435. The Prep Trap
Very often a preparatory step becomes a trap in which the 'victim' gets stuck in some kind of necessary introduction and never proceeds to actually engage in the final objective.
This phenomenon is widespread and engrained to such a degree that it is difficult to uncover and to change. Here again, the 'victim' is completely convinced that s/he 'knows already' and will vehemently fight anything that expands on this established 'knowledge'.
Sometimes it is not easy to decide an observed condition belongs to the prep trap class because of similarities in symptoms to the self-evident trap, the know-best trap, or the on-the-roll trap [all described later].
The prep trap can develop out of several conditions which in
some instances overload to a seemingless hopeless condition:
From the outside, the situation will look like the picture of a scuba diver who keeps walking on the beach in scuba gear instead of actually diving in the ocean (cp 'Mahamahabaala Sutta'). Or, a horseback rider who, in a nice dress and with a saddled horse, never proceeds to mount the horse. Or maybe a car driver who has learned in hard and long lessons over the last twenty years how to open the door of a car, how to sit behind the wheel, and start the engine, but who never actually drives the car out of the garage.
While these parallels may look ridiculous, recognizing the prep trap in familiar spiritual schools or techniques can come as quite a shock.
The two most significant instances of the prep trap are probably the concentration exercises as a 'Way to Enlightenment' in many traditional schools and the paradigm of 'Coming to p.t. (Present Time)' promoted by a contemporary philosophy [chapters in progress].
Both instances follow the same pattern: in order to expand in a coordinated way it seems necessary to start out by first _contracting_ into a clean-slate state.
For example, the attention units of an 'ordinary' human being are scattered all over a projected timeline, making the Being 'stuck in the past(s)'.
As a remedy, the Being could ignore or undo stuck attentions by concentrating on a time slice that it projects as 'Present Time'.
This, however, is a preparatory step and not the final objective. Since time is an illusion, the time line itself must be resolved or confronted. Otherwise, the person is just stuck at a self-defined time slice and acts much like a robot instead of being dispersed with attention scattered over time and space.
If expansion does not occur after the initial contraction, the Being becomes concentrated' (literally!!) and is figuratively 'smaller' than before.
In other words, if a 'concentration' exercise or practice is not immediately followed by un-focussing again (cp. 'Focus') or followed by permeating a medium or the Universe as such after restricting the view in an initial stage, it can quickly become a 'prep trap' (cp. 'Introversion, Extroversion, and Permeation').
Another classical example of a prep trap is, of course, any book that attempts to communicate some kind of knowledge or technology.
Both authorship _and_ study of a book can easily become a prep trap!
So, if you see this Max-guy displaying any symptoms of the
prep-trap, please hit him on the back of his head (not too rough, OK!) and make him read
his own babbling in this chapter, will you, please!?
Copyleft © 1998 by Maximilian J. Sandor, Ph.D.