Peace and happiness lie in unending abundance all around us (they are ‘freely available to all’, so to speak) but when we try to ‘grab’ (or ‘acquire’) them on the basis of ‘who we aren’t’ then they elude us every time.
If this is the way we go about things (i.e. aggressively trying to obtain happiness on the basis of ‘who we aren’t’) then we’re never even going to get a glimpse of what we’re searching for. We’ll never get a sniff of it. We’ll never know what true peace is, what genuine happiness is – actually, we’ll get something else instead, we’ll get a dodgy kind of a substitute!
What we will obtain instead of peace and happiness is a self-cancelling, self-negating ‘package’ of pleasure and pain, and a whole load of ongoing non-terminating strife to go with it. This package is the ‘lower analogue’ of happiness – the inferior copy of (or substitute for) the real thing.
The ‘strife’ in question is of course an inevitable part of the package since we will always be striving as hard as we can to obtain the pleasure and run away from the pain, this being implicit in the nature of pleasure/pain. This polarity gives rise to a ‘turning wheel’ because one opposite always gives way to the other. Or to put it another way, pleasure and pain are the two sides of the same thing.
This point is not just ‘tricky’ for us to understand, it’s impossible. Or at least it’s impossible just as long as we are looking at things from the stand-point of ‘who we aren’t’. If there’s one thing we can be sure of never seeing from the viewpoint of ‘who we aren’t’ it’s that pleasure and pain are one and the same thing!
This business of us automatically assuming that we are who we aren’t is therefore the very crux of the matter. It is also fundamentally linked with the notion of ‘aggression’ – when we act on the basis or standpoint of who we aren’t then ‘aggressively’ is the only way we can act. There is no other possibility for us. There’s no way we can act ‘harmoniously’, in a ‘peaceful fashion’.
What’s essentially happening is that we’re ‘forcing the issue’ and the reason we’re forcing the issue is because if we don’t force it then it simply won’t happen! It’s not going to happen because what we’re trying to accomplish is an impossible thing. What we’re trying to bring about is an unreal thing – it’s unreal because I’m trying to achieve something (some outcome) on the basis of ‘who I’m not’ and ‘who I’m not’ doesn’t actually exist!
How can I obtain something on the basis of ‘who I’m not’, on the basis of ‘what isn’t’? What sense does this make? If the basis isn’t real then nothing that follows on from it can be either – the real can’t be built on the unreal. Clearly, this ‘unreal starting-off point’ presents an insurmountable problem right from the very onset!
Not only is it an insurmountable problem it is also (for me) an invisible one – it’s an invisible problem because when I assume myself to be who I’m not the mechanics of the situation means that it becomes flatly impossible for me to see that who I’m assuming myself to be doesn’t actually exist.
This is one way of looking at the glitch that we get caught up in and another way is to say that just as soon as we start off being aggressive then we incur an entropy debt, which is to say, we incur a ‘mental blind-spot’. This blind-spot makes it impossible for us to see that we are not who we think we are, and it also makes it impossible for us to have any insight into the true motivation behind our purposeful activities.
We could also explain this point by saying that the entropy which we have incurred as a result of our aggression (or as a result of our ‘controlling’) automatically justifies the aggression, automatically justifies the controlling. The entropy makes it impossible for us to question our aggression – because our basis is unquestionable to us so too is the action that proceeds from it.
It might seem peculiar to look at things in a ‘backwards’ sort of a way like this (i.e. to say that the aggression creates the false sense of the self which is being aggressive) but it works both ways. It works both backwards and forwards. The false sense of self always has to be aggressive because it is covering up a false premise (because it is ‘protecting a lie’) and – contrariwise – the more aggressive or controlling we get the more this solidifies the false sense of self, the false idea of who we are.
The more we think about things from the standpoint of who we aren’t the more we solidify this unreal standpoint – thinking is (whether we see it or not) a fundamentally aggressive act and so it invariably incurs bucket-loads of entropy. The more aggression, the more entropy!
What this means therefore is that we’re neatly caught in a loop – and a very tight and claustrophobic loop it is too! We think we’re chasing after peace and happiness but really we’re just incurring a bigger and bigger entropy debt. We think we’re pursuing happiness but really we’re just running faster and faster on a treadmill, creating problems quicker than we can solve them.
We think we’re chasing happiness but really we’re just chasing a dream! We’re toiling day and night to obtain something that simply doesn’t exist, something which can never be more than an absurd notion, a ridiculous and preposterous hallucination…
What we’re pursuing with such dogged determination is ‘what looks to us like happiness from the standpoint of who we’re not’. This ‘virtual commodity’ is what we’re always trying to grab hold of. This is what we’re trying to wangle for ourselves with all our clever tricks. This is what we’re trying to purchase for ourselves with all this great expenditure of effort and energy and time.
What we see as ‘peace and happiness’ from the point of view of ‘who we’re not’ isn’t anything at all really. The lower analogue is a phantom. It’s an hallucination. It’s revolving door to nowhere. It’s a self-cancelling illusion.
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.