The world we’re presented with and are expected to believe in (the world which we’re required to believe in) is a false reality.
Probably everyone, at some time or other, has had the eerie feeling that ‘things are not what they seem’. At such times we start to wonder, like Edgar Allen Poe, if it might not all be just ‘a dream within a dream’. Usually, such feelings don’t persist and we quickly forget about them. If on the other hand the feelings do persist and cause distress then we refer to this as paranoia, and the thing about paranoia is – as we all know – is that the startling insights we are getting as a result of it aren’t real. We understand what we’re experiencing to be a mental disturbance or aberration – perhaps even a ‘mental illness’.
In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Sogyal Rinpoche says that during our lives there occur every now and again ‘breaks’ or ‘gaps’ between one solid and continuous structure and another. When we find ourselves in such a gap or bardo we have a real opportunity to ‘change tracks,’ so to speak, and leave behind the pattern that we were caught up in. Our reaction to finding ourselves in the unfamiliar space of the bardo is however almost always to get out of it as quickly as we can by re-instigating some kind of habitual or automatic behaviour. And then, once this moment of potential freedom is gone, we make sure never to think about the experience – we blank it out. And if we do try to talk about this experience of uncertainty we’re discouraged by everyone around us, we are ‘put off’. And yet, as Sogyal Rinpoche points out, what we’re being put off from discussing are genuine glimpses into the nature of the mind –
Despite this massive and nearly all-pervasive denial of their existence, we still sometimes have fleeting glimpses of the nature of mind….I think we do, sometimes, half understand these glimpses, but modern culture gives us no context or framework in which to comprehend them. Worse still, rather than encouraging us to explore these glimpses more deeply and discover where they spring from, we are told in both obvious and subtle ways to shut them out.
We know that no one will take us seriously if we try to share them. We can be frightened by them, or even think we are going mad. So we ignore what could really be the most revealing experiences of our lives, if only we understood them. This is perhaps the darkest and most disturbing aspect of modern civilization its ignorance and repression of who we really are.
Now whilst it’s true that in paranoia any definite conclusions we may jump to, any theories we come up with (in order to account for our feeling of acute uncertainty as to ‘what is going on’) are always going to be way ‘off base’, the essential perception itself, that something is amiss, that ‘someone has been tampering with the reality supply’, is not off-base at all but totally accurate. There is something going on – we’re being fed (either by our conditioned mind or by society) a completely bogus version of reality. The hair-raising feeling that things aren’t what they seem isn’t a ‘random mental aberration’ at all; it’s a manifestation of actual unconditioned awareness; a manifestation of genuine honest unpackaged, unprocessed and unregulated consciousness…
This being the case, since when is actual consciousness considered an aberration or illness and why is it treated as such?
What kind of a world are we living in when to be conscious is an illness that needs to be treated by the officially-licensed and professionally-accredited ‘experts’?
What kind of an upside-down state of affairs is this? Colin Wilson says that he sometimes used to have the strange feeling that the everyday world was a kind of a hoax or ‘put-up job’. Reality wasn’t convincing – it seemed like a bad joke! Psychiatry would put this perception down to sub-clinical paranoia since the definition of sanity is that we accept the same reality that everyone else does. Another, less rationalistic culture than ours might on the other hand see it as a sign that the person is starting to wake up out of the collective delusion, wake up out of the consensus hallucination.
For Colin Wilson, the peculiar feeling that he was the victim of a hoax was – in his own estimation – a positive rather than a negative. Not automatically accepting the world-view that everyone else accepts is the same thing as creativity – without this incongruence, without this mismatch between the ‘given world’ (or the ‘received consciousness’) and what he himself intuited to be true he wouldn’t have been able to write the books that he did. Instead, like most of us, he would have been the passive, unreflective mouth-piece for whatever the view and opinions of society at large happen to be.
This is so obvious that it hardly needs stating – if I never get the sense that the consensus world which we all live in isn’t actually the real world at all, then I’m going to be incapable of coming up with any original thoughts or views! Everything I come out with will (of course!) be taken from the regular or standardized world that I have been conditioned to believe in. Conformity inevitably drives out our creativity, in other words.
Conditioning is a conspiracy! What else could it be?
What else would you call it when the true nature of reality is very effectively concealed, and an utterly false – and utterly banal – version of reality is promoted from all sides?
The false version of reality is endlessly celebrated, as if it were worth celebrating, as if there were something in it that wasn’t utterly empty and banal. f we were ever able to come away for long enough from the frothy empty tumult of the media’s constant nonsensical outpourings (and away from the all the chatter of the world which derives from this nonsense that the media has put into our heads) then almost certainly we would start to realize that it is all nonsense, that it is all empty. This is the one thing, however, that we’re not permitted to do! The reach of the modern world is such that we’re never very far from a media portal, no matter where we go. ‘Getting away’ from it all is the one thing we need to do if we are to come to our senses, and getting away from it all is becoming more and more difficult to do all the time.
This relentlessly trivial babble has put us in a trance. There’s a toxicity to the kind of information that we surround ourselves with – it’s like an anaesthetic gas that is being released in huge quantities from hidden vents wherever we go. We’re well and truly ‘under’, and as long as we go on passively absorbing this information, we’re going to stay under! When we’re under the influence of this aesthetic ‘foul seems fair and fair seems foul’ – the stuff we’re presented with, the stuff we’re expected to immerse ourselves in, really does seem to be fascinating! It seems endlessly fascinating – we can’t get enough of it! We love it! This is a self-perpetuating business, therefore – when we’re in it, we want more of it. It’s making us sick, but we ascribe our sickness and general unhappiness to other causes and keep on breathing in as much of the false reality as we can. We live in the land of the ‘Lotus Eaters’! Depression and anxiety keep on increasing and we invent absurd (but nevertheless universally-accepted!) pseudo-scientific theories to explain why this is so, theories that implicitly justify our crappy way of life and put the blame elsewhere – on our genes perhaps, or on randomly malfunctioning chemicals in our brains! It’s certainly not our chronic disconnection with reality that is the cause, anyway! God forbid that it would be our love-affair with an illusory or made-up world that’s the problem! Sogyal Rinpoche puts this well –
Sometimes I think that the greatest achievement of modern culture is its brilliant selling of samsara [living in a state of illusion] and its barren distractions. Modern society seems to me a celebration of all the things that lead away from the truth, make truth hard to live for, and discourage people from even believing that it exists. And to think that all this springs from a civilization that claims to adore life, but actually starves it of any real meaning; that endlessly speaks of making people “happy,” but in fact blocks their way to the source of real joy.
Selling samsara is what it’s all about!
We’re fed more and more of it every day, as though it were good for us, as though it were mother’s milk, and we keep on buying into the toxic dream, buying into the toxic dream, even though it’s making us sick…
By Nick Williams | TNP