Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
A wobbly mental walk around what “no mind” may mean and why our saints seem to be so insistent on it.
Politico-philosophical concepts or ideals like “liberty” and “happiness” may seem like our friends, but I’m always troubled by their use. It is as if something is lost and a defeat happens every time my engine of reason starts running. There is something amiss.
I can sometimes sense a profound wisdom in people that carry the stupidest political or economic ideas, or worse, that follow or identify with what I consider lame political currents such as anything “right-wing” or “Conservative.” They are wrong in my discursive judgment, and yet their lives are palpably right, healthy. It seems that, from a cosmic perspective, the ideas themselves, their symbolic, literal, context-free interpretation doesn’t matter. What matters is the total space of state transforms that becomes available for navigation by the body, the person, the soul or spirit. What if there is a superior “mind” that has adapted “whatever works” for that person to operate in what is effectively a direction of humanistic evolution, health?
I sense this, and I revere it as sacred. But by also being very attached to the specific contents of my mind, to my own reasoning over symbols and concepts, I struggle with the idea that they also could be better off if only we all agreed on something. If we pretend to already share a global civilization, and if we are still trying to have an actual one, isn’t that civilization going to be an agreement on something? I’m a computer programmer, and I’m attached to the programs that our minds carry; the definitions, the specific symbols. Surely some combination of symbols is better than another? Surely there is a base combination of symbols that could be shared by all? Perhaps a sophisticated one, and perhaps just a collection of patterns that would not be forced upon people, but that would be available for the taking and that every person would end up picking up at least a bit of it? Phew, that’s exhausting…
What is this symbolic labyrinth we spend much of our lives in? It has no value by itself. When I am in touch, when I am in the state that literally senses health and wisdom directly, I am more of a full human being. I am alive, free and happy. But when I am too worried about the symbolism, the reasoning, the logic, then I feel less alive, as if seeing the world from the inside of a well. I feel trapped, and I am not happy but troubled, worried about whether I am winning the spiritual video-game of life, whether I am doing good or not, whether I am succeeding in solving the problem, cracking the puzzle of life, liberty and happiness for all.
“No mind,” and the idea that the heart should be the “master” of the mind and not the other way around, is really the idea that the mind should not be seen by “us” (the whole) as us ourselves, that is, it is not the totality of it, of us. That’s why “Totalitarianism” is bad in societies: it is ultimately an attempt at identifying society totally with a given virtual structure of power, a “State,” a “religion” or an “economy.”
“No mind” is really the idea that we are not our minds, that a person cannot be reduced to a mind, to the symbols they carry, and that our lives are not discourse, concepts or logic. By suffering the violence of compulsory Trade-Industrial, alienated schooling, by being raised in Trade-Industrial civilization with its class divisions and nuclear families, our minds have been deeply maimed and turned into Tyrants of our inner societies, where consciousness is the people, is “us,” — that is, what really exists — and the construct, the tool of order, the invention — the Mind — becomes more real, becomes “us” on our behalf… and by our action.
The very idea of Tyranny is dangerous precisely because it ascribes a reality, a weight, a power to something that is really an illusion. The State is nothing more than symbols, nothing more than a Mind. The consciousness, the heart, the people, the “us” is real. The brain is also real: the offices where the conventions of State, religion or economy are played; the infrastructure. But the Mind isn’t: it is a game. Just symbols, ideas. Something that what is real constantly creates and re-creates, constantly reinforces, activates, animates, and only in that sense has any reality to it. The Tyrant is real, but the Tyranny is not a being but something you yourself — or your expanded self, that contains a piece of the continuous tissue of being that you modeled as a separate Tyrant — created. You call that section of the non-separate being a Tyrant because you as a whole act out a Tyranny by ascribing reality to that Tyranny. That section of being is unconditionally, “physically” part of the real, regardless of what adjective or label is appropriate to describe it at any given time, as a consequence of the games you happen to be playing through it, the function you are injecting in it.
