The Human Condition Documentary Proposal—Part 4 The Human Condition
What Caused The Human Condition, and How is it Ameliorated?
What then is the answer to this question of questions, this problem of good and evil in the human make-up, this dilemma of the human condition? What is the ‘origin of sin’? What caused us to become divisively behaved and how is this divisive behaviour brought to an end?
Part 3 explained how humans’ conscious state emerged and how the ensuing consciousness allowed humans to extricate the management of our lives from our instincts. Essentially what will be explained in this segment is that our instincts resisted this wresting of management, and that it was this resistance that lead to the upset angry, egocentric and alienated state of the human condition. It will be further explained that understanding how we became upset is what allows that upset to subside.
What distinguishes humans from other animals is our fully conscious state, our ability to understand the relationship between cause and effect. However prior to becoming fully conscious and able to self-manage—consciously decide how to behave—humans were controlled by and obedient to our instincts, as other animals still are. As novelist Aldous Huxley acknowledged, ‘Non-rational creatures do not look before or after, but live in the animal eternity of a perpetual present; instinct is their animal grace and constant inspiration; and they are never tempted to live otherwise than in accord with their own…immanent law’ (The Perennial Philosophy, 1946).
Science’s discovery of the existence of nerves and genes and how they work enables us to understand that the nerve-based learning system, unlike the gene-based learning system, can associate information, reason how experiences are related and learn to understand and become conscious of the relationship of events that occur through time. The gene-based learning system on the other hand, can orientate species to situations, but is incapable of insight into the nature of change. Genetic selection of one individual over Page 68 of
Print Edition another individual (in effect, one idea over another idea, or one piece of information over another piece of information) gives species adaptations or orientations—instinctive programming—for managing life, but those genetic orientations, those instincts, are not understandings.
It follows then that when our conscious mind emerged it was neither suitable nor sustainable to be orientated by instincts. It had to find understanding to operate effectively and fulfil its great potential to manage life. However, when the conscious mind began to exert itself and experiment in the management of life from a basis of understanding in the presence of already established instinctive behavioural orientations, a battle broke out between the two.
Our intellect began to experiment in understanding as the only means of finding out the correct and incorrect understandings for managing existence, yet the instincts, being in effect ‘unaware’ or ‘ignorant’ of the intellect’s need to carry out these experiments, ‘opposed’ any understanding-produced deviations from the established instinctive orientations. The instincts in effect ‘criticised’ and ‘tried to stop’ the conscious mind’s necessary search for knowledge. Unable to understand and thus explain why these experiments in self-adjustment were necessary, the intellect was unable to refute this implicit criticism from the instincts. The unjust criticism from the instincts ‘upset’ the intellect and left it with no choice other than to simply defy ‘opposition’ from the instincts.
The intellect’s defiance expressed itself in three ways. It attacked the instincts’ unjust criticism, tried to deny or block from its mind the instincts’ unjust criticism, and attempted to prove the instincts’ unjust criticism wrong. Humans’ upset angry, alienated and egocentric state—precisely the divisive condition we suffer from—appeared. (Note, the dictionary defines ‘ego’ as ‘conscious thinking self’, so ego is another word for the intellect. The word ‘egocentric’ then means that the intellect became centred or focused on trying to prove the instincts’ criticism wrong; it became focused on trying to prove its worth, prove that it was good and not bad.)
The following analogy serves to clarify what took place.
Page 69 of
Print Edition Many bird species are perfectly orientated to instinctive migratory flight paths. Each winter, without ever ‘learning’ where to go and without knowing why, they quit their established breeding grounds and migrate to warmer feeding grounds. They then return each summer and so the cycle continues. Over the course of thousands of generations and migratory movements, only those birds that happened to have a genetic make-up that inclined them to follow the right route survived. Thus, through natural selection, they acquired their instinctive orientation.
Consider a flock of migrating storks returning to their summer breeding places on the rooftops of Europe from their winter feeding grounds in southern Africa. Suppose that in the instinct-controlled brain of one of them (let’s call him Adam) we place a fully conscious mind. As Adam flies northwards, he sees an island off to the left laden with apple trees.
Using his newly acquired conscious mind Adam thinks, ‘I should fly down and eat some apples’. It seems a reasonable thought but he can’t know if it is a good decision or not until he acts on it. For his new thinking mind to make sense of the world, he has to learn by trial and error and decides to carry out his first grand experiment in self-management by flying down to the island and sampling the apples.
