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The Realm of Thought

Between the thought of the goal and the realization of the goal there is no space at all. This is the Realm of Thought – the realm with no space in it! When we’re in the thought-realm we’re not interested in space – in the thought-realm space is banned, space isn’t allowed.

 

 

Needless to say, this type of assertion doesn’t generally make a lot of sense to us. Between the inception of the goal and its realization there usually seems to be plenty of space. Too much space, generally. This is, after all, what frustrates us – the space between us thinking about what we want and us actually getting it! Often enough this ‘space’ goes on interminably… But what we’re talking about here (what we’re getting frustrated with) isn’t really space at all – it’s just waiting. It’s what Krishnamurti calls psychological time. We have lots of psychological time on our hands, but no space. When we’re in the thought-realm we don’t let any space in because we’re only interested in stuff that’s related to our goals, our purposes, our agenda. That’s how the thinking mind works, after all – it takes the focused view, the narrow view. It automatically ‘excludes the irrelevant’…

 

 

Space, therefore, equals everything that isn’t related to our goals, to our purposes, to our agenda. Space is all the stuff that is irrelevant to our purposes, irrelevant to the line of thinking that we happen to be on. Space is all the stuff that is irrelevant to what we want! Space is quite ‘useless’, in other words, in exactly the same way that Oscar Wilde says ‘All art is quite useless’. Space is entirely pointless and that’s why we ignore it when we are operating in the realm of thought. It’s of no interest to us at all. We couldn’t care less about it. We don’t even register it; we don’t even see it…

 

 

When we say something like ‘space is useless’ or ‘space is pointless’ this tends to sound rather odd. It sounds like a put down, a negation of value. In the realm of thought this is just about the worst thing you can say – it’s a classic derogatory comment. In the thought realm having a point or a purpose is a great thing, it’s the ultimate validation. If there’s a point to what we’re doing then that’s wonderful! Everyone is very happy about this. We get a thumbs-up from the world. We get nods of approval all around. The reason having a point or a purpose to what we’re doing is great, is wonderful, is because it’s progressive, is because it’s ‘leading on to something else’. There’s moment in a positive direction, movement in a worthwhile direction. This is the same thing as the generalized social validation that attaches to ‘being busy’ – being busy is on the whole seen as a great thing. It’s great because we’re doing something. We’re not just sitting there on our arses. We’re being productive. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing – the important thing is simply that we’re doing it! The important thing is that we’re ‘busy’; the important thing is that we’re ‘being productive’. No one is asking us to get all philosophical about it. Philosophy is actually the last thing we want…

 

 

In the world of thinking having a point or a purpose to what we’re doing is validating because it’s creating a particular type of illusion therefore. It is creating the illusion of progress. The illusion of progress in extraordinarily valuable to us because in the realm of thought there never is such a thing. Oddly enough, in the thought-realm the one thing we will never find is change – we’ll find the appearance of change alright, but not the actual thing. And if there is no possibility of change then of course there can’t be any progress! What we call ‘progress’ is just a superficial game that we’re playing – just like ‘being busy’. Saying that there can never be any change taking place in the realm of thought is the same as saying that there’s no space in it. Space is change and the absence of space is absence of change, and as we have indicated right at the beginning of this discussion the absolutely KEY thing to grasp about the realm of thought is that there is zero space in it…

 

 

There is a fundamental illusion that is associated with the world that is created by thought and that illusion is that there is a difference between [1] the ‘starting-off point’ of us conceiving a particular goal and [2] the ‘end point’ of this goal actually being realized. This is what ‘psychological time’ comes down to – the supposed gap (or difference) between conceiving the goal and obtaining it. This isn’t a gap at all really – [1] and [2] are exactly the same thing. These aren’t two different points – they’re the very same point!  The goal was there at the beginning and then – when the goal-orientated activity has been successfully brought to a conclusion – we arrive at the goal. The whole point of goal-orientated action is that the outcome we arrive at is exactly the same as the outcome which was envisaged when we kicked off in the first place. If the outcome we achieve were to be something different then it would of course no longer be the goal – it would be ‘something other than the goal’ and this would be of no interest to us at all. It’s not just that an unprogrammed outcome is ‘of no interest to us’ – we are actively averse to it! Not obtaining the specified goal is called failing. This business of chasing after goals is by definition an either/or kind of a thing – either we do or we don’t, either we win or we lose. Either we succeed or we fail and succeeding means ‘Actual’ must turn out to be exactly the same thing as ‘Expected’. <A> must equal <E> – that’s the only way it can work. The specification of the goal must be identical to the measurement of the outcome we arrive at as a result of our intervention…

