Living In The Linear

Although we don’t go around acknowledging the fact, we’re all caught up in the linear mind. We may not be aware of it, but we’re all ‘living in the linear’. The linear mind is the mind that arranges our experience so that it always falls into logical categories – categories of logic that proceed one from the other in a way that is based on causal relationships, on what we call ‘cause and effect’. Linearity is all about cause and effect – it’s a kind of a narrow-gauge track along which processes proceed, in a strictly regulated fashion. The linear mind operates, we might say, by restricting our awareness to this track so that anything outside of it gets automatically excluded.

When the linear categorical mind replaces non-linear consciousness then instead of ‘the capacity to be’, which is a blessing, we have instead ‘the need to be something specific’, which is a curse. The capacity to be is just another way of talking about freedom – if I’m free just ‘to be’ then there are no terms or conditions put on anything. The requirement ‘to be something specific’ (something that’s inevitably going to be different from what we are right now) is – on the other hand – not freedom at all but conditionality.

Conditionality pretends to be a type of freedom. What the conditional mind does – essentially – is to promise us freedom provided we tick all the relevant boxes. It promises us freedom just as soon as we ‘get it right’ (according of course to its idea about what is and is not right). Conditionality is a trick that is played upon us – a trick that we never see for what it is. We never see it for what it is because we are kept too busy struggling to ‘get it right’, struggling to ‘tick all the relevant boxes’…

We could also say that conditionality is a type of bureaucracy in that we are only going to be allowed to ‘be’ when we meet all the innumerable terms and conditions that are placed upon us. Life thus becomes something that is granted us only after a long struggle, only if we are able to present the right credentials. James Carse explains this in Finite and Infinite Games by saying that in finite games, we play to live – which means of course that we are not alive in our playing…

The linear mind has us on the hop from the word go, therefore – it won’t release us until we have satisfied its arbitrary conditions. It’s calling all the shots, it’s setting all the conditions and making all the terms and so all we can do is struggle gamely on, trusting that we will be released when we have finally crossed the last ‘t’ and dotted the last ‘i’! Until that time however we’re not truly alive, we’re not truly free – we’re struggling to be alive, we’re waiting until we finally are granted the blessing of being free from all conditions. Then – when everything is right – I will be allowed to be.

When we are subject to conditionality we’re being driven by a very familiar dynamic – the perception that where we are right now isn’t good enough, is deficient in some way, is lacking in something that’s necessary, whilst somewhere else (just out of reach) is all the good stuff that I am yearning for! The prize is out there somewhere, so all I have to do is to be clever enough (or persistent enough) to win it. This in other words is the ‘goal-orientated thinking’ that is so valued by our culture, the ‘goal-focussed attitude’ that we regard by all as the key to everything…

This corresponds to what Abraham Maslow calls D-Motivation (deficiency-motivation) and it lies at the heart of almost all of our activities in life. Deficit-driven motivation is so taken for granted that it’s very hard to question. For example if I’m thirsty and I want a drink of water then this is a deficit motivation – I am deficient in water and I need to make good the deficiency. If I need a new pair of pants this is D-motivation, if I am bored and I go and turn the TV on this is D-motivation, if I’m feeling inadequate in myself so I go and buy a fancy sports car then this is D-motivation, and so on.

Practically everything we do is as a result of D-motivation. In itself there isn’t necessarily a problem with this – this is the basis upon which the biological mechanism runs. I’m hungry so I eat; I’m cold and wet so I look for shelter, etc. These motivations are my ‘needs’. On the level of ‘who I essentially am in myself’ however I remain uncompromised, complete, not lacking in anything at all. So whilst it is important to honour the physical by eating and drinking when we need to, sleeping when we need to, and so on, there’s always this underlying sufficiency or wholeness that doesn’t need anything. What we’re talking about here could be spoken of ‘inner plenitude’ or ‘inner peace’, or we could speak about it as unconditioned being.

This ties in with what Maslow calls Being-motivation (or Metamotivation).
When we do something out of B-motivation it isn’t because we need something – we don’t do it out of our deficiency but out of our completeness. This is an incredibly different type of motivation to the D-driven variety (which is so very easy to understand). It is a profound mystery because we don’t know where it’s coming from; even the person exhibiting B-motivation doesn’t know where it’s coming from – they just feel it operating through them. B-motivation doesn’t serve our rational agendas…

Of course, we might think that we understand B-motivation. We might think that the agenda is to help people, to be altruistic or compassionate or loving, but clearly this isn’t true because love has no agenda! All agendas without exception come out of D-motivation; all purposefulness comes out of D-motivation. With the motivation that comes out of our wholeness we have no choice – it just bursts through us like creativity bursts through us. And even though it’s ‘out of control’ (i.e. not directed by the rational intellect) when it happens it is marvellously helpful and appropriate for the situation.

Without being however it’s clear that there can be no B-motivation – there can only be mechanical motivation, rational motivation, D-motivation. This echoes what we said earlier, which is that when the linear mind replaces consciousness ‘the capacity to be is replaced by ‘the compulsion to be something specific’, something that has been specified in advance by – of course – the linear mind.

The linear mind has its rightful place – so to speak – as an instrument of consciousness. It is therefore a specialized tool and not a supreme principle in its own right. It is however a tool that has a tremendous tendency to ‘take over’, an almost irresistible tendency to subvert the whole show to its own mechanical ends, and when it does this what straightaway happens is that being gets put on hold, put on the long finger, postponed indefinitely, made subject to innumerable rules and regulations…

When the linear mind takes over as a self-proclaimed ‘supreme principle’ what happens is that consciousness itself gets disallowed, censored, banned, taken off the menu, etc…

This of course means that D-motivation becomes the only motivation in town! At this point a whole new level of deceptiveness and confusion is introduced into the picture because underlying all the ‘legitimate needs’ that we’re experiencing there is an unacknowledged lack of being that has been imposed upon us by the linear mind. This means that the yearning we have for this, that or the other is distorted by our yearning for being, which is a yearning that we have no capacity to know about.

Our love of wealth or power is therefore the result of displaced pain, pain that has its source in our inner emptiness, our invisible inner deficiency. This being the case, the linear mind (and the social system which is its extension) has at its disposal a tremendously powerful type of motivation, a type of ‘lever’ that can be used to control and manipulate us with almost total effectiveness.

All the system has to do is take away our ‘capacity to be’, and then make the implicit promise to give it back to us if we obey all of its rules and regulation, jump through all the hoops it presents us with, etc, and its owns us. This is the socializing process described so clearly in “Breaking the Illusion of Limitation“.

Hypnotized by the indirect promise of recovering our lost Wholeness (which we don’t know we’ve lost) we keep on running on the hamster wheel, chasing after material possessions, status, power, fame, etc, because we imagine that having these things will assuage the inner pain that we aren’t allowed to admit to, the inner pain of not being allowed to be
[divider]

By Nick Williams | Staff Writer

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