As you read this, almost certainly you shall be judging it with a mind which is conditioned to some degree. This is not an insult but a statement of fact, for practically everybody is conditioned to the extent that they accept without question the fundamental concepts of existing automatic reality (see Prologue).
It is a convention, to which even the most compassionate, just, and self-sacrificing of humans usually conform, that we must deal with the world as it stands in the inescapable here and now. It is most important that you the reader of this book if it is to mean anything to you and if humanity at large is ever to change itself and its world for the better, recognize this convention as a fallacy.
The conditioning of the great majority of minds so obscures the whole human truth that they fail to recognize it. As a result, however true these minds are to the conventions, they are rendered incapable of judging truly. This failure and incapability are not seen as such by the individual, of course, unless and until that conditioning is cleared away. Only the individual can clear it away and discover human truth – it is our personal responsibility.
Human minds are universally and extensively conditioned, chiefly by the Machine. Therefore that this chapter about conditioning is preceded by only a brief analysis of the Machine that may appear strange. If the Machine largely shapes human thinking, then a penetrating account of how it works would surely also tell us a great deal about how the mind works. But by our conditioning, we are attuned to automatic reality, and incapable of unbiased critical judgment, as pointed out already. Fully conditioned minds accept the world as it is‹a a chaotic mixture of good and bad, love and hate, violence and gentleness, honesty and dishonesty, terror, and tranquility. Criticism of the here and now, or radical thinking, is considered naïve. If the automated mind understands humanly true principles, it is in the same sense that fairy tales are understood. They are not fully understood as having vital human relevance and are judged impracticable. Only when our minds have removed their conditioning can we become fully aware and thus fully able critically and truly to judge the Machine, and this awareness shall surely bring a resolve to change reality accordingly.
(Note: I would remind you of the comment, made early in chapter 1, on the meaning of truth – that it is hard to define, that the meanings I ascribe to it are given in chapters Chapter 13 and Chapter 32, and suggesting that in the meantime you keep an open mind. In the paragraph preceding this note, I mention humanly true principles. By this I mean such truth as is readily knowable and relevant to human well-being and from now on I shall refer to this as human truth, the subject of Chapter 13.)
Up to a point we are all conditioned by instincts. Our automatic human conditioning began when power was given to leaders. Followers, the majority, were gradually given to believe that what they were expected, or forced to do by order of their leaders, was vital and unavoidable activity, rightly to be expected of them. This early orientation of the human mind, by the willful manipulation of intellect, has persisted and influenced all our subsequent thinking. From that time to this, with exceptions already mentioned, we have been trapped in a cage of submission to direction from outside ourselves, a cage whose main bars are those which we willingly hold in place. Such has been the strength of this basic conditioning that while real authority has now passed from leaders to the automaton and the money economy, and has been modified in many ways, we are more than ever submissive to the Machine, whose material advantages increase in inverse proportion to its moral degradations.
We are brought into this reality at birth and become able to think about it at age 4 or 5 when our minds are at their purest, being yet little formed. We have been given certain vague prejudices and emotional attitudes, but I believe that at this stage, provided our minds have been stimulated sufficiently, we are yet independent enough to determine the basic attitude of our thinking. Our brains are arranged as shown in Figure 8, and we have about ten years before us during which, one way or another, our minds will develop their character. We are faced with a reality which our independent post conscious knows to be contrary to truth, or illogical to reason, but which our conscious mind, supported by the utilized part of the post conscious, is likely to believe ultimately cannot be escaped. Which of these do we listen to; where do we position the self? In extreme cases, where childhood reality was so horrific that it could not be fully admitted to consciousness, a person would invent one or more alternative personalities into which to escape. I think that in every case humans contrive to split the self into two co-existing parts, which we try to make complementary though they are essentially contradictory – a hard outer shell which is adjusted to Machine reality by conscious will, and a soft inner core which reflects the benign instinctive emotions and, to varying extent, the conclusions of the independent post conscious.
During our formative years, we are exposed to all the influences of the Machine, from aggressive indoctrination at one extreme to moral exhortation at the other. We play at soldiers and watch war and gangster films; play at shops and learn the value of money; sing hymns, take part in nativity plays, and so have the false imagery of god implanted in our minds. We experience the conflict of the world, feel it in ourselves as we too divide into an inner core and outer shell, and see it in our parents as they strive with each other and are torn in the struggle between trying to give us true guidance and affection and having to cope with the Machine which preoccupies their thoughts and absorbs their energy, falsifying and wasting them.
