Thursday, January 19, 2012

Illusion - part one

Well. Here we go. I did warn that the topic of illusion would be a doozy. I don't know if this exercise will ultimately be useful to anyone but people who hear me talk about our lives of illusion or the matrix of illusion, sometimes ask what I mean by illusion and so... they deserve an answer.

All of the following understandings shall be either first-hand observations or else careful logical extrapolations from them, and they are consolidated, to some degree or another, by the subsequent testimony of many poets and scientists according to my own interpretation of their words.

Illusion... It is not a mirage. It is something that exists but not in the form that we view or interpret it. When a society is built on heaps and heaps of nested illusions, then that society is no more than an illusion in its sum. That is where we are and I will attempt to tell you why. But it will be very difficult to do so because there are so many unfamiliar understandings built on multiple components themselves unfamiliar understandings. There is no way to explain such an entire pyramidal structure either fully or in a convenient linear method within a single article.

"God made man in his own image." These may very well be the most tragically harmful seven words ever spoken. They may be the most significant reason why the human race - as we know it - is almost certainly driving itself out of existence while there might never be another race like us again in the remaining life of the universe. Why? because that divine idea supports our deeply misguided intuitions and distracts us from the truth about what we really are. And what we really are is not built to last. We must rebuild ourselves or perish.

I personally know only a minority of practicing religious people and many of those I do, tend either to confide in me that they do it for the social aspect, to please someone else, or else they do it, very nobly, for its charitable opportunities. Granted this is particular to my personal circle of associates. I make no claims with regards to societal norms on this matter. But yet, we are almost all of us still living and thinking in the Christian tradition whether we attend church or not. To what degree it is your parents or grandparents who attended church and propagated this mode of thinking which you have inherited, versus the education system versus cultural habit - no matter. We all go around behaving as if we are mini-me gods; as if we are ultimately sentient; as if our lives are the products of our thought-out choices. This is illusion. While choice and consequence is one legitimate perspective of how our lives are arranged, choice itself is not what we think it is. Choices are made by the overwhelming dominant part of your brain; the instinctive side; the dark side; the side that is not accessible to your comparatively pitiful conscious awareness.

Who are we? Who am I? Who are you? We are only consciousnesses and no more. The feeling of "self" that we hold onto is not directly connected to our human body. It is a dead-end off-chute from the brain. We are only stow-aways on ships waving to each other through portholes and thinking that we are the captains of the ships and that the ships are going where we tell them to. As counter intuitive as it seems, I know this is so. I experience it every day because I once had the courage to dare to contemplate it and I started paying much more attention to myself until I came to know.

Will each of us, if he turns his head, see behind him his shadow, his double, the beast that resembles him, silently watching him?
- Georges Bernanos (1888-1948)

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
- Luke 23:33-34

Consciously we rationalize our instinctive choices and we believe the illusion that we consciously made those choices and further, that we made them for honorable reasons and not selfish ones. Some scientists interpret that they have proven this to be true. A human being is not very different from a robot who mistakenly thinks it is alive. We are only consciousness and consciousness is little more than a witness; not a decision-maker.

We're talking about the core illusion; the illusion of consciousness which perhaps spawns all other illusions though I haven't fully consolidated that.

Can our consciousness (you and I) at least inform our instinctive mind and thus help influence choices? It certainly appears so. It appears that my instinctive mind makes more and more conscious-friendly, harmonic, evolutionary, non-survival-instinct choices now, as a result of an apparently strengthened consciousness - i.e.: one that has gained more influence over the dark side of the mind apparently due simply to the practice of regular contemplation of this and related explorations and the resulting enlightenment, something I've had the rare luxury to pursue given the absence of dedication to children, marriage, career and reputation-building; the cornerstones of our society.

The church says that we are captains of our ship and we are naturally good; xeroxes of God, but we are tempted by the devil. The devil is the source of evil. We must resist this temptation or you won't experience the paradise of post-mortal heaven.

I suspect we must give up on this ass-backwards notion of reality or we are truly screwed. The Christian religion is chock full of perfect beautiful metaphors for the critical conditions of the human society of mind and full of poetic wisdom but if we take it literally we will not learn reality (become enlightened); we will only be goaded into playing along as if we had learned. The Christian religion, as it is preached today, does not lead us to evolve into a creature of harmony, something otherwise very possible. It only bribes us to fake it.

