These are the ‘two ships’ that Bodhidharma saw sailing on the Yellow River – the ‘Ship of Gain’ and the ‘Ship of Name’. Thus it was one thousand five hundred years ago in ancient China and thus it still is today…



So it is that we gather around ourselves countless useless artefacts, as well the countless useless opinions of others – because in some way we feel that we are being compensated for our essential ‘loss of being’. We surround ourselves with stuff that is useless in itself, stuff that is ‘useful’ only in that it recompenses us for losing all awareness of who we really are!



And this isn’t quite true either because we don’t in any way even remotely know that we are seeking to recompense ourselves for loss of being. We don’t know that we have lost anything and so how could we be trying to seek compensation for it? We have forget who we are and we have forgotten that we have forgotten so why would we try to make up for it? As far as we are concerned, we’re not trying to compensate for anything…



Because we don’t directly perceive our inner hollowness we can only perceive it indirectly, via the attractiveness of external objects or external situations. We don’t perceive the vacuity of the game we’re playing – we only perceive the need to ‘do well’ in the game we’re playing. We only perceive the need to ‘win’ in the game we’re playing. With loss of interiority everything is externalized. Life then takes place in this exterior world, which is ‘the realm of unconsciousness’.



In the Realm of Unconsciousness only two forces prevail – the force of greed and the force of fear. We are greedy for whatever it is in the outside world that offers to recompense us for our inner lack of being and we are fearful of losing what we falsely imagine ourselves to have gained! Fear is thus the other side of greed – how could we fear losing anything if we hadn’t (falsely) imagined ourselves to have gained it in the first place?



No matter what we think we have gained, we haven’t really gained anything. How can the absence of who I truly am gain anything? An absence can’t ‘gain’ anything – we can throw the whole world into this absence and we still won’t have ‘gained’ anything. Such is the nature of desire – it is a painful absence inside of us that can never be filled…



So our situation in the Realm of Unconsciousness is that ‘who I am not’ fears losing ‘that which I don’t really possess’. This is the only thing that goes on in the Realm of Unconsciousness. It’s the only show in town – either ‘the absence of who I am’ seeks recompense for a loss that it cannot acknowledge, or it is consumed with fears of losing of what it never really had in the first place.



Such is the irony that we have to live with every day of our lives. As long as we’re ruled by greed and fear we can’t escape this irony, and yet at the same time we can’t see it! Either who we’re not craves what doesn’t exist (i.e. recompense for our loss of being) or who we’re not fears losing what it never had any way (since ‘who we weren’t not’ doesn’t exist anymore than the recompose for ‘being who we’re not’ does)!



Greed and fear both bring suffering – one is as good at bringing suffering as the other is! There’s nothing between them. Fear is very obviously suffering and since greed is the doorway into fear it too is suffering. Greed and fear constitute a revolving door of suffering that we are stuck in because we are running so fast to obtain what we want and run away from what we don’t want. Running is all we know but running doesn’t help us because we’re only going around in circles…



What would help us therefore is to have a bit of a sense of humour about this ironic situation of ours. What would help us is realizing that actually we’ve ‘nothing more to lose’ and live accordingly, with no more greed and no more fear. Take away greed and fear and we’re left with that strangest, most unexpected of things – unconditional freedom!




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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