If the Enigma which lies at the heart of the universe is the only thing that is real then this means that this must be the source of all ‘wholesomeness’, or ‘goodness’ – it has to be because is nowhere else for it to come from! It is the enigma that is the source of all goodness and yet it is this same enigma that we fight against every day and do our very best to deny at every turn. We have created a world for ourselves that is supremely non-enigmatic in character and we rejoice in it as ‘the Source of All Blessings’. This world has been put together for one reason and one reason only – to deny the enigma that lies at the heart of the universe.
The question is therefore, why are we so very much against ‘the enigmatic’, and why do we delight instead in the world that is made up of ‘things that make sense’, things which are ‘accountable’ rather than ‘unaccountable’, things which ‘serve some kind of rational purpose’? Even in the smallest affairs we shun the uncertain and consolidate the certain – it is second nature for us to do this (it’s our second nature that has now become our only nature). The short answer to the above question is that the non-enigmatic world is there to support the existence of the mind-created sense of self. That’s what it’s there for. The regular or non-enigmatic elements that make up the Designed or Known World are so very dull that they can’t in any way be said to be ‘worthwhile in themselves’ and so they need to be validated by pointing to some supposedly greater purpose or function. The Non-Enigmatic World (or Designed World) – we might therefore say – is made out of ‘units’ or ‘elements’ which are meaningless in themselves, but which are imbued with meaning on account of the Greater Purpose they serve. What we talking about here is a system that is based purely on extrinsic meaning – there is no ‘intrinsic meaning’ in it at all…
A system that is based on extrinsic meaning is a rather dubious proposition therefore. It is dubious (to say the least) because we live strictly within its terms and we do not ever get to know of any other type of way of living (i.e. the way it is based on intrinsic meaning, which is the only real type of meaning). The system of extrinsic meaning is therefore a very bleak place indeed – it’s a very bleak place because there is absolutely nothing in it, despite appearances. In the Designed World all that exists are ‘appearances’! There is all the same a ‘secret advantage’ to living within the Non-Enigmatic World and that is that the ‘non-enigmatic self’ can be created and maintained. There is a special kind of trick going on here and the trick has to do with the nature of the goals or purposes that are being used to validate or justify the routine elements that make up the Non-Enigmatic World. These ‘supercharged goals’ make everything worthwhile; they put the fizz in the fizzy pop. The nature of the glamour that attaches to our goals or purposes is however that it is strictly hallucinatory; its nature is hallucinatory because whilst the implicit claim is that the attainment of the over-valued goals will permit us to transcend the ‘merely mechanical’ realm, they never ever can. No mechanical state or configuration can permit transcendence from the mechanical realm, just as no throw of the dice can free us from the dice. Every throw of the dice is merely the dice, and so of course no particular configurations of this mechanism can take us beyond the mechanism. No hand that might be dealt out from the pack of cards can take us beyond the pack.
This is a very peculiar type of illusion, therefore – the system is trying to imagine what ‘not being the system’ might be like, thought is trying to conceive what ‘freedom from thought’ might feel like. Anything the system imagines is only ever the system however, and whatever thought conceives is only ever going to be thought. And yet – despite this fundamental limitation – the glamour of ‘escape’ (or ‘transcendence) is created, and it has the power to perennially tantalize us. No matter how many times this Will-O-The-Wisp lets us down or leads us astray we will always be every bit as entranced or enraptured the next time it comes along to tempt us. This is the most extraordinary thing ever therefore – the power of illusion, the power of Samsara. What we’re talking about here is the very special state known as ‘winning’, or ‘being a winner’ – when we play the game we are hypnotised by the prospect of winning because winning represents transcending the game and transcending the game is what we want so badly to do. The game doesn’t know what ‘transcending the game’ looks like but it simulates successfully it all the same! We could say that the compelling phantom of ‘winning’ motivates us and puts pep in our step when it comes to playing the game (or ‘dutifully enacting the mechanical routine’) but the ‘trick’ that we talking about goes beyond this – it’s our belief in the illusion of winning (or the illusion of transcending) and our belief that we can become ‘winners’ (or ‘transcendent’) that allows the virtual or phantom existence of the Mind-Created Self seem real to us.