But it’s not that simple. As soon as he deviates from his established migratory course, his instinctive self tries to pull him back on course. In effect, it criticises him for veering off course, condemns his search for understanding. Adam is in a dilemma. If he obeys his instinctive self and flies back on course, he will be perfectly orientated but he’ll never learn if his deviation was the right decision or not. All the messages he’s receiving from within tell him that to obey his instincts is good, is right. But there’s also a new message of disobedience, a defiance of instinct. Going to the island will bring him apples and understanding, yet he already sees that doing so will also make him feel bad.
Uncomfortable with the criticism his conscious mind or intellect receives from his instinctive self, Adam’s first response is to ignore the apples and fly back on course. This makes his instinctive self happy and wins the approval of his fellow storks, for not having conscious minds they are innocent, unaware or ignorant of the conscious mind’s need to search for knowledge. They are obeying their instinctive selves by following the flight path past the island.
Flying on however, Adam realises he can’t deny his intellect. Sooner or later he must find the courage to master his conscious mind by carrying out experiments in understanding. This time he thinks, ‘Why not fly down to an island and have a rest?’ Not knowing any reason as to why he shouldn’t, he proceeds with his experiment. Again his instinctive self criticises him for going off course.
This time he defies the criticism and perseveres with his experimentation in self-management. But it means he has to live with the criticism and is immediately condemned to a state of upset. A battle has broken out between his instinctive self, perfectly orientated to the flight path, and his emerging conscious mind, which needs to understand why it is the correct path to follow. His instinctive self is perfectly orientated, but he doesn’t understand that orientation.
As mentioned earlier, when the fully conscious mind emerged it wasn’t enough for it to be orientated by instincts. It had to find understanding to operate effectively and fulfil its great potential to manage life. Tragically the instinctive self didn’t ‘appreciate’ that need and ‘tried to stop’ the mind’s necessary search for knowledge, as represented by its experiments in self-management. Hence the ensuing battle between instinct and intellect.
To refute the criticism from his instinctive self, Adam Stork needed to understand the difference in the way genes and nerves process information, yet he was only taking the first steps in the search for knowledge. It was a catch-22 situation for the fledgling thinker. Page 70 of
Print Edition In order to explain himself, he needed the very understanding he was setting out to find. He had to search for understanding without the ability to explain why. He couldn’t defend his actions. He had to live with the criticism from his instinctive self and, without that defence, was insecure in its presence.
But what could he do? If he abandoned the search he’d gain some momentary relief, but the search would nevertheless remain to be undertaken. All he could do was retaliate against the criticism, try to prove it wrong or simply ignore it, and he did all of those things. He became angry towards the criticism. In every way he could he tried to demonstrate his worth—to prove that he was good and not bad. And he tried to block out the criticism. He became angry, egocentric and alienated or, in a word, upset.
Adam Stork found himself in an extremely difficult position. We can see that while Adam was good he appeared to be bad and had to endure the associated upset until he found the defence or reason for his mistakes. Suffering upset was the price of his heroic search for understanding; it was an inevitable outcome in the transition from an instinct-controlled state to an intellect-controlled state. His uncooperative, divisive aggression and his selfish, egocentric efforts to prove his worth and his need to deny and evade criticism became an unavoidable part of his personality. Such was his predicament, and such has been the human condition.
Of course humans aren’t birds, nevertheless all animals, including humans, have an instinctive self. Carl Jung called our common, or shared by all, instincts ‘the collective unconscious’ as the following quote makes clear: ‘Jung regards the unconscious mind as not only the repository of forgotten or repressed memories, but also of racial memories. This is reasonable enough when we remember the definition of instinct as racial memory’ (International University Society’s Reading Course and Biographical Studies, Vol.6, c, 1940).
As was explained in the synopsis of Part 2 of this proposed documentary, humans’ original instinctive self wasn’t orientated to a migratory flight path as is the case with many species of bird. Our particular instinctive self or soul, the voice of which is our conscience, was orientated to the ideals of being unconditionally selfless, cooperative and integrative. This particular instinctive orientation meant the emerging battle between our instinctive self and our conscious self, as represented by the Adam Stork story, was inevitably going to become extremely heated. This is because the emerging angry, aggressive, selfish and competitive behaviour was completely at odds with our particular instinctive orientation, which was to behave lovingly, selflessly and cooperatively. We weren’t challenging an orientation to a flight path; we were challenging integrative meaning or God. This means that from an initial state of upset humans had to then contend with a sense of guilt and it was this sense of guilt that greatly compounded our insecurity and frustration, making us extremely angry, egocentric and evasive or alienated.
