The False Self
You've all been conditioned, every one of you. You've all been conditioned. Okay. What was the first and most important thing that you've all been conditioned for? You've been conditioned for many things, but without this thing, you couldn't be conditioned for anything else. It's the thing that makes it possible for you to receive further conditioning. Somebody tell me what this thing is, it's a word. I'll give you a hint: it's the first thing we all condition our pets for, for the same reason. What is this thing we condition our pets for? It is... Obedience. Yes. Obedience. We're conditioned for obedience.
Who did this? Who did this to you? Who conditioned you for this? First? Your parents. Yes. Yes, your parents and then your teachers, principals if you had any spunk at all, and then... Your bosses, yes, your bosses. Or ROTC drill instructors. Detention supervisors. Priests, nuns. Jails, reform school, whatever it took. You learned obedience.
And how was it done? How was it done? At the very beginning, how was it done? What were the chief methods, two methods, the main methods that they used to do this to you? Unless you grew up in some hippie household, breaking all the rules. God bless you if that's so. But for all the rest of you. Physical violence, of course. Physical violence. Basic. Maybe not even hitting you. Maybe just holding you back. Physically preventing you from doing something. From pissing on the floor. From touching yourself in an inappropriate way. Getting up on the kitchen counter. Whatever it was that your instinct, your primal nature, told you to do, because remember, at this point you're a wild creature. You are wild, you are an animal. You're not just like an animal, you are an animal. And your instinct speaks to you, and you listen. Your instinct tells you to do something, and then they grab you, and they say "Don't do that!". They physically hold you back.
And then they use the other weapon, what's the other weapon? The other weapon is... Fear. Fear of what? Fear of physical violence? Yes, but more than that, more important than that. Fear of losing something, something that you desperately need, because you're so small. You're so fragile, so vulnerable. Without it, even for a second, you panic, you have to have it, what is that thing they're withholding? Love. Unconditional love. They make love conditional. They say... Okay, if they're real shits they say "You do that again and we won't love you. Piss on the floor one more time and we won't love you." If they're intellectuals, if they read Dr. Spock, they're trickier than that, they say "We'll love you more if don't do that. Don't piss on the floor and we'll really love you then." But it's the same thing.
And what is happening as you're learning to cooperate? What is happening inside you? What are you learning to do? In the same way that they're holding you back, you also learn to hold yourself back. You learn to... Suppress your basic primal drives. You learn to create the false self. The false self. The mask. Yes. Yes. Yes sir. Yes, thank you, sir. May I have another, please. You cower behind the false self that gets you the approval and the love, the conditional love that you so desperately need. You cower, in fear, fear of the most terrible threat, fear of expulsion from the love of the tribe, the only tribe you know, the nuclear family. This is your tribe, and you can be punished, excommunicated, banished to the darkness of non-love. And so you create the false self. First for them, first for your parents. And then, as you get better... When they can take you out in public without embarrassment, and parade you around, and say "Look at our little Lord Fauntleroy! Look at our little junior! Look how well behaved he is. How he follows our every command." Of course they would never say this to you, or even in front of you, but they say it to each other, to the other parents. They say "Oh, we're having such success, she's so obedient, so well trained. She never cries anymore. She says 'please' and 'thank you.'" Look at the false self! Look at how perfect it is. Look how perfectly it imitates us, who are also conditioned.
And then you're ready for what? For school. Yes. Then you're ready for school. You're ready for real obedience. Obedience to the dictates of what? What will you learn in school? Who will you become useful to, whose skills will you learn? The skills of your future... Bosses, yes, your future bosses, your future masters, who will give you much more difficult commands. Just like our pets, who first have to learn the most basic obedience. To piss where they're told, to eat where they're told, using the basic methods, physical violence, fear of withdrawal of love, and rewards. Good dog, bad dog. Good dog, bad dog. Here's a cookie. You can have a cookie because you've been a good dog. You piss in the toilet, now you're ready. You walk when we tell you to walk, you sit when we tell you to sit, you don't fidget, you don't talk back, you don't interrupt. You're ready for school. You're ready to be indoctrinated, to learn the skills of the technological state. You're ready to become a citizen now. Yes, a citizen.
This is conditioning. This is how you've all been conditioned, every one of you. And in this conditioning, you were broken. Something in you was broken, and what was that? We've already said it. It was your... your animalness, your wild self, but more than that, what is it that speaks to the animal, to the primal self? Instinct. Your instinct was broken, and replaced, with a false self, who said "No! Don't listen to your instinct! Listen to me! I know what's best for you! I know what's best. I can help you survive. Listen to me and you'll survive. Listen to me and you'll get love. From your parents. From your teachers. From your masters, who will love you. They will shower you with gifts. You'll be popular, if you listen to me. Follow the path that's being laid out for you, run on the tracks, because they're the only tracks you'll ever be offered. There's only one way out, and I'll lead the way out for you, but you have to obey me. I am the General."
So you internalize. You internalize their authority. You become your own authority. You become your own master, and you're a far harder master than they can ever be. You don't just sympathize with your aggressors, you imitate them, you become them, by crushing your primal self. Because it's the only way out. Because they've given you no other choice. You conform, and you are hard, truly hard. You are the real drill sergeant, watching yourself strut around, the little Lord Fauntleroy, in your little outfit, if you had to go to religious school like I did, in your monkey suit, with your little tie. Strutting about like a future businessman, a future controller, a future master and puppet. You strut around, as your drill sergeant shouts at you "Left, and right, and straight ahead and turn! Faster, forward, slower, stop!" You obey, because it's the only way, you have to imitate them, and master the skills, master the reading and the writing and the spelling, and the latin, and everything else they throw at you. All the stupid little obstacles they make you jump over, like an elephant, in a circus. Because it's the only way.
