The Brain Virus—What Our Brains don’t want Us to Know, proposes that the human race has been infected by a “brain virus,” and rendered ineffective, just as computers are when infected by a computer virus. Humans are not emotionally equipped to be happy when we can’t be true to ourselves, yet that is the cultural circumstance our infected brains have inflicted upon us. We spend our lives trying to get right with life, by searching for happiness in religious beliefs, social and economic status, self-help teachings, meditation, and countless other things. Despite our efforts, things never feel quite right. The problem is, we are born to be expressions of life, not of the modern human cultures we live in. So, how could life possibly feel right, when subject to cultures based on values that are an affront to life?
Our infection has gone unnoticed, since it began affecting human brains 20 to 30 thousand years ago—for two reasons. First, no one could have imagined, until the computer era, how intelligence can be rendered dysfunctional by a simple bit of code—or, in the case of the human brain, a simple idea. Secondly, by the time we became aware that such infections can occur, human brains were universally afflicted, making the attitudes and sensibilities displayed by infected brains seem normal.
There’s no antivirus program for the human brain, nor is there likely ever to be. Disinfection is a matter of comprehension, not of intent. Recovery requires that we first comprehend how our brains became infected when a simple idea transformed what humans value, and thereby radically changed how our brains process information. Once that comprehension occurs, disinfection is a matter for each subconscious mind to accomplish, in its own time. Each mind must see through the core belief that sustains the virus. It is the belief that we can control the indefinite future, to useful ends. It fuels the illusion of human grandeur that makes us so certain that we, not Nature, control our destiny.
Unfortunately, because of this illusion, disinfection won’t be easy. Our infected brains love the brain virus for the same reason addicts love an addiction—because of how it makes us feel. Indeed, when under its influence, we love the brain virus more than we love ourselves, the people around us, or the habitat that sustains us.
Unlike uninfected brains, which value interdependent relationships above wealth and privilege, our infected brains hardly sense our real need for one another. Consequently, we function largely as “spiritual zombies,” mindless of our need for the relationships essential to our ability to love, to our happiness, and ultimately to our species’ survival.
I am not suggesting that we are actually spiritual zombies. If we were, we could manage cultures that offend our souls without experiencing any emotional pain. The fact that we are in pain is evidence that our souls, and all the evolutionary wisdom they contain, remain intact, ready to guide us to the lives we were meant to live. The point of this book is to learn how to respect the wisdom of our souls, so we can be open to their guidance, and thence to life’s promise.
The Brain Virus
What Our Brains Don’t want Us to Know
As the pressures that human cultures place on the environment increase, maybe it’s time to rethink the materialism that defines the modern world. Though we revere legal systems, because we see them as providing us the freedom to pursue personal wealth and privilege, they in fact compel us to largely focus on wealth and privilege as our only avenue to happiness. Unfortunately, this perspective is not only threatening to denature the environment, it fails to satisfy our essential human need for intimacy.
Two questions arise: Are we really happy? Is wealth and privilege what humans really want? I don’t think so. I believe what we want most in life is the happiness of loving, and of being loved, unconditionally. The problem with wealth and privilege is that it results in independence, not the interdependence that combines the two essentials for love—having others who care for us, and being there to care for them. We have trapped ourselves, it seems, in an existence where we devote our lives to pursuing something we don’t really want.
Just as a computer virus can misdirect a computer’s output, our brains seem to have also been infected with a virus. This “brain virus” manifests itself by inspiring us to make choices that lead to unhappiness, instead of the happiness we seek.
Emotions Express the Survival Wisdom of Our Species
The brain virus has us believing that happiness comes primarily from gratifying our material needs. Satisfying material needs is important—up to a point—but how we satisfy them is far more important.
Before the virus existed, humans functioned as members of a social species. We secured our material needs by the simple act of taking care of our brothers and sisters and being taken care of by them. In effect, our brothers and sisters served us in the same way our bank account does, now, by insuring our present and future wellbeing. As a result, we now love money as much as we once loved them. The difference between loving people and loving money is that people can do something that bank accounts can’t—people can love us back. When we have love, we don’t need that much, materially, to be happy.
