Is, Ought and Hullabaloo

It is not uncommon for a hullabaloo to result when things do not adhere strictly to expectations. If the world differs from how it “ought” to be, how it “should” be people get all dramatic and there is suffering because how the world “is” does not conform to preconceptions. In fact people sometimes struggle to see and understand how the word “is” because the lenses of “should” and “ought” are so very thick that they prevent the clarity of actuality. People cannot see things how they are because they do not want to.

The shoe-horns of “ought” and “should” can struggle to get the foot of reality into the cobbler’s shoe of how the idealism, bias and prejudice have determined the world to be. There can be a disconnect between physical plane reality and an “idealistic” world view.

For example people are having trouble accepting that the “ideal” of Brexit in no way lives up to the hype with which it was miss-sold to the public. Brexit, in England, is almost a taboo word and Bregret is now being bandied about. Not all cunning “plans” work out. It was not even a plan, it was hyperbole, hot air, based on an faded jingoistic “Britannia Rules the Waves”, outdated illusion.

Now people have their blessed blue passports and can wait at immigration in the airport with the Bangladeshis and the Iranians.

I am picking up the “we are only making plans for Nigel {Alan} vibe again”.

Clearly people know best what is right for me and may even come to a consensual view of what that looks like. However, there is a lacking foundation stone. No bugger has asked me. The house is therefore unsteady.

It is so typical “they” get together and have a chat about how to “manage” others. Thank God for their omniscience. Where would we be without it?

I have no drama about my way of life. It is what it is. Others may deem that it did not “ought” to be like this. Why not?

In the news when someone dies it is often termed a “tragedy” especially if they were “well liked”, popular and below the age of 83. This drama over mundane reality is strange. Loads of people die in their fifties, so why are they “tragically” taken from us before their time?

There is a disconnect between “should”, “ought” and is. A hand wringing hullabaloo can result when someone dies of natural causes because the “should” have made it to their eighties. 

Why, to be an added burden on the health services?

When the time comes, it comes. Why all the drama?

People have a real knack of making a big hullabaloo when is differs from “should” and “ought”.

It is a form of suffering caused by wanting to have life on one’s own terms, terms dictated by the lower self. The universe must comply with our desires and expectations.

{It is not fair mummy.}

Unfortunately shit happens, life goes on and then you die. Life does not comply with our required terms and expectations.

Beyond the Lens of Social Conditioning

Most people interpret their surroundings and their interactions through the lens of social conditioning. There are a largely unwritten set of rules for this conditioning, and it has variance between generations. The youth of today are conditioned differently to the youth of my Jurassic days. My generation did not grow up with either the internet or mobile ‘phones. Because I was an aspiring academic I learned about FTP and supercomputers in my early twenties. Strangely enough I was amongst those with relatively early uptake of a tri-band mobile phone.

This social conditioning is conditional and has many shoulds and oughts. These are foisted onto others in a you must conform judgmental way. Right now, there is some bizarre hullabaloo about choice of pronouns. Would people let me use it and its? What longevity this folly has, remains to be seen. Trying to condition others to behave the way we think they ought to, they should, is not liberation it is about a kind of herd like slavery. It is inflicting onto a another being one’s own prejudices and dogma.

Whilst people subscribe to things like “I must have huge expensive house” and implied, a mortgage, it is difficult to escape social conditioning, because conforming to social conditioning makes it easier to have and keep a job that pays sufficiently well to cover mortgage costs. People are beset with the fear of missing out and thereby in general are very busy. There is little time to stop, to pause and reflect. There are a lot of time wasting escapist activities. This is because people, in general, cannot hack being alone by themselves, with themselves with nothing to occupy and divert their minds. The silence of an empty calendar and lack of Pavlovian response to incoming text messages, is terrifying.

If your mind is like the Circle Line Underground Line with trains of should and ought endlessly circulating it is impossible to think. Your internal dialogue has you. If you are worried whether of not you are conforming to the social conditioning dictates of others, you are in no way free.

There is a template for social conditioning. For example. One should socialize and one ought to advance. One should have a partner; one should not be a loner. One should be hot; one should like sex. One should go down the gym, one ought to like yoga. One ought to explain every choice of action with a string of pseudo-rational justifications and bullet points. “We went to Malta because it is nice and warm and there is plenty to do and see and they understand English.” Is a more socially acceptable explanation than, “I went to Malta to try to restore my memories from my life as a priest/knight two lifetimes ago.”

Social conditioning has taboos. These taboos can be for the heinous or simply the mundane.

If I don’t doff my cap at someone who is a position of power and I treat them as an equal. That is taboo. If I say that many people are very selfish and egotistical {in other words normal} that too is taboo.

In hospital yesterday the wife was reading out a guide to negotiate a house purchase. It had the usual things. If you want fifteen grand off, make an offer thirty grand below the asking price and then negotiate. The vendor can meet you halfway. Why?

What is socially acceptable is a time varying thing. It is volatile and therefore not real. It is made up in the minds and by the gossip of mankind. In my days it was OK to wear a pair of budgie smugglers, taboo now unless you are an athlete.

