Because we exist, we can engage in all sorts of procedural stuff, all sorts of procedural actions. This is perfectly fine but when we get things backwards and start imagining that we need to engage in procedural actions in order to exist then at this point we are in real trouble!
This belief becomes a mind-loop that we can’t ever get out of, an illusory recursive loop from which it is quite impossible to free ourselves. We can’t ever free ourselves from it because it is our attempt to free ourselves that keeps us stuck in the loop! As Mooji says, once we get the idea that we need to ‘do’ something in order to enable us to stabilize our awareness, in order to be present, then this idea will stick like glue and the only way we will be able to get rid of it is if we use another idea to dislodge it. We are then trapped in the wheel of samsara. This is the predicament of a person who tries to free himself from an addiction to a particular drug by taking up another addiction instead. This type of exercise may be said to be successful only in very limited way – it is a problem-solving exercise that is only successful at the price of creating another, equally troublesome problem!
Straightaway, therefore, we can see what sort of a situation we have here when we fall for the deadly idea that we need to do something in order to exist, that we need to do something in order to enable ourselves to be present. We’re caught up in the type of situation where we feel that we very much need to do something (we need to validate ourselves, so to speak) but where – at the same time – this is never going to happen. This is also like the situation where we feel that we need to get the approval of somebody who flatly isn’t ever going to give it to us – we are going to have to try and try but we’re never going to get anything for it. We are going to spend all our time working as hard as we can at something that’s simply never going to give us anything back…
When we fall into the trap of conditioned existence we are in exactly this situation. What we feel that we need so badly to do is to give rise somehow to our own being and yet if only we were able to stop to see what we are trying to do we would see that this is never going to happen. We need to give rise – in a procedural way – to our own being, and this is plainly impossible. The very idea of it is ludicrous – how can a mere procedure ever give rise to being? As we started off by saying, when we exist then we can engage in procedures as much as we want and this is perfectly fine, but if we somehow get the cart in front of the horse and start imagining that we need to engage in procedures (the right sort of procedures, done in the right way) in order to exist, in order that we might have being, then we are very badly banjaxed. We’re completely and utterly glitched…
Not to put too fine a point on it, when we imagine that we have to engage correctly in the right type of procedure in order to have being then what this means is that we have been saddled with the thankless task of having to create ourselves. We now have the responsibility of ‘maintaining our own existence’ and this is the most punishing type of ‘responsibility’ that there could ever be. It’s a ‘responsibility’ in the sense that we very strongly feel it as such, in the sense that we perceive it (either consciously or unconsciously) as such, but in another way it clearly isn’t a responsibility at all but rather just some sort of nonsensical self-contradictory task. It’s not any type of ‘responsibility’ at all – on the contrary, it’s a glitched pseudo-responsibility!
The task of having to ‘maintain one’s own existence’ is a pseudo-responsibility for obvious reasons. It can’t be a real responsibility because it isn’t possible and never was – how can it be our responsibility to do something that isn’t possible to do? We might feel it to be our responsibility (we do feel it to be our responsibility) but that’s only because we have been hoodwinked into taking on a glitched (or self-contradictory) task. We’ve been suckered, in other words. We can say that the task of ‘self-maintenance’ isn’t a real responsibility because it is something that can’t be done and we can also say that it isn’t a genuine responsibility because this so-called self that we’re trying to maintain isn’t who we are anyway. Given that the task in question is flatly impossible and – furthermore – given that the sense of self that we are trying to maintain isn’t who we are anyway, this is very clearly a case of what we might call ‘false responsibility’!