This virus-caused misdirection of our attitudes and sensibilities has so universally skewed our perspective on life that the presence of the virus is imperceptible, to us. To detect the virus, we must address our circumstances from an entirely new, yet much simpler point of view. We need to recognize the key role of emotions in the life of a species, which is: Emotions exist to inspire the behaviors required for the species to flourish. Consequently, any species that operates in contradiction to its normal feelings, cannot long endure. To recognize this—that feelings of the moment express the survival wisdom of the species—is to be amazed that something so essential, simple, and fundamental isn’t common knowledge. That it isn’t, can be explained in only one way: It is something that the brain virus doesn’t want us to know.
Legal Truth is Not True
The brain virus, you see, thrives on compelling us to deny our feelings of the moment, in order to secure our future needs. Our recognition that both happiness and our species’ eventual survival are dependent on being true to our feelings of the moment is something the brain virus cannot allow. That knowledge is the one thing that could defeat it. So, although I trust that most of the things you are about to read will make sense on a point-to-point basis, be forewarned, it is not easy reading. How can it be? It’s all about things our brains do not want us to know—including mine, when they first occurred to me.
The brain virus not only has us pursuing happiness in wealth and privilege, it inspires us to organize in mass societies. That is, it possesses us with the desire to organize life under a system of legally-imposed truth, so that everyone in the land can secure their personal needs, and still peacefully co-exist. The problem is that no such “truth” exists, legal or otherwise.
This isn’t to say that truth, itself, doesn’t exist. There are factual truths that clearly do exist, such as historical truth, the laws of physics, truth regarding the location of resources, and truth about how we feel. These truths are real, because they are verifiable by direct experience—past or present. Legal truth differs from real truth in three ways. First, it cannot be verified by direct experience, because its consequences reside in the distant future—a domain that does not yet exist. For instance, how could the people who instituted the first monetary system ever have imagined the eventual consequences of such systems—spiritual alienation, our separation from the land, the industrial revolution, atomic weapons, and finally, global habitat destruction, to name a few? Second, unlike real truth, legal truth exists only where there are central authorities to impose it. And the third way legal truth differs from real truth is that it is not universal.
The test for truth—surely we agree—is that it must be universal, which means that, to be real, there must be only one truth, only one true history, only one law that applies to the velocity of a falling object, only one truth regarding the location of a specific watering hole. And, as to our feelings—though there may be conflicts among them—they define only one state of mind at any point in time.
Legal truth fails the test of universality in two ways: It varies among jurisdictions, sometimes radically; It changes with the passage of every law. Yet, we allow it to govern our lives as though it were ageless and utterly real. Why do we subjugate our lives to a “truth” that is neither verifiable nor universal? We do so because we see legal truth as the absolute requirement for social order. Our willingness to remain subjects of legal truth—even kill on its behalf—reveals that we are far more concerned with order than with truth.
Like the Universe, Life is Ordered by Unseen Forces
That we are more concerned about order than truth isn’t surprising. Order is essential to our existence. The question is: Is legal truth, in fact, required for order? I argue that it isn’t. A system of laws can create order among the masses, for awhile. But, because legal systems codify inequitable distribution of resources, material deprivation eventually builds to the point that most people become more concerned about satisfying their immediate needs than about social order. At that point, the chaos of revolution erupts, which, if successful, restores hope, by instituting a new system of legal truth—that is, a new system for codifying the inequitable distribution of resources.
But how can there be order, without instituted laws? Clearly, the animal world is ordered, and animals do not have legal systems. The animal world is apparently ordered by unseen forces. That unseen forces are at play should not surprise us. The physical universe is governed by gravitational, electro-magnetic, and subatomic forces, all unseen.
If unseen forces govern the animal world, what might those forces be? Those who love animals know that animal behavior is governed by feelings. If hungry, animals eat. If cold, they find shelter. If feeling amorous, they have sex. If lonely, they find others to be with. If moved to sacrifice themselves, or to kill, they do so. The order we observe in the animal world results from each individual behaving according to its most dominant feeling, at each moment of its existence. Emotions are clearly the unseen forces that express the “laws of life.”
Emotions express the laws of life for humans, also. But, because emotions are unseen, we are as unaware of the laws of life as we once were of the laws of physics—until we discovered them, only a few seconds ago, in evolutionary time.
Unaware, as we are, that unseen forces are already present to guide, govern, and protect the life of a species, humans see law and order as the only thing that stands between us and chaos. Written laws are not only visible, they are instituted with the intent of changing human behavior from its natural, organic bent. This is tantamount to instituting new equations, in order to change the effects of gravity on the velocity of falling objects. The problem is that the universe works only one way. And so does life. Life’s way is unique for each species, and, because evolution is a trial-and-error process, life’s way is organic and imprecise. Being revealed by emotions, life’s way is accessible to us, only moment to moment, through our feelings—or, as I like to think of it, the human spirit.
