The Error of Self  Agreement ? How is that? Just about every moment of every day we describe reality to ourselves. We are almost always busy describing reality to ourselves – it is as if we’re frightened about what might happen if we stop doing this. It is if – on some unconscious level – we are afraid that the world will cease existing if we stop mentally representing it to ourselves. Or perhaps it is that we’re afraid we will cease existing, if we ever take a break from our constant talking, our ceaseless mental activity.

This is not to say that there is anything ‘wrong’ with describing reality to ourselves, or interpreting the world using some sort of logically-consistent language. It is the conceptual mind’s job to describe or interpret the world to us in a consistent way and it does this job very well. The only thing we need to remember – in order that the concept-using mind may continue to do its job properly – is that the descriptions are only descriptions, that the maps are only maps, and that the concepts are only concepts. If we remain aware of this key fact then the conceptual mind will continue to function as an extraordinarily useful tool.

This tends to seem pretty obvious to us. It seems hardly worth mentioning – we are all utterly convinced that we know this already, and we’re also quite convinced that we don’t usually fall into the trap of mistaking our ideas for reality. This however is a major illusion – more than this, it is in fact a colossal illusion. This is a trap which we fall into every day of our lives.

We don’t suspect that we might have fallen into the trap of mistaking our own concepts for reality because the conceptual mind takes great care to pay lip-service to the fact that it is only there to relate us to reality, to tell us about reality, not create that reality itself. It is very careful to do this, just as a multi-national corporation will take care to pretend to be sincerely concerned about the environment, or the mental and physical health of those it supplies its products to. It has to make the effort to appear to be ‘caring’ otherwise it will be revealed as a monster; it cannot afford to be seen as being ‘wholly governed by self-interest’, or else we won’t be so trusting towards it. Equally, the thinking mind has to pretend that it is not partisan, that it is not ‘wholly concerned with its own particular way of portraying reality to us’ (and therefore ‘wholly uninterested in any aspect of the world that does not correspond to its established categories’) or else we wouldn’t place as much faith in it as we do. We would be straightaway woken up from our default position of having blind faith in our own thoughts…

The trick that the conceptual mind plays in order to make it appear that it is playing a secondary role towards reality rather than the leading role that it does play, is to jump in there first, like an eager beaver, and name everything (or define everything). Having named or defined everything it then proceeds to act with all due veneration towards all the things it has named or defined. In this way the ever-active mind gives the impression that it is dutifully and humbly accepting the role of being a mere mediator between the world and the one who is being guided by it, when this is not at all the case.

By this sneaky trick the over-ambitious concept-creating mind secretly makes itself ‘top dog’ because what it’s really venerating, what it’s really respecting, is not the world at all but its own creations, its own patented products. It venerates itself. Thus, as Krishnamurti says, although we might think that we are religious because we think about God a lot, this isn’t actually the case since it is not God we are worshiping in this way but our own thoughts about God. I’m having a private conversation with myself. I am worshiping my idea of God, my thoughts about God. Thought is worshiping thought…

Exactly the same is true when I have a firm belief about something – saying that I ‘believe in something’ sounds positive, it sounds like an admirable state of affairs. But really all I’m believing are in my own thoughts, my own ideas, my own theories. Thought is believing in its own constructs, its own productions. Thought is believing in its own manufactured certainties…

There is nothing even remotely admirable about this state of affairs – it is like a dictator nominating and electing himself for another ten year term in office! He gets away with this only because he doesn’t given anyone a choice in the matter – if he did give his long-suffering population any choice they would probably throw him straight in prison for corruption, for the shameless and entirely reprehensible abuse of his authority. For thought to believe in its own productions is like a liar believing in his own lies. It is like a Government believing in its own propaganda. Why wouldn’t it? Its propaganda is only there to serve its own interests, after all!

When thought believes in its own manufactured certainties, its own patented products, this is a ‘null-action’. This is a self-cancelling action. It’s redundant. It doesn’t count for anything, it doesn’t prove anything. There is no virtue in this at all – everybody believes in their own thoughts, there’s nothing to be proud of in this…

What virtue is there in a man who believes in his own opinions, his own unexamined prejudices? What point is there in this? Anybody can agree with themselves with precisely zero effort, and because the act of ‘self-agreement’ is so very easy it is redundant, it is null. It all becomes meaningless. This is what happens when we take the short-cut of ‘believing in our own concepts’. We’ve made things just a little bit too neat, just a little bit too convenient. Not to put too fine a point on it – when we make reality this convenient we disappear without a trace up our own back-sides!

This state of affairs – the state of affairs in which we automatically and unreflectively believe in our own thinking – is our default mode of being. Or we could say that being ‘psychologically unconscious’ is our default mode of being.

If this is what it means to be psychologically unconscious, it is not hard to demonstrate that we must all – almost to a man, almost to a woman – be fast asleep. In order to see if I’m unconscious or not all I need to do is to observe myself and then notice whether or not I am in the habit of agreeing with myself!

Needless to say, this is not an unusual situation – it is in fact a state of affairs that prevails across the board for just about all of us. We’re all busy agreeing with ourselves, we’re all busy agreeing to believe whatever it is that we do believe, agreeing to accept our own opinions on the world, no matter what these opinions might be. We’re all busy adhering faithfully to the pattern of seeing the world that we have – for whatever reason – ended up with; we stick to this pattern like glue and we’re not going to be happy in ourselves unless we can carry on sticking with it…

Consciousness (which is the only virtue) is only born when I cease to believe automatically in my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own beliefs. Consciousness only appears on the scene when I cease to believe in my own conditioning, in other words. But because I perceive my conditioning to be myself, this is the one thing I never do. Who would want to go against themselves? Who would want to stop believing in themselves? This doesn’t seem to make any sense – ‘believing in myself’ is supposed to be a good thing, after all…

What we call ‘believing in ourselves’ is in reality nothing more than a particularly intractable form of stubbornness. It is nothing more than a particularly intense form of stupidity. We’re not believing in ourselves, we’re believing whatever the conditioning in our minds tell us to believe. We’re believing whatever we’re supposed to be believing, and somehow we see this act of ‘automatic conformity to the template’ as a virtue. We see ‘mechanical slavery’ as something to be proud of!

Being psychologically unconscious is however not much of an accomplishment. It’s nothing to boast about. After all, it involves exactly zero effort – it happens all by itself. All we have to do is ‘stick with the status quo’. All we have to do is just go along with whatever description of reality it is that happens to be lodged in our heads. All we have to do is ‘unreflectively enact our own habits’ and this – needless to say – isn’t exactly asking a lot of ourselves….
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By Nick Williams | Staff Writer