IPGACO, the Tar Baby
by Michael Mamas

IPGACO is an acronym that stands for Identity, Preconceived notions, the I-Get-it Syndrome, Association, Connotations, and the Other people syndrome. IPGACO is the name of the tar baby; it is where we get stuck. IPGACO is what we, as humans, do that limits our evolution and understanding of life.


The “I” of IPGACO stands for Identity. Identity is who we think we are from a very limited and usually distorted perspective, based on conditioning.

As we evolved as a species, in our attempt to fathom this complex universe, we greatly compromised the nature of life and existence. Rather than working with an infinite number of simultaneously valid, yet contradictory realities, we found a reality we could cling to and identified with it. We took one thread of the tapestry and said, “This is it. This is truth. Anywhere I look, this works. Anything you point at, I can see and explain from where I am.” Identity with one reality is the “I” of IPGACO.

Preconceived Notions

“P” stands for Preconceived Notions. Preconceived Notions are how we have been indoctrinated to think things are or should be. They prevent us from seeing how things really are.

The I-Get-It Syndrome

The “G” stands for the I-Get-It Syndrome. The I-Get-It Syndrome is when we think we know what someone is talking about because we understand it on a particular level. It keeps us from knowing more deeply.

On the other hand, there is understanding. Note that the word is under-standing, not over-standing. Humility is built right into the word. To over-stand is to grab onto something, thinking one knows it. It is based upon identity. To under-stand is to appreciate the unknowable, unfathomable, unbounded, limitless, and eternally elusive nature of all things. It is based upon wisdom.


The “A” stands for Association. Association describes the process of how we think we understand one thing, and therefore we think we understand something else that is similar. We mistakenly relate one to another. Though this can be a worthwhile tool at a stage in the learning process, it carries with it the risk of blurring things together and preventing us from attaining deeper levels of discernment and understanding. For example, if we understand how one relationship works, we may mistakenly think we understand how all relationships work.


The “C” stands for Connotations. Connotations are the associated or implied meanings of a word or expression that usually carry more meaning than the word itself. For example, “seeing energy” has the connotation that it is only for a gifted few and that it looks like a Fruit Loops commercial. In actuality, we all do it every day.

Other People

The “O” of IPGACO stands for Other People. It is when we mistakenly think the process we are seeing or hearing only applies to other people and not to ourselves. We all think other people are off, but we don’t look at how we are off.

There’s a tendency when we hear about something, including IPGACO, we are quick to respond, “Oh yeah, I see other people do that all the time.” All of us, without exception, sit down and watch the news and say, “Wow, the people out there are nuts.” Where are the people who created the news? They are sitting there watching the show, saying, “Boy, the world is crazy.”

Spiritual Evolution

Spiritual evolution is a process of refining our physiology so that we are free to rest into our true nature, the divinity within. This process progresses to a state of spiritual liberation (known as “enlightenment”), a state of freedom from egos, identities, samskaras, conditioning, and IPGACO. It is a state that allows functioning through egos, identities, samskaras, conditioning, and IPGACO without being lost to them. This type of functioning is like a healthy old maple tree. There are twists in the bark from storms weathered through the years, but the healthy tree is mighty, full of sap, and well-rooted. It is important to remember that enlightenment is not an attitude at all, but a physiological state of freedom which is cultivated over time. When people’s awareness is truly free, they are able to perceive through direct experience the true nature of life and existence.

© Michael Mamas, 11/12