No matter what, we can never successfully seek the state of disequilibrium; our very seeking precludes it. Disequilibrium is there, for sure, but – from the purposeful point of view – it is forever out of reach. Almost our entire life, we might say, is made up of seeking this and seeking that – we are perennial seekers – and yet the most important thing of all we cannot seek. We have made a veritable religion out of seeking and ‘the myth of the successful seeker’ resonates with us very deeply. This is the standard that is held up for us to emulate, no matter that it is a profound impossibility to seek the most important things in life. We are being misled from the word ‘go’, therefore.
The reason that the myth of the successful seeker is a misleading one is because what we really seeking is this thing that we are calling disequilibrium. That’s the only thing that’s interesting, that’s the only thing that genuinely holds any fascination for us. Everything else is banal, after all. Everything else is mundane. All known things are mundane – we tire of them almost as soon as we obtain them; everything else fails to satisfy, everything else fails to deliver. Known things pale on us just as soon as we attain them because, when it comes down to it, they are always just ‘more of the same’. There is no way that a known thing, a thing we can conceptualise and thus turn into a goal, will not turn out to be ‘more of the same’. It’s not really what we’re looking for and for this reason our interest in it is not genuine, not sincere; we are only interested in it because – for a brief while – we can allow ourselves to imagine (without knowing that we are doing so) that the known object that we are angling for is something other than what it really is, that it is something mysterious rather than something banal. As always, ‘the chase is better than the catch’.
It could also be said that we are just like the late-night motorist in the joke who is looking for his lost car keys near the streetlight, rather than where he actually lost them, for the simple reason that this is where the light is. The light in question is the ‘light’ of the rational mind, as Amit Goswami says in The Self-Aware Universe, and the rational mind is never going to illuminate what it is that we are truly interested in. It can’t do that – that’s not its job and never was. The thinking mind is a strictly practical tool and it has no ‘metaphysical’ applications, no matter how hard we might try to stretch it or coax it in this direction. It does an important job, but a mundane job – its use necessarily restricts us to the Realm of the Known. What we have lost doesn’t exist within the Realm of the Known however – it’s not that sort of thing – and yet we persist until our dying day using thought to try to obtain what never can be obtained.
If the thinking mind is overactive, overstretched, and over-stimulated then it is because of this, it is because we are using it for a task for which it was never designed. We might not know that we are, but we are. If the thinking mind plagues us and torments us and afflicts us then it is for the very same reason. We might say that this is the mind’s fault inasmuch as it has become sadly dysfunctional, but really it’s because we’re using it to do a job that it was never meant to do, because we are using it to solve a problem it can never solve. We’re trying to obtain something that can never be obtained. What we’re trying to ‘obtain’ is that being that we have lost without knowing that we have lost anything and what we are trying to ‘solve’ is the problem of having to live life without this ‘being that we have lost without knowing it’ (and without knowing the true nature of what we have lost). There is a deficit of ‘being’ in our lives, in other words (or a ‘deficit in genuine meaning’) and we are using thoughts to make good this deficit. Using thought in this cause is making things worse rather than better; we can’t see this however and that is our predicament.
This thing that we are calling ‘the disequilibrium state’ is actually reality itself – it is the whole of all that ever existed, does exist and ever will exist. It is therefore, a fairly significant thing to lose! Another way of talking about disequilibrium is to say that it is that state of being which is free from dependence upon (or relevance to) all of our mental structures. Alternatively, we can say that the disequilibrium state is that state which is free from the law of cause and effect. It’s not the result of anything else, and neither does it go on cause (or give rise to) any other state. When talking about the universe we like to claim that it was caused by something (either by God, all by ‘the laws of physics’) but this is merely the thinking mind demonstrating – yet again – its complete inability to move beyond its own terms, which are the terms of cause-and-effect. If we think that the universe was ‘caused’ by something then we can sleep comfortably in our beds at night – to contemplate that which was never caused (and which will never go on to cause anything else) would put a stop to our comfortable sleep! That wouldn’t fit in with our nice logical picture of things at all….
There is no way to ‘break into’ reality by using logic, by using thought. We’d like to break in (because of the treasures that we know are hidden there) but we can’t. Reality is completely immune to our attempts to break in and steal all the treasures that it contains! We’re like cartoon characters trying to break into the real world – we can’t succeed at this, all we can ever do is drag the world ‘down to our level’, so to speak (which is the level of the cartoon). All we can do is drag everything else down to our level only we’re not actually doing anything – it’s just a trick that we are playing on ourselves such that we seem to be obtaining something real as a result of our aggression when actually we’re not. We seem to be getting somewhere with all of our rational-purposeful activities but the truth is that we’re standing still and the irony here is that we don’t actually need to aggressively break into reality because there is nowhere else to be. Just to restate this point, the irony is that we can never successfully seek ‘the state of disequilibrium’ even though disequilibrium is all there is. ‘To think about it is to lose it’, we might say.
Disequilibrium means being ‘out of kilter with all possible points of reference’ – the disequilibrium state isn’t hanging from any hook, even though we can’t imagine anything that isn’t hanging from some sort of a hook. We can’t imagine something that isn’t supported, in other words – we can’t get our heads around that at all. There is nothing outside of reality for reality to be held by. The disequilibrium state isn’t caused by anything, as we have said; if it was caused by something then that would mean that it would be in a state of equilibrium with that ‘something’. Essentially, there are no rules which can describe the disequilibrium state, or ‘account’ for it in any way, and the reason we have such problems with this is that the thinking mind itself is based on rules and so it cannot allow for the fact that there might be any other possibility. If it were to admit this then it would be acknowledging its own relativity and acknowledging its own relativity is the one thing that it can never do.
