How to Deal with the End of the World

Or How Societal Collapse Begins with a Broken Heart

When the internet shuts down, and mobile phones stop working, and streetlights go out, and jobs cease to exist, and money becomes valueless, and you are constantly surrounded by people that, for once in your life, you have to have a direct relationship with, you will find that it is not scarcity that you need to learn to deal with, or the army, or the collapse of ‘democracy’, or the end of an oil-based economy. It is your self. The following short guide is a means to prepare yourself for a time when large chunks of who you are - your habits, reflexive desires, fantasies and repetitive thought patterns - are, through having no ‘external’ object to work on - annihilated.

UNTHOUGHT The fear and desire of self-in-charge (aka dominator consciousness) feed off brain chatter and associative thought trash. Unless you can master your thinking and the restless mechanical movement of your attention, you will be paralysed by thought-fear at the obliterating fact of total loss rising before you and unable to hold back from agonies of craving, anger, guilt or panic brought on by thinking during loss.

Use the city to practice thought and attention mastery. Walk through the metro enjoying your breathing more than the adverts, refuse to participate in gossip. See how pornographic news-violence has power over your attention - and in seeing this, take the power back. Allow the urge to rubber-neck disaster slip through your system.

Practice melting thoughtlessly into the strangeness and actuality of ordinary phenomena. The entire universe exists in the space between ordinary things, vast and strange. To see it is thoughtless awe, to travel across it, adventure, to express it well, art. And all this, of all places, in the kitchen.

SEX-EMOTION Unless you are in contact with the delighted love-feeling that contact with the opposite sex naturally bubbles up (regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not), or able to feel and let slip away sexual frustration or its money-business-victory substitutes,, you'll be a slave to murderous sex thoughts. This will be the same as now - unable to tell the gentlemen from the beast, prey to maulers, restless, cold or violent - but, when civilisation crashes, without social checks to keep these insanities suppressed or locked up, they'll make a howling nightmare of life.

Use the city to practice the awareness that precedes automatic glances towards stimulus-response tits and arses. Practice scriptlessly, wantlessly facing the opposite sex in spontaneous ungrasping unknowing. Practice loving when you most don't feel like it. Practice letting go of the constant clench of wanting.

VIOLENCE is built on sexual frustration (in that the connected warmth of love-making is without violence), and depends on restlessness and expectation. In civilisation violence is mostly anger and irritation, and leads to shame and vibe corruption; but when the bubble pops its going to get grotesque.

Learn how to deal with your anger. Not by the count-to-ten effort of self-control, but easily; by feeling your restlessness, and looking out for the tiny hope-want expectations which cause frustration and fury. Learn to remind yourself, when angry (or afraid or depressed), that no situation is so bad that you cannot laugh at it, or find it interesting.

Facing other people's violence requires instant discernment, the subtle art of calm, watchful prisoner’s defiance, super-sensitive threat-awareness or the death-fearless chucking of all chips to the wind in order to defend someone else. You can practice most of these in the arenas of cruelty that civilisation currently offers; the office, the factory and the family.

FEAR stands before every nightmare you'll face as the mask is ripped off the face of the world. Fear, first of all, of losing things you think or feel you have - money, dignity, possessions, qualifications, power, status or beauty.

To overcome attachment to the things you have, seek out situations in which you cannot use or rely on them; situations that you fear or really ‘don’t like’ - aloneness, poverty, unscripted theatre, nature, extreme boredom and the company of the young, the dying and the mad are the classics, but everyone has their own private hell which, sooner or later, must be faced. Better to do it in your own way, now, than to be propelled into it by civ-pop.

Underneath fear of losing what you have, is the atomic fear of losing who you feel you are. This aversion to the emptiedness of unbeing is a constant background anxiety or tension which lies at the root of all fears, even the tiniest eruptions of anxiety or violence. To face it is partly a question of self-mastery - learning to let your self slip into inner feeling and full sensory awareness of the present-moment - partly a question of love - exposing yourself completely to another and allowing that gaze to raise your game - and partly a question of honestly - not mere confession, but the unjudging turning-towards of self-awareness, watching the self as it thinks and feels.

It cannot be stressed enough that your own particular practice depends less on any one of the tips mentioned here as on facing your own particular selfmare. You might find it easy, for example to walk through a corpse-strewn battlefield, but play clunkily with children, have secret sexual shames, and talk down to your mother. Or you might be a yogic master, able to suck water up your anus, but be afraid of any kind of definite judgement, uncomfortable around the working class and weird about money.

The super-intimate skills of self-mastery are not acquired by any specific effort, psychology, magic, education, community-action or self-knowledge, but by actively seeking out criticism, uncertainty and the experience of unself, and by practicing, again and again, letting go of self, feeling out and allowing subtle internal pain, listening to its message and then courageously, selflessly acting before the manifold opportunities normal life offers to lose your presence, break down, throw a wobbler or behave like a dick.

Objections:

1. All this has been said before. ‘There are many paths of gentle wisdom.’
2. Self-mastery is just effort and denial.
3. Do you have children? All very easy if you are single. Having kids is a unique challenge.
4. What about community? We should focus on our external lives.
5. You over-emphasise sex. Sex is not so important.
6. What about practical matters - where should I live, what should I learn?
7. There is more to be said.
8. Its not the end of the world yet.