If I didn’t have a goal to be grasping at then I couldn’t have the experience of being this concrete self, in other words. The anticipated attainment of the goal is the payout, the bonanza, and when we believe in it, and in our possibility of achieving it, it’s as if we can draw down a down-payment on the strength of this prize, an advance on it, and this down-payment or advance equals the entity that we’re calling ‘the concrete self’. What we are playing for in this game is existence itself. ‘Winning’ means – in coded form – the idea which we have of ourselves becoming real (and not just an idea). Now obviously this can never happen but we don’t know that we are identified with ‘the idea of ourselves’ and so we think that it can. We think we are already real and so of course we don’t think that we’re playing in order to become real! Instead, what we ‘think’ is that the everyday self or ego has two ways of being in the world:  is the undistinguished and ignoble way which is when we haven’t yet proved ourselves and are therefore essentially worthless (= ‘the default state’) and the  is the mode in which we have triumphantly redeemed ourselves and are therefore ‘covered in glory’ rather than being ‘shrouded in ignominy and shame’. We don’t see that our semi-repressed feelings of being ‘unworthy’ or ‘inconsequential’ originate in the fact that the Mind-Created (or Virtual) Self isn’t real, and isn’t ‘worthy’ on this account, so to speak. It isn’t actually the case that the Mind-Created Self ‘is unworthy’ however because it doesn’t exist – if it doesn’t exist and how could it be ‘unworthy’, or anything else for that matter? It can’t be either a failure or success, despite our all-consuming fear of the former and tremendous attraction to the latter.
A few paragraphs ago we were saying that the Non-Enigmatic World – despite being profoundly sterile in every respect – is very important to us because it guarantees the continued ‘pseudo-existence‘ of the non-enigmatic or ‘concrete’ self, because this is who we think we are. This is also who everyone else says we are. The mind-created self is just as frighteningly barren as the mind itself, unsurprisingly enough, but we don’t perceive this to be the case because we are always seeing our inherent poverty invertedly as ‘riches on the outside that we have to strive for’. We’ve got everything back to front in this way and this is what keeps the show on the road. The ‘richness that we are lacking in’ is ‘the richness of the Enigma’, but we are opposed to the Enigma (we are opposed either seeing it or acknowledging it in any way) and so, turning our backs on our true enigmatic nature, we seek fulfilment through playing games with our own concrete or literally-understood projections. We won’t ever come close to what we are yearning for however because we are looking for it in the wrong place but – on the positive side – we can continue to believe that we are this concrete identity, that we are this ‘idea of ourselves’ and that this idea is ‘real and not an idea’. ‘Winning’ – as we have said – means ‘becoming real’ and so when we are convinced that we are going to win (or that we are going to obtain the goal) we can draw down a loan or down-payment on account of this and then start spending the cash as if there is no tomorrow. ‘Spending the cash‘ means believing that we are real, and acting accordingly. ‘Acting accordingly’ means investing in this reified or concrete idea that we have of ourselves, which is unwise the idea is a mere phantom.
We can summarise all the above as follows: the ‘Enigma’ is the source of all wholesomeness (it’s the sort of everything, since nothing exists apart from the Enigma) and yet – perversely – our ‘relationship’ with it is that we deny it at every turn; we relate to the Cosmic Enigma in an inverted fashion, which is to say, we relate to it by not relating to it. We relate to our own constructs, our own evaluative criteria, our own semantic ghosts in preference to the CE, which are of course regular rather than unique, non-enigmatic rather than enigmatic. Our inverse orientation means that we relate to the Non-Enigmatic World as if it were the only thing that matters, the only thing that means anything, and the reason we have this orientation (which is the orientation that ignores reality) is because the idea which we have of ourselves (which is to say, the concrete identity) can only exist in a believable way within the context of a non-enigmatic world, a regular world (which is ‘the system of thought’). If we want to have this experience of being this concrete or defined self, which has a separate existence to everything around it then we have to block out all traces of the Unanswerable Enigma and pretend as hard as we can that the world is made up of regularities, i.e. that it is ‘non-enigmatic’ in nature.
And yet the fact remains that the Non-Enigmatic World is devoid of any creative possibilities – there is no substance in it at all, no sustenance, no flavour, no ‘nutritional value’. There will therefore be no motivation to carry on with this mechanical or rule-based existence unless our goals represent, in an unconscious way, a final escaped from the awful dryness and tediousness of the routine existence. The ‘glamour’ that attaches to our goals (or ‘dreams,’ as we say) is an analogue of reality – it represents reality for us in an unreal world, even though we don’t understand this (and can’t understand it, just as long as we are operating on the basis of the thinking mind which – as we have said – inverts everything by automatically turning the unique into the regular, or ‘novelty’ into ‘confirmation’. It is actually our attraction to this glamour that creates the believable illusion of the concrete identity since inasmuch as we are believing in the glamour, and striving to win it, we are creating (by ‘backwards inference’) the appearance of ‘the striver after the goal’, or ‘the one who is to attain the goal’. I may not yet have won yet, but in my head I’m there already. In my head, I’m already the winner, despite the fact that it hasn’t happened in reality yet. What’s happening here is that the System of Thought is promising us existence, promising us freedom, promising us ‘being’, and we in our gullibility – are mistaking the promise that for the real thing. This is what always happens in the Realm of the Hyperreal, after all.
