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27. Poor Little General

"Once you can see that 'you', the little dictator in your head, does not really exist then the whole structure will come tumbling down."

Robert Saltzman

The philosopher Michel Foucault saw it: look at the architecture of factories, hospitals, schools, churches and prisons. It has a central space from which the rest of the facility can be governed: the architecture of authority, of disciplinary power, of hierarchism.

The command structure comes from the top or from the center and has access to everything that happens. Disciplinary power need not always be exercised because much of the authority is internalized. But force will be used if the central leadership deems it necessary. Even in a modern, democratic country, you could try not to pay your taxes and not give up, and eventually you will encounter violence.

The same thing happens in our heads. We have internalized central authority and identify with it as being me. We have a dictator in our heads, a little general, which we call "I". I have the idea that I am in charge. I stand behind all my actions. I am the decision maker. I get frustrated when I don't get what I want. It is this authoritarian structure that is the origin of centralized authority in society. It has been projected and successively (re)internalized since the beginning of human civilization. Hierarchism has literally built this civilization. In fact, we need this structure in order to function as social beings in this society. It is inevitable and inescapable. Losing it means the madness of depersonalization.

But believing that we are really in control causes alienation, a feeling of being lost and lonely. Believing in it separates us from the rest of life, from our bodies, from other people, from all of nature.

But in fact, as "me", I am completely powerless. It is the ultimate joke. I do not determine what happens. I have no idea what my next thought or action will be. The feeling of making decisions and taking actions is something that happens in the same flow of what's happening anyway. The thought happens that I did that and is claimed by me. But I didn't do it. It just happened. The feeling of success happens or the feeling of failure or guilt happens. What happens is what happens. That's what we call life.

I look out my window… Something itches at my nose. The sound of the clock… My fingers type. Words form in my head. I scratch my nose. Fingers continue typing.

See? Life is happening. This constant flow of perceptions, feelings and thoughts is life happening.

"I" is a role we play in the game of society, not who we are. So who are we, what am I? Well, since life is all there is, what else could I be? I am all the perceptions, feelings and thoughts that happen. I am what happens, which is who and what I really am.

The designation "I" is no more than a point of view, a focal point, in the flow of life, in the flow of what is happening. The little general in my head, who thinks he is what I am, is an illusion. "He" has no power, no authority and is only a part in that same flow.

The feeling of "I" is the feeling of lack, the feeling of being separated. It is greed. The little general wants to be the ruler of the world, because it knows it has lost the world, sitting in its imaginary room behind my eyes, brooding on plans. It wants to eat the world, swallow up everything. It is paranoid and anxious. "Maybe these 'others' can see what I really am. Maybe they know of my plans. I may not let others see what I really feel and think. I am such a failure and such an attention whore. I need the admiration so that I feel I am real. But I'm not."

I am lost and lonely.

The little general thinks he can hold back emotions and situations he finds threatening, but that is not up to him. Resistance and oppression are not his job. Life takes care of that. Life protects itself from the traumas that life can bring. In fact, life controls everything, including the little general's thinking, although the general thinks he is in charge. The general does nothing. It just claims things as its own.

Anyway, notice that the feeling of "me" is not always there. It is there only when it feels threatened. When you are absorbed in what you are doing, it is not there. But even the feeling of "I" is the flow of life happening. The threat is life happening, the thoughts are life happening. Life is all there is, life is all I am.

Tonny ("me") has no idea what is going on :-). Poor, poor me.