The paradise is here and now! The miracles of our existence are truly euphoric, truly sensational. Earth is heaven. But we are held apart from these realities by illusions. I know this from valid experience. I pull back those curtains of illusion all the time; every day and the uncloaked world of mankind is truly wondrous and awe-inspiring and wildly joyful. I promise you. I can not lie about this. I will attempt to bring together the explanations for this in a subsequent article.

The "Devil" or "evil" is nothing more than life itself. It is the dominant mind. It is "survival instinct" which is a very unfortunate label. "Domination instinct" makes much more sense. This primitive urge that we call evil is perfectly normal and inevitable. It is simply the will to live the only way we could possibly know how.

The petunia is altogether fully evil. The magnolia tree is altogether perfectly evil. The rascally bunny rabbit is entirely - from twitchy nose to cotton ball tail - 100% evil. Evil is fine. It doesn't come equipped with horns and forked tails and pitchforks, so let's not freak out about it. But yes, it keeps us from the paradise; the paradise of joyful empathy and true happiness, peace and freedom. Freedom from loneliness, grief, sadness, shame, guilt, anger, frustration, jealousy and twenty more standard human mental illnesses which we think are necessary to human existence but are not; which go untreated by the psychology community because the psychology community still has a hell of a lot to learn. Psychologists are great at sorting out observations and labelling them. They are the closest thing we have to experts at navigating the great web of illusions. The poet doesn't need to navigate this web. The poet sees through the illusions and the way is clear.

Survival instinct, domination instinct, evil. Perfect selfishness. It's all the same thing and it is the basis for life. It is the kind of life that evolved on this planet because what other kind was possible? Who can guess? Life needed diversity. A uniform solitary species would obviously have eaten itself into immediate extinction. Life of diversity means competition, survival of the (many) fittest; inevitable eventual balance of diverse life revolving, eating each other. How else is this possible without that primitive domination instinct present in all surviving species; the sub-DNA code that orders "This species must survive at any cost"? Again, who can guess?

Evil, or domination instinct, is normal but the human alone is the first species with the opportunity to evolve beyond it! We've already begun. And the beauty is that this kind of evolution can be intentionally manifested in no time at all! It requires no generational reproductive stages. This is the stunning reality of our existence. This is what all of our lives are about while we go around pretending that miniature castles and cars and personal electronic devices are what our lives are all about.

While we're sitting around thinking that the Jets beating the Patriots is some kind of high drama we're looking incredibly silly. The human being is either going to evolve beyond the domination instinct just in time to save itself or else its domination mission will continue to drive it to becoming the singular dominant species that will eat itself (or eat the earth). This is the only real drama on planet earth while we're all distracted being drama queens, inventing false dramas. Is the miraculous human flower about to wither or will it bloom all over a previously dead universe? Those are the only two possibilities. There is nothing in between. Earth is a dying planet whether we collapse the biosphere soon or the dying sun does it later. This is the real drama and we are participating in that drama every day though outwardly, we seem not to have a clue.

Man has no greater enemy than himself.
- Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374)

There is only one journey. Going inside yourself.
- Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Somewhere a man must rise And slumber no more. For sunset nears And to the darkness there is no end.
- attribution unknown

I can't see how obeying Jesus can get you to heaven, in my experience. I have learned one way to get to the paradise and every human on earth can call me a liar should it comfort you to do so (almost assuredly it would) and it will still be true. In my experience it is understanding; it is intelligence; true intelligence, not rationalization, that breaches illusions and avails the paradise. Experiencing the paradise makes you more like the Jesus. It has the potential to make us all evolve into Jesuses. I have every confidence in that. But the overwhelming matrix of illusions is standing in the way. Is my way the only way to arrive at the paradise? Probably not. In fact I hope not.

This all must not seem very convincing. Every paragraph I've written demands explanation and I have the explanations but they are exponentially tangential. I suppose that readers will have the choice to have some trust and absorb a more whole story over multiple articles or else they will not. Either way, I am doing my duty.

Illusion... Have I digressed?

I have to tell you, I'm having second thoughts about this. It is not my mandate to run around slapping everyone in the face. It is my mandate to be gentle, to nudge and not sensationalize but I don't see a gentle way to do this which I have promised to do.