Extrapolate this situation over the 2 million years since full consciousness and the struggle against our perfectly orientated but ignorant instinctive self—the battle of the human condition—emerged in humans and it is not hard to imagine how much hurt and frustration humanity has accumulated. Just one day of having to live so unjustly condemned would make anyone furious; how enraged must humans be after 2 million years of such injustice! While we have learnt to significantly restrain and conceal our extreme upset—‘be civilised’ as we termed it—it follows we must, under the surface, be boiling mad with anger. We can now at last understand humans’ capacity for astounding acts of aggression and atrocity.
Author and explorer Bruce Chatwin made reference to Arthur Koestler’s recognition of this extremely upset state arising from the conflict between our instinct and intellect in his 1987 book, The Songlines: ‘London, 1970: At a public lecture I listened to Arthur Koestler airing his opinion that the human species was mad. He claimed that, as a result of an inadequate Page 71 of
Print Edition co-ordination between two areas of the brain—the “rational” neocortex and the “instinctual” hypothalamus—Man had somehow acquired the “unique, murderous, delusional streak” that propelled him, inevitably, to murder, to torture and to war.’ Koestler explains his ‘inadequate co-ordination’ theory more fully in his prologue to Janus: A Summing Up, 1978, in which he states, ‘Thus the brain explosion gave rise to a mentally unbalanced species in which old brain and new brain, emotion and intellect, faith and reason, were at loggerheads.’ It wasn’t, as Koestler suggests, an ‘inadequate co-ordination’ between two areas of our brain that caused the human condition, but the difference in the way genes and nerves process information. Koestler does however recognise the basic elements involved in the conflict of our instinctive self and our rational self and just how upset humans have become.
Other than Koestler, only a handful of writers have recognised this conflict. The poet Alexander Pope acknowledged the pain of the criticism emanating from our conscience when he wrote, ‘our nature [conscience—is]…A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!’ (An Essay on Man, Epistle II, 1733). It was a sentiment echoed by William Wordsworth in his astonishingly truthful 1807 poem, Intimations of Immortality: ‘High instincts before which our mortal Nature / Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised’. Albert Camus is another who certainly felt the pain from the criticism that our conscience, with all its naive, ignorant, innocent allies, represented when he wrote, ‘[can] innocence, the moment it begins to act…avoid committing murder [?]’ (L’Homme Révolté, 1951, [pub. in English as The Rebel, 1953]).
The following extract from a play by the 16th century English parliamentarian and author Fulke Greville features another rare acknowledgment of our intellect’s struggle with our instinctive self’s perfect orientation to the integrative ideals of life: ‘Oh wearisome Condition of Humanity! Borne under one Law, to another bound: Vainely begot, and yet forbidden vanity, Created sicke, commanded to be sound: What meaneth Nature by these diverse Lawes? Passion and Reason, selfe-division cause:’ (Mustapha, c, 1594—96).
Considering how unjustly hurtful our instinctive self or soul’s world has been it is no wonder we learnt to psychologically block it out, deny and bury it to the point where we now refer to it as ‘the child within’ and the ‘collective unconscious’. We banished it to our subconscious where it only now occasionally bubbles up in dreams, during prayer and meditation. As Carl Jung wrote, ‘The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche [soul], opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness’ (Civilization in Transition, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol.10, 1945).
Eugène Marais, who in the 1930s was the first person to study primates in their natural habitat, described the emergence of the conflict between instincts and intellect in humans in his remarkably sound, denial-free book, The Soul of the Ape: ‘The great frontier between the two types of mentality is the line which separates non-primate mammals from apes and monkeys. On one side of that line behaviour is dominated by hereditary memory, and on the other by individual causal memory…The phyletic history of the primate soul can clearly be traced in the mental evolution of the human child. The highest primate, man, is born an instinctive animal. All its behaviour for a long period after birth is dominated by the instinctive mentality…As the… individual memory slowly emerges, the instinctive soul becomes just as slowly submerged…For a time it is almost as though there were a struggle between the two’ (written in 1930s, first pub. 1969, pp.77—79 of 170).