What happens when an entire planet of sentient beings has almost all of their minds stuck into a state of scientifically-mapped and industrially-manufactured abuse wherein every new brain that enters that planet is maimed to channel the consciousness, the wholeness of that person into a belief that it is no more real than the symbolic contents, the virtualization, the modeling tools, the words that the consciousness can focus on, concentrate on, watch as if immersed into a movie? The result is a world of walking dead. Zombies that live through a movie-screen, conceptual projection of life. A “realistic” video-game that tries to model the reality that it mediates. When instead people could experience real life directly.
But that is itself just a dramatic concept, a movie. This essay is a symptom of the disease it tries to touch. That drama is not real as we are: it is a drama, a mental model being witnessed by a consciousness that is real. That “we are all asleep” is a story. Life is fascinating and worth living, even from the depths of a well or when mediated by annoying goggles you won’t take off. The light of being cannot ever be blocked.
That final jump into what is really in front of us. That quantum leap outside of a suffering. That is healing. It is powerful, and it is the main source of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How could that not necessarily precede any attempts at the production of truly useful symbols, systems, societies? How can we know what the “one mind” has in store for us if we do not let it guide us? If we do not choose a non-mediated, unapologetic living-first attitude as an inner health, as an inner and self-granted life, freedom and happiness?
The conundrum of mental health is the apparent paradox of it being possible to describe a situation through a mental model of “disease,” and yet, the careless thought of one being “diseased” is disempowering and is itself, well, a “disease.” The disease is just a story, and like a political tyranny, it is not a first-class, direct citizen of reality. What can be perhaps described temporarily as “diseased” is your (equally temporary) mind, not you. What you truly are can never be diseased, as it is not a separate self, but a continuum with what symbols like health, life, liberty and happiness are really trying to point to. You are all these things.
To point out the obvious, that is similar to why a people, a population of humans on this planet, cannot ever be in “debt.” Debt is our creation, our convention, our Mind, and not something that is more real than we are. And yet we all walk around frantically, literally believing, identified with the fact that we have to “pay” for our right to exist as manifestations of the same one consciousness. Who we are can never be in debt or servitude. And somehow we have convinced us that that’s possible. We have chosen that for some reason. To deny that we are as a whole perpetuating our own poverty — by a choice that may have its reasons, even wise ones — is what is not helpful.
So perhaps that’s why the saints insist that all the life, liberty, happiness, courage, fulfillment, peace is in us. Once you stop identifying, reducing yourself to these “movies,” these symbols, you remember who you are, which is these things. And looking for yourself outside of yourself can never really work. In 2017, we are God watching a 3D movie about us being nothings, looking for scarce caricatures of ourselves scattered across an Industrial Trade planet.
And perhaps this “maiming” of Industrial-Trade civilization is also that healing. Perhaps everything is that healing. As Gregory Bateson wrote, the universe is a self-healing tautology. So everything is fine then, and there’s nothing to do? Not at all —but precisely because that is also a story.
Having said all that, an implication seems to be that “Utopia” better describes all models, all symbols, all contents of mind. Utopia just means story, model, ideal, image, movie, projection, hope. The fact of the “physical” resonance of chosen symbols to exist inscribed in parts of our psychic apparatuses is real, as the fact of the projection of a movie and its effects are real, while the isolated content as symbol is not literally real. (“Isolation” is also a concept; there’s no such thing but more like a starvation of outside stimuli to the symbolic projection).
And now that we know our inner Utopias are not real but mere tools, mere part of a dance of reality we “know” nothing of, then we can pack our bags and leave this confusing story of quantum theory of thought and return to our “concrete,” “reasonable” world of Newtonian, macroscopic thought. Off from the drawing board, close the IDE and compiler. Admit we have achieved nothing other than the experience of having achieved nothing, and let’s simply go back to working as game players instead of coders: what different thing are you going to choose to play now, to think?
I suggest Universal Basic Income. I think it is just a thing that is going to give life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all in the immediate term. After that we can take a look at more advanced, less trivial, less obvious steps. I mean, let’s just jump in and do that, effective immediately. What do you say?