Society is a set of rules that we are given. It tells us how to view the world, what to believe, how to act, what is possible, what is good, what is right.
Society governs not just how we behave and interact, but it governs our minds. It’s inside of us, at the deepest level.
Like language, society and the beliefs it contains didn’t just happen all at once. Society is more like an organism that has evolved over thousands of years. And, like an organism, its main priority is keeping itself alive. Its rules create its structure; so, as the people of society internalize/obey its rules, society will preserve itself.
The problem is, not all of the rules ingrained in us are good for our individual fulfillment or for our collective fulfillment. It’s nobody’s fault, that’s just how it is.
And don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of society. It has glued together the infrastructure for this awesome fuckin’ world that we live in. And while its norms have evolved a lot over time, I think that there is still a lot of room for improvement in how society’s rules lead to individual and collective fulfillment.
And here is what I want to offer — there is a place outside of society. There is a place completely outside of the norms, beliefs, and actions approval-stamped by society. This place exists within your mind, your way of being, and your relationship to the world around you. And if you choose to step out there, you’re in for a wild fuckin’ ride.
Every rule in society is an arbitrary construct. Wear clothes when interacting with other humans. If you’re a man, don’t feel sexual arousal around another man; if you do, it means there’s something wrong with you. Having sex with many beautiful woman will earn men status. Having sex with many men will lose women status. If you’re in a romantic relationship, don’t feel sexual attraction to anyone else. Expressing emotions is weak. Don’t be the only person dancing. The only person you can share meaningful touch with is your romantic partner. A woman can’t have a penis. Money equals success. Magic isn’t real. Life happens TO me. Consciousness is nothing more than neurochemical firings in the brain. There is nothing Greater out there. Nothing exists after death. Coincidences are random and meaningless. Intellect is the only valid tool to understand reality.
I’m not saying any of these beliefs are right or wrong — I’m just saying that they are deeply ingrained in all of us; we can challenge all of them; and we can choose which ones to inherit and which ones to reform.
Society is a box. And you can step outside that box and craft your own rules and beliefs.
I think on some level everyone knows this; everyone knows that there is a place outside of society where our mind can exist. Where there’s another way of being, of expressing, of viewing reality. And venturing into the place outside the box requires that we ‘take control of our minds’ as Terrence McKenna put it.
Most people don’t go outside of the box, because it’s a wild wild west out there. You can go in any direction. The safety net is gone.The guarantees are no longer there. And you can sink. But you can swim too; and you can even fly. That’s the gamble.
Society gives order, safety, insurance. Thinking like the hive makes us feel sane. And even deeply flawed order is a lot less scary than the pure chaotic unknown that can exist outside of the box, because that unknown could contain both our wildest dreams and our most insanity-inducing terrors.
Freedom takes courage.
I believe that there’s some part of each of us that’s curious what’s outside the box. And I believe that there’s some thing in each of us that wants to BE without the constraints and shackles of society on it. This thing is big, bigger than you can ever imagine. It is pinioned down only by shame telling us we should be more like ‘the norm’, and the fear of breaking any of the rules that have been beaten into us. And I believe that giving birth to this thing is how each of us finds ultimate freedom in becoming truly ourselves.
In my opinion, this human adventure is a game. And the whole point of the game is to take the risk to ‘take control of my own mind’ and unshackle the BIG inside of me so that I can create a reality that is as authentic as possible for myself, while creating relationships that are healing, harmonious, and enlivening with my family, friends, and community, while impacting society (and its baseline set of rules) as positively as I possibly can.
It is possible to live in society and to deeply contribute to society without enslaving your mind to it.