Erich Neumann, an analytical psychologist who has been described as Carl Jung’s most gifted student, recognised the battle and rift between humans’ already established non-understanding, ‘unconscious’, instinctual self and their newly emerging ‘conscious’, intellectual self in his 1949 book, The Origins and History of Consciousness: ‘Whereas, originally, the opposites could function side by side without undue strain and without excluding one another, now, with the development and elaboration of the opposition between conscious and unconscious, they fly apart. That is to say, it is no longer possible for an object to be loved and Page 72 of
Print Edition hated at the same time. Ego and consciousness identify themselves in principle with one side of the opposition and leave the other in the unconscious, either preventing it from coming up at all, i.e., consciously suppressing it, or else repressing it, i.e., eliminating it from consciousness without being aware of doing so. Only deep psychological analysis can then discover the unconscious counterposition’ (p.117 of 493).
Despite Bronowski’s earlier reservations, Zen Buddhism acknowledges that the corruption of humans’ instinctive state was caused by the interference of the conscious mind, referring to the loss of innocence as ‘the affective contamination (klesha)’ or ‘the interference of the conscious mind predominated by intellection (vijnana)’ (Zen Buddhism & Psychoanalysis, D.J Suzuki, Erich Fromm, Richard Demartino, 1960, p.20). The Christian Bible states we were once ‘in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27), and in Christ’s words there was a time when God ‘loved [us] before the creation of the [upset] world’ (John 17:24), and a time of ‘the glory…before the [upset] world began’ (John 17:5). A passage in Ecclesiastics says ‘God made mankind upright [uncorrupted], but men have gone in search of many schemes [understandings]’ (Eccl. 7:29).
Laurens van der Post similarly recognised the battle between our instinct and intellect when he wrote, ‘I spoke to you earlier on of this dark child of nature, this other primitive man within each one of us with whom we are at war in our spirit’ (The Dark Eye in Africa, 1955). In the aforementioned book The Songlines, Chatwin also acknowledged a ‘contradiction’ between our instinct and intellect, writing: ‘[the 3rd century theologian Origen argued that] at the beginning of human history, men were under supernatural protection, so there was no division between their divine and human natures: or, to rephrase the passage, there was no contradiction between a man’s instinctual life and his reason’.
The overall situation was that our instinct had no sympathy for the pursuit of knowledge and would have stopped the search if it could. The reality was humans had no choice but to defy our perfectly orientated and all-sensitive instinctive self or soul, the voice of which was our conscience, and suffer its unjust and thus upsetting criticism.
It’s an explanation that runs parallel with the story of Adam and Eve. Genesis (1:27) tells us we were ‘created…in the image of God’, perfectly orientated to cooperative, selfless, loving ideals; then Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge in order to ‘be like God knowing’ (Gen. 3:5). Having eaten the fruit Adam and Eve were demonised and cast out of Eden. In short, when we went in search of understanding, our upset, corrupted, ‘fallen’ state emerged.
Bestselling author M. Scott Peck wrote that our ‘banishment’ from ‘the garden of Eden’ was for a positive reason, namely our conscious search for understanding, particularly self-understanding, understanding of why we had become corrupted: ‘Take the wonderful story of Adam and Eve, the Garden, the apple, and the snake…Is it a story of our fall from grace and alienation from our environment? Or is it a story of our evolution into self-consciousness…? Or both? It is also a story of human greed and fear and arrogance and laziness and disobedience in response to the call to be the best we can be’ (The Different Drum, 1987).
In his 1974 book, He: Understanding Masculine Psychology, Robert A. Johnson described the agony of adolescents having to resign themselves to a life of denial of the unconfrontable issue of the human condition. In doing so Johnson recognised the ‘unconscious perfection’ of the pre-conscious ‘Eden’ state that humans had to suffer the ‘pain’ of leaving in order to eventually achieve ‘a conscious reconciliation of the inner and outer’ worlds. Johnson wrote: ‘It is painful to watch a young man become aware that the world is not just joy and happiness, to watch the disintegration of his childlike beauty, faith, and optimism. This is regrettable but necessary. If we are not cast out of the Garden of Eden, there can be no heavenly Jerusalem…According to tradition, there are potentially three stages of psychological development for a man. The archetypal pattern is that one goes from the unconscious perfection of childhood, to the conscious imperfection of middle life, to conscious perfection of old age. One moves Page 73 of
Print Edition from an innocent wholeness, in which the inner world and the outer world are united, to a separation and differentiation between the inner and outer worlds with an accompanying sense of life’s duality, and then, hopefully, at last to satori or enlightenment, a conscious reconciliation of the inner and outer once again in harmonious wholeness…we have to get out of the Garden of Eden before we can even start for the heavenly Jerusalem, even though they are the same place. The man’s first step out of Eden into the pain of duality gives him his Fisher King wound…Alienation is the current term for it’ (pp.10,11 of 97). (The ‘Fisher King’ is a character in the great European legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.)
