Stepping Out of The Game

Stepping Out of The Game

What Does Freedom Feel Like?

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Natural life will only remain viable if we collectively step out of the game and forge a path towards healing ourselves and the earth.

Alison McDowell

Abstract: What follows, Stepping Out of the Game, What Does Freedom Feel Like? defines culture and its function as a conservative set of relative and abstract filters or beliefs designed to limit and constrain human behavior. Implicit is a biological-cultural conflict between our authentic nature and those behaviors predetermined and accepted by the limited set of behaviors approved by culture. The primary role of enculturation is imprinting each new human being with the approved set of acceptable behaviors. This is accomplished by the child building an internal image of themselves, the social-ego, by comparing and mirroring their degree of conformity. Once created, most effectively with the unfolding and development of verbal language, the internal social image is updated, moment by moment, by parent approval or punishments, and by various cultural institutions, such as compulsory schooling, the church, and other social hierarchies. Understanding the reciprocal and mirroring dynamic between the outer culture and inner image, we discover that they are one process, viewed from two perspectives, inner and outer, micro and macro, and share the same essential function, to predict, limit and control human behavior, at the exclusion of humanity’s vast and unknowable innate capacities. The primary means of cultural control is through the image. Having an insight into the nature and function of the social image, or personal ego is like seeing behind the trick of a magician. The illusion loses its power. This translates into a quality of freedom that few ever experience. Complete attention is given to meeting the challenge de jure, rather than splitting attention between conforming to cultural expectations, winning, for example, or not failing, and pure learning and performance for its own, intrinsic value and pleasure, not prejudged by culture. Athletes call this state of freedom the Zone, researchers call it Flow and children call this state Play. The common factor is freedom from the limitations and constraints imposed by the cultural image. No longer being defined by culture, we reset our default state of consciousness to express our true authentic nature, which is nature in its vast, fullest potential. This fundamental reset to the natural order of the mind, how it redefines thought and imagination as tools in the service of our authentic nature, is now a matter of species survival.

Themes: 
culture
identity

Wiggling Free

Optimal experience is an end in itself… it is a self-contained activity, one that is not done with the expectation of some future benefit, the doing itself is the reward.

When experience is intrinsically rewarding, life is justified in the present, instead of being held hostage to a hypothetical future gain… The solution is to gradually become free of societal rewards and learn how to substitute for them rewards that are under one’s own powers.

Themes: 
identity

Self As Self-Defense

One’s relationship with another is based on memory. Would you accept that? On the various images, pictures, conclusions I have drawn about you and you have drawn about me. The various images that I have about you - wife, husband, girl or boy or friend and so on, there is always image making. This is simple, this is normal, this actually goes on. When one is married, or lives with a girl or a boy, every incident, every word, every action creates an image. No? Are we clear on this point? Don’t agree with me please, I am not trying to persuade you to anything. But actually you can see it for yourself. A word is registered, if it is pleasant you purr. It is nice. If it is unpleasant, you will immediately shrink from it and that creates an image. The pleasure creates an image; the shrinking, the withdrawal creates an image. So, our actual relationship with each other is based on various subtle forms of pictures, images and conclusions.

Themes: 
identity

Walking through millions of years of image-making evolution

Jul. ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.
Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare

Themes: 
identity

We are not who or what we think we are

“Egos exploiting egos is the source of all our problems.”
Samdhong Rinpoche

The deeper we look the more distilled and obvious Rinpoche’s insight grows. Whether our focus is personal depression, illness, greed, jealousy, addiction, crime and rage or global conflicts including compounding environmental poisoning, the feelings, images and perceptions we hold about ourselves and others affect everything we do. The therapist couch, doctor’s office, substance abuse center, our prisons and politicians, not to mention the global military-industrial complex are all sustained by this image and its effect on the human body, emotions and mind, encompassing the full spectrum of human relationships including our relationship with nature. We mistakenly reify the abstraction as an independent and very concrete reality. As central and pervasive as this image-as-self is, precious little attention is given to its actual form, structure, how it originates or what our lives would be like without it. The assumptions that surround what we call ‘me’ are often tacit and therefore reincarnate unquestioned. Quite strange when you think about it.

Themes: 
identity

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