This is something that helped me massively, and I think it would help you as well. I’ll explain it in the simplest terms I can, in the way I understand it. I hope that will be enough for you to understand it too.
Think back to your earliest memory. A real memory, a time from kindergarten or earlier.
You’ll have a sense that you experienced the world very differently back then. Colors were more vibrant, you had a sense of wonder, you were happier and more carefree (given a stable living environment).
Most of us remember something like that. If you don’t, look at a baby – at how they’re looking at the world. You can see how mesmerized they are by everything.
Then think about your childhood or teenage years, or a time when you became aware of your potential, your passion – ideas about how you could change the world.
We all know, over time, it life slowly lost its vibrancy, wonder, and passion. Yes we still catch small glimpses of it in occasionally, but our daily lives are severely dulled, and getting duller every day.
Most people assume it’s responsibility, familiarity, or just the harshness of reality which took that away.
I’m going to propose that it’s another thing entirely, and that there’s a way to undo this corruption at its source. It’s working for me.
What’s the problem?
I’m going to ask you to entertain a strange premise.
What if ideas aren’t what they seem?
Think about thoughts. Some thoughts are boring, some are captivating.
“I need to buy some milk” isn’t an idea that will stick around for a while, certainly not longer than it takes to buy milk. “I’m a good person” is an idea that can stick around for an entire lifetime.
The strange premise is this: What if ideas can evolve? What if some ideas have evolved specifically to make us care about them, so we “feed” them with emotional investment, keeping them alive and spreading them by communicating them with others.
I’m not asking you to believe this, just to consider it for a moment.
What kind of idea would be most adapted to capture a person’s attention? What kind of idea do people constantly think about, talk about, defend, protect, and build?
I can think of a huge one: Pride.
Everyone likes to think of themeslves as being fundamentially “good”. Well, “morally justified” might be more accurate, but I’ll use “good” as a shorthand for that now. That goodness can be about how kind we are, how honest we are, how brave, smart, morally correct, or politically justified we are.
Even something like “I don’t care about being good” will usually be backed up by the feeling that it’s *right* to not care about being good, that we’re correct about this opinion.
The way in which pride works is strange. It’s not just arrogance. It’s the automatic process where our thoughts are constantly building a false image of a good person – a morally justified you.
Whatever shape it takes, pride is incredibly complelling. An identity built upon pride will dominate someone’s life. They’ll defend their goodness in every agrument, seek out reasons why it’s true instead of objectively seeking out the truth, cut out people who don’t buy into it, condemn others solely to boost it, until it’s the single thing which gives them any sense of social or moral value.
We become mesmerized by this image, addicted to it, trying to become more like it, trying to convince others that we are it.
You can see this happening very easy if you investigate your thoughts about yourself. The vast majority of your automatic thoughts point in the direction of you as a worthwhile person. Or smart, or good, or honest, or humble, or morally justified. Whatever you personally value of yourself. All thoughts point in the direction of vanity.
Even if your thoughts initially seem harsh towards yourself, there’s often this sense of “I’m beating myself up for being bad, because I care about being good”. Even if you don’t “like yourself”, it’s almost always within the context of trying to become more like a mental image you do like.
We all know we do this sometimes, we all ourselves being prideful once in a while. But it’s the times when we *don’t* catch ourselves doing it which are the problem. That’s where the false self is hidden from us.
Here’s one of the main false assumptions that sustains that camouflage:
“I feel kind, loving feelings towards someone, so I must be a kind loving person.”
But if you think about it, feelings of kindness *aren’t* evidence of kindness. They’re evidence of feelings of kindness. Even if you do something nice off the back of these feelings, if it’s only because you care about looking kind to yourself and others, then the object of that kindness doesn’t matter to you. Just performance of it.
It doesn’t have to be kindness – any quality you personally admire about yourself can potentially be corrupted in this way, yes?
I’m not suggesting you believe that *any* of this is true about you. I’m suggesting you look and find out. If it’s not true, great, you’ll know for sure. If it is, it has to be seen before any change can happen.
Why is this bad?
Think about this: if a person becomes addicted to a self-image based on lies, what would their life look like? How far would an addict go to feed their addiction, if they didn’t see that addiction as a harmful thing?
I beleieve everyone could speak from experience about this, myself espeically. When I first started investigating this, I exposed myself as a person completely cut off from reality. I cared about nothing more than my fake identity, my self-directed show of goodness. I learned to ignore truth to the point where I could do *anything* and still see myself as a fundamentally “good” person: drug addictions, cruelty towards others, meaningless conflicts about politics I didn’t actually care about. My life was nothing else.
Pride isn’t a static thing; it’s an evolved thing. A living thing. All it takes is one vain thought that becomes more important to us than reality, and we stop caring about reality. When our sense of self-worth is based on a lie, the truth becomes our enemy. People become a means to an end. We become fragile, seeking out conflict to feed our addiction to pride.
What do you call someone who cares nothing about reality, nothing about others, and constantly provokes conflict for a quick hit of self-worth?
When you look at the state of humanity – all the meaningless violence, shallow drama, self-entitlement – is it unfair to say an addiction to living pride could be behind some of it? Beind all of it?
Is it worth considering the possibility?