In a bid to explain humans’ corrupted state and associated loss of sensitivity to the world around us, Rob Schultheis, in his 1985 book Bone Games, summarised Julian Jaynes’ concept of the bicameral mind: ‘One semi-plausible theory is Julian Jaynes’s idea of the bicameral mind [see Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976]. According to Jaynes, humankind was once possessed of a mystical, intuitive kind of consciousness, the kind we today would call “possessed”; modern consciousness as we know it simply did not exist. This prelogical mind was ruled by, and dwelled in, the right side of the brain, the side of the brain that is now subordinate. The two sides of the brain switched roles, the left becoming dominant, about three thousand years ago, according to Jaynes; he refers to the biblical passage (Genesis 3:5) in which the serpent promises Eve that “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. Knowing good and evil killed the old radiantly innocent self; this old self reappears from time to time in the form of oracles, divine visitations, visions, etc.—see Muir, Lindbergh, etc.— but for the most part it is buried deep beneath the problem-solving, prosaic self of the brain’s left hemisphere. Jaynes believes that if we could integrate the two, the “god-run” self of the right hemisphere and the linear self of the left, we would be truly superior beings.’ It wasn’t a switching of dominance from the more lateral and imaginative right side of our brain to the more sequential, logical left side of our brain that caused the human condition, but rather the difference in the way the genes and nerves process information. Nevertheless Jaynes, like Koestler, does bravely recognise the basic elements in the conflict of our intuitive instinctive self or soul and our more recent conscious self.
Throughout our history, theologians, writers, poets and artists have described and represented our predicament (as the story of the Garden of Eden does so well), but ultimately none could explain it. Only through the development of science could biological explanation clarify the question of our guilt and reconcile the warring factions.
The development of science has allowed all the details, or mechanisms, of our world to be unravelled and the clarifying, biological explanation of why we became upset to be synthesised. It was only last century that science achieved understanding of the gene and nerve-based learning systems. This provided the means to resolve the riddle of the human condition. Until this time, we were unable to explain that there are two different learning systems, both of which need to learn about integration in its own way. The result is our upset state or condition. Knowing that genes can orientate but only nerves can understand explains our ‘mistakes’. We can now see that we weren’t bad or guilty after all, which frees us from our sense of guilt and ends the human condition. Laurens van der Post made the essential point when he said ‘how can there ever be any real beginning without forgiveness?’ (Venture to the Interior, 1952). Only the dignifying understanding of our condition could liberate us. Adam and Eve were heroes, not villains. Humanity was unjustly banished from the Garden of Eden. We lost innocence because we appeared to be bad and couldn’t explain that we weren’t, thus is the paradox of the human condition.
This paradoxical turn of events in which our ‘good side’ is revealed to have been the ‘bad side’ is the theme of Agatha Christie’s famous play, The Mousetrap.
This play, which was first performed in 1952, is just another ‘whodunnit’ murder story yet it has become the longest running play in history and to this day is still going Page 74 of
Print Edition strong. All enduring myths and stories contain truths that resonate. In the case of The Mousetrap, the police inspector involved in the murder investigation, regarded as the pillar of goodness and justice throughout the play, is revealed at the very end of the play to be the culprit. This is the essential story of humanity where the apparent ideals of the soul’s selfless, loving world are revealed, at the very last moment, to have been the unjustly condemning villains. The truth was not as it appeared. We discover at the very end of our journey to enlightenment that conscious humans, immensely corrupt as we are, are good and not bad after all.
In G.K. Chesterton’s 1908 book, The Man Who Was Thursday, a policeman representing the ‘good’ side has to infiltrate and expose the sinister members of a quintessentially corrupt organisation, but consecutively each of the apparently corrupt members are also revealed to be forces for good commissioned to fight evil. Again it is a story of the essential paradox of the human situation; that which was apparently ‘bad’— humans in our competitive and divisive state—turns out to be ‘good’, and that which was ‘good’ turns out to be the cause of our ‘sin’.