The difference between the laws of physics, and those of life is that the behavior of falling objects can’t be changed by instituting laws, while human behavior can. It’s just that, in each instance of such change, there’s a price to pay in terms of emotional pain and, ultimately, in our species’ ability to survive. The starkest, most extreme example of this occurred when humanity underwent its institutionally-imposed transformation from a social species to a pair bonding one.
Because institutions exist to change human behavior from its natural organic bent, institutions are anti-Nature—that is, they force us to break the laws of life. For instance, if humans were actually a pair bonding species, the institution of marriage could not possibly exist, because lifetime pair bonds would occur naturally.
The eventual consequence of instituting laws is social upheaval—the very chaos we think we are avoiding by instituting laws. The cataclysms that typify the ends of all civilizations reveal that the laws of life—not states—are sovereign. Life’s laws cannot be ignored, not for long. But, being unaware that the laws of life exist, we have had no way to comprehend the message.
The message is:
Just as the universe’s existence is dependent on the laws of physics, life’s existence is dependent on the laws of life.
To Honor Life’s Laws, we must Respect Emotions
Because they are revealed by emotions, the laws of life are far too complex to put into words, or—as with the laws of physics—to describe mathematically. For instance, how would you like to be tasked with describing, in detail, every possible situation in which honoring feelings—such as hunger, anger, acceptance, rejection, romance, or to self-sacrifice or kill—creates the order required for our species to flourish? You would end up with libraries of documentation.
Though life’s laws are too complex to be documented, we can respect them by keeping in mind that, because they are expressions of emotions, life’s laws and our emotions share the same qualities:
- They apply only to the moment.
- They apply only among individuals who are emotionally acquainted with one another, and with the habitat that sustains them.
- They are uniquely expressed by each individual’s personality, sensibilities, and behavior.
As expressions of life, we are born to be subjects of life’s laws. Yet, in the modern world, we eventually awaken to find ourselves subjects of legal truth. We are thereby forced, by the necessity to survive, to regularly ignore the above three observations regarding where and how the laws of life apply.
We ignore them in the following ways:
- Each time we contract for a lifetime relationship, or agree to any other legal arrangement, believing we will always feel the same about it as we do at that moment, we are ignoring life’s laws by committing ourselves to repress many of the feelings of the moment we might have towards that arrangement, for the rest of our lives.
- Each time we judge another person with whom we are not emotionally acquainted—whether on the basis of color, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ideology, or by voting—we are ignoring the laws of life, which apply only in circumstances of emotional intimacy.
- And, each time we impose legal truth to prescribe how everyone in the land is to react to a specific situation, we ignore that each individual is a unique emotional expression of life, and thus of life’s laws. (Of course, the word unique does not include disfigured behavior—behavior that is dangerous to others—which would be unacceptable in any culture, spiritually free or otherwise.)
What are the consequences of breaking life’s laws? What if, for instance, we were respecting our feelings of the moment, as humans once did, and thus living according to the laws of life? How would that affect our existence differently than honoring legal truth? Here are a few of the ways:
- The laws of life organize us so that we simultaneously serve our own and our species’ needs. Because we are expressions of our species, our needs and our species’ needs are one and the same. Legal truth organizes us to serve ourselves, as individuals, but only in deference to the state, and as servants of the state.
- When we abide by life’s laws, our full spectrum of emotions is poised for immediate expression. When we abide by legal truth, we habitually hide most of our feelings of the moment, for the sake of satisfying our overriding concern, which is: “How am I going to secure my future needs?”
- When abiding by life’s laws, we live in the moment. We satisfy all feelings by doing something. When abiding by legal truth, we live mostly in the future. We satisfy most feelings by pursuing the promise of beliefs, goals, hopes, and dreams.
- When honoring the laws of life, we are agents of our species. We have the spiritual authority to self-sacrifice or kill, on behalf of our species. When honoring legal truth, we are agents of the state. We are willing to self-sacrifice, and have the legal authority to kill, on our state’s behalf.
- As subjects of life’s laws, we know the unconditional love inherent to interdependent relationships. As subjects of legal truth, we are dependents of the state, largely spiritually estranged from one another, sometimes even within our own homes.