Because if it’s true, it’s a very easy thing to prove. If it’s true everywhere, it’s true in you. All you have to do is prove to yourself that it’s true about yourself. It’s not even that hard to do, with a little honesty.
And if it’s true – if your entire identity is built on top of fiction – exposing that fiction would be the most intense experience you could possibly have.
How do you prove this to yourself?
Think about a magic show. We’re mesmerized by magic tricks only if we don’t know how they are performed. If we know how they are done, they just look kind of boring and fake.
If you can see the tricks that pride uses to keep you mesmerized by it, you can severely weaken its ability to fool you.
Doing this is simple, but extremely uncomfortable. Essentially, you have to see evidence in your own life of how your personal pride operates, and how it has corrupted you at your deepest levels. Just see it – just see the magic trick.
The uncomfortable bit is this: You have to see that it is true about *everything*. If *everything* you think you care about has been corrupted by an addiction to pride, then your prideful self image has become more important to you than the actual things you care about.
And “care” really is the at the center of all of this. This thought parasite survives by making us care about it more than anything else. It makes us care about our fictional self image more than the real people in our lives. It makes us care about comfortable lies more than essential truths.
To break delusion’s absolute hold over you, you have to see how it has has corrupted you at the deepest level a person could be corrupted at: your cares.
In other words, you have to see how:
You care more about your self image as a caring person, than actually caring about people.
You care more about your self image as an honest person, than actually caring about the truth.
You care more about your self image as a smart person, than actually caring about doing worthwhile things with your intelligence.
You don’t believe your beliefs, you just like how they make you look.
This is it, this is the test. You have to be honest for it to work, you have to really care about finding out if it’s true, but that’s it. You’re just honestly looking to see if you care about any of the things you think you care about. If you do, you’ll see that. If you don’t, you’ll see that. Isn’t it worth finding out?
This isn’t a judgement, far from it. This is the damage that pride does to a person without them realizing it. So, realize it.
And I’m not saying “believe these statements”. I’m saying check if they’re true in your own life. If they aren’t, cool, I’m wrong and you’ll see exactly why and how. You’ll lose nothing and gain insight. But if they are true, then fuck. Shit. Fuck. You need to see it. You *need* to see it, or you’ll always be fooled by them.
Seeing it in individual thoughts and actions isn’t enough. Meditation can make a person do that, but meditation leaves room for the pride of “I’m improving myself”! You need to see that building a prideful false image is literally the only thing your thoughts are doing, and that prideful image is the only thing that “I” refers to when you talk about yourself.
You’re trying to trigger a kind of point-of-no-return, where you can no longer unsee what you’ve seen. Keep looking until this happens. You’ll know when it does.
Once it happens, things become very intense very fast. You might feel a huge sense of dread or anxiety as a response. But one of the major, and worst, symptoms of depression and anxiety is that they pull us deeper into the false image:
“I feel bad about being bad, so I must care about being good!”
“I’m so worried about this, so I care!”
I’m not talking about the actual feelings or neurological causes of anxiety or depression, I’m talking about how they are used as fodder to drag us deeper into pride. They aren’t caused by pride, but pride uses them to drag a person’s attention onto it.
But, you’ve seen that your fake self is fake. You’ve seen *how* it’s fake, and so anxiety and depression can’t convincingly drag you into it. The pain continues to rise, but for some reason, suffering doesn’t. It’s tolerable in a way that it shouldn’t be.
This will probably be extremly intense for several days; to me it felt like my identity was dissolving in acid. After a while, you begin to chill out a bit. It’s still true, but it’s not painful to look at anymore. Feelings you haven’t felt for a very long time start rushing in, very good feelings. You’ll gain an incredible sense of clarity. And you might see your pride trying to build a fake image of a new “enlightened” you.
And it’s successful. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it, but you can recognize that it has the same pattern as all the other false pride. Eventually, there’s a crash, you won’t feel as good anymore, and you can see your mind trying to scramble to get back to that clarity. But that’s just more “I want to be this insightful person again” vanity. And so that desire fades away. This happens a few more times. Stay humble as you can, because vanity fueled by these incredibly strong emotions can easily lead into madness.
You haven’t escaped the problem, your pride is still building fake self images. But they’re far less mesmerizing. Even if you don’t immediately see the lie behind them, you know there’s one there. You’ve permantly weakened your ability to get “high” off your own pride.
This isn’t the end of humility, but the beginning. Again, you’ve been conditioning yourself to do this for decades. The only way forward is to keep going forward, to make seeking truth the center of your life. You can slip back into delusion – I did. It’ll look different, but at the center of it would still be a completely lack of interest the truth.
“What do I actually care about?” is an extremely powerful question. Ask yourself that every day, find the real answer. Don’t let yourself slip back.
I think a better question is: “What is possible now that I’ve seen this?”
I can’t answer that question for you. I’m just beginning to answer that question for myself.
If you successfully took the test as described above, please contact me. I’ll let you know more about where I’m going with this, the pitfalls I’ve fallen into on the journey, and some resources which can help you gain much more clarity into this situation.
But where to go from here?
If you successfully took the test, something should be becoming clear. Where would your life be headed if you hadn’t seen this? Where is humanity currently headed, having not seen this? The answer of where to go next can only point towards one direction:
The world needs to see this.
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