Imagine that you are a king or queen that rules over a vast and fertile country. On the day of your coronation your subjects are happy, prosperous and the land is blessed. Like all good monarchs you desire to do your very best for your country and so, recognising your relative inexperience, you hire the most revered and respected statesman in the kingdom to be your most trusted advisor. There is no matter of policy that you do not seek his view upon, no decision taken that has not had his influence upon it and his reports from all around the kingdom indicate that your rule, and his beneficent advices have created a fair and just society that continues to prosper, where the people are safe and happy, and you are revered amongst the common folk as a wise and gentle ruler. One day you awake and call your advisor to council only to discover that he is fled with your treasure and the people are rising up against you. Years of oppressive rule, famine and disease have pushed them beyond all endurance and the mob calls for your blood in the streets outside the palace gate. Your end is violent, terrifying and swift.
It is not a pleasant vision, and yet it is the story of nearly every human life that employs a tricky politician to be their most trusted advisor. If the mind is your advisor, and it most likely is, then you are already in dire straits though you may not know it; because he cannot be trusted, he does not have your best interest at heart, only his own and though he will tell you that your kingdom is in good order and that the people love you he does not truly know, because his reports are all based on lazy informants and besides, he is too busy coveting the gold to worry overmuch about the world outside. You may well realise his treachery just before the end and bitter indeed will be your last moments as you finally comprehend the folly of your entire reign, you who employed a politician to give you advice. The mind will tell you just what is designed to safeguard its own position, influence and prosperity, irrespective of whether that be the truth or not. The mind will tell you that you are happy and respected even as you are miserable and considered a laughing stock by others. There is no degradation that the mind would not hide from you to further its own design.
This then is the ultimate danger. Given the task of self-regulation the mind – like many a politician – will overstep its boundaries and a little corruption will creep in. It will take campaign funds from some lobbyist or special interest group, or it will ignore the plight of some disadvantaged minority in order to better serve the interests of business and with time and the gradual erosion of any objective standard of behaviour it will become as aristocratic and depraved as any Borgia. Has any man’s final thought in this world been to mull over the value of his property portfolio or the profitability of his investments? And yet these are the obsessions of an entire life, exposed at the last gasp as a cheap imitation of value.
The human mind is a politician; predisposed to cleverness and corruption alike. You believe its every declaration at your eternal peril.