The Survival of the Mind

Psychological survival has become more important than physical survival and is the reason for most things we do. 

Modern times make it harder to become enlightened. Distractions are plentiful.


This is the hypothesis we are going to explore in this article and discover why survival is still the driving force behind most of our actions. Consumption, travel, entertainment and most forms of distractions beyond that which is demanded by physical survival is a direct extension of this drive to survive. Our need to survive indeed extends beyond securing physical survival. You might wonder what I mean by this and why this is the case.

If we dig deeper into the nature of reality, we find that all experience is an illusion. Including our physical body and the sense of separation between us and the world. By definition an illusion needs to employ some mechanism by which it becomes invisible to the one who is deceived. We could think of this illusion as a metaphysical entity with it's own drive to survive. In eastern traditions this illusion is called ego and is the center of our being. We are literally deceiving ourselves into being. How marvelous is that?

In our modern world, most work and most activities are far removed from immediate survival. And even though we have to earn money to survive, this is only partially true. Much of what we work for is not contributing to this end directly. Only to the degree that it feeds our own self-deception. 

But with that deception comes also a lot of trouble, suffering and the covering up of Truth. This illusion has an easier time to maintain itself when we are distracted of course. When we are not even asking any suspicious questions. When we are so caught up in what life presents us with that we are not bothered to take a closer look or become serious about discovering Truth for ourselves. From this point of view, all action could be considered distraction. There is nothing wrong with that, but we have to be aware that is also the root of all suffering in the world. With a firm realization of Truth there is no suffering. Fully realized beings perceive all experiences of life as the perfect manifestation of the infinite nature of reality.

To solve this issue I recommend following the practice of all-day-awareness. Training the mind to be fully present in every moment. With the full spectrum of sensory experience, without slipping into conceptualization and thoughts our mind is constantly coming up with. Over time this will quiet the mind and facilitate the state of no-mind. A state where the joyous nature of reality shines through in every moment. Beware though, there will be no you anymore. But then, you could say, there was no you to begin with. The veil of illusion will have been lifted.

Characteristics of a Total Illusion

In this article we are going to explore the psychological process of an Illusion. We will discover how Self-Deception works in everyone of us and how it arises from deep underlying mechanisms that are interconnected with reality itself.
With that understanding we will be able to make the connection to spirituality and what are the difficulties that make true enlightenment so rare.
And in the end we will see why this is ultimately a good thing and how we can use this knowledge to our advantage.


The deception in video games

Let's take a look at the shallow illusion of video games. This technology offers an experience that many of us today can relate to. To discover the characteristics of a total illusion we will first have to define what make an illusion shallow and obvious. The historic development of video games reveals that the illusion becomes more realistic the closer it is to what we are used to experience in real life.
Game-Designers work very hard at giving characters more life like movements and the overall behavior of real humans.

It is also easy for us to imagine that at one point in the future video games will have surpassed the resolution of our senses, eventually becoming indistinguishable from our real sensory experiences.
So what else would it take to make us believe in the illusion? If we might join with all of our senses into such a game of the future we still bring with us our memories. From that we can conclude that a total deception must also include our own memories besides a perfectly simulated sensory experience.

If we ask what makes videogames so popular, we reveal another interesting aspect of psychology. What benefit do we get from spending our time in those virtual realities while obviously achieving nothing of value in "real" life?
Their appeal may lie in their ability to trigger our reward centers without requiring exertion of physical effort. They reward/cost relationship is high.

On another level they have become so good at presenting a life-like scenario that some people may be able to completely forget about their life. Usually only for a limited amount of time though.
An additional aspect of the illusion of video games is their story telling. Great games not only have great graphics but also a great story. Some goal is presented to the player that seems to be of value to achieve within the game world. The background of the characters become ever more complex. For the players to identify with them even more, in-game decision influence the development of the story and it's outcome.

If all these aspects seem to you as representative of real life, than now you can contemplate the difference between an obvious and a total deception. You may want to ask yourself the question: What is missing in these perfect game scenarios that we can still distinguish them reality? 

