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Philosophy

Peace is Freedom from Self

There seems to be something of a plausible inevitability to depression and psychological suffering. Being that our minds have been sculpted by long-term evolutionary biases towards survivability in a probabilistically uncertain and materially dangerous world, there is something of a hard-coded orientation towards pessimism (or at the very least – pragmatism) within us all.

Culture also (and inevitably) wraps itself around the uncertain core of our being in ways that often but not always subtly amplify this cognitive and existential balance towards fear and alienation as a pervading sense of dread or worry. Being the good non-linear information-processing system that it is, culture will always autonomously seek the optimal solutions to its own sustainable continuity and will do so through and as each of us and our cherished, individuated self-identities.

In this way, we find ourselves living in and through a darkly-shaded labyrinth of rich symbolic and behavioural convention as orthodox (if endlessly adaptive) moving frames of thought and behaviour. We shape the larger context through our cognitive and behavioural choices and the larger context loops back upon us to shape the menu of available choices. Where we see celebrations of positivity and success, the implicit binary and co-existent dependencies of these things upon negativity and failure are veiled by spectacle and noise.

It is interesting, if frustrating, that the endlessly-extensible logical necessities of psychological, material and technological self-development are so implicitly anchored upon negativity and doubt that we have inadvertently sought civilisation-scale solutions through which to mask these facts from ourselves and each other. The facts we celebrate – or if not facts, at least semi-consistent narratives of being and becoming – are for the most part a pure and blissful misdirection from the underlying fears that they seek, not always successfully, to obscure.

If you look quite carefully at the majority of human activities, gloriously creative and rare as they are in this Universe, you will find that all the goodness and joy is generally derived from activities or narratives that indirectly (or directly) regenerate the evil and sadness of this world. It is because we are tidally-locked in orbit around a binary ontology of self and other that we are entangled with such intrinsic and problematic fear.

There is one solution, but no one likes it much. The only way to freedom and peace for everyone on Earth is to completely and irrevocably dissolve the self that aspires to acquire such freedom and peace. This is also to say that as we free ourselves from our selves, everything becomes that self; it is an enigmatic logic that underlies psychological, ecological and (a) cosmological unity. Deep ironies abound, of course, as it may very well be our inability to negotiate and integrate or unify these quite simple binaries of self and other, of inside and outside and of (abstract notions of) good and bad that will lead to the catastrophic disassembly of our nascent global civilisation.

The more real our selves become, the more we define and measure or otherwise incentivise their individuated experience and commercial or technological presence in the world – the more we assure their unhappiness, alienation and isolation. Freedom from self is simultaneously to open the entire world to being that self. It is a subtlety that our shared, contemporary historical moment is hardly mature or wise enough to consider.

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