Module 4C

#4 WHAT MEANS WILL END IT? Where do I begin?

4C: Neutralizing the Power Source: Reversing the Momentum of Insatiable Feeling

Commenting on Malcolm Lowry’s classic Under the Volcano—where the main character spends the majority of the novel drunk—Stephen Spender notes:

“…being chosen by one’s addictions means that there is also a postponed choice, not in one’s own hands, but in one’s heart, though unknown to oneself, the choice which decides whether one is damned in Hell, or whether – without one knowing it oneself – one is seeking redemption…”

AlertEXTREME Difficulty Alert!


We do not need more power to dispel the mental obsession to drink; we simply need to lower the energy requirement necessary to dispel the mental obsession to drink. When we stop generating the Self-Images that support the mental obsession the energy requirement no longer exists. We pull the plug on the Addiction rather opposing it, trying to tap into a higher source of power, or transmuting the power of perpetually occurring emotions. To Look for Our Addiction: we need a Journey back to the Origin of Self where we reverse the momentum of Insatiable Feeling as it begins.

“You can’t play what you don’t see.”
—National ChessMaster Dan Heisman


4A Opposing Power or Surrendering to Power 4B Transmuting Emotions into Usable Power 4C Neutralizing the Power Source
We either attempt to dispel the mental obsession to drink with will power or try to enlist the aid of a power outside ourselves. Through a new understanding of power as self-existent in the situation—and not coming from within or without—access the power of perpetually occurring emotions. We no longer seek out more power to dispel the mental obsession to drink; we simply lower the energy required to dispel that mental obsession. We pull the plug on addiction rather than opposing it, tapping into a higher source of power, or transmute the power of perpetually occurring emotions.

THE SELF-RENEWING PROPOSITION: The means to implement the solution to any problem of human suffering should be crafted skillfully enough to constantly renew itself in the manner of a scientific hypothesis. Unlike a scientific hypothesis, however, the self-renewing proposition must be taken from the details of the investigator’s life. The proposition will also demand that the investigator continually re-evaluate themselves as their relationship with that paradox changes. It is in the process of discovering and renewing that relationship that true security is found.

To keep the momentum of Self-Centered desire from developing in the first place, we neutralize the opposing power at its source:

Strategy 3

Before we introduce our third strategy, we examine “Feeling” a little bit further.


All Feeling is Partial

“If I can feel the sun in my eyes and the rain on my face, why can’t I feel love?”
—Joan Armatrading, 1976.

We live in a vibrant, complex world of sensations. An elementary list of five senses ignores not only the varied responses to light, taste, and sound, but at least a half dozen other conscious senses and numerous receptors that relay information that never reach consciousness. Our external and internal environments provide information in the form of energy that is converted by sense receptors into action potentials—electrical signals that our brain eventually organizes into a perception. But not all the information gets through. There is a certain threshold of intensity and duration that immediately truncates the signals that we will eventually experience as a perception. Our physical senses are set up to screen out or modify certain stimuli, an evolutionary necessity that allows us to see a workable composite of the world around us—our nervous system would be overwhelmed if all the information got through at once. Our privation begins at this most fundamental level: all Feeling is partial.

Even with limited information about the world, Perception still creates a clear enough picture to support our day to day activities. So we may stumble through our lives blissfully unaware that the way the world appears to us is not the way it actually exists. Fortunately, the advent of modern neuroscience has helped change materialistic misconceptions about the way our central nervous system interprets the world. The brain is no longer considered a passive recorder of information, but an active participant in the formation and evaluation of a sensory composite at the moment of experiencing. Brain functions by bringing order to the information relayed to it from the other senses—it has no choice but to do so; that is brain’s job. (The craving-brain theorists may take partial consolation: the brain craves order, not alcohol or drugs.)

The brain’s mandate leads to some peculiar phenomena. In a commonly cited example, during our normal visual experience four types of eye movements coordinate to ensure that images fall on corresponding points in each retina, thereby sustaining binocular vision. A sudden jerky movement known as saccades can create very small but very real holes in our visual picture. Why don’t we see the saccadic gaps? Some theorists suggest that we may not notice them because the brain fills them in before our conscious experience, literally smoothing out the picture we have of our World.

Quite a wonderful ability that we have. But to what extent does the brain go to “smooth out” the picture we have of our Selves? Are higher levels of organization within our consciousness set up to screen out or modify certain thoughts and emotions, allowing us to see a workable composite of who we think ourselves to be? If there are “mental holes” in our Self-Image, does our mind fill in the gaps with a rationalization or ignore them by repression, and does it do so automatically and without our knowledge? How far does the brain go in its primary impulse for order?