 

 

This – we might say – is ‘the great achievement of thought’ – to make the world be exactly the same as we want it to be. Thought organizes the parameters (the variables) in the outside world so that they are exactly congruent with our picture in our heads of how we want them to be. It arranges for the events that come to pass to precisely match our specification for those events. Thought, in other words, is the blueprint, the template, and reality is the ‘putty,’ the inert pliable material that is to be moulded (or ‘determined’) by that blueprint, that template. This being so (i.e. since the whole point of what we’re doing is to make sure that there is Zero Difference, Zero Discrepancy between what we have envisaged and what is produced) where do we get this notion that thought is involved in actual change?

 

 

Clearly, what we are talking about isn’t change at all, but a kind of back-to-front (inverted) way of looking at change. What we mean when we say ‘change’ or ‘progress’ is change towards the desired state of Zero Difference between our goal for reality and what reality actually turns out to be. We’re talking about progress to the situation where <A> = <E>. In the world created by thought, therefore, when we say the magic word ‘progress’ what we mean is that we’re getting closer and closer to standing still. We mean that we’re getting closer and closer to The State of Ultimate Stasis. Progress means that we’re approaching the Final Destination and the final destination is final because once we’ve got here there never needs to be any more change ever again. What’s actually ‘changing’ here is as we have said the discrepancy between ‘the way things are’ and ‘the way we want them to be’: this unwanted discrepancy is closing and closing, it’s getting closer and closer to Zero and when it finally does reach Zero then this is what we’ve been waiting for, this is the realization of the goal state. The ‘goal state’ we’re aiming for means zero change, therefore – Zero Change is what it’s all about!

 

 

This then is another way of looking at the fundamental illusion that is associated with the world that has been created by thought – the illusion is that goal-orientated activity is somehow the epitome of movement or change, the illusion that thought-moderated action is progressive, the illusion that it is all about ‘getting somewhere better’. Thought isn’t really progressive at all – it’s conservative in a big way. It’s all about the superficial appearance of change, not the real thing! Thought is actually a hamster wheel – it’s all about running, running, running but never getting anywhere. The juicy carrot that we’re chasing is as we have said ‘the appearance of getting somewhere better’. In reality we’re not getting somewhere better because in the thought realm nothing ever changes. This being the case – as it absolutely is – how can we be getting somewhere better? We’re running alright but there’s no chance of getting anywhere different as a result of it.

 

 

It is impossible to get anywhere different, anywhere new, by using the machinery of the thinking mind. Thinking runs on logic and logic works on the principle of the ‘preservation of proportionalities’ – it never departs from its premises, in other words. If logic did depart from its own premises then this would mean randomness (unpredictability) had entered the mix, which would mean that the thread of the logic – the logical continuity – has been broken. Randomness has to be excluded for logic to be logic – that’s the whole point of the exercise! In the thought realm, before we go anywhere we have to specify exactly where we’re going. That’s the only way it can work – we can’t proceed logically to the goal unless we know what the goal is. Everything is about control in the world of thought; everything is about goals and methods (known destinations and known ways of getting there). But what this means – as we keep on saying – is that we can never leave the thought-realm, which is ‘the realm of the known’. No matter which goal we pick, it’s always going to be in the realm of thought. Even if we pick ‘the goal of having no goals’, this is still a goal like any other. It’s still a member of the ‘Set of All Possible Thoughts’. To purposefully try to exit the world of purposefulness is to extend that world ahead of us, it is to bring thought with us wherever we go. I can’t decide to stop deciding, in other words. I can’t decide to be free. I can’t decide to leave the thought realm, which is the realm of deciding…

 

 

Our goals are never new. No matter what we think of it’s never going to be new. It’s not possible to ‘think of something new’! Thought is always old, as Krishnamurti says. No matter what we pull out of the bag, it’s always going to be ‘something that we have pulled out of the bag’. This being the case, how does thought keep generating the perennial illusion that there is something new just around the corner? How does thought keep on making our goals (our ‘objects of desire’) look new and shiny? Our goals look new every single time, as if they have just come out of the factory, as if they are freshly minted. It is this illusion of newness that keeps everything rolling in the realm of thought. The appearance of newness is what keeps the hamster wheel spinning. This is what ‘progress’ is all about – chasing the illusion of newness. This illusion is what we are always getting exciting about. This illusion is the only thing that makes living in the thought realm bearable!