Self-Deception

In order to make the illusion whole and difficult to uncover, all of our own being must be included in it. Which, again, doesn't mean that this is a bad thing. It just means that reality does not work the way that materialism makes us believe. The very mechanism by which reality comes into being is through an illusion. That is how it works. So in a sense we could also say that it is real. Just not in the way we previously believed.

In order for the self-deception to be completely convincing, our own thought process is part of it. If you tend to disagree with me here, than ask yourself, what are you listening to, when trying to find out about the illusion? The answer is likely, that you rely on your own reasoning and your own thoughts. But beware that you have no "objective" background against which you could compare your thoughts and then say that they match reality.

This is why waking up is so tricky. It is a long and difficult process to reveal all the self-deceptions of the ego. But the reward is incomparable joy and bliss that exceeds all human expectation.

Why would we lie to ourselves?

I want you to think about a past experience when you lied. What made you use a lie in that situation?
It's purpose was likely to serve you in some way. You felt threatened by something and lying seemed to be a solution to avoid that thread. So it served you or your agenda.
So why would we deceive ourselves?
First, who is deceiving who if the individual we thought we are does not exist? We could answer, that only god exists and therefore god is deceiving himself.


Similar to the Movie "The Game", we might say God became bored with resting in it's own infinite existence and wanted to feel what is it like to be a part instead of the whole. To have a limited existence and feel what it is like to identify with a part of himself.
So the ego came into existence and believes to be limited to the human body. That very thing, the ego, must be deluded in order to become a limited thing, when in reality there is only one infinite whole. If that thing wants to survive, it has to feed the lie and keep deluding itself to stay alive... 

The Philosophy of "To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

How is it possible that some people in our society feel an emptiness inside of them? Or a frustration with their life circumstances? That some are not happy?
Most of us don't have to struggle for survival. We are blessed to live in a rich world in which we have access to great experiences, technology we never had before and own better products than even the richest people could dream of only 100 years ago.

Erich Fromm - "To Have or to Be"


"To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

can give us insight into why that is.
On one level of abstraction, all experiences, whether through the use of some product or through a relationship with another person, are inherently unable to satisfy our deepest desire for unity and happiness.

Through a life-long conditioning we have been programmed to seek experiences to elicit the emotions we like and numb the ones we want o avoid. This misconception leaves us our ability to Be underdeveloped. While some people are naturally more present and in the moment, others are constantly caught up in mental stories, desires, fears and hopes. And therefore living disconnected from the only thing that is actually true. Direct experience. That doesn't mean, thoughts are not part of direct experience, but giving too much meaning to the realm of thought and concept can leave our ability to be present underdeveloped.

What does it mean to Be? 

Does that mean you have to become a monk and leave your life behind? No, that's a complete misunderstanding of what being present means.
Living in the Now, means to become a super-conductor for your experience. It means to grow your consciousness of all aspects of human experience. Including all of the negative emotions and experiences. Being completely present in each and every Moment without resistance is the ultimate goal. Life will then have become a seem less flow of experience in which nothing is inherently good or bad. No pain without resistance.


All day awareness

is the habit I have picked up years ago. The gaps in my ability to experience the richness of life has been growing over the years. Slowly but steadily. It is a skill. That sill, over time, lead to deep enlightenment experiences. Concepts about yourself and the world are slowly starting to fall away. They move from the center of your attention to the edges. And with this steady increase in consciousness and presence, a natural feeling of calmness and happiness seems to arise. Without it being the primary goal.
Setting long-term goal can and will still be part of your overall existence. But your happiness is no longer outcome dependent. Being is the state from which you can truly fulfill your Life-purpose. Indepence from outcome will become your new definition of freedom.

"To Have or to Be" will no longer be the question

At a certain level of consciousness you will clearly see that those are two different things. Whereas you were chasing waves before, you now have become the water. Waves and changes in what is going with the water are still nice, but can't fundamentally change what water is. So is happiness a quality that is on a fundamental level independent of any experience.
Which doesn't mean that your current manifestation as a human being doesn't have certain needs. In fact, those basic needs will have to be satisfied before your mind will even be able to transcend them and open up for higher States of consciousness. The model of Maslows hierarchy of needs still applies.

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