Yet to gain this enlightenment, we had to battle the ignorance of our instinctive self or soul. Corruption and upset was unavoidable. This predicament was summed up in The Man of La Mancha, when it was said we had to be prepared ‘To march into Hell for a Heavenly cause.’ We had to lose ourselves to find ourselves. Upset was the price of our heroic search for understanding. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge recognised, we became ‘a sadder and a wiser man [people]’ as a result of our journey (The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, 1797).
Our hope and faith was that one day we would be able to explain the paradox of the human condition, and thus liberate ourselves from our sense of guilt. That great day has arrived. The human journey to enlightenment has a happy ending, as we always trusted it would: ‘The happy ending is our national belief’ (Mary McCarthy, On the Contrary, 1961).
This understanding that all humans are fundamentally good even though they are variously soul-corrupted and alienated as a result of encounter with the heroic battle of the human condition means we can now explain the underlying principle in democracy; that ‘all people are created equal’, that they are ‘all equal before God’. The Constitution of the United States of America describes this truth as ‘self-evident’. We don’t have to rely on it being a self-evident truth any more, we can actually explain and therefore understand it. The concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’, are removed from our conceptualisation of ourselves. Understanding the origin of our upset state brings the real ‘deconstruction’ of the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
Men in particular will now be able to understand themselves and be understood. It will be seen that the heroic battle to champion our conscious thinking self or ego over the ignorance of our instinctive self or soul posed a threat to humanity and since men’s historic role has been one of group protectors, men had no choice but to take on the responsibility to fight this battle. The female-centric ways that saw humanity nurtured throughout its infancy and childhood were superseded in importance during our adolescence by a patriarchal world where men necessarily and unavoidably had to defeat the ignorance of our instinctive self or soul, for if that battle wasn’t won humanity would self-destroy from perpetual ignorance and resulting terminal alienation.
So while both men and women have suffered from the corrupted state of the human condition, men in particular have felt guilty about the anger, egocentricity and alienation they were especially beset with as a result of battling so determinedly and heroically against our ignorant soul. For 2 million years men have had the loathsome and upsetting task of defying our all-sensitive and loving, yet unjustly condemning instinctive self or soul. Now, having finally completed their job of championing our ego or conscious part of ourselves over the ignorance of the instinctive part of ourselves, men will finally find Page 75 of
Print Edition peace. It has been a wretched position for men to not be able to explain themselves, explain why they have been so egocentric, competitive and aggressive, as this quote makes clear: ‘One of the reasons that men have been so quiet for the past two decades, as the feminist movement has blossomed, is that we do not have the vocabulary or the concept to defend ourselves as men. We do not know how to define the virtues of being male, but virtues there are’ (Asa Baber, Playboy, July 1983). Indeed there are virtues. While women created humanity, men have been the heroes of the great battle against ignorance; they saved humanity.
With men finally in a position to metaphorically ‘put down the sword’, rest and recover, so too will women be finally able to return from looking after, supporting and inspiring men with their ‘attractive’, sex-object image of innocence, to focusing once again on the all-important task now of nurturing of their infants.
To briefly explain this inspiring ‘attraction’ of the image of innocence in women; when men became upset as a result of the emergence of the battle of the human condition some 2 million years ago, they began to ‘pervert’ sex, use it as a means of attacking— ‘fucking’ as we say—the criticising comparative innocence and naivety of women. Instead of being attracted to cute, neotenous features of large eyes, dome forehead and snub nose for their youthful association with integrativeness, as occurred during humanity’s infancy and childhood (see Part 2), those innocent features became attractive for sexual destruction during humanity’s adolescence. As feminist Andrea Dworkin acknowledged in her 1987 book, Intercourse, ‘All sex is abuse’. Importantly however, while at base sex is abuse it became much more than that—it became an act of love. When all the world disowned men for their unavoidable divisiveness, women in effect came with them, giving them the only warmth, comfort and affection they would know. The image of innocence in women, their beauty, while attractive for sex, also became an inspiration for men, in fact the only representation in their lives of their lost pure world that they were fighting to have reinstated. As Laurens van der Post acknowledged, ‘We lose our soul, of which women is the immemorial image’ (The Heart of the Hunter, 1961, p. 134 of 233), and as Teilhard de Chardin said, ‘Women stands before him [man] as the lure and symbol of the world’ (Let Me Explain, 1966; trs. Rene Hague & others, 1970, p. 67 of 189).