- The laws of life are grounded in the wisdom each species has genetically accumulated over evolutionary time. Legal truth is grounded in mankind’s belief that, by virtue of pure reason or by the word of God, we are privileged to use this planet to our own ends.
- The laws of life are viable, as is evident by the fact that life continues to flourish on this planet. Legal truth is not viable, as is evidenced by the eventual collapse of all nation states, throughout history.
Happiness is Our Reward for Being True to Life
Unaware, as we are, that there are laws of life that maintain order among animate beings, humans love legal truth. We love it not just because we see it as essential for order, but also because it feels good to believe that, by virtue of our good intentions—made manifest by instituted law—we can have things our own way…or God’s way. But, regardless of how much we love it, legal truth can never justify life’s existence. In fact, I know of no truth in the universe that says life should exist. Life can persist only by virtue of our emotional natures, through which life gifts us with the will to live and the emotional wisdom to make choices that optimize the likelihood of its success. If truth cannot justify life’s existence, then no truth can govern it—whether that truth is religious, legal, ideological, philosophic, scientific or otherwise.
Except for habitat destruction, no greater disaster can befall a species than for the laws of life that sustain it to be ignored. Fortunately, our species is the only one to which this has happened. Unfortunately, the habitat destruction resulting from our misguided activities has caused many species to go extinct. But, their suffering is over now, while our state of spiritual estrangement continues, which is as great a suffering as there can be for a member of any social species. (Having been through two divorces, I can testify that my dear ex-wives and I have contributed many human-years to the body of human suffering, as a result of trying to establish a home, according to the dictates of legal truth.)
Why does legal subjugation result in suffering? To break any law results in suffering. How can we not suffer when, as subjects of legal systems, we must break life’s laws to survive. The freedom to be true to ourselves is the only way we can be true to life. (To thine own self be true—William Shakespeare.) It is the only freedom our souls want. Unfortunately, that is the one freedom that legal truth cannot allow—indebted, as it is, to state sovereignty.
By virtue of evolution, happiness is as simple as this: Our emotions reward and punish us on the basis of whether or not we are succeeding at being true to life. When our survival is dependent on our being true to the state, we can hardly be truly happy. As a consequence, unhappiness is so rife in the modern world that we spend our lives largely in the pursuit of wealth and privilege, which aren’t what we really want. As members of a social species, what we want is the unconditional love that occurs only amongst the members of an extended family who are taking care of one another, for the sake of their mutual survival.
Significant Obstacles Stand Between Us and Life
If our souls prefer the intimacy of interdependent relationships, over wealth and privilege, why don’t we simply form families that are bonded by mutually-experienced emotional and material needs? There are many reasons. Here are the main ones.
- Because we have never experienced the unconditional love inherent to interdependent relationships, we do not know its source. We have nothing to inspire us to form families based on mutual needs.
- As subjects of legal truth, we view the idea of trusting our lives to our feelings as animalistic, not human. To trust our relationships to our feelings would engender the contempt of our society, which sees humans as profoundly separate and superior to animals.
- Institutional subjugation renders us each personally responsible for our own future. Our perceived success, therefore, is based on whether we are “making it on our own.” But, it’s a false pride to think that humans have ever made it on their own. After all, the institutions that subjugate us succeed in doing so because they bolster us by providing money and law—the wherewithal for securing our material needs on our own. Truth be known, there are only two sources of support—natural interdependent relationships, or money and law, and we are absolutely dependent on either one or the other. When we find pleasure in “making it on our own,” we are not making it on our own, but taking false pride in our dependency on money and law. As modern humans, steeped in a monetary/legal “reality,” our ties to the far more powerful emotional connections of natural interdependent relationships seems so remote as to be nonexistent. So, of course we don’t choose them.
- To anchor our lives in relationships is not possible, without surrendering our legal and monetary identities, and thus, our wealth and privilege. In other words, the identities we have always recognized as our selves—and to which we have devoted our lives—would have to die.
Just the thought of such a death experience is painful, even for a person who believes that, both a new birth into spiritual freedom, and the unconditional love inherent to success in that life, are waiting on the other side. However, should we ever find ourselves in circumstances where we were free to be true to our feelings of the moment, in our relationships with those around us, I believe we would see the passing of legal-self as our life’s greatest blessing.
The issue isn’t that we don’t know how to love unconditionally. Nothing can expunge our capacity for unconditional love, which is as innate as our senses of hunger, anger, romance, or grief. All of these are feelings we can and do experience, but only in situations where they make sense. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to feel hungry if we have just had dinner, or to feel grief if we haven’t lost a loved one.