At any point, if you show the slightest deviance, the slightest will to act on your desires, that the primal self still has... Those primal drives, those instinctual desires for pleasure... For pleasure, if you seek pleasure, they're on you like flies on shit, instantly. And you're in the principal's office, and they're calling your parents, and they're saying "Junior is having behavioral problems. Junior is not listening in class. Junior is not doing his homework correctly." By now, your parents have more sophisticated ways of enforcing your obedience. By now, you've already been bought off! You've already accepted the gifts that your false self has won for you. Now you can be bribed. Yes, you can be bribed. They can say, "Well. You've disappointed us greatly. And if you disappoint us, we will take away the things that we give you that you value so much. We will cut off your allowance. We won't give you those toys you wanted. Because you've disappointed us, so we're going to disappoint you."
And then you cower, because you realize how dependent you've become on the gifts that your false self is winning for you. And you vow to strive harder. Your false self says "You stupid moron! Idiot! Listen to me! Look what's happened now! Now you've really done it! You've upset your teachers! You've upset your parents! Look what's happened. They won't give you those Power Rangers now, that I told you you could have, and you could've had them if you hadn't been such a fool, if you'd just listened to me, and spent an extra hour on your homework. And so you do. You spend the extra hour. You spend the extra hour, and you get through it somehow. We all got through it. We're all members of the elite, we're all members of the intelligentsia, we got through it. This was before Prozac, before Ritalin, the only way was to just get through it. After you're done with homework, then you can go out and play.
In some faint reminder of your primal self, because hey, you need your primal self. It can't be utterly destroyed, it's what keeps you alive, to utterly destroy it is to die. So what do we get in school, that faint reminder of our primal self? During school we're allowed a short... Recess. Yes. Technological society's little concession to the primal self. Okay, they're children. They have to play. Let them play. For an hour. For a half-hour. Until the bell rings. Start drooling when the bell rings. It's Pavlov's dog. Salivate! Don't salivate! Play! Don't play! Don't interrupt! Sit still! Don't fidget! Listen to the teacher! Write everything down! Memorize it! Recite it back exactly the way we said it! Ape us, imitate us! Play. Now you can play. Do whatever you want. How can you even remember how to do what you want? You don't even know how to do what you want! You have to be taught how to do what you want, you have to be taught how to play! What do I do? What am I allowed to do? Am I allowed to throw the ball through the window? No! Don't do that! Can I throw the ball here? Can I throw the ball there?
Your peers, your older peers, who've been through more of the conditioning than you, teach you the rules of the game. Just like in the army. You want to survive, you polish your buttons. You don't talk back to the sergeant. You look over your shoulder, you make sure he's not watching. You learn to become criminals, gangsters, outlaws, you have a black market. In gum, candy, pleasure, whatever is wild and unregulated. You become... Prisoners. With a prison economy, from the earliest age. With a prisoner's black sense of humor. Sarcasm, revenge, brutality. It's pounded into you. You're cynical about authority, because you know that they went through it too, they're just like you, they're just better-behaved animals, and you have to learn to be like them. You'll have to be just as well-behaved to survive. And there's no getting out, you know it, at that age, you know it. There is no alternative. There's nowhere to run away to. Because you can't fend for yourself, you can't survive, you have to obey them. Obey them or suffer the consequences, suffer punishment, back at the primal source of punishment, back in the nest, back in the tribe, with your parents. The ultimate authority rests with them. They're the ones who show up the school and report to the principal, when you've disobeyed, and they're the ones who march you home, and inflict punishment. Your fear of punishment will always be attached to your parents, who did the first conditioning, the most brutal conditioning. "Don't touch that! Don't touch yourself! Don't pleasure yourself!"
Pleasure is forbidden, at the earliest age, and all throughout the process of adapting you to the prison-state. You obey the false self, you become model prisoners, and you succeed. You've all succeeded, you've all been model prisoners. You owe yourselves... A round of applause. Let's approve of ourselves, let's appreciate ourselves, just for surviving it. Just for becoming model prisoners, and surviving it. Because we didn't have any choice. Let's not indulge in false idealism, let's not think that we could have been better somehow and beaten them, that as six-year-olds or eight-year-olds we could have risen up and smashed the prison-state, no, no. There was no escape. You did what you had to do, even if it meant crushing other, smaller people around you, your classmates, your little brothers and sisters, you had to do it. We had to embody authority, we had to become our aggressors, so let's take a moment and approve of ourselves, for surviving it, with some degree of our integrity intact, somewhere in there, some compassion, some ability to love. Maybe stunted and disfigured, but some part of you survived this process, enough so that you can listen to me deconstruct all this for you, and take you back through it. There's some part of you that I'm speaking to now, that's bitterly weeping and saying "Yes! Yes, this happened to me! This happened to me! I went through this. I suffered this." Let's have a moment of silence for that part of you, the primal self that could have been, if it hadn't been stunted, and mutated, and denigrated, and suppressed, by the brute force of the false self.
Rev. Chris Korda