This is one of those things, that might be the longest thing you’ve ever read on the Internet, but also might be of most value. So please continue.
There is a sick assumption going on in our culture that we are somehow a separate unit or body and that we are in control of it. This is deeply perverse and the symptoms of this kind of thinking are thoughts like: I have, I must, I should – I have to survive, I must do something, I should be somebody. This of course causes stress, anxiety and general disorder of life and discontentment.
I had no idea about this for most of my life but now I know and it makes a whole lot of difference. Let me tell you about a particular type of enlightenment I had about 2 years ago. This might explain the first sentence I wrote here, that we are not a unit and not directly in control.
I was thinking pretty intensely how to do stuff back then. How to get things done and how to break through personal limitations like fear, motivation etc. For a couple months I was learning, reading, trying different methods, techniques, oscillating between the assumption that I have to “will” myself to do things and the assumptions that things happen naturally if you let them.
In personal development literature there are, amongst many, two dominant schools of thought. The first tells you to “just do it”. The second tells you to “do but without doing”. I quickly realized that the first kind of thinking comes from western people of the 20th century that achieved something in their life and tried to invent a structure for that achievement. And the only thing they came up with is that they “just did it”. This is generally bullshit, because if I knew how to “just do it” I would do it!
The second way of thinking came from studying Zen. This is not a religion or philosophy, but a school of thought, a practical solution for living. And this is at least thousands of years old and was invented and maintained by people that devoted their entire lives studying how to “just do” things, how to live and how to break human limitations. One of the best examples of this is recently Bruce Lee (he wrote an excellent book called “Tao of Jeet Kune Do”).
The enlightenment comes from realizing what you are and what you are not. If you ever force yourself to do things. If you ever have stress because of the work you are doing. If you are worrying about meeting a deadline, losing motivation, thinking you are not enough, willing yourself and failing… it is because you have assumed you are in control.
Because of cultural assumptions you have taken the role of a dicator/controller. You have assumed total control over a body which is essentially an animal of the human species.
OK a little slower. Sigmund Freud was acclaimed brilliant because he brought into our everyday thinking the concept of the conscious and unconscious mind. Generally people understand this concept but unfortunately not fully.
The unconscious mind is not a basement where all the repressed stuff goes and is hidden there. In reality it is everything ELSE than what YOU are. It is another part of you. Or in other words you, as the conscious mind, are just a part of a greater whole. Something that is much bigger and stronger than you can imagine. It knows a whole lot more things and can do everything much quicker and better than you think you can.
Make a fist with your hand right now. How did you know how to do that? How did you know what muscles to move, which nerve cells to fire? You don’t, the unconscious mind knows how to do it… Hah, and that’s basically it, the answer to my search (how do you do things): you don’t know and will never know how to do things. The unconscious mind DOES things.
Let’s say you were born in a car and attached to the car seat never ever in your life getting out of it. Let’s say this is a joke or an evil experiment on you. So everyone you meet tells you that you are a car and you think everybody else is a car. This is the cultural assumption I am talking about. So you take that without questioning it and think to yourself: I am a car. Furthermore you assume absolute control over the car. Of course this is done by a simple experiment, you press the gas pedal and you move forward. It seems you have free will and it is you that is moving forward.
All is great but let’s say you see other cars which ride a lot faster than you. You want to ride that fast too. So you watch other cars do it and it seems that what they do is press the gas pedal further and further and the car gets faster and faster. So you try that too, yes you go faster but not that fast. So you think that you must try harder. So you try harder, no luck. You think you must stress yourself and worry yourself, you start assuming you are not good enough and you will never be able to press that gas pedal so good. Finally you give up thinking that you are just a not good enough car, you are not worthy.
This “failure” came from the simple assumption, that YOU are a CAR. Now let’s say by some strange coincidence you get to realize the truth. You understand that you are NOT THE CAR. You are something else, you are in fact just a driver. Now how to get faster? It’s simply a matter of going to the mechanic and replacing the engine. Now you know that you can do stuff like that, cause it’s not about you. It’s about the car!
What about assumption of control? Where is there control if you run out of gas? Let’s say you are driving uphill, you assume it is you doing it. “I have free will I can move forward” sort of thing. Now you run out of gas and you tumble down the hill. The control was GIVEN to you for the time the gas tank was full. Get it?
It is exactly the same thing with us people (without a car attached). Yes it seems we are in control, but this control is given for us. And can be taken back as easily as that (like an engine failure or running out of gas). Many times in our lives we get like warning signals but we tend to rationalize them. A classic example is fear. Let’s say you want to do something that you are afraid of like public speaking. You decide to do it, you will yourself to go there, do it, but in the end you either decide to not do it at the last moment or you procrastinate and the thing never gets done. Now why don’t you do the thing you want to do? Fears are not real and stuff like that… you can rationalize it all day and say to yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of (or that you aren’t really afraid). But in the end there is nothing more REAL than fear. And it is(was) always there.
Because fear is what in fact controls you. You are the one controlling the body but only when there is no presence of fear. Then control is given to you. But when fear comes, control is lost and you run out of the room, like people in panic when they hear there is a fire, even good ones, absolutely not caring about others.
I read all sorts of books trying to find this answer. Everything spanning from psychology, philosophy to spiritual stuff. I mentioned Zen but that’s not exactly where I found the answer. It was were I least expected it. I don’t generally believe in evil, but if something is evil at all it is these people. They would sell a painting to a blind person.
The answer was written in marketing books.
There are no better psychologists than marketing and advertisement people. They know one thing: people are entirely driven by emotion.
If you watch an ad you might think to yourself, this is bullshit. But the next time you are in a mall, you won’t have time or need to think, and you will just buy what you feel like (and that’s exactly what you felt when you were watching the ad). Knowing this is like unlocking a chest full of secrets.
You are not in direct control of this body. The unconscious mind is. And the only way to communicate with it is through emotions. It is like the language of the unconscious mind. An interface if you like…
This understanding is the root of many practical schools of thought like the Stanislavsky acting method. It revolves around the so-called magic if. It’s not about “just doing it” and acting… it’s about thinking what would it be like to… and that exactly gets you into the state of mind from which you can perform.
This is how you do things the Zen way. If you’re hungry you eat. If you’re tired you go sleep. You just do what feels best at the moment. And you won’t be following the marketing feelings, cause once you practice you will know exactly which feelings are good for you and which aren’t (hint: need).
This is also why Hindu teachings of Yoga always revolve around breathing techniques. Pranayama, which is controlled breathing is an absolute must to master. Because it makes you relaxed and if you can’t get yourself to be relaxed you are absolutely not in the position to control your life and do other things, like the things you want. This is also why Aleister Crowley from all the things he advised, pranayama was at absolute priority, he always stressed this. Being relaxed, or in a state of just being is like your center, a blank slate. From that point you can go to any emotion you want to or need to. And they will make things happen.
So say hello to your masters…
And they are, amongst many, fear and guilt that suppress your true potential.
There are also the ones that make you push through life’s bullshit and do things that you dream of. They are love and hate.
And that’s a topic for another day.