Illusion: Communication

I called us stow-aways waving to each other through portholes. Surely we communicate better than that, right? Not really. Our consciousness thinks it knows what ideas we wish to convey. We open our mouths and then we believe we've communicated the ideas. Big problem with that. Our ideas go through a translation process and get turned into words. The words absorbed by the audience are translated back into ideas. Things go wildly astray through a dual translation process. Add the spin that the dark mind plays against the consciousness. Add the spins we deliberately play against each other, both consciously and non-consciously. Add the wiggle room built into the English language. Almost every word has multiple meanings. Add the problem that we share high-level ideas trusting the assumption that the listener shares the same dogmatic structures which the shared idea evolves from, when in reality we all have different (and variously flawed) dogma. Add the problem that so many listeners spend half of their listening moments not listening but planning what they're going to say next. When you talk to someone you think you know what you told them but you never know what they heard.

No one ever discovers the depths of his own loneliness.
- Georges Bernanos

Illusion: Context

If you are reading this, it means that you have the Internet and you speak English. Right there I know that you are almost certainly part of the blindly privileged class. You think you don't have enough money. But I know damn well you have too much. Twenty per cent of the world's population have eighty per cent of the wealth. There is no real excuse for this. Only greed. Two per cent of the population have fifty per cent of the wealth. These are the elites. There is no excuse for that either. The fairness of competition each class imagines only seems real within a confined self-serving context. From a global context our excuses fall apart.

I asked the young readers group to comment on the theme of have/have-not in the novel The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch. They thought the theme was relevant to their lives as they - every one of them - saw themselves in a have-not circumstance. You probably do too. Because you are likely absorbed in your own culture. From that standpoint you glimpse the elite and feel poor in comparison. And if you forget to fast forward through the C.A.R.E. commercial then your glimpse of impoverished Africans is just some weird aberration. They just need to get their shit together. But you are in the 18% of the population who holds 30% of the wealth. You are likely near twice as rich as you deserve and are working less hard for this privilege than 80% of the population works just to survive. Life on planet Earth has not essentially changed. Mammals must spend the vast majority of their energy attempting to feed and protect themselves which most humans still do. It's reality. You and I are the aberration and there's nothing nice about it.

Our society of constant recreation is an economic illusion. It can not last. The global marketplace is another system of slavery. The "Canadian" government spends money on international aid while dullards drag their feeble minds away from the Cosby Show or whatever it is these days long enough to complain that they ought to spend this money "at home". This isn't aid money. It's an investment. They spend a dollar to help keep a market afloat so that we can rape it for two dollars later. It is a matter of excellent comedy the degree that closet racists everywhere have poor countries and immigrants to thank for their wealth and have not a clue of this circumstance. We are the oil society. We have the magic elixir: We harnessed liquid super-condensed sunshine, which we have no right to possess, to do our work for us and leverage our standing in the global marketplace. You and I are oil barons at the expense of the biosphere. There is no legitimate avoidance of this ugly reality yet we all do it. We do it by ignoring the greater context. This is just one example of how we never come close to understanding truths without the rare occasion of first seeking the greatest context.

[We must not] prescribe curricula or pedagogic practices that require or strongly invite students to become skeptical or critical of their way of life.
- William Galston, political theorist and advisor to Bill Clinton and other political leaders, unknowingly recorded.

To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Illusion: Livelihood

The reality is that we need a roof, clothes and food to survive. As long as this current western civilization fantasy persists these necessities can be taken for granted. But the domination instinct knows no sense of moderation or redundancy and we are ever pushed to fight to "survive". We are forced to play a constant redundant survival charade. The manifestations of this in a massively "social" environment have centered this constant survival game on reputation. Everything is reputation. You reveal this to me in everything you say to me. It is a massive preoccupation; your domination instinct at work. You have some dark suspicion of yourself, I know; with regards to what degree you spin and posture and position yourself and manipulate other's perception of you but I assure you, it's a drop in the bucket. It is not survival-domination-friendly for our instinctive mind to reveal to our consciousness just how phony we really are.

The world is governed more by appearances than by realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.
- Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

You are only what you are when no one is looking
- Robert C. Edwards
Our society is utterly revolved around reputation. It's everything. Money is just a ledger of reputation. Here's the cash. Here's me showing that I am reputed to be deserving of this luxury you peddle. Houses, cars, careers and vacation paradises are wildly overblown. We chase these things, convinced by our instincts that they are the keys to happiness but the happiness does not come. Instead we get temporary feelings that say "I guess I must be happy. I'm doing what I'm supposed to." No matter how much you have, you "need" more.

