I hope you will find it encouraging to learn how these general ideas apply to eliminating evils in yourself, to spiritual self-improvement. The more bad thoughts and feelings you try to weed out of yourself, the more there will be.
Since I myself have certain preferences for what I want to do, I must be wary of passing these on as having the dignity of law. Therefore I must necessarily become even more personal in this chapter, and make my bias clear. I am lazy, and it bothers me to see people strenuously pursuing self-improvement goals by methods that will not work, and urging me to do the same. They are often the loveliest of people, and I would love to join them if I thought they would succeed. On the other hand, perhaps they know the goal will never be reached by their means, and I am the fool for exposing what everyone secretly knows. If we didn't have these games, that would leave a Void, wouldn't it? I am playing the game of refusing pointless games, which may be the most pointless of all.
Obviously there is a danger here of wandering in circles, but if someone else knew what was in this chapter, I would want him to tell me, so I must take a small risk.
A structure is any relation between entities that avoids dissolving. The self that you know as a human being is a structure, an organization of billions of entities.
An odd thing about structures is that they will dissolve both from success and failure, so the problem, if you want a structure, is to maintain a tension somewhere between the two.
The idea that structures will disintegrate when completely successful struck me as peculiar, and I made a list of hasty examples: a victorious empire inevitably breaks up into parts or collapses when it reaches its peak and is unopposed. A man inherits wealth and "ruins" himself with dissipation. The genius goes insane. "Power corrupts." "The good die young." Religions break into schisms and heresies. A dominant species mysteriously becomes extinct A cell divides in two. The magician goes mad.
Hence people are cautious about success or power too easily gained on some level. On some level, the structure invokes a self-imposed limit on success, including success in pursuing spiritual awareness. Spiritual leaders keep telling us the ego must die to be reborn, but we hold back. The structure preserves itself.
The ego, the mental structure, "feels better" when it has to contend with the tension of threats to itself. We feel "high" and energetic when tested by negative possibilities: hard work, discipline, sky-diving, racing, wars (until Vietnam óthe North Vietnamese got high off that oneó the U.S. didn't because it wasn't threatened), illness, fasting, asceticism, gambling, drugs, careless driving, arguing, paranoia (invented threats), contending with the devil and black magic, and so on.
Of course, if the negative definition goes too far, the structure will collapse, but somehow that doesn't bother us. We love to worry about dangers to human survival. (Unless it is a real one, like the atomic bomb or germ war-fare. Then the risk is "unreal," we are reluctant to think about it.)
Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment Contents