The extraordinarily honest South African writer, Olive Schreiner, understood the longing women have for an end to men’s soul-destroying battle and its needs when she wrote: ‘if I might but be one of those born in the future; then, perhaps, to be born a woman will not be to be born branded [as a sex-object]…It is for love’s sake yet more than for any other that we [women] look for that new time…Then when that time comes…when love is no more bought or sold, when it is not a means of making bread, when each woman’s life is filled with earnest, independent labour, then love will come to her, a strange sudden sweetness breaking in upon her earnest work; not sought for, but found’ (The Story of an African Farm, 1883).
Above all, finding the liberating understanding of the human condition, the explanation of the fundamental goodness of all humans, means humanity can now at last return to the ideal state. Our upset can subside now that we know we are good and not bad. Our soul’s criticism no longer need upset us. We are secure now. We can return to the non-upset ideal state we’ve longed for, be it Heaven, Paradise, Eden, Nirvana or Utopia. The difference is where we were once instinctive participants in the ideals, instinctively orientated to integrative meaning, indoctrinated with love, this time we’ll return in a knowing, conscious state. We will be ‘like God knowing’. We will be upset-free managers of the world. As T.S. Eliot wrote, ‘We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time’ (Four Quartets, from Part 5 of Little Gidding, 1942).
The following extraordinarily honest quote from the writings of Laurens van der Post describes how ‘before the dawning of individual consciousness’ humans lived in a state of Page 76 of
Print Edition ‘togetherness’; a state to which we have had such a hunger to return that it has been ‘like an unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart’: ‘This shrill, brittle, self-important life of today is by comparison a graveyard where the living are dead and the dead are alive and talking [through our soul] in the still, small, clear voice of a love and trust in life that we have for the moment lost…[there was a time when] All on earth and in the universe were still members and family of the early race seeking comfort and warmth through the long, cold night before the dawning of individual consciousness in a togetherness which still gnaws like an unappeasable homesickness at the base of the human heart’ (Testament to the Bushmen, 1984, pp.127—128 of 176).
In summary, it is the biological explanation of humans’ corrupted condition that liberates humans from the sense of guilt that has caused us to have to live in a ‘dead’, cave-like state of denial and alienation. The historic ‘burden of guilt’ has been lifted from the human race. We can at last understand that there was a sound (that is, integrative) biological reason for why humans became divisive and corrupted.
As such, science is the liberator of humanity. In discovering the existence of genes and nerves and learning how they work, science has made clarification of the human condition possible. By doing so it has ended the need for humans to live estranged and alienated from our beautiful soul, with all the horror that that destructive, dishonest and shallow existence entailed. A peace and happiness, such as we have hardly dared to dream of, now comes to Earth. Indeed, as we emerge from our dark ‘cave’ where we have been incarcerated to stand at last in the warm, healing ‘sunlight’ of reconciling knowledge, we are going to be staggered by the beauty of this world. As William Blake famously prophesised in his appropriately titled poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, ‘When the doors of perception are cleansed, man will see things as they truly are. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern’ (1790).
Buddhist scripture accurately describes how humans will be once the ameliorating understanding of the human condition arrives and is absorbed; the time, in the words of the scripture, when humans ‘will with a perfect voice preach the true Dharma, which is auspicious and removes all ill’. Of that time the scripture says, ‘Human beings are then without any blemishes, moral offences are unknown among them, and they are full of zest and joy. Their bodies are very large and their skin has a fine hue. Their strength is quite extraordinary’ (Maitreyavyakarana, tr. Edward Conze, Buddhist Scriptures, 1959, pp.238—242).
At the conclusion of Cry, the Beloved Country, author Alan Paton alluded to humanity’s dream of one day finding understanding of the human condition and, by doing so, freeing itself from our terrible ‘bondage of fear’. He wrote: ‘But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret’ (1948). Thankfully that day has arrived and all the horror and suffering that resulted from the human condition will now end. Bob Dylan wrote and sang that we have been, ‘Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door’; well we have finally broken in (Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, 1973).
Humanity’s journey has been astonishing. The greatest, most heroic story ever told is our own.
The Human Condition Documentary Proposal, written by Jeremy Griffith.
First published November 2004 by WTM Publishing & Communications Pty Ltd (ACN 103 136 778).
Copyright © Fedmex Pty Ltd (ACN 096 099 286) November 2004.
All rights reserved.