We seldom experience the unconditional love of interdependent relationships, because legal systems both compel us to repress our feelings of the moment, on behalf of future concerns, and they destroy interdependence, by forcing us to compete with one another, in order to survive. Our need is to find a way, within this hostile territory, to re-establish organic human relationships in which we, and everyone around us, can thrive, by taking care of one another. As members of a social species, only within the context of relationships bonded by mutually-experienced needs are we free to be the spirits we are born to be.
Unconditional love makes sense only when we are free to be ourselves, and that is only when our wellbeing is one with the wellbeing of those around us. Love is not something that’s learned or intended, and love is never an act. Love is real—indeed, as real as hunger or grief. This is why unconditional love happens only in circumstances where it makes sense.
- Finally, by surrendering our legal identities, which include our citizenship, we would be recognizing the laws of life as sacred, instead of the state. By not honoring the state’s laws as sacrosanct, we would be questioning the state’s sovereignty. To do so would incite fear and foreboding in the minds of the larger populace, whose sense of wellbeing and security depends entirely on legal truth being universally recognized as absolute. Indeed, Jesus’ refusal to acknowledge the state as sovereign, when brought before Pilot, is why the crowds wanted him crucified. It also explains why Roman citizens gathered in the Colosseum to celebrate the feeding of Christians to lions. These are just two examples of the extreme chastisements exclusively reserved by a citizenry for those whom they perceive as their worst enemies, i.e., heretics. Heretics are despised more than traitors. Traitors, at least, believe in law and order.
So there are plenty of reasons why life, as experienced by modern humans, lacks the order we see in the natural world, and why we seldom know the unconditional love with which our emotions would reward us, were we succeeding at being true to life.
Conceptual Transitions are Never Easy, Regardless of How Simple the Concept
But, things can change, even radically. In a time of artificial intelligence and robotics, we know so much more than people did at the time of Jesus. They didn’t even know about evolution. We now know, for instance, that for artificial intelligence to serve a purpose, it must be carefully programmed to serve that purpose, a process that usually involves a lot of trial and error. Why wouldn’t the same apply to biological intelligence—the combination of instincts, knowledge, and sensory system, that informs a living being? Nowadays, it surely isn’t that much of a stretch for us to recognize that the purpose of biological intelligence is to serve the life of its species, and also to recognize that it was programmed, by the processes of evolution, to serve that purpose.
Nevertheless—and despite the simplicity of the concept—it is no easier for people, today, to accept that the brain has been programmed by evolution to serve a specific purpose, than it once was for people to accept that the earth was not the center of the universe. In fact, accepting that was so difficult that the guy who discovered it had to agree to house arrest, and to keep his mouth shut, for the sake of his very life.
Given that the brain has been programmed by evolution to inspire the behavior that optimizes its species’ chances for success, think how complex that program must be, and how much evolutionary trial and error has been required to refine it. Whenever we ignore our feelings of the moment, in deference to legal truth, we are discarding the output of that wonderful natural program, which is our most precious asset. It is the program that gifts us with our ability to love, and also to fulfill our reason for being. By disconnecting us from our purpose, legal truth is, in effect, a brain virus that has rendered the human brain useless to the species it evolved to serve. By seriously limiting our access to love, the virus has also rendered our brains virtually useless to us in our search for happiness. And, since the “legal-truth” virus has infected all human brains, everyone’s behavior is similarly affected, which hides the virus. Even more disconcerting for the prognosis of life on earth, infected brains can organize societies en masse, making them appear superior to uninfected ones.
So, we remain spiritual zombies, infected by a “brain virus.” And we remain separated from life—from the essence of it—because the virus denies us the freedom to answer to our souls.
The legal-truth virus does serve us well, if we want pyramids, temples, skyscrapers, instant worldwide communications, fancy cars, air travel, and rocket ships. These are all “gifts” of mass organization. On the other hand, if we want happiness, love, sustainability, and a future for our species—as well as for many others—only uninfected brains can light the way.
As was true with both Galileo’s and Darwin’s discoveries, no conceptual transition that affects how we see our place in the overall scheme of things is easy. And, if our species is to survive, we are about to face the most painful one of all, which will start the moment it begins to dawn on us that our belief in the state is a symptom of our brains being infected with the legal-truth virus.
Another example of a conceptual transition is a child’s realization that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Why do children continue to believe in Santa Claus, long after the evidence against him is overwhelming? Because their will to believe is far greater than their will to know the truth.
