The Astounding Omniscience of They

If you want to be free, then you will need to think for yourself and then learn to trust that and what your heart tells you. You many need to do this against a backdrop of the astounding omniscience of they. This means that you might be at the sharp end of group opinion. It is not a comfortable place.

This relates to the “Making Plans for Nigel” theme, a favourite theme of mine. Other people gather together and make plans for what to do with Nigel. They imagine that if they present Nigel with a fait accompli, he will be happy and go along with it. Of course, they have not consulted Nigel whilst they are making plans for him, so it is by way of an intrigue. He has been excluded and thereby plotted upon. This never occurs to them, it lies outside their astounding omniscience.

Group mind deems itself wise and all-knowing, this is because like-minded people share a similar approach. Because there is little dissent within a homogeneous group, it imagines that consensual accuracy is in fact wide ranging and accurate. A little careful thought suggests that homogeneous groups are limited to the conceptual abilities to be found within their homogeneity. Although they may imagine themselves capable of thinking outside the box, the box is pretty small to start off with. So even if they manage to get outside the box it is still close to the box.

There is something comforting about the consensus of a group. Because of that it deems itself to be righter. From within the group it seems OK to recruit into it or inflict opinion upon those outside it. They imagine themselves attractive and to have a gravitational pull.

If you want to be free, then you have to be mindful of this draw of group-mind. It can be difficult to maintain clarity in the light of peer pressure. Group-mind is volatile and can turn in an instant, sometimes on others. And group-mind once moving has more momentum, thereby it is difficult to stop or resist. It takes some character to not get caught up in group-mind. That primitive urge to belong to some tribe or other is strong. External people will always consult the tribe before the individual. This means that the astounding omniscience of they, is the more widely accepted. They say a lot of things.

 

If you want to be free, then you will need to think for yourself and then learn to trust that and what your heart tells you.

That Gnawing

I don’t know if you recognise it or admit it to yourself, but many have a gnawing in their make-up. It is more demanding in some than in others and it gnaws. It is the enough-hole, it is an absence of love, it takes many guises. Somehow never is it satiated, it simply gnaws away sometimes in the background sometimes up front. It belies a filling. And many seek to fill it with all the wrong things. If you become a seeker, then the chances of finding this ever elusive enough, are enhanced. If not, you will try to stuff it with same old.

Whilst the gnawing chews away there is no equanimity. And many build minefields and lay barbed wire around their gnawing. Few look direct into their gnawing and so do not know its nature. Until you do this you will not be whole, because you have a hole, the gnawing. It is only when the teeth of that gnawing bite so very hard and deep that people start to seek meaningfully. And so, the journey can begin in earnest. To achieve equanimity and a measure of freedom, sooner or later you will have to peer direct into that gnawing else be like a hungry ghost eking out and overcompensating.

Control or Abandon?

We’re only making plans for Nigel
We only want what’s best for him
We’re only making plans for Nigel
Nigel just needs that helping hand

XTC

Some are forever dabbling in the lives of others, they seek to control them and get them to fit to their plans, their will. On occasion this can go badly wrong, yet many do not learn from this lesson. They try the same kind of thing over and over. Few ask Nigel what he wants, they decide for him. They may assume that they know what Nigel wants, their clairvoyance is obviously accurate. I think it fair to say that controlling behaviour is not rare. Some are more control junkie than others. Control is often about power over or about avoiding that which makes one fearful. Control of others can be out and out manipulation, which is the antithesis of freedom.

It is said that the greatest act of the warrior is to shift from control to abandon.

In this one abandons oneself to one’s fate. It also means abandoning the self. One eases up on controlling others and is aware of anything which impacts on liberty, such as the controlling behaviours of others. If one senses an incoming Nigel situation, it is best to walk. It means not directing life, rather flowing with it. If there must be a hand on the tiller at all, it is a very light touch. Needless to say, this surrendering to fate is not to the taste of many. Most like the idea that they have at least some control over their lives and some do indeed get a kick out of manipulating others.

