I hope you will find it encouraging to learn how these general ideas apply to eliminating evils in yourself, to spiritual self-improvement. The more bad thoughts and feelings you try to weed out of yourself, the more there will be.
Since I myself have certain preferences for what I want to do, I must be wary of passing these on as having the dignity of law. Therefore I must necessarily become even more personal in this chapter, and make my bias clear. I am lazy, and it bothers me to see people strenuously pursuing self-improvement goals by methods that will not work, and urging me to do the same. They are often the loveliest of people, and I would love to join them if I thought they would succeed. On the other hand, perhaps they know the goal will never be reached by their means, and I am the fool for exposing what everyone secretly knows. If we didn't have these games, that would leave a Void, wouldn't it? I am playing the game of refusing pointless games, which may be the most pointless of all.
Obviously there is a danger here of wandering in circles, but if someone else knew what was in this chapter, I would want him to tell me, so I must take a small risk.
A structure is any relation between entities that avoids dissolving. The self that you know as a human being is a structure, an organization of billions of entities.
An odd thing about structures is that they will dissolve both from success and failure, so the problem, if you want a structure, is to maintain a tension somewhere between the two.
The idea that structures will disintegrate when completely successful struck me as peculiar, and I made a list of hasty examples: a victorious empire inevitably breaks up into parts or collapses when it reaches its peak and is unopposed. A man inherits wealth and "ruins" himself with dissipation. The genius goes insane. "Power corrupts." "The good die young." Religions break into schisms and heresies. A dominant species mysteriously becomes extinct A cell divides in two. The magician goes mad.
Hence people are cautious about success or power too easily gained on some level. On some level, the structure invokes a self-imposed limit on success, including success in pursuing spiritual awareness. Spiritual leaders keep telling us the ego must die to be reborn, but we hold back. The structure preserves itself.
The ego, the mental structure, "feels better" when it has to contend with the tension of threats to itself. We feel "high" and energetic when tested by negative possibilities: hard work, discipline, sky-diving, racing, wars (until Vietnam—the North Vietnamese got high off that one—the U.S. didn't because it wasn't threatened), illness, fasting, asceticism, gambling, drugs, careless driving, arguing, paranoia (invented threats), contending with the devil and black magic, and so on.
Of course, if the negative definition goes too far, the structure will collapse, but somehow that doesn't bother us. We love to worry about dangers to human survival. (Unless it is a real one, like the atomic bomb or germ war-fare. Then the risk is "unreal," we are reluctant to think about it.)
As a normal process, we define ourselves, we find out who we are, by what we disagree with. And we identify others by what is wrong with them: we keep looking until we find some difference between "us" and "them." Virtues in others are invisible, not really interesting .
We human beings, almost alone among species, have solved the problem of maintaining negative tension by being our own worst enemies. We can never completely overcome "human nature" in ourselves or others, so the game goes on. It is plain that we are getting a reward from all the ghastly facts of life we complain of: that's what sells newspapers.
Negative emphasis results in an intensified structure and a stronger ego. Even though some of these activities, like self-denial, are carried on under the banner of spiritual search, the result is the same. On a subtle level we know that most spiritual endeavors will not succeed, but we go on maintaining the fantasy that they are admirable. Many of us have no intention of really succeeding in dissolving our attachment to structure and going to another plane of existence.
But what of those, wise and serious, who zealously pursue enlightenment by traditional methods? Since we know that negative methods of getting high will not lead to a stable experience of space, what is it that makes yoga rewarding?
The reason yoga works when it does is in the love expressed between teacher and student, and in the student's willing placement of attention. If you limit your experience to phenomena you are completely willing to conceive of, such as the contents of a cave in Tibet, you will certainly get high sooner or later.
But as soon as you walk out of the cave, you will find people behaving just as they did before. And if you are not willing to be the cause of their behavior, and love them as they are, your vibration level will drop. And then you may preach about how evil the world is, how corrupt cities are, how sinful people are.
Insofar as we are seriously concerned about evil, not just as a negative-tension game, we should see that we need not be concerned with evil as a physical manifestation: it is that such manifestations have their source in space-level concepts that exist in timeless possibility. It is as a concept that evil is real and is always within us. If we cannot learn how to deal with it on earth, we will be plagued with it even in heaven.
Even if you are not just testing your structure, the motive for purifying yourself —that you feel spiritually impure—will prevent any genuine gain until you learn to love the impurity you started with. Can any being seriously think that he is going to pass through the infinity of time without ever making another mistake?
Quite often a flash of enlightenment will give you this message: Go back to where you started and learn to love it more.
There is another handicap to conventional methods of self-elevation: if you identify with a status system of spiritual values, it can produce unloving snobbery towards your brothers. The justice of our relations is exact, and if you are unloving the results will manifest explicitly. You may then complain, "If I'm working so hard to be pure, why do these things happen, why do people hate me?" But there is no purity greater than love, even when it is corrupt and unwashed.
The positive way to define your ego is to be one with the cause of it: love it the way it is, then freely choose whatever behavior feels good to you. You won't blow away; you can experience your present structure as a space-level interaction, and then go higher only if you want to.
Changing your vibration level, raising your love level, is the only action that results in a real change for the better. Group encounters, sexual freedom, revolution, yoga, diets, asceticism, rock music, dope, all means are dependent on your interest and creative power to be effective. These are all good games, but don't try to force yourself past the time when you are really interested. They work only while your attention to them is aroused. And when they work too well, too successfully, you are likely to "lose interest." When you feel your structure turning into energy and then space, you are likely to pull back, unless you accept what is happening and stabilize at a new level.
There really are more loving games than improving yourself or reforming other people, or otherwise using negative tension to harden your structure.
Keep in mind that your survival does not depend on any structure. You are a unity, an entity just like all the others in the universe. When you ain't got nothing you got nothin' to lose.
There isn't anything "wrong" with using negative events to define your ego, as long as you do it consciously, because you want to. The only wrongness in any activity is being withdrawn from awareness of what you are doing. We can play these same silly games with a lot more pleasure when we are aware of what we are really doing.
When you offer people spiritual solutions —or solutions of any kind for anything, for that matter—you are asking them to give up what makes them feel active, alive, defined— their ego structure. Be careful—it's dangerous!
Well, just for starters, take it that every human being is a perfect whatever-it-is right now. Every state of consciousness is perfect and complete, and does not need to be changed. And every change of consciousness is perfect and complete, and does not need to be static.
I have tried to cover all the possibilities at once with a couple of maxims:
Whether I am conscious of it or not, I am one with the cause of all that exists.
Whether I feel it or not,
I am one with all the love in the universe.
Last updated: 16th Feb 2005