“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
The Wizard of Oz, 1939, MGM
Maintaining a secret requires deception.
I hope that proposition is self-obvious.
The question of why secrets are thought to be required is a little harder to get to. The truth about this, if there is any, is part of the secret!
One aspect of the problem involves leading someone to believe that if they do certain things (that most beings are fond of doing) that they will be kicked out of the game. There are not many punishments in the universe worse than being banned from a game. The same entity that convinced us of this terrible consequence for “sinning” then sets things up to encourage us to do just that. Now we must keep these actions secret, or risk being banished, or so we think. Sin, then, is a social control mechanism that can be enforced in deceptive ways that in turn lead to the desire to be deceptive.
Underlying this control mechanism lie misunderstandings that ultimately seem to be based on self-deception. Thus, the possibility arises that a being can keep something secret from itself. This is a real trick! However, therapies based on self-inspection would not work at all if self-deception were not a key factor in the development of a sense of loss of self-control.
But let's not go there yet. Let us return to the theme of attention, as introduced by the first quote.
“The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing.”
Ben Okri (Nigerian poet and novelist.)
Ability to direct attention is key to controlling an interaction with another individual.
If the flow is one of help, the effort will be in the direction of making a being aware of deceptions that exist around him or in his own universe. This should lead to the resolution of false problems and the confrontation of real problems.
If the flow is one of harm (or manipulation) then the effort will be in the direction of making a being less aware of external deceptions by inventing false problems and focusing his attention on them.
Ben Okri assumes that the art of politics, like the art of magic, is fundamentally based on deception.
But that is not necessarily the case. There could be a considerable range in skill among politicians and among magicians. At the top of the scale might exist real power and real magic. At the bottom of the scale would be false power and false magic. The lower a politician, or magician, is on this scale, the more he must resort to deception. Thus Mr. Okri's generality becomes a more useful gradient of ability versus deception.
To reiterate: Real ability requires little or no deception. Deception becomes a real problem in the absence of real ability. Thus, the need to be deceptive can be reduced by increasing real ability. Of course, deception is also an ability, and can be practiced and “perfected” by those who see no hope in ever gaining any real ability to actually do their assigned task.
Artful deception involves the ability to direct attention away from the truth (or what really is) towards a falsehood (or what really isn't). This is not an article on how to be deceptive, so I will not elaborate on this point.
The point is:
1) The ability to direct attention is not the problem.
2) The inability to do what one is supposed to be doing is the problem.
Failures in ability, and the deceptions that result from them can exist at any level of human activity. This often leads to the experience of “solving a problem” just to find oneself immersed in a bigger problem. In a universe where inability has become the rule rather than the exception, the layers of deception can pile up very thickly indeed.
Eight basic layers
“Watching foreign affairs is sometimes like watching a magician; the eye is drawn to the hand performing the dramatic flourishes, leaving the other hand - the one doing the important job - unnoticed.”
David K. Shipler (American author.)
We can look at life and human activity in terms of sectors, levels or layers. And we can use these levels or layers in studying deception. I resort to Hubbard's Dynamics, a relatively straightforward system of dividing existence, or experience, into layers:
- Self. The individual.
- Sex and family, the most intimate and real human group.
- Groups. This includes clubs, businesses, governments, nations, races and cultures.
- Species. We are interested here, mostly, in the human species.
- Life Forms. All forms that seem to embody some degree of volition and self-determination, or what could be called thought.
- The physical. Composed of observable phenomena that seem much less volitional and much more predictable than life forms.
- The spiritual. Composed of phenomena that seem creative in nature, but hidden, mysterious, or simply difficult to perceive.
- The infinite. A category intended to encompass “everything else that is, could be, or might be.”
Inability at any of these levels is not inevitable. But it is quite common, particularly at the higher levels. Life does not come with an instruction manual. We have had to figure these things out as we went along. And it would appear that we have made some stupendous blunders.
However, as we see in many human games, mastery is possible. And as I argue, with every ability mastered comes a reduced need for deception.
At this point you could say, why don't we just demand that people be honest about their abilities? But this is not that easy to accomplish. How would you like someone to come around and pick you apart like that? We are all in the same boat in this, really. But some have given up on this more than others. Those most convinced that their inabilities are insurmountable are some of our most dangerous liars. They have totally given up trying to face the truth.
The starting point for everyone is how able one is to “be” or to “be oneself.” The key to this ability is flexibility and honesty, and the average being is full of inflexibility and dishonesty. So when the “spiritual” people tell you that the key to real freedom and ability lies within, they aren't kidding.
However, if you are basically functional in this society, then you have enough on the ball to recognize some of the deceptions around you, and even to do something about them.
Sex and Family
It is probably obvious to most of us that the subject of sex, and to a lesser extent the rearing of children, is strewn with falsehoods and deceptions of magnitude. Most of us experience this as a confusion or uncertainty in these areas.