A ‘relative truth’ is a truth that is true on one level but – at the same time – not at all true on another level and this is the thing that thought cannot handle. Thought constructs a world in which its ‘truths’ are literally true, finally true, true without there ever being any qualification to this. Whenever we meet a concrete thinker (or a ‘literal-minded person’) we are meeting someone who lives unreflectively in #the world that thought has made’. Or as we could also say, whenever we fall into the grip of decomplexifying mind-states such as anger, jealousy, desire, or paranoia then we are living in ‘the mind-created reality’, a reality that is made up of ‘unqualified facts’ (even though there’s no such thing as an unqualified fact). Anger, envy, jealousy, desire, fear, etc, are equilibrium states, in other words. They are frank absurdities, just as the world that is taken for granted by a fundamentalist Christian who takes the Bible absolutely literally is a frank absurdity. To say or believe that there could be such a thing as ‘a literal world’ is wholly ridiculous; we’re taking our own ideas seriously, and yet our own ideas are only ever ‘our own ideas’ and they can never be any more than this, no matter how solemn we get about them.
There’s no such thing as ‘a thought which is actually true’, a thought which is true in any final sense, and if we were to see this then we would instantly stop using thought in the way that we do use it, which is to say for the sake of creating some kind of ontological security for ourselves. Obviously enough, we can only have that sense of ontological security when we believe literally in thought’s productions, when we fail to see that what thought says is ‘true on one level at the same time as being absolutely not true on another level’, and this is why we are so very ‘fond’ of equilibrium states, despite their absurd nature. Link. We gravitate towards convenient E-states just as lemmings gravitate towards a cliff edge; we stick to the absurd nonsensicality of the thought-created world for all we’re worth. We flee from the ineffable grandeur of reality for all we’re worth – we couldn’t flee faster, or more single-mindedly. When reality ‘comes along’ (so to speak) we frantically try to explain it away and for the most part we succeed, and in this way we guarantee our own ‘inner death’. Our glorious ‘success’ at explaining the world to ourselves is at the same time our greatest and most profound ‘failure’, therefore. When we are able to explain (or understand) some phenomenon on the basis of our established way of looking at the world then that phenomenon holds no information for us; ‘information’ is when we can’t explain or understand something on the basis of what we already know – information ‘devalidates’ what we think we know, in other words and this causes us to change our outlook. Information is ‘the difference that makes a difference’, as Gregory Bateson says. When we can explain everything away then we don’t change and if we don’t change then we stagnate! This stagnation is our ‘inner death’…
The key point to understand here is that the passage from disequilibrium to equilibrium is irreversible – it’s a ‘one-way ticket’! We could qualify this statement by saying that the process of moving into equilibrium is ‘irreversible in its own terms’ but since these are the only terms we know or can be aware of it comes down to the same thing. Once we move into equilibrium then the only reality we can be aware of is the reality that makes sense within the terms of the rules that we have taken for granted, and this means that we trapped in the framework, trapped by the rules that the rules themselves will not let us question. Rules never let us question the rules, naturally enough. They could hardly be rules if they did so. Everything we see, think and do is on the basis of the assumed framework and that is why we can’t move beyond the FW (or our thoughts) on purpose. That’s why we can never ‘successfully seek disequilibrium’, even though that is what we are unconsciously hankering after the whole time. We hanker, but we hanker fruitlessly. As we’ve said, we like the nocturnal motorist in the joke who is looking for his lost keys next to the streetlight which the light is better there – our situation is perfectly ridiculous, perfectly futile, and yet we can never see this to be the case. This is our everyday existence in a nutshell, and the only way we can ever find redemption from it is when we stop taking the thinking mind (and all of its hollow goals) as seriously as we do.
There is a secret reason why we don’t want to do this, however. The seeker wants to carry on seeking for what it can never have and if its search is perfectly futile and perfectly ridiculous then so be it. This is a price that we are prepared to pay, and keep on paying! Unless the seeker (or controller) keeps on seeking (or keeps on controlling) – and this necessarily means believing that it can obtain what it is seeking, that it can obtain the outcome that it is controlling for – then there can no longer be a seeker or a controller. Unless there thinker keeps on thinking there can be no more thinker – which is why it is so very hard to stop thinking! If we let thought be the boss therefore then we are doomed to spend our entire lives ‘playing futile games’ just for the sake of it – we’re doomed to spend our lives ‘controlling for the sake of controlling’, so to speak. If we let everything be about the self then we are doomed to see out our days in a world that is perfectly and utterly sterile. In a way ‘sterile’ is such a mild little world word when it comes to talking about what we’re talking about here – it fails to do justice to the appalling unrelenting of this state, which is this the situation, which is the situation of the estate. This is the ‘horror of horrors’, if only we could see it – it is the inversion of reality, pure and simple. As infinitely benevolent and fruitful as reality is, its inverted analogue is – after all – malign and denying. Basically, there are not many laughs at all in the inverted analogue of reality, which is the Psychological Equilibrium State…