The warrior looks to see what the universe is showing him and does not seek to impose his will nor inflict it on others. And in controlling nothing he finds freedom and equanimity. To let go of control and controlling is to kill worry stone dead, which is relaxing. And strangely, a relaxed being makes better decisions than a tense one.

It is said that the greatest act of the warrior is to shift from control to abandon.

un monde sans liberté

“Le seul moyen d’affronter un monde sans liberté est de devenir si absolument libre qu’on fasse de sa propre existence un acte de révolte. ”

― Albert Camus

Yesterday I put up some quotes about the fourth natural enemy – old age. This was partly because I am assessing if that theme is at work for me, what with trying to figure out what to do next and all that. One has to figure out if the inertia is down to self or the world around. I feel anything other than inert. My current thinking is that the barriers, imaginary or otherwise, are external. The circumstances are simply not suitable for someone like me and with my history. I am not adequate to the preconditions. I am too “feral” and do not conform sufficiently. And because I have little which the external world might want badly enough, it is difficult to make any headway. All I can do, for now, is write.

If one takes a look at pretty much all “spiritual” traditions of any longevity, one can see that the consequences of their application are to take one out of the normative behaviours of society. To step away from greed, for example, takes one out of the crowd. To let go of ambition, is to render one obsolete to the corporate world or academia, for that matter. To ease up on internal dialogue is to extract oneself from the bulk of conversational interchange. And to let go of comparison mind and simply be, is to stop playing bucket list top trumps with others. The cessation of status-worship threatens the power structures and invites exile. Many subscribe to these “spiritual” traditions in name only, few apply them to any depth. That is too inconvenient.

The world is not a free place, it is rife with conditions and conditioning. There is little one can do other than follow the advice of Camus. If that means walking a somewhat solitary path, then so be it. Unless someone does, such paths will be lost forever. They will become overgrown and human heritage will become bereft of them. All we shall have left is the consummate joy and the abiding spiritual happiness of social media and consumerism.

Punishment – Humanity Most Basal

There is no thing which evokes the most basal in humans quite like punishment. Many cry out for punishment sometimes loosely in the name of justice. At one time or another people punish and are punished in turn. That Abrahamic eye for an eye mentality still abounds. Revenge and retribution can be found in the hearts of more than a few. At slight or offence there is a tendency to lash out and punish. You can see it in the supermarket, at the checkouts. Out comes the tongue whip. And so, we walk on eggshells around some. People seem to get a kick out of punishment and some seem to enjoy being punished. This whole area accesses the darkest recesses of human mind and behaviour. There is often a vicarious element to seeing people punished.

Getting your own back, getting revenge, scoring points are common plots in literature and films. Revenge sells. It can be petty or bitter and vindictive. It is through punishment that social conditioning is applied. Punishment is not humanity at its best. It is a part of “normal” life. Where we take the place of an old testament God to punish the wrong doer, by our divine grace it is we who decided what is wrong. We then mete out, impose and inflict our punishments on others.

Over the years I have come to the idea that this desire to punish is a barometer of liberation. The more desire to punish there is, the less freedom a being has. A free being could not possibly be motivated to punish.

As an exercise:

Keep track of when you feel the desire to mete out some punishment, whether verbal or in some other way.

What motive is behind?

From what possibly guttural, basal, source, does this originate?

What if anything might it achieve?

Social Acceptability

This is a conditioned thing and thereby impermanent, nevertheless it puts constraints on what one may do in the world. It is easy to see that social acceptability is both time varying and context dependent. For example, buggery used to be illegal in the UK, now it isn’t and within Islam, as I understand it, a certain amount of polygamy is allowed according to the ability to support. Yet this social acceptability is an arbiter of how a society works, rather what it allows. It is “concrete” yet it changes, people forget this. Now I am not suggesting that being a bomb wielding punk rock anarchist is a road to freedom, nihilism is nihilism after all. Destruction just because one has the hump and feels disempowered, isn’t such a great idea. Social acceptability is a means whereby society is conditioned, it has the positive side of limiting chaos and the negative side of suppression. In a conurbation there must be at least a few rules for it to function, these need not be social “rules” however. Stray too far from what is deemed acceptable and you may become outcast. This social exclusion is a thing of dread for some and a relief for a few others.