What is obvious about sex is that it is required to propagate the species. At least our species. Beyond that, the compulsions and inhibitions surrounding this subject seem very considerable. Why?
I would suggest this as a working hypothesis: If you can confuse people sufficiently about sex and family, you can kill a target group of humans without ever firing a shot. Thus we can guess that the origin of these confusions is political in nature.
What is obvious about groups is that we need them to get things done. In most societies, you cannot even build a shelter or feed a family without some sort of group structure.
Thus we can assume that if we are being deceived or confused on this level, the motives for this may be similar to those relating to sex and the family.
Now we get to a layer that is considerably more problematical.
Who, on earth, would want to confuse the whole of mankind about itself? Who cares what mankind thinks about itself? If there is deception on this level, where does it come from?
The obvious answer is that it would come from a non-human source. So now we are getting into an area that is beyond the experience of most of humanity. But not all of humanity! And based on the stories told by that small number of humans who believe they have experienced contacts with non-human (but human-like) species, the consensus is that deception is occurring on this level and that it has to do with, for lack of a better concept, higher-level politics. A word, exopolitics, has recently been coined for this subject.
The deceptions discovered by these contactees extend to the whole subject of how life forms developed and to what extent they have a purpose and if so what that purpose might be.
Though this conflict is often reduced to “evolution versus creationism,” that is a gross oversimplification. If you haven't worked out the deceptions operating at the lower layers, you're not going to get very far with the ones about life forms.
The Physical Universe
In Hubbard's system, this layer lies above the layer of biology, but below the level of the spirit.
This implies a viewpoint that might as well be stated explicitly: Hubbard believed (as do I) that the physical universe was created by the spiritual universe.
In other words, the physical universe is not “dead” and “life” did not arise from it. This assertion challenges some of the claims of science. But I am quite sure that science has no way to substantiate those claims; those claims are just part of the deception.
Again, we see the possibility for political motivations. Beings who are unable to control life as they would like are hoping they can figure out how to do it through physics. But if life is actually in control of physics, then their lack of ability is exposed, and they must begin on the long and arduous journey of spiritual development if they really want the abilities that they wish they had.
The Spiritual Universe
Current models of spirituality normally include the concept of “dimensions.” I have no exact knowledge of where this concept came from or why it is so popular. I know it as a mathematical concept that is not really directly analogous to the spiritual terminology.
The basic concept of a spiritual “dimension” is that it is a layer or realm in “reality” that can only be perceived if a being is at a certain “level of consciousness.”
This is a great way to give people a problem. But is it true?
From one point of view, radio waves could be considered to exist in a different “dimension” because we can't natively perceive them (or so we believe). But with the help of an electronic device, we can perceive radio waves. So doesn't that make them a part of our “dimension?”
Mental energy is another phenomenon that most of us cannot perceive directly. But it is part of our “dimension” too.
In Scientology and in Astral Traveling, beings learn to causatively leave their bodies. When they do this, does this mean that they have “crossed over” into a different dimension? Or does it merely mean that they have gone exterior?
I believe the concept of “dimensions” as they are being taught in various occult practices are an unnecessary complexity being used to hide the fact that those who teach this don't really know what they are talking about.
This layer is usually understood to include concepts of God, Source, Supreme Creator, Prime Mover Unmoved and similar notions.
At this time, I believe the basic deception that is common at this layer is that it is a really important layer. That you are “lost” if you don't “know God.” I don't see any practical reason to take that sort of approach to this layer. This is a very esoteric layer. The truths at this level are difficult for anyone to penetrate or articulate. And in the end, it's just not that important. It's certainly not important enough to start wars over.
The deception seems to be that until you “know God” you cannot know the truth about any of the lower layers of deception. And that's just silly. Of course you can learn more about the lower layers. Look at Dianetics. Look, even at Freudian analysis. These practices aren't ruined just because they have incorrect concepts of God. Their workability lies at the lower layers, and those layers are the most important ones for most people anyway. Just one compulsion, or inhibition, blown by one of these therapies can change a person's whole life around. They work mostly at the first level, the level of Self. But that doesn't mean they aren't powerful. They help a being unravel his own self-deceptions, and that can be very powerful.
There is no such thing as ultimate truth
All truth (which could be defined as a more workable concept of what is) is relative to the level it is found on and applied to.
To be more successful as a being is to find and operate on more truth. But there might be no limit to how successful a being could become. And it is unlikely that there is a limit to how much truth one can find.
Our immediate goal is to get a better grasp of the first four levels. We have global situations to solve, and our solutions will be as workable as they are based on truth and not deception. If we can stabilize the scene on earth, we can take a new look at the stars. But I doubt these words will prevent anyone who really wants to from looking there. After all, there might be some important truths out there, just waiting for one of us to discover. Or perhaps some of us already have discovered some of them.