 

 

Thought shows us its own face (which is always old) and yet what it shows us seems fresh and new, as if it were something that has never been seen before, as if it has just been born, as if it has just come out of the egg. Thought is the tireless magician! The way thought arranges this trick, this magic show, is by restricting our awareness, our attention, to a particular frame of reference so that the superficial changes that take place within this FOR appear to be non-superficial. If our awareness/attention wasn’t trapped in the superficiality of the FOR then we wouldn’t be assigning the type of significance to these changes that we do – when all we know is shallow theatre then this ‘shallow theatre’ becomes the whole of life itself! The old becomes the new, the banal becomes the profound…

 

 

We can also look at this trick in terms of ‘radical versus trivial uncertainty’ – radical uncertainty is when we really don’t know what is going to happen next, when we haven’t got a clue. We have no models, no theory for what is going on, and therefore no way of pre-empting, no way of second-guessing. Trivial uncertainty, on the other hand, is when we know that whatever pops out of the hat is going to be one of a number of different possibilities – for example it’s either going to be heads or tails, yes or no. If the whole Open-Ended World of Radical Uncertainty is amputated from our awareness, leaving us nothing but the truncated domain of trivial uncertainty, then trivial uncertainty is trivial to us no more! It becomes major, it takes the place of radical uncertainty; it fills in for RU and assumes a significance that it doesn’t really deserve. The interest we have in life gets substituted for by ‘the interest we have for whether the coin comes down as heads or tails’ – we don’t actually have any interest in (or awareness in) life itself, all we care about, all we have time for (or concern for) is how our trivial game works out…

 

 

There’s no newness in the domain of trivial uncertainty, not ever. All there can ever be is <heads> or <tails>, <yes> or <no>. And yet we don’t miss it because we’re fixated on the question of whether we’re going to get the one result or the other, whether we’re going to achieve our goal or not achieve our goal. This – for us – is the only ‘news’ that we care about! When we talk about having our awareness restricted to a ‘particular frame of reference’ or restricted to the ‘domain of trivial uncertainty’ then this is therefore just another way of saying that we’re trapped in the realm of thought. Everything that happens in the realm of thought is black and white, yes and no, either/or. Everything that happens here ‘agrees with the framework’. When change happens in the FOR – in other words – it is digitalized change, simulated change, defined change. It is the only type of change (the only type of anything) that can make sense within the assumed framework of the thinking mind, the only type of change that registers. Putting this the other way around, digitalized change is a projection of the framework, a projection of the thinking mind. Whichever way around we put it, this is where the illusion comes in – change that is defined in terms of the framework (change that never leaves the mapped—out territory of the thinking mind) isn’t change at all. How can it be? The only real change would be change that departs from the narrow (space-less) remit of the frame of reference, and this is something our fixated (or contained) attention is just not able to register. We can only register ‘superficial change that appears to be real change’; we can only register the illusion of change.

 

 

The world we see and believe in when we’re trapped in the realm of thought, trapped in the FOR, is a very ‘superficial’ version of the genuine article – if ‘superficial’ is the right word to use here. ‘Misrepresentative’ might be a better way of putting it. We exist in a misrepresentative two-dimensional version of reality! How could this not be the case when the only reality we able to register is the one that exists within the terms of an abstract framework? Reality itself isn’t an abstraction (it is what gets abstracted) so how can it be re-presented in an abstract framework, in black-and-white (or digitalized) terms that are an expression of that abstract (space-less) framework?

 

 

Actually, reality is thoroughly excluded from the realm of thought; in the thought-realm reality is banned, reality is not allowed. ‘Reality’ or ‘change’ or ‘space’ are equivalent ways of talking about the same thing. Reality (or space) is what we can’t perceive, don’t know about, have no intimation of, have no interest in, when we are living out the course of our lives within the unacknowledged confinement which is the Realm of Thought…

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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