Let us state here that control itself is neither bad nor wrong. We learn to control our bodies so we can function in the world. Tools must be controlled to be useful. Our ability to control and manipulate objects has opened up all of science, engineering, production, and the arts. The problem occurs when our desire to control the objects of this world is extended to the desire to control other living beings. This is when control enters dangerous territory. One of the most powerful foundations of human drama is 1 having control, 2 losing control, then 3 regaining control.
Consider Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Almost every episode involved an alien force causing Kirk to lose control of the ship. Through stealth, wisdom, and luck, he managed to regain control by the end of the hour.
All empires, including the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and our own American Empire, have reflected this drama of battling for control over power, wealth, resources and even salvation. In most social animals, control is the foundation of status. A pecking order reveals the hierarchy — who is above, and who is below.
Those above control those below. And rank has its privileges. The Alpha in any pack or troop controls the behavior of others, and has first choice of food, mates, and resources. Because we are social animals, almost all of the structures of our society reflect this hierarchical arrangement. It is a biological drive as well as a social drive. The more status you have, the more likely is your survival. Humans have extended the control of resources to vast territories and resources.
Resource control has been the basis for most of the wars in the modern world, and they continue unabated today, right up to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Ukraine. Control is an attempt to achieve safety. When we feel unsafe, we are anxious and defended. When we feel safe, we can relax and open.
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We seek absolute control, in order to have absolute safety. However, we have no real control over other people, or our environment, despite our attempts and our delusions. Fear of every kind creates the desire for safety, to feel safe or safer. This manifests the attempt to assert control over others, our environment, and ourselves. All of these attempts ultimately fail, because control is a delusion. This failure triggers more fear, and more attempts to gain control. The cycle becomes an endless addiction.
As this cycle escalates, humans narrow their vision. The truth is that there is a huge and complex spectrum of factors in every situation and relationship. There are a myriad of subtle influences and nuances that influence every single situation. As situations and relationships become more complex, and as the rate of change increases, fear increases, both at the level of the individual and globally.
Control is so much a part of our thinking that we even use it to control ourselves. We are taught that with sufficient self-control, we can achieve our goals, meet the standards set by others, and gain personal advantage. We push ourselves relentlessly to fulfill our promises, and jump through hoops to make ourselves successful, or at least acceptable. We threaten ourselves with pain, self-judgment, and self-punishment as a way to force ourselves to behave in particular ways. Instead of treating ourselves and others with love, we dole out tiny measures of approval as a reward for proper behavior.
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To compensate for this self-abuse and lack of self-love, we tend to over-indulge in pleasures. We then punish ourselves with shame and guilt.
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In the next article in this series, we will discuss the possibilities for freeing ourselves from the Control Matrix, and the true liberation that can come from doing so. John Jones is a life coach and spiritual teacher with clients in 25 countries. He teaches seminars on self-empowerment, personal transformation, and methods of healing. He works with executives in organizations to solve organizational, operational, and human resource problems at their source. His passion is empowering people to optimize their awareness and improve the clarity of their discernment.
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With his partner, Carista Luminare, Ph. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, but considers himself to be a world citizen. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Excellent article John. I can share from personal experience that most powerful and transformative aspects of my life have come from my actively choosing to not be in control. I think one of the antidotes to the need for control which as you said so well, is an illusion anyway is learning to be fully present.
Thank you, Michael. I appreciate your comments, and agree that acceptance is an antidote to control. He knew the medium was the message. And in the trajectory of post-lunar rock and roll, we can vividly trace the lines of our dark American comedown, culminating in the crash of the electric social order we might call our cosmic civilization. Dylan rightly described rock and roll as atomic music, as absolute and immediate as the Bomb; Bowie created and detonated space rock, just overhead, in the charged atmosphere of a televisual age.
This apocalypse—this unveiling—furnished Bowie with a brand-new way of shattering the old norms, and subverting the place of manliness in society. At his nadir in Hollywood, an obsessed and paranoid Bowie had his swimming pool exorcised.
Bowie had discovered just how deep were the eldritch sensibilities the electric age had retrieved. By , flush with government funding, Parsons spoke openly of using rocket fuel to reach the moon; by , together with L. Bowie did. But their alien offspring was the emptiness of space itself, an annihilating black hole where no one, as the space horror of the s informed us, could hear you scream. But the crash was nowhere near over. By the s, the universal vision of space in the traumatized American imagination had become, outside the precincts of Trekkies and Jedi enthusiasts, fully dystopian.
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Space became a metaphor for an inner void that long survived the death of those it swallowed. Manson marked the end of the line of popular post-lunar occultism as a high art form. His erstwhile producer and mentor Trent Reznor found far greater success cleaning up, working out, and turning resolutely inward in his music, too, culminating in an Academy Award for his muted, ASMR-like sonic textures in his soundtrack to The Social Network. Jobs and the planetary social media enclosure his devices made possible augured a new anti-heroic age, one that oriented life around the archival memory of machines, not the imaginative power of humans.
He was the last electric-age charismatic. He introduced us to a force that swiftly destroyed the Dionysian and Apollonian power of art and genius as it indeed had been known to Romantics since Goethe. In so doing, Jobs consummated and then obsolesced the unique role of the man in erotic and imaginative command that had controlled the patterns of lust and violence in the electric age. True, some women strain in this respect to become the new men, egged on by electric-age institutions and elites desperate to sustain some charge.
As Leonard Shlain argues in his profound oddity of a book The Alphabet versus The Goddess , the gnostic concept of the female as a pantheistic power, so in tune with the electric age, finds a potent rival in the cosmic masculine of ages of the Word—where the Sun, in astrological terms, shines brighter than the Moon.
With its infinite recordations, digital augurs a humbling of all would-be heroes. All must take their place within the totality—the finality—of its universal archives. And so, fifty years after Apollo 11 returned to earth, the dawning age that leaves the moon landing in the past plunges us into a profound dissatisfaction with electric-age stories about what ultimate role it is that we play. In this uncanny impasse Americans come face to face with a Great Disenchantment unlike anything we have ever experienced—one that will retrieve for young men and women, whatever their readiness, a monumental rendezvous with destiny.
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