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The Positive Psychologist

The positive psychologist is like a rooster who sits on top of a dunghill, full of himself, crowing his little heart out. He has had to climb up an awful lot of dung to get where he is. He has had to take an awful lot of shit too, during the period of his apprenticeship. It might have taken him a very long time – now that he is there at the summit he feels that he is on top of the world and so he crows for all he is worth. He has made something of himself, and so now he has something to say, and he wants the world to listen.

 

 

 

The positive psychologist charges ahead, aggressively and competitively, and deftly makes sure that no one – including himself- can find out that what he thinks he knows he doesn’t really know at all. He sneakily imposes a silence, an incapacity to ask genuinely meaningful questions, and because of the way in which all the big questions are never mentioned at the dinner table, he is compelled to ask smaller and smaller questions until he has succeeded in painting himself entirely into a corner. At this point the whole endeavour becomes utterly absurd, utterly nonsensical.

 

 

 

And not only does the positive psychologist compel himself to ask ever more trivial questions, but we too – his captive audience – are compelled to be interested in these ridiculously meaningless questions, and hang upon his every word, no matter how banal and unedifying they might be. The positive psychologist is like the dog sleeping in the manger spoken of by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas – he neither eats nor lets the cattle eat. Jesus also says in this Gospel, “The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so”.

 

 

 

The negative psychologist, on the other hand, has nothing to say and no way of saying it. She has made nothing of herself, and because of this she also has everything to say, despite having no way of saying it! In any event, no one would be listening because the cock on the dung hill crows so loudly that everyone has to listen to him!

 

 

 

It is always the dogma, the ‘megaphone of authority,’ that gets heard, that gets proclaimed from every roof-top, and that gets drilled into us from infancy. The crushing logos of the Dogmatic Father has won the day, it has silenced every voice apart from itself. This silence is so total that we do not know it as silence, but see it instead as the whole of what is possible. It is abject poverty, but we are taught to see it as wealth. This is what Philip K Dick calls The Black Iron Prison.

 

 

 

And yet the victory of the Dogmatic Father is a hollow victory, and was doomed to be so right from the very beginning. What joy is there in being a dictator who rules absolutely over a population of mindlessly obedient puppets? What satisfaction is there when people say you are a great and wonderful benefactor when you have destroyed that same people’s capacity for independent thought? When you have told them what to think?

 

 

 

The dictator (who is none other than the alchemists’ Old King, Joseph Campbell’s Tyrant Holdfast and Robert Anton Wilson’s Greyface) holds sway in a court of fools. He has undisputed and unchallengeable dominion over a kingdom of lies, an empire of delusion. He rules by coercion and trickery because this is the only way he can rule.

 

 

 

What is taken by force withers and dies, a branch torn from the living tree. Only what is given freely can nourish, and bring about healing. Thus, the defeat of the positive psychologist – the modern priest, who is the trusted lieutenant of Old Greyface himself – was ensured right from the start. How can a lie triumph over what is true? How can what is not have victory over what is? How can we run away from the truth when – as the song says – the truth is all there is?

 

 

 

This sublime impossibility is expressed by what James Moore calls ‘the primordial affirmation of Lord Krishna’:

 

The unreal has no being, the real never ceases to be.

 

 

 



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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