the more resolutely you plumb the question “Who or what am I?”—the more unavoidable is the realization that you are nothing at all apart from everything else. Yet again, the more you strive for some kind of perfection or mastery—in morals, in art, or in spirituality—the more you see that you are playing a rarified and lofty form of the old ego-game, and that your attainment of any height is apparent to yourself and to others only by contrast with someone else’s depth or failure. This understanding is at first paralyzing. You are in a trap—in the worst of all double-binds—seeing that any direction you may take will imply, and so evoke, its opposite. Decide to be a Christ, and there will be a Judas to betray you and a mob to crucify you. Decide to be a devil, and men will unite against you in the closest brotherly love. Your first reaction may be simply, “To hell with it!” The only course may seem to be to forget the whole effort and become absorbed in trivialities, or to check out of the game by suicide or psychosis, and spend the rest of your days blabbering in an asylum. But there is another possibility. Instead of checking out, let us ask what the trap means. What is implied in finding yourself paralyzed, unable to escape from a game in which all the rules are double-binds and all moves self-defeating?

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A quote saved on Dec. 30, 2015.


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