Very obviously however we don’t know that the task is both impossible and not at all necessary since what we’re trying so hard to maintain isn’t who we are anyway. If we knew this then there would of course be no problem because no one in their right mind would bother themselves to take on such a pointless and punitive job! Why would we stick at it, enduring unending misery in the process, if we could see that we didn’t need to? We don’t see it and we don’t even ever get close to seeing it, that’s how well hoodwinked we have been. Somehow in this cycle of ongoing tautological self-creation and self-maintenance there is a very compelling illusion that gets produced –
 The illusion that this mind-created sense of self is who we are
 The illusion that the whole project, the whole endeavour of self-maintenance isn’t glitched at all but perfectly feasible
So what happens to us in other words is that we experience an incredibly intense flash of identification with the fictional self-image, the abstract I-concept, and we also at the same time get to be convinced the prospects of this self-image are potentially very good indeed. We see a possibility there which is immensely attractive to us and that possibility is the possibility of the self-concept reaching its state of ultimate fulfilment. As it is, the self-image has got its problems, its deficiencies to deal with but the vision we have is of the self-image enthroned in glory with all of its issues solved, all of its problems resolved, all of its desires met. In common language what we’re talking about here is the state of winning, the state of being a winner. When we play the game of conditioned existence, in other words, we become convinced –
 That we really are the one who is striving so hard to win
 That winning is both very possible and the right thing to be striving for
We have therefore what appears to be two illusions here – the illusion of the goal and the illusion of the one who wants to achieve the goal. As it happens both turn out to be the very same illusion since the seductive glittering goal of success that we are so attracted to is nothing more than the ‘positive projection’ of the self as it actually is (or feels itself to be) at the moment. The ‘projection’ is in other words the fantasy embodiment of what the self would like to be. ‘Success’ or ‘winning’ thus means the final resolution of all the conditioned self’s problems. This is naturally a very enticing (an overwhelmingly enticing) proposition for the conditioned self! Actually – although the self-image can‘t see it – its ‘problem’, its ‘deficiency’, is that it has no being (since it is only a mind-created abstraction) so what ‘success’ or ‘winning’ unconsciously represents to it is the attainment of being where before there was none…
The positive projection of glorious final fulfilment (the mirage of winning) sounds great of course but the snag is that the self which wants to much to achieve it doesn’t exist in the first place, and since it is entirely bereft of being there is no way that it can ever attain or achieve anything! The dreams of the abstract mind-created self – that it can one day bring about (by the correct procedural means) the wonderful state of its own existence, its own marvellous being are therefore entirely absurd. We might think that this account of the life of the conditioned self isn’t entirely accurate since we don’t always go around fixated upon the thought of our final glorious fulfilment. Usually, for most of us, life is quite humdrum and made up mainly of very minor, down-to-earth examples of ‘things going right’ and ‘things going right’ – lots and lots of small goals (or small desires) and lots and lots of small fulfilments and small disappointments. But the point is that for the conditional self everything is seen in terms of its advantage or disadvantage and this always comes down to the question of winning versus losing, ‘doing well’ or not ‘doing well’. It’s only when we’re not identifying with the viewpoint of the self-image that we start to see the world in terms other than that of our own personal advantage or disadvantage. Nothing else is real to the conditioned self – nothing else matters, no matter what it might like to believe. To be a mind-created construct is only to care about what impacts negatively or positively on oneself, which is deeply ironic given that this construct doesn’t really exist.
Who we really are, before we fell into the trap of believing that there must be some sort of procedural basis for our own existence, isn’t a construct, isn’t a mental image that needs to be created and maintained. The unconditioned self, we might therefore say, is both ‘who we really are’ and ‘not something that needs creating and maintaining’. There is no ‘responsibility for maintenance’ here at all therefore! It’s not up to us. Having to produce and maintain itself and reach its final fulfilment is not something the unconditioned self needs to worry about or stress out over. Because it has the virtue of being real, the virtue of not having to be produced, there is no glitch here. There is no glitch here at all, no possibility of a glitch. This is the ‘unglitched reality’ which we lose sight of when we get hoodwinked into thinking that we have to engage in the all the correct procedural actions (or jump through the all the official hoops) before we can finally deserve to exist…
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.