Socially conditioning is demarcated by expectations. If you don’t conform to these made up things, expectations, then you are suspect. Twenty odd years ago there were a set of expectations about me. Things did not turn out according to that made up stuff. The expectations were demonstrably inaccurate.

There is this TV programme “Ben Fogle Lives in the Wild” or some such. He goes off to visit people who have apparently slipped the net {todatsu} removed the knot of society. The programme is formulaic. He explores the tribulations and the freedom and then nearly always concludes that the protagonists would be better off back home, in society. Go and put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea.

You can live ostensibly adjunct to society and yet not be hemmed in by social conditioning.  One does not need to make a drama. One can meet mankind in the midst of their folly. It is a state of mind. I can say that there are things that I might do which are taboo in the context of social conditioning. There is no point in showing off. If I sat down in the middle of the supermarket and started chanting, that would raise eyebrows and maybe a short call to the gendarmes. It would not bother me if someone did this chanting, I might even join in.

I mentioned before that the underlying cause which made my personal transferrable skills courses for Ph.D. students untenable was because I had renounced a career which many of them were aspiring to. I had broken expectations, people with a tenured job at a top university do not jump into virtual unemployment. In the social conditioned world this kind of thing does not happen. It is a non sequitur, a does not compute.

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”, sung John Lennon.


When you look at the world do you see it how it is or by reference to how you think it should be, ought to be?

Is your perception in any way coloured by your social conditioning?

Do you have expectations, if so, why, for what purpose?

Self-Sabotage or Renunciation?

I’ll preface this with the caveat that it is very easy to kid oneself.

In Western society it is not uncommon for people to seek to self-advance. Get a better paying job, a more ridiculously expensive house, a posh car, a white picket fence “ideal” for show marriage, some power, perhaps a bit of social kudos, nice holidays, maybe some plastic surgery, fillers and some hair die. That way one can play advancement or keeping up with the Joneses top trumps over the dinner table.

“We went to St Barts…”

“Well, we had our own waterfront cabin in the Maldives.”

People like league tables and ranking.

At the moment the protagonist in l’étranger is being judged because he enrolled his mother in a care home and did not cry at her funeral. Society has a plethora of shoulds and oughts. {MS Word is even objecting to shoulds and oughts!!}

People use vocabulary like my battle against cancer and winning…

What is it that seeks this self-advancement thingy?

Is it the Soul?

Is it the socially conditioned, as yet not integrated personality?

Does self-advancement have any meaning whatsoever to the nearly eternal reincarnating Soul?

For a while, a long time ago, I worked at a competitive institution where getting a chair, a professorship, was one of the goals for many.

If you look back to the Bodhisattva’s Renunciation and see what Siddhartha did how would modern society judge him?

What a fool to give up his chance to be sovereign and rule in luxury! What a nasty piece of work to walk out on a beautiful wife and young son. And then to wander hardly eating, quasi naked in forest. Idiot!!

Surely this is an act of self-sabotage. Yes, it is! The individuating separative self, the I, the ego, may have wanted a life of luxury but something deeper and more profound was stirring in Siddhartha. It said no! Your purpose is to demonstrate and anchor on the physical plane the act of enlightenment. The self of Siddhartha was sabotaged, repelled and renounced, and his Soul led him on his journey. So, it was both an act of self-sabotage and one of renunciation.

People are very suspicious of anyone who renounces the type of thing that they are ambitious for.

I did, for a while, direct some transferrable skills courses for science Ph.D. students. Whilst I was still an academic, I never had any problems. But once I had resigned there was a kind of elephant in the room. I had walked away from the very thing that a number of them were aiming for.  It was not verbalised, but I could sense it. I was no longer credible to them. I was a stranger and heretic even.

One course turned on me and that was the end of that.

When I first read about Siddhartha’s renunciation it struck a chord with me. I walked out of a marriage, a now £1 million house and a young baby. I “gave” my shares in spin-out company I had co-founded back. I left a New Age group which I had poured my heart and Soul into, and I walked away from a quasi-secure job at a top university and all the power by association which that conferred. I sold my flat in London. For a while we lived at Squirrel Lodge, isolated in the middle of a wood. There are other examples of renunciation. I became powerless.

I did not from a socially conditioned view need to do any of these things. Many would deem these acts unwise, silly even.

Until you renounce you do not understand how strongly you are bound. It never occurs how great the power over you is. When you have renounced you are a little bit freer. There are consequences a simple example stems from the lack of power by association. I wrote to an academic in India asking about a non-linear material. He never got back to me. I’ll wager if I had done so from the email address at my old uni. he would have responded by return.

Sometimes people have moments of clarity. I remember one pertaining to the New Age group, I was allegedly a leader of. When I wanted to do things bare, lacking in ostentation and simple, people told me to decorate my house, smarten up my appearance. I knew in that instant that they were heading in a different direction to me. They still wanted socially conditioned stuff and I was trying to rid myself of this.

The socially conditioned fear of missing out is the bedrock of modern slavery. Is slavery a harsh word or does it emphasise the degree of social compliance many are subscribed to? If self-advancement leads to the consumption of ever more matter, leading deeper into hedonistic materialism, is it really a good thing?

Here there is another form of self-sabotage. All those self-advancing people are sabotaging the very planet upon which we currently live.

And people think I am crazy…