The Search for " IT"
Our "Working Solution" to The Search For "IT"
Here is our personal approach to the situation we've described.
Of course, given the personal nature of all this, it might not be for everybody, but it's the best we've been able to come up with. While we're always on the lookout for better ones, we eat our own cooking; it's the one we're living with, day-to-day.
First of all, this approach can start here:
Decide that the "Nihilism Approach" is a dead-end.
It's intuiting or deciding that "IT", however elusive, is not an illusion. Fool's gold only exists because there's real gold. However brutal life might be, it's refusing to get snuffed out, refusing to give up, refusing to settle for consolation prizes.
"Futility is futile."
- Richard Rose
Refusing to bet your money at the casino will guarantee that you won't get suckered. But you're not going to win anything, either.
And worse, you're still stuck in the casino, with all its clanging and flashing lights, with everyone playing games that you're taking no part in.
- which can become a miserable strategy, especially when those compensation prizes wears off, like they inevitably will. They are, after all, merely compensation prizes.
"Mankind was not meant for idle pleasures."
- Henry David Thoreau
It's also not the "waiting game."
"IT" might come after we die.
But the fact of the matter is this: we don't know that for sure.
It might well be that we're supposed to find "IT" in this life, not the next one (if there is a next one).
If we want to be safe...shouldn't we err on the side of assuming that this life is as rich as it can possibly be, or even richer? That "IT" actually is real, and can be experienced in this life? (And of course, it's not going to be found through adrenaline rushes, putting oneself into absurd situations, etc).
Somewhere in between the above approaches is what we can call the "Wizard Hunt."
This is also known as "The Master Game."
We had posited some kind of infinitely desirable, infinitely mischievous shapeshifter that hides behind some thing or idea or imagined situation and makes us desire it, chase it, and work for it, possibly for years or decades...
- and then once we reach it, this mischievous, diabolical shapeshifter dashes away again behind some other thing, idea, situation.
Instead of "Shapeshifter," we'll call this the "Wizard."
The rest of the game is to FIND the Wizard.
A big part of the trick is to not be fooled by the Wizard.
Once you see his game and how he works, you can start to view any imagined, idealized think, situation, idea etc with at least a degree of suspicion. It's the bait; we don't have to take the bait. He's wanting us to imagine some kind of perfection in the future, instead of us being fully here, now, in the present moment.
We can reference the Wizard of Oz. We're looking for a Wizard behind the curtain. He's pullling all kinds of levers, putting on a big show of smoke and lights and mirrors and creating a big scene...
- but it's all a sham. It's all a trick. Here's where the nihilists have it right: they see through the smoke and lights and booming noises, and aren't suckered by it.
- but they stop there.
What they're missing is Toto.
They miss the big reveal of the actual Wizard, who is really just an old man, hiding behind a curtain, putting on a big show. The "big show" meaning his typical game: dangling "IT" just beyond our reach, and keeping us striving and hopping.
He has a full bag of tricks - both obvious (that wealth, wealth, fame, power, status sex, creature comforts are "IT") and more devious and subtle (ego gratification, respect, narcissism, envy, mania, and so on).
None of the above are "IT". But also, beware of another trick - we'll call it "the asceticism trap," which means that "the opposite" of the above tricks isn't escaping from them. For example, discovering that "wealth isn't 'IT'" doesn't mean that poverty IS IT. Just because power isn't IT doesn't mean that powerlessness IS IT. Just because status isn't "IT" doesn't mean that low status is IT.
"IT" isn't in wealth or poverty, fame or anonymity, power or powerlessness, indulgence or actual ascetisicm; it's beyond all of these. These can largely be irrelevent, except in the degree that one gets "hung up" on any of them, in which case they can become real distractions.
But if these are all distractions, what, then, is the real thing? How do you FIND the Wizard?
First of all, just to be clear, "The Wizard" we're describing is just a shorthand way of describing this situation or process. We aren't positing some kind of actual being who is literally behind some curtain somewhere pulling levers. For our purposes here, we can just describe this as "how the world works."
So then in this scenario...Who, or what, is "The Wizard?"
Here's something to ponder:
Imagine peeking behind the curtain...and you see...yourself.
Another word for "The Wizard" could well be "Ego." And ego, of course, is "yourself." Not, of course, your "real self," but your "false self."
Because knowing his game, you see that he never really delivers what you want until you corner him, expose him, and force him to tell you the truth.If this seems confusing, good. Becoming unconfused about all this means solving the problem: figuring out the real self, the false self, and where "you" are in all this.
At that point, he might well suddenly cease being this menacing, scary, malevolent shapeshifter, intent on a diabolical, malicious scheme that wastes your life...and suddenly transform into a nice, kindly, gentle old man who actually has what you've been looking for the whole time. It hasn't been the teases of a devil's temptations that has been leading you deeper into the madness; it's been the gentle nudgings of your own conscience that have been giving you clues how to find what you're actually looking for.
And at that point, he gives you the heart, the brain, the courage, the mind, the soul, whatever it is that you've actually been looking for, and then shows you how to back home. Which is what you've really been looking for all along.
Thus, the ultimate goal and hope is to replace an area of conflict, confusion and misunderstanding with clarity, context, and perhaps, teamwork.