‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 1 Summary of the contents of FREEDOM
Chapter 1:4 The problem of the ‘deaf effect’ that reading about the human condition initially causes
While the shock of the arrival of the all-liberating but at the same time all-exposing truth about our 2-million-years upset/corrupted/fallen condition will bring inevitable problems, it is accompanied by absolutely wonderful solutions—the main of which will be presented in chapter 9. There is, however, one particular issue which needs to be addressed and solved here and now, which is the problem of the ‘deaf effect’ that reading about the human condition initially produces.
As has been described, there have been three ways of coping with the imperfections of our upset human condition while we couldn’t truthfully explain it: attack the unjust criticism; try to prove it wrong; and block it out of our mind. And as will become increasingly clear as you read through this book, it was this third method of blocking any criticising truth out of our mind that has played a hugely important role in coping with our previously unexplained upset condition; we humans have had to adopt a great deal of block-out, denial and evasion of any truth that brought the unbearable issue of our upset condition into focus. So with the arrival now of the redeeming explanation of the human condition our human-condition-avoiding minds are clearly going to apply all that determinedly practised block-out, denial and evasion to prevent us from taking in or ‘hearing’ what is being presented. As soon as discussion of the human condition begins, our minds will be subconsciously alert to the fact they are being taken into a historically off-limits realm and start blocking out what is being said. Our minds will suffer from a ‘deaf effect’ to what is being presented, with the consequence being that we will struggle to read and absorb the liberating and transforming explanation of the human condition. Our habituated practice of denial will prevent us from gaining our FREEDOM from the human condition!
To illustrate the power of this ‘deaf effect’, consider the following reactions my books have generated amongst readers: ‘When I first read this material all I saw were a lot of black marks on white paper’; and, ‘Reading this is like reading another language—you know it’s English, you can understand the words, but the concepts are so basic and so different that they are almost incomprehensible—it’s a paradigm shift of a read’; and, ‘This stuff is so head on it can be crippling, which, initially at least, can make it hard to get behind what’s being said and access the profundity of where it’s coming from’; and, ‘At first I found this information difficult to absorb, in fact my wife and I would sit in bed and read a page together, and then re-read it a number of times, but still we couldn’t understand what was written there and ended up thinking it must be due to poor expression.’ As the last response indicates, a consequence of being unaware that this resistance and block-out is occurring in our mind (because when we are in denial of something we aren’t aware we are in denial, because, obviously, if we were we wouldn’t be in denial of it!) is that we naturally blame the inaccessibility of what is being put forward on flaws in the presentation; we think it is, as readers of my earlier books have said, ‘badly written and unconventionally and offputtingly laid out’, ‘impenetrably dense’, ‘disjointed’, ‘confusingly worded’, ‘too intellectual for me to understand’, ‘long-winded’, ‘unnecessarily repetitive of vague points’, ‘desperately needs editing’, and even ‘lacking in any substance or meaning’. Frustrated readers have often even written seeking ‘an executive summary so I can grasp what you’re trying to say’! Contrast these responses with someone who has overcome the ‘deaf effect’: ‘Wonderful book! Full of so much wisdom and yet the author was able to write it in such a way that I think a middle school student or a high school dropout or anybody that can read at any level would be able to understand it. Or in other words it is not full of language and words written just for college graduates’—and with this feedback from a Dutch couple who are translating FREEDOM into Dutch: ‘The practicality of the numbered paragraphs, and having the quote sources right there with the quotes in small text, and the quotes themselves standing out in small dark text, it’s brilliant! We’ve never seen it before. We’re appreciating the effectiveness and simplicity of the whole design more and more.’ I might mention that the reason people can find my writing ‘repetitive’ is not because there is repetition of the same particular concept or material, rather it is the continual elaboration and analysis of long-forbidden and exiled subject matter that can cause people’s minds to become agitated and want to stop happening. Scrutiny has always shown there isn’t any unwarranted repetition.
This ‘deaf effect’ situation is akin to giving someone who suffers from a phobia about snakes a book that cures their phobia when, to date, their fear of snakes has been so great they couldn’t even admit they had a phobia. So if I were to ask them, ‘Why don’t you ever go outdoors?’, their unawareness or blindness to their phobia, or condition, might prompt the defensive response, ‘Well, I like living indoors because I like carpets and square walls and I like going through doorways; in fact, going through doorways is what made humans stand upright in the first place!’—or some such ridiculous excuse like that! To account for their inability to face their phobia they have had no choice but to create absurd theories based on the denial of their phobia (which, as mentioned earlier and as we are going to see in chapter 2, is exactly what mechanistic science has been doing as a result of humans’ fear of the human condition). So, in order to cure them of their phobia, I give them a book that introduces them to and explains their condition—but therein lies the problem, for as soon as they open the book and see descriptions and images of snakes, they fearfully slam it shut; their fear, in effect, blocks their ability to access the book’s fabulously relieving understanding of, and thus solution to, their phobia!