If everyone did only that which was socially acceptable, society would never change or if it did change, it would only do so very slowly. If Siddhārtha had done what was socially acceptable, he would have stayed in the palace and become king. There would be no Buddhism and the world would be poorer as a result. Luckily, he didn’t. How then do we balance this force, this requirement, for social acceptability with the need for change and evolution? There is no easy answer. History suggests that those who are socially unacceptable always have conflict with this “force” and the “requirements” of wider society. It is impossible to move within these requirements and be true to themselves, so instead of being closeted they step outside, they may even form subcultures. The gay scene is one such subculture and it has its own vibrancy.  A part of societal change stems from the formation of subcultures and when they are sufficiently large, the mainstream, finally and dragging its feet, starts to accept them as socially acceptable. It is very often a slow and painful process. Social acceptability is beset with a tremendous inertia. Yet most have tut-tutted at least once in their lives. It is a flag, a standard, which is often more than a little judgemental, with pursed lips and pointy fingers to boot.

Provided that I stick to certain rules, I can don a mantle of social acceptability. If I put my teacher hat on and do tutorials whilst speaking only on that subject, that is OK. I am allowed to get away with that. Should I start talking about heavy duty yoga in such a context, that don’t go down so well. If I am in an entrepreneur like set up and I talk about start-ups that is dandy. If I mention shamanism, not so. I can just about get away with Aikido, that is socially acceptable. In California it is OK to be a bit more whacky, in Surrey it is taboo. Social acceptability almost inevitably leads to closeted behaviour of one kind or another, it can cause people to, lie and to live a lie. But we all forget social acceptability is a conditioned thing, especially when we require it. It is something we inflict upon each other. If something is not socially acceptable it is tarnished and lest we be tarnished to, we disassociate ourselves from the tarnished being. Please note I am not advocating heinous or harmful behaviours, I am talking about things which although different are not all that “bad” at all, in that they harm nobody.

On the way to freedom, the perceived wall of social acceptability and social compliance needs climbed, if only mentally and not outwardly. One has to stop buying in to a conditioned thing as if it were the ultimate truth or reality.

My own social acceptability is conditioned towards how I behave, what I talk about and do. It demarcates my ability to interact according to some unwritten yet commonly held parameters.

Provided that I am a good boy, and do as I am told, I am socially acceptable. If I am as I ought to be, all is fine. Because my life trajectory does not fit with how the narrative of should goes, I more of less have to live “parallel” to the world at large. My intersection with it is minimal. My trajectory is not orthogonal, yet the overlap is minimal. The coupling matrix elements are tiny. It looks likely to remain that way.

There is no reason why the world at large need concern itself with this state, unless I have something it wants or needs. Aside from A level science I have not really found anything for which there is a ready market, given my current nature. What I can also do is blather on here.

Having used myself an example, it is very easy to say that the reason I am here is entirely down to me, it is my fault, I am to blame. If I had been more amenable to being socialised, I could be in a very different place now, maybe South Kensington for example. But I am not. Looking backwards to the land of if only, does nothing. In saying that it is my fault we are neglecting the duality of tango. One of the tools used to enforce social acceptability is blame, another is shame. It is a funny old thing this social acceptability and one which many crave. Without it, it can be difficult to do “business” of any kind. We rely on the approval of others to get things done. Approval being withheld, less is possible. Giving approval is the carrot used to instil social acceptability, withholding the carrot is the stick used to enforce. Sounds like a conditioned or conditional thing, doesn’t it?

I’ll hypothesise that rarely is social acceptability a medium for evolution or change. More often than not, it is the brake. Very rarely it can be the accelerator. It is never the ignition.