In the next Diagram, En represents the Psycho-Physical Energy necessary to maintain a State of Self at several different levels of functioning.

From Bewilderment to Ambivalence

CAUSE & EFFECT: Before we discuss this rather challenging Diagram, we need to bring our notion of cause and effect—knowledge of which remains essential to implement the sovereign power to choose freely—into full maturity.

Every cause has more than one effect
Every effect has more than one cause
Nothing that changes through time is self-existent.

“Self-existence” here is both the ultimate ignorance and the ultimate moral offense.

Observed Object = Observed Self ~Factual Self—the conceptually existent Self recognized as such.
Conceived Object = Conceived Self ~Self-Image—the inherently existent Self unrecognized as such.


Level of Pathological Ambivalence E3: It is in Addiction where we see the Self operating in the most extreme circumstances: acute attachment to the “I”—the Self-Image, and the “mine”—the manifestations of Self-Image, lead to a lethal confusion of “I” and “Mine.” At this level of Pathological Ambivalence an enormous amount of psychophysical energy—E3—is needed to maintain the contradictions of simultaneously wanting to drink and wanting to stop. Active or abstinent, it takes work being an Addict—much more work than just being your Self.

Level of Manifestation, E2: The conceptual, common sense appearance of that separate “I” has great practical utility and we cannot function without it, but a lifetime of habitually referring to ourselves as if we exist independent of our Body-Mind and its environment (not any environment but the one that activates our capacity to respond)—reinforced by the subject-object structure of language—has conditioned us to believe that the “I” exists inherently with a “life of its own,” and so does everything that is “mine”—including my desire, my anger, my jealousy, my pride— we will call this our Level of Manifestation, E2.

Level of Appearance, E1: Although the Self exists as a dynamic interaction of Body-Mind with its Environment (a series of dependently related Events and Processes), it appears to us as a static, self-sufficient entity, an “I” (independent of perception or conceptual designation) independent of a Body-Mind and its Environment—we will call this our Level of Appearance, E1. For example, ask yourself “Who is reading this book?” and you will not answer, “My Body is reading this book,” or “My Mind is reading this book”; you will reply, “I am reading this book.” You may even forget that the object “book”—a part of the environment—is as much a component of the action of “reading” as is the subject “I.”

Bewilderment of Origin, E0: We begin our journey back to the center of the Self by proposing for just a moment that the power of “Self-Will” cannot be sustained precisely because it is anchored not in a stable center of Self, but a transient Self that changes with Causes and Conditions. The Cause: Body-Mind. The Condition: the Environment. In dependence on Body-Mind and its environment, the Self rises up. We see the World and we see our Selves in it—that is the essence of what we are. Our energetic baseline of functioning, a human being stripped down to its psychophysical bones—we will call this our Bewilderment of Origin, E0. Here we are “in the zone,” and have no psychological need defend ourselves—not a primitive state devoid of the richness of humanity, but a state of freedom to think and feel without attachment to our thoughts and feelings.

Our divisions are logical ones, not causal. No Self-Image appears apart from Self; no Self exists apart from the Self-Image—appearance and existence co-arise interdependently. The “Self-Image” is a more energetically demanding level of functioning than Self, and has two complementary forms—“I” and “mine.” Simply maintaining a personal identity—the “I”—against the contradictions of daily living— Level of Appearance—is tough enough, but at the level that AA refers to a “Selfishness” all our survival instincts are brought to bear on anything within the Self-Image—the “mine,”—Level of Manifestation “Instincts run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their destructive drinking,” and the greatest instinct run wild in itself is the instinct to preserve our Self-Image. No Self-Image exists apart from its manifestation; no manifestations of the Self-Image exist apart from the Self-Image—“I” and “mine” co-arise interdependently.

EXERCISE 4C: EXTINGUISHING THE MOMENTUM OF CHOICE: A permanent, remainderless extinction of addiction is the only acceptable result of the Path. Do not settle for less because others settle for less. The ultimate explanation: First addiction— contact—feeling ~ craving ~ grasping—becoming, (suffering)—Changing your idea of what it means to be a person; Second addiction—Watch the cycle of alternating self-annihilation (never again/who cares) and self-perpetuation (who cares/never again) in the cycle of addiction.