Consequently, we are very soon inured to, if not made aware of, automatic life’s fundamental contradictions. Humanity’s inner-core morality is represented in the outer world by religion, but religions have compromised that morality in order to establish a platform which the Machine tolerates – the church – no doubt forced to the false conclusion that an adulterated message is better than none. Education is an instituted function which has the task of developing young minds, and it is surely obvious that the only way of doing this is to enable the mind to become fully and truly aware. But education is an institution of the Machine dedicated to preparing our outer shells – to acquainting humanity with, adjusting it to, and preparing it for, its automatic past, present, and future.
So we are conditioned according to instinct and the pattern of existing reality from the very start. The Machine permeates every inch of the fabric of life, and since we are inescapably part of that fabric, it also permeates our minds, especially through its competitive economy. This economy presents an immediate moral dilemma. If we think about it honestly we see clearly that it is immoral. It thrives on inequality and indiscriminately allows extremes of poverty and plenty to exist side-by-side. But we are all dependent on it for our livelihood so that by merely living we support it and contribute to its mastery of us. Yet we have a moral obligation to provide for our families, an obligation which we normally fulfill by going along with the money economy to our best advantage, an obligation which we will find great difficulty in fulfilling if we reject or drop out of the money economy on larger moral grounds.
By being automated we are not made the same. In fact, one of the main attractions of the existing reality is that it is full of variety. But automated individuals have all taken the same course of accepting the Machine with all its contradictions. This puts them in competition, obliged to take opposing, conflicting parts. They may also take very different, if illogical, moral standpoints. Politics is an institution of this reality which endorses the Machine and accepts as the inescapable fact that the competitive money economy is the ultimate governor, but it is also a forum in which true moral concerns, if they can prevail in the competitive debate to the point of compromise, often succeed in modifying (but not fundamentally changing) automatic policy.
We remain conditioned primarily because we are unaware of being conditioned. We remain unaware because we do not allow the true thinking of our independent post conscious to penetrate our consciousness. We close ourselves off from awareness in this way for two main reasons. Firstly we are impressed by the overwhelming existence of the Machine reflected in the way the busy world behaves all around us, confirmed by almost every meeting, conversation, newspaper, book, TV and radio program, debate, and political speech. Also, we are oppressed by the obligation to obey Machine law rather than conscience, the need to be constantly alert to protect ourselves in all ways, the fact of our dependence on an inhuman system which narrows us down to concentrating on its interests, efficiently doing its work, and conforming to its standards, for the sake of survival and in hope of reward.
Secondly, we remain conditioned because it is abnormal to look for truth; it goes against the grain to try and break down well-known reality – however bad it may be, we prefer the devil we know. Our normal reaction to the burdens, impositions, and horrors of this life is not to prevent them but to find compensations. We tell ourselves we have but a short time to live, so we should find satisfaction in the situation as it exists. We try to see its beauty and turn a blind eye to its ugliness. We may feel we have not justified our personal existence unless we have succeeded in ‘being someone’ and ‘getting somewhere.’ We may feel that the most we, or anyone, can do are simply to accept the here and now but try to relieve its sufferings and cheer it up. We may be prepared to sacrifice the true ideal for the welfare of the immediate family, to a local sense of community, and the pleasure of friendship. We may feel it is better to resign ourselves to making the best of a bad job rather than argue the toss. People who are conditioned in these ways find some sort of security, even comfort, in confining themselves to this limited understanding, acceptance, and expectation. And, by the automatic law of supply and demand, this is what they are given by the Machine in the form of information, material goods, services, and entertainment. Thus is the conditioned process reinforced and perpetuated.
In consequence of all these things, the human self learns not to listen to its independent post conscious, because whatever this better part of the mind thinks or rather knows to be true the lesser conscious part thinks otherwise. Humanity presently takes as the basis of human life and always has taken, that which the Machine dictates according to its own automatic scale of false and inappropriate forces and values.
Just consider – if we lived in an ideal state, a human true reality, we would likewise be held to it by the fact that it everywhere existed, but additionally by the fact that it was in tune with our deepest true awareness. It would be easier for us to change to a human true reality than it is to maintain this existing false one, once we had made up our minds to do it. But herein lies our greatest difficulty, that of determining to overcome our conditioning and make up our minds truly.