We always ignore the thing that matters the most (which is our own true well-being) and contrive instead to be ridiculously fascinated and absorbed in all sorts of other things, things that not only have nothing to do with ‘our true well-being’ but are actually wholly inimical to it. Anything that causes us to ignore our own true well-being has got to be wholly inimical to us, fairly obviously!
It is perhaps not entirely fair to say that we ‘contrive’ to be ridiculously fascinated and absorbed in all sorts of extraneous affairs to the detriment of our true well-being. Partially, it is unfair because we have no idea that this is what we are doing and so we can hardly be blamed for it. In another way however it is a fair comment because – ultimately – it IS our responsibility what we get caught up in. If it’s not our responsibility then whose is it? We might want to hand over responsibility for what happens to us in life and what we end up doing or not doing, to external influences, but in the end it is us who agree to going along with these influences. We might have someone banging us over the head which a bunch of rules, but we have to agree to obey them. The rule is powerless over us otherwise!
Ignoring what we truly care about and being engrossed in inconsequential details is of course the ‘human condition’ – this is ‘the central absurdity of human life’ and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise then they are talking out of their hat! If anyone tries to tell you otherwise then they are shooting you a fine line in bullshit, and they are shooting themselves one too. If we can’t see this to be the human condition then we can’t see anything at all. If we can’t see ‘the central perversity of human life’ then what can we possibly say about anything that isn’t high-grade BS? We have to see that we are ‘unconscious clowns’ before we can say anything sensible – otherwise anything we might have to say is guaranteed to be just more ‘unconscious clown-talk’… A fool who cannot see himself (or herself) to be a fool is guaranteed to carry on acting foolishly, after all. Wisdom cannot come about without this key insight – there’s no way to bypass this painful but crucial bit of awareness!
If we were to take a honest interest in the vexed question of ‘what we’re actually at’ in our lives then we couldn’t help but see it to be folly. We wouldn’t be able to help seeing that we are spending most (if not all) of our time compulsively absorbed in nonsense that we don’t really care about. Honest self-observation always shows this! Who could possibly deny it? The truth is always there for anyone who is genuinely interested in seeing it – the only problem is us actually having that interest! What we do in life is this – we take up a trivial identity that isn’t us (because you we are isn’t a trivial or superficial identity!) and then we proceed to preoccupy ourselves in a ‘wall-to-wall’ fashion with things that matter to this trivial identity but which DON’T matter to us. As we started off by saying, we ignore everything that genuinely does matter to is and give our attention and energy over to all sorts of stuff that doesn’t actually matter at all. We don’t give ourselves a chance to find out what really matters to us – we keep ourselves far too busy for that. That’s the game that we’re playing, after all. We’re playing the game of ‘ignoring who we really are’!
This is the game we’re playing and of that there can be no doubt – not if we’re actually interested in looking into it, that is. If we take the trouble to honestly observe what is going on we will always see what we have just described here but the thing is that we practically never do take an honest interest in what’s going on because that goes counter to the rules of the game. Honest self-observation is counter to the rules of the game – naturally it is because (as we have just said) the game we’re playing is the game of ignoring who we really are. When we play the game of not knowing who we are without knowing that we are playing it then the truth becomes a very frightening thing. It actually becomes the ultimately frightening thing and it is this fundamental fear that stops us from ever being genuinely interested in looking too deeply at ourselves or the world. It is – in other words – this fear that keeps us so tightly identified with the trivial or shallow identity that the thinking mind provides us with.
The game that we’re talking about here is highly compulsive, highly absorbing. We’re preoccupied on a full-time basis with all of these things that don’t really matter to us, but which matter so much to the trivial identity that we have adopted without knowing it. Our unreflective allegiance to this trivial or superficial identity is the betrayal of who we really are – we are compelled by the rules of the game to betray ourselves at every step, therefore! We are compelled to sell ourselves short; we are compelled to go against our own true nature. As Philip K Dick says in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? –
You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.
The game of ignoring our own true nature is ‘compulsive’ because it is made up of equal parts of ‘greed’ and ‘fear’. When the Trivial Identity is interested in something this is greed, and when it is negatively interested in something (i.e. when it is interested in getting away from it!) this is fear. Greed and fear are the two sides of the same thing and both make an equal claim on our attention – both control us absolutely. What we’re talking about here isn’t really ‘interest’ however – the Trivial Identity cannot ever be genuinely ‘interested’ in anything because it’s just a construct, because it’s just a ‘shallow thing’. Only who we truly are can be genuinely interested in anything or anyone. Only who we truly are can actually care about anything, or have actual curiosity about anything. The shallow identity that is the ‘adopted self’ is a kind of ‘sociopath’ in other words – it is a machine driven by mechanical compulsions that we are free to identify with if we ‘want’ to…
It’s not really a matter of ‘wanting’ here of course – not in the way in which we normally use the term. When we’re trapped within the sphere of influence of the shallow identity then everything is wanting of one sort or another. Everything is compelled, everything is mechanical (or as we could also say, everything is ‘attachment’, either of the positive or negative variety). Either we like it or we dislike it! This isn’t our own true will however; our own true will has been submerged beneath the alien will – our own true will no longer exists for us because it has been replaced by mere mechanical compulsion…
The strange thing here is that the things that the shallow self-construct is interested in are things that nobody is interested in. Nobody is interested in them because the shallow self-construct is nobody. It’s not anyone really, so it can hardly be said to be ‘interested’ in anything! That’s entirely the wrong word to use – the shallow self-construct (or Trivial Identity) only has mechanical attachment, as we have just said. So to be in this situation – the situation where we are flatly, unshakeably convinced that we are this shallow construct – is a very peculiar one indeed. It is both deeply peculiar and highly unsatisfactory!
How – after all – can it not be ‘highly unsatisfactory’ (to put it mildly!) to be in this situation where we are forever being compelled to be interested in ‘unreal things’, ‘things that have nothing in them’? How can it not be highly unsatisfactory to be continuously fascinated in things that are nothing more than reflections of the ‘shallow self-construct’, which is a thing that isn’t who we are anyway, which isn’t who anyone is, and which – actually – doesn’t even exist in the first since it is only an idea, only a mental picture or image? And we’re not just ‘interested’ or even ‘fascinated’ in this projections of the unreal Trivial Identity – we frequently get very worked up indeed about them, and very often go through sheer hell because of them. So if this situation isn’t ‘deeply peculiar’ then what is?