Having preferences at any given moment is a birthright of consciousness, but attaching to (“MINE”) and identifying with (“I”) a specific stream of preferences over time is a recipe for disaster: the Self-Image takes on a life of its own, one that it mistakenly sees as separate from the preferences that created it. In this manner I and mine become pathologically confused and we become separated from our own addictions. Within the experience of like and dislike a belief arises that there must be an “I” that exists apart from those preferences—liking, disliking. Thought creates the thinker. This is why we cannot locate the person who makes the decision or the moment of decision; there is no deciding “I” and no moment of decision; the moment of decision is not conscious, neither is the birth of self.

As such, the Self-Image (Thinker) is just another Image (Thought) that has risen to predominance among all the other Images recorded by Factual Memory and propelled forward by The Momentum of Choice. And because the Self-Image is just another Image, because the Thinker is created by Thought, because the Addict is created by the Addiction, we cannot locate the moment a decision is made because we cannot locate the person who makes the decision. Strangely enough, William James, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience and alleged godfather to AA verified this for himself by simply looking for the moment of decision. To more fully understand how this plays out in real life, we must keep in mind that any choice that is made in the present and remembered—positive, negative, or indifferent—deposits a residue of Volitional Memory within the momentum of past choices that has the capacity to become part of future choices. Such a conditioning process may either shrink or expand our perceived options, but a subtle distortion of the Choosing Self is always taking place. The proliferating Momentum of Choice created as the Self continually moves towards, away from, or deliberately ignores what is being experienced generates even more Self-Images that are continually constructed and deconstructed under our intermittent attention. We are both builder and building.

4C Neutralizing the Power Source: Reversing the Momentum of Insatiable Feeling

Some reminders from our other two strategies:

If Factual Memory does not fragment Craving, then Feeling lives and dies in the moment
—the Self that has the Craving would now be the same Self that resists the Craving.
A mental blank spot could not arise
If Volitional Memory does not give continuity to Grasping,
then Craving arises, abides, and subside in the moment.
A mental obsession could not arise.

Recall that: 1. Perception captures a World of sights, sounds, colors, smells, and tastes and presents a composite Image to BodyMind; 2. Memory records that Image.

Body-Mind + World Relationship #1

If thought as the response of memory does not enter into the movement of sensation,
then Self-Centered desire does not arise, and neither could a phenomenon of craving.

Using our framework of choice model, we have successfully explained three key aspects of the phenomenon of addiction.

References: Buddhism & Psychiatry and Understanding the Mind

Now we dig even deeper. After any perceptual synthesis time opens up—briefly—in which there is a free evaluation of the “object,” leading to a free choice in our response. The iconoclastic Jiddu Krishnamurti moves similarly: “Desire arises from the movement…

Perceptual Synthesis

Stop it here where time opens up between perceptual synthesis and thought as the response of memory and “if one is totally attentive then thought does not enter into the movement of sensation” —And neither does Selfish desire.

Can thought record the Factual Self without generating a Self-Image?
The ultimate “instinct gone astray” is transferring the instinct to protect the Factual Self to the Self-Image.


“Instead, a volitional gap was opening up between the thought of drinking and the act of taking the first drink, a discontinuity that I had never observed during my first bout with alcohol; perhaps it had always been there, but I just didn’t see it. Within such a suspension of intent I did not feel under the grip of any compulsion, but instead felt as if offered a brief moment to decide whether or not to drink.”


We are the addiction. (NOT IDENTIFICATION) What doesn’t work: embracing the idea of nonSelf; if Self-Centeredness is the problem then we must attack Self-Centeredness; that unitive experiences somehow more valuable than the sense of isolation, separateness—why, or are these just to applications in the same Self?

At this deepest level, you cannot decide to forget the Self-Image and remember the Factual Self: you must exhaust the very notion of a separate Self by a constant questioning process.

When you have understood addiction you have understood yourself. The arising, abiding, and abating of all human suffering follows the same fundamental pattern as an addiction no self owns addiction; addiction doesn’t own self; causes and conditions; intensely producing. Thoughts without a thinker; craving without the addict. When you can find nothing, it is over. When you stop hurting yourself. When weaknesses become strengths. New Promises: You will no longer have to forgive, because you will not feel the injury. You no longer have to react to the world, the world will react to you. When you move from intuitively knowing how to handle situations that used to baffle you to creating situations that baffle others. When you end the war within, the world will never war against you.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have completed the first four stages of A Crash Course in Being Human and the full Paradigm Shift Roadmap

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