The richest person I personally know well, happens to be the most stressed-out neurotic person I know, full of secrets and fears and convoluted circumstances. He's constantly trying to manage perception and cover things up. The poorest person I personally know well, happens to be the most genuinely happy and well-adjusted person I know. My friend who volunteers in Haiti knows the poorest kids in the world. He is blown away by how constantly happy they are. Well of course they're happy. They are alive, they are human, they love and are loved and they have no possessions to covet. They are relatively free of charade and social illness, free to appreciate the best things in life. Yes, I know that serious poverty is no picnic especially in terms of health care and nutrition. I don't mean to celebrate extreme poverty.

I think all the people I know would, if cornered, say that the best things in life are free. They would all say that money can't buy happiness, but actions speak louder than words, and how many of them behave as if they truly believe any of it? I would say three. Less than a single per cent of people I've known. And I'm a fortunate one. Most people probably know zero. Instinct won't let most people believe all that. Instead they will rationalize their greed.

Run, run rabbit run, Dig that hole, forget the sun, And when at last the work is done, Don't sit down it's time to dig another one.
- Pink Floyd (1973)

We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t care about.
- Tim Jackson (Economist)

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Freedom tastes of reality
- Pete Townshend (1969)

Illusion: Nations

We have a fundamental problem in that we treat nouns as if they're all created equal. But some nouns represent realities while others only represent ideas. Are nations real? Most certainly not. Nations are nothing but complicated sets of ideas. They only appear real because so many of us agree to pretend that they are real. I don't. I am not "Canadian" whatsoever. That is someone's dull idea of me; not mine. I am entirely unique in the universe and so are you. Ideas can be useful or not useful. As a man who looks at everything in terms of its capacity for harmony, I see that nations are a system of ideas where the great majority of those ideas are either fictional, opposed to harmony or both. Nations are grotesque to me. Nationalism strikes me as vulgar, ugly and stupid. It makes me queasy to stand up for "Oh Canada" just to keep others in my proximity comfortable. Nations exist to keep the fear-mongering rich and powerful rich and powerful. Slavery is alive and well but there is no need for shackles or swords. It is now slavery of the mind.

But we are a democracy. This is government by the people, right? I'm not convinced. The convoluted riding system serves to dissolve non-conformist votes making it almost impossible for new movements to gain momentum. Our illusion-of-democracy system is designed to keep the same circle of elites in perpetual rotating power. Only politicians with a whole lot of money and the stomache to deal in high-stakes nepotism have any chance of success in our system. This is government by the rich. We look at the elite parties and assume the differences between them are meaningful. It doesn't take much legitimate contemplation to realize that in the global realm of possibility (the larger context), our monopolizing political parties are virtually identical. Communism also touts itself government by the people and is just as corrupt in its practical manifestations.

In general the powerful and influential in our society shape the laws and have a great influence on the legislature and on the congress and this creates a reluctance to change because the powerful and influential have carved out for themselves, or have inherited, a privileged position in society.
- Jimmy Carter (Law Day, University of Georgia, 1974)

Let the world retain in memory: Mighty tongues tell mighty lies.
- Bruce Cockburn (1971)

The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one.
- Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

So is anyone still reading this? I think it may be past time for a break. Let's continue this a bit later, shall we?

There are many reasons (mostly your instincts and the limits of linear communication) why you will be resistant to accepting much of this testimony and why you will cherry-pick apparent evidence against my claims from less-than-global perspectives and that is fine. I never ask people to believe me anyway. That would go against poetic principles. Belief is not sane. It is soft thinking. Same with that other deplorable idea; faith. They are crutches. Belief and faith are the only things truly pretensious. Testimony is testimony and a healthy person will proceed with life dealing with the uncertaintly of testimony still unproven to him. Pretending that factoids are known to be true when they are not yet known, is reckless and harmful. My hope is that my testimony will be considered and that on the occasions it becomes applicable, you might explore it and test it in a courageous manner in the virtual labratory of your own living experience.

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Truth is what stands the test of experience.
- Albert Einstein

Please don't think I present these ideas from the perspective (or delusion) of being angelic, saintly or superior. I am certainly none of the above. Cause and effect provided certain accesses to me. It is my duty to pass them on. Meanwhile I have my own dark demons to fight.

More on the subject of illusions soon...

Half the work that is done in this world is to make things appear what they are not.
- Elias Root Beadle

We are at liberty to be real or to be unreal. We may be true or false. The choice is ours. We may wear now one mask, and now another and never, should we desire appear with our own true face. But we can not make these choices with impunity. Causes have effects. And if we lie to ourselves and to others then we can not expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them.
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

1 comment:

Skeeter Willis said...

Finally, a peek inside Pandora's box. Eagerly waiting for Part 2.