Responses:

1. There are, of course, many penetrating spiritual teachings of pedigree - but it is often difficult to apply their lack of specific guidance - on dealing with pointless work, ‘causeless’ emotion, sexual apathy or desperation, raising children in a virtual environment and wotnot - to one’s actual, chaotic and modern lifestyle. We do not live on Zen mountains and in Hindu fields. This is not a problem with the teachings of course, as they still get so finely to the point (particularly Advaita, Zen and Tao) but a great deal of dressing up and being special surrounds spiritual tradition and the wily western mind is, if nothing else, a genius at subtly missing the point.

Nothing quite hits the sweet spot (or puts its finger on the wurm) like the truth fresh, which is why contemporary ‘paths’ (if you can find one that is true) are more direct. This is why most great teachers are not revered until they’re safely dead.


2. Self-control and self-mastery are not the same. Self control (as Krishnamurti spent his life saying) is one part of the self – an idea or emotion – controlling the rest - which is effort and suppression. Self mastery is the whole context, or unself, in charge. The difference between the two is both phenomenally subtle and unbelievably vast (or as Dennis Potter put it, ‘both trivial, and important, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter.’)

3. Having or not having children has nothing to do with self-mastery. In fact if they ‘challenge practice differently’, (or more than anything else, which is not true - as millions of suicidal or insane - but childless - people testify) if they did, then this would make them less of a barrier to self-mastery. The more anxiety, stress, hurt and annoyance something or someone causes you, the greater the opportunity to face down your self – which is all to the good, as mastering your moods, irritations, selfish fears (meaning the smothering controlling ones some mothers have and mask as ‘care’) or blithe hardnessnes of heart is essential if you are to raise a child that doesn’t spend its whole life trying to even perceive the vibe-conditioning your self warped it with as a bairn - let alone deal with it.

4. Community is a good testing ground for self-mastery. All your insanities and stupidities will out if you have a direct relationship with your fellows. Few of us do have such a large direct-relationship group though – but nearly all of us have romantic relationships – the community of two.

But it is also a red-herring to suggest that one first look externally to solve the problems of self – as it is not about where you look, but who, at any particular moment, is doing the looking – and not even finally look – because when your wife turns her face to the wall and you feel the whole dread universe between you, or when a writhing monster has taken possession of your child and is pushing all your buttons, or when you are walking through a forest and are not mad overwhelmed by the weird vibrating god-beauty of it, or when you just cannot stop yibber-yabbering inside about something someone said about you – the solution, before external action, is an inward release. Without this release action leads to problems.

5. In theory, its true that relationship problems and sex are not so important. In practice just about everyone yearns for romantic love, has or has had chronic relationship problems, are absolutely cripped with obsession or encoldened by boredom and the experience of ’normality‘. Solving all this is clearly a vital part of life. But I am making a fundamental distinction between sex (good or bad) and love-making:

Sex is a restless, reality-excluding mental-emotional tight-grip focus on a self-created image: no different to masturbation and porn – there just happens to be someone else there.

Bestial sex-want is never satisfied and only creates problems. It is violent, desperate, quickly bored but never satisfied and can only be controlled by cold brain-clamp. Sex with another (and constant sex-fantasy) creates distance between you, spike, irritation, annoyance, all sexual problems and many (perhaps most) social problems.

Making love is an experience of total sensory floodout – the 99.9% of the sense data normally excluded by the mental-emotional self is perfectly allowed in a state of self-annihilating devotion and near hideous strange-delight. This is no different from the full-scale wide-attention life of ├╝ber-woo which surrounds it.

Transdimensional animal love-making (and constant woo) creates liquid ease, lack of cling and creative amazement all day – but to reach the garden you have to be able to know how to give up your self – and you have to want to – which is impossible while men and women are addicted to their silly plans and schemes.

Love-making, in this sense, is never a refuge for the self – and it lasts all day. Sex always is.
(I’ve made the distinction clearer here than it sometimes is in practice though. The restless sex-brain can interpose itself into love-making and present lovers can bring each other out of the virtual world.)

There are, of course, other ways to overcome self than making-love or really being with the opposite sex – there’s the whole of your life, for a start! – but sex and love-making are a huge part of men and women’s lives, and must be addressed if self is to be mastered (or allowed to be swept sweetly away).

6. Obviously it is a good idea to find somewhere you can live through the crash and, more importantly a supportive community with whom you can make the transition (one reason why ‘the hills’, often comprised of communities hostile to outsiders, might not be the first place to head).

Equally obvious is the necessity of acquiring post-crash skills, such as farming, foraging and tool-making, while you still can. Looming lacunas of unemployment will provide more than enough time to learn something valuable and the internet will be around long enough to help.

But these skills are secondary to self-mastery for four reasons. Firstly, you cannot work effectively with others, if your self is getting in the way. Secondly the use of skills is a small part of your life - and self in charge during world collapse will make every other part hell. Thirdly, it is not necessarily the end of society that you must prepare for - a time when the ability to bee-keep will be at a premium - but the long, complex, untidy, transition, which, besides continuing to reward skills you already have, will demand self-mastered judgement, courage and sensitivity over the ability to trap rabbits. And finally, there is a very good chance that, in the coming horror, you will die.

If your self is unmastered, this will be a hideous experience.

7. Agreed. There is much to discover at this point – where the extreme meets the ordinary, and where the individual self meets its own, particular shadow. And much by way of pearls to bring back too. Not just clunky blog-posts like this, but electric weird straight line hit to the good thing michaelangelo-standard comics, timeless melodies with neptunian beats, dandelion-mimicing architraves, vigilante plumbing and truly miraculous trousers.

8. It is always the end of the world.