This might sound like a very obscure and improbable mechanism but all we’re looking at here is a type of ‘psychological bootstrapping hypothesis’, and bootstrapping still has a degree of respectability in the world of physics. Just because it doesn’t make any sense doesn’t mean that we should reject it out of hand, in other words. There is this thing that exists within the Mechanical World which we are calling ‘the illusion of freedom’ (or ‘the illusion of transcendence’) and this thing is an artefact of the system, and although the illusion of freedom is only an illusion it still allows us to cultivate an illusory sense of self in relation to it, as ‘the one who is going to win the freedom’. We could also say that there is this particular type of illusion that is created by the mechanical system which is ‘the illusion of being’, even though there could never be any being in a mechanical system since a mechanical system is defined by its lack of freedom and without freedom there can be no being. Without freedom there can be no being since being won’t fit conveniently into our ready-made slots or compartments for it. Freedom can never be part of the game because games can only work when there is zero freedom in them (if there was freedom in a game then we would be free to see that ‘the game is only a game’, and if we knew that then there would be no more ‘immersiveness’ and so we would no longer be able to play it). So we could say that the literal idea of the self is constructed in relation to the illusion (or the promise) of being that the system provides us with, or we could say that the goal which I am aiming at, which is so very attractive to me because of the way in which it represents the being that I don’t have in inverted form, is my own projection and nothing else, which is looking at it the other way round. We can look at it either way because what we talking about here is an example of what is call ‘co-dependent production’, which is the Buddhist version of bootstrapping.
The Mind-Created Virtual Identity is inherently ‘empty of meaning’, as we have said, and so too is the Non-Enigmatic World that it necessarily exists within. There is no intrinsic meaning in this setup, but there is extrinsic meaning, which is to say, ‘meaning that is assigned’. Assigned Meaning always exists in opposition to its polar opposite and so at the same time that we create winning we also create losing. There is no enigmatic quality to the Mind-Created Virtual Reality (just as there is no enigmatic quality to winning or losing) but in place of it we have this compulsion to shun one opposite and seek the other. This compulsion gives us a ‘basic interest in life,’ so to speak – if someone were to ask us what we’re interested in we could reply “I am interested in obtaining the goal”, or “I’m interested in winning the prize” but what we’re not interested in is the actual nitty-gritty character of our environment, what we might refer to as its ‘flavour’. We’re not interested in the actual flavour of our environment because there isn’t any! The MCVR is quite flavourless in itself. The Non-Enigmatic World is quite flavourless – necessarily so since ‘flavour’ – in existential terms – equals enigma. In a system based on extrinsic (or assigned) meaning we’re never interested in ‘where we are’, but only in ‘where we think we are going’, and ‘where we think we’re going’ is an illusion. Where we are – in the System of Extrinsic Meaning is also an illusion because everything that exists within the system exists only in relation to one pole or the other (either <winning> or <losing>, <succeeding> or <failing>) and <succeeding> and <failing> are both illusions. There are illusions because they are ‘non-enigmatic’, as we have been saying.
The Non-Enigmatic World is devoid of any inherent interest therefore, and all we have to keep us going is the continual pressure to go somewhere else, somewhere else which the mind has designated more interesting, even though there is no truth in this at all. The compulsions are essentially meaningless – they are only there to keep us busy because ‘keeping busy’ is the name of the game. Staying busy is how we distract ourselves from seeing that the Mind-Created World which we live in is inherently devoid of all creative possibilities. If we saw this then life would become intolerable, of course. We have no choice in this matter, no other options because we either exist within the game or not at all – the Mind-Created Virtual Identity cannot survive exposure to the Cosmic Enigma, which does not confirm any regularity, any ‘construct of thought’. As the Mind-Created Concrete Sense of Identity, we have no freedom to do otherwise; we have no freedom to do anything other than distract ourselves on a permanent basis from seeing the truth, the truth being that the self we imagine ourselves to be is sterile (which is to say, ‘completely devoid of all creative possibilities’). The truth is that our assumed identity is sterile just as the Mechanical World that we exist within is, and that we are ‘unfree’ not only in the sense that our existence is mechanical (or ‘compulsive’) but also in the sense that we can’t admit that life in the mechanical or non-enigmatic world is all about ‘keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy’. Life in the Non-Enigmatic Realm is all about ‘keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy’ because there simply nothing else that it could be about.