Monday, September 6, 2010

Darrell King's, The Illusion of Rules

"Lost Lives:  The Illusion of Rules
by Darrell G. King

A friend asked me if I would write something related to my thoughts of how we treat parts of our life as a game. Especially about how we set and relate to the rules of that game. Or something like that. I had to laugh, as I can't really think of much that we do that isn't relevant to a project like that. Where to start? How to select one game from so many that we play? What do they all have in common that would allow me to express what I see?

Aren't the rules all illusion? Of course they are. Rules are a way to create an environment within which we can perform certain actions, pursue certain goals, and justify certain conduct. The environment isn't "real" unless the observer agrees to the rules. It is an illusion, having substance only within the mind of those who have opted in to the game.

Read that again. Then think about it for a moment. How many times have you considered yourself "trapped" in a situation that was causing you discomfort, or even pain? Were the walls real, or did you make them by agreeing to the rules of that situation? Were you really being hurt by something/someone...or were you twisting the knife yourself in accordance with the rules of some unchallenged illusion?

Consider a common situation where John Human in an unhappy work environment stumbles through day after day with no real consideration of exploring alternatives. The boss is hateful, the work is deadly boring, and the workplace is unsafe and depressing.

John's entire life, home and work, is nothing but a dreary, gray haze of unhappiness. Yet, what can be done? After all, the John has responsibilities...perhaps a family, financial debts, people who depend on him...not to mention the need for food and shelter.

He has thought about maybe looking elsewhere for different work, but isn't it all the same? Except for the "lucky" ones, of course...the ones who had more opportunity, or better education, or just better luck...

John has built his own prison! He is the one responsible for his situation. He made the rules up, or he adopted someone else's rules. Voluntarily. Because there's no other way.

People don't usually get forced to obey a rule...ask any criminal, or any child with a hand in the cookie jar. People accept the rules...they agree to be bound by them.

John accepts the rule that he doesn't have the resources to change his situation.
John accepts the rule that his responsibilities allow him no freedom of choice.
John accepts the rule that only "other people" can do the things that would make his own life richer.
John has chosen a path of depression and unhappiness for himself by refusing to challenge the situation. Even worse, John is wasting his life! He is alive now, today...yet he passes each day away as though his life weren't going to start until some hypothetical point further along, when things get "better".

It's not hard to compare John's problems to other situations. A lover pining for a lost romance, or a child waiting to "grow up"...or parents waiting for the children to grow up! Yet, how often is the problem simply a matter of having accepted the Rules of this particular Game?

"I can't be happy without him!"

"I can't afford to quit!"

"I don't have the education to do anything else!"

"I'm too tired to think about it."

"I can't be happy because..."

All rules, all made up by someone...all accepted as Law when they are, in fact, only illusion. They may be descriptive of some part of the game they belong to, but they are still illusion. Stated definitively, as though they were immutable conditions of living, the rules gain all their power from the mind that obeys them.
There may be consequences to throwing out a rule, but it's important to realize that it can be discarded. The illusion of the game is usually the loss of choice.
We play the game of office politics because "we need to," because "we need our job," because "we have responsibilities," because "that's the way it's done"...
There are indeed obligations and necessities in life that we need to consider. The question is not whether action needs to be taken, but rather whether one is considering all the possible options...or have some been arbitrarily ruled out as being "against the rules"?
Have you ever decided a certain course of action was not possible, only to see someone else succeed at it? Was that other person really better equipped, or did you just create an obstacle for yourself that they didn't have to deal with?
This is the nature of Illusion:  that it exists only within your mind. The rule is not real, the game is not real, and even the problems that weigh so heavily on your mind are probably not real. They may be based on real circumstances, but the power to dispense unhappiness or depression, or to set limits, exists only within your own mind.
Some rules may be beneficial, or useful, or keep them. Just realize that you kept was your choice. They were created from within your mind, and they exist for only as long as you allow them to do so.
As an example, there is one rule, one illusion, that I personally find offensive above all others. It is the rule that one can not be happy "because...". It's the biggest fantasy of all, as it leads to depression, lack of motivation, and subverts all efforts of that individual to live their lives in a fulfilled manner.
It creates the barriers that prevent it from being questioned...a self-fulfilling nightmare that many people embrace and never even question!

Happiness is a state of mind!
It is not a commodity that can be bought, or a possession that can be stolen. It is not dependent upon another person's presence, or life, or death; it is not an embedded part of any of our games.
It belongs to every person as a birthright, and is obtainable at any time. It's yours irrevocably...just reach out and take it!
Although you may have been taught that various obstacles can bar you from the simple state of happiness, I invite you to look around yourself someday and actively seek out evidence to the contrary. Watch for smiles on the faces of people with little or no money, and watch for optimism in people subjected to misfortune. You'll find examples if you bother to try that might just make you wonder if you want to play the old games anymore...
It is possible that you are setting yourself limits that really don't exist outside your illusion. So, just out of curiousity, let's play a new game today. The rules are simple:
  1. We will question every obstacle we think we see before us.
  2. We will agree not to accept any rule just because "it's a rule".
  3. We will agree that any change to our emotional state is something we did ourselves.
The goal of the game is to achieve a state where we are in control of when we will be happy or sad, motivated or depressed. We will decide what affects our mood today. We will live by a rule because we accept it, and not because we never questioned it.
Maybe, we will gain our lives back. It's just a game...what have you got to lose?" 


White Bear said...

Thanks. I like this.

Andrew (better known as Drew) said...

This is very similar to what I've been teaching for years now. Of course, there IS such a thing as objective reality, but that's not what the author here is arguing against. What he IS saying is that all too often we accept our subjective "realities" as being objective, and that's what gets us into trouble. This is a large part of why I rail against our over-institutionalized society - we've all been taught to fit in, thereby relinquishing our individuality and becoming little more than robots, most of us without even realizing it. This is also why the two earlier posts concerning education are so direly relevant - our children are being "socialized" in the sense of becoming robots, but not in the more meaninful and valuable sense of becoming worthwhile individuals. Is it any wonder so many people are involved in self-destructive behaviors? They've all been taught from birth that their only value is as cogs in the machine. If ever they want to become more than that (which often occurs at an instinctual level rather than at a conscious level)their training overcomes them, forcing them to destroy themselves. It's a real tragedy, and one that much of our society is designed to perpetuate.

Patternwalker said...

It's easy to get caught in the mire and lose sight of something that ( I think ) every child is born knowing - that everyone is self created and there are indeed no rules or limits except the ones we impose on ourselves. Took me a number of years to (re)learn that.
Life IS truly infinite if you allow it to be. :)

Anonymous said...

"...rules gain all their power from the mind that obeys them."

American forefathers knew this and thus they established the most revolutionary & progressive government in history-- government for the people by the people.

These facts were self-evident to earlier generations of Americans, but today they are all but forgotten. Today Americans allow men in power to attain more and more power over them-- setting limits on the individual, on the state, on those Sovereign entities who ignorantly allow these power-hungry men to "gain all their power from the mind that obeys them."

From My Cold Dead Fingers

Rob Kuntz said...

I watched all of Mack's speech about taking back the Constitution and our Freedom. There is only one word for it: TRUTH.

Thanks for posting the link, Lauren. And.. Always good to see you. :)