While this snake phobia analogy gives some idea of the problem of the ‘deaf effect’ resistance that blocks access to the compassionate, reconciling and immensely relieving understanding of our species’ condition, there is a much better analogy and description of it—one that was given by that greatest of all philosophers, Plato, way back in the Golden Age of Greece, some 360 years before Christ. As to Plato’s greatness as a philosopher (philosophy being the study of ‘the truths underlying all reality’ (Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, 1998)), Alfred North (A.N.) Whitehead, himself one of the most highly regarded philosophers of the twentieth century, described the history of philosophy as being merely ‘a series of footnotes to Plato’ (Process and Reality [Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28], 1979, p.39 of 413).
So what was Plato’s marvellously descriptive analogy of humans’ extreme fear of the human condition and the resulting ‘deaf effect’ difficulty we have when reading about it—and what importance did he place on the difficulty of the ‘deaf effect’ in his profound contribution to the study of ‘the truths underlying all reality’? Well, Plato’s most acclaimed work is The Republic and the central focus of The Republic is ‘our human condition’; and, most revealingly, in describing ‘our human condition’, Plato metaphorically depicted humans as having to live deep ‘underground’ in a ‘cave’ hiding from the ‘painful’ issue of ‘the imperfections of human life’—these ‘imperfections’ being the issue of the human condition. So the greatest of philosophers recognised that the central problem in understanding the ‘reality’ of our behaviour is our fear of the human condition!
This is what Plato wrote: ‘I want you to go on to picture the enlightenment or ignorance of our human conditions somewhat as follows. Imagine an underground chamber, like a cave with an entrance open to the daylight and running a long way underground. In this chamber are men who have been prisoners there’ (The Republic, c.360 BC; tr. H.D.P. Lee, 1955, 514; or see all these quotes in The Republic highlighted at <>). Plato described how the cave’s exit is blocked by a ‘fire’ that ‘corresponds…to the power of the sun’, which the cave prisoners have to hide from because its searing, ‘painful’ ‘light’ would make ‘visible’ the unbearably depressing issue of ‘the imperfections of human life’ (516-517). Fearing such self-confrontation, the cave prisoners have to ‘take refuge’ in the dark ‘cave’ where there are only some ‘shadows thrown by the fire’ that represent a ‘mere illusion’ of the ‘real’ world outside the cave (515). The allegory makes clear that while ‘the sun…makes the things we see visible’ (509), such that without it we can only ‘see dimly and appear to be almost blind’ (508), having to hide in the ‘cave’ of ‘illusion’ and endure ‘almost blind’ alienation has been infinitely preferable to facing the ‘painful’ issue of ‘our [seemingly imperfect] human condition’. Then, with regard to the problem of the ‘deaf effect’ response the ‘cave’ ‘prisoners’ would have to reading about the human condition, Plato described what occurs when, as summarised in the Encarta Encyclopedia, someone ‘escapes from the cave into the light of day’ and ‘sees for the first time the real world and returns to the cave’ to help the cave prisoners ‘Escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave [which] symbolizes the transition to the real world…which is the proper object of knowledge’ (written by Prof. Robert M. Baird, ‘Plato’; see <>). Plato wrote that ‘it would hurt his [the cave’s prisoner’s] eyes and he would turn back and take refuge in the things which he could see [take refuge in all the dishonest, illusionary explanations for human behaviour that, as we are going to see in ch. 2, we have become accustomed to from human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic science], which he would think really far clearer than the things being shown him. And if he were forcibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent [out of the cave of denial] and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight [shown the truthful, real description of our human condition], the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real.’ Significantly, Plato then added, ‘Certainly not at first. Because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave’ (The Republic, 515-516).
So again, in his central and main insight into ‘the truths underlying all reality’ of ‘our human condition’, Plato warned that when we ‘first’ start reading about what ‘our human condition’ really is we ‘wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real’. And I say ‘really is’ because, as will become very clear in the next chapter, many refer to the human condition without engaging with what it really is. Yes, the ‘deaf effect’ will be a very significant problem when reading this book that presents the human-condition-confronting, truthful-yet-fully-compassionate and psychologically relieving explanation of human behaviour. (I should mention that after Plato warned about the problem of the ‘deaf effect’, he went on to describe how the person who tries to liberate the cave prisoners from their world of ‘illusions’ would be viciously attacked. He wrote that ‘they [the cave prisoners] would say that his [the person who attempts to bring them liberating understanding of our human condition] visit to the upper world had ruined his sight [they would say he was mad], and that the ascent [out of the cave] was not worth even attempting. And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him’ (ibid. 517). Later in pars 574-578 I describe how true Plato’s prediction here of horrible persecution would prove to be.) (Again, see all these quotes in The Republic highlighted at <>.)