The evidence that states are not viable expressions of life is also overwhelming. But, having been raised as dependents of states, the only sense of wellbeing, purpose, security, and self we have ever known has been provided by the state. Our abject dependency on legal truth gives the state cult-like (if not God-like) power over us.
Incensed by Mindlessness
In my mind’s eye, I see a group of ducklings scurrying along to keep pace with a man whom they have been imprinted to see as their mother. But, it is we who are the ducklings, and the man is the state. Though we like to think otherwise, we have no more control over where the state is taking us than those ducklings do over where the man is leading them. In effect, the state is our parent—even more than our parents. Consequently, like the child, our will to believe in the “Santa Claus” who gifts us with “order”—and a whole lot of other stuff we think we need, but don’t—is far greater than our will to know the truth.
But children eventually do get over their belief in Santa Claus. As I see it, the hope for mankind is that we will eventually get over our belief in the state, as the pain of legal subjugation eventually becomes simply too great a burden to bear. In either instance, shock is involved. But, since our sense of self, and of wellbeing, are far more invested in the state’s sovereignty than a child’s is in Santa Claus, the shock we must endure is far greater. Having been through that conceptual transition, myself—emotional chasm, if you will—I know the shock of it well. I can personally testify that, no matter how difficult or painful it was to realize that nothing real was going on in my life, or in the world around me, the transition is survivable. And I had to survive it all alone. Having others to share in the transition would surely help.
It isn’t that I feel there’s much real going on in my life, now. It’s just that my brain has adapted to that situation. Adaptability is part of our problem, because it makes the situation to which we have adapted feel normal. Even worse, it makes it seem necessary, as our legal subjugation does, now.
Upon realizing it was his parents, not Santa Claus, who were bringing the presents, all along, a child will sometimes exclaim, “Now things make sense!” There are many senseless things burdening our existence that we will recognize as mindless, only after we get over believing in our “Santa Claus.” For instance, outlawing murder is one facet of legal truth that does pass the test of universality, as every state authorizes laws against killing. Yet, as dependents of one of those states, we are inspired to kill people in distant lands en masse—people just like us who have not directly offended us in any way—in order to protect our institutions of government—in effect, to protect our legal identities. If we are born to be agents of life, as surely as are all other living beings, these atrocities we commit when defending various notions of legal truth can hardly be viewed as anything other than mindless. Yet, to brains infected with the legal-truth virus, such behavior makes perfect sense. It has been justified by the greatest legal minds, since the very first states existed.
Once we cease believing in legal truth, we may find ourselves so incensed by the mindlessness of our existence—not with just this example, but countless others to which we were once blind—that we find ourselves compelled to do something radical. To find relief from the spiritual insult of it all, we might decide, not just to divorce ourselves from all personal legal arrangements—as many people already have—but also from legal systems, entirely, by trusting our lives to a body of people. This, I figure, is exactly how humans behaved before our minds were infected with the legal-truth virus, in the first place.
Awareness of Life’s Laws is Paramount to Recovery
So what do we do? Not only are conceptual transitions difficult journeys, they are never intended. They just happen to us, when the time is right. Consequently, there is nothing we can ever do about it. Can an infected computer heal itself? Does a child stop believing in Santa Claus, by conscious choice? Of course not. The child’s subconscious mind is taking comfort in the belief that Santa exists. Consequently, only when the subconscious mind sees through its illusions—be they belief in Santa Claus, or in the state—will we cease finding comfort in them. Then, and only then, is the conscious mind let in on reality. To presume that we can deliberately bring about the needed change is to presume that we—our conscious minds—are in control of life, that we are gods.
Thousands of years ago, the authors of Genesis could not have been more clear when they explained how, by thinking we are gods, we expelled ourselves from Eden: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil—Genesis 3:5. Why do well-meaning and caring people who view the Bible as the sacred word of God, continue to proclaim the knowledge of good and evil—the very knowledge that the Bible warned us to avoid, by calling it the forbidden fruit? That this type of thing happens to all brains, not just religiously-inspired ones, demonstrates how illogical the brain can be, never even glimpsing a hint of its own irrationality. It also explains the brain’s vulnerability to the legal-truth virus.
Using its ability to reason, the brain seeks only one thing—to figure out how to satisfy its feelings of the moment. When living in the moment, reason serves the brain well. It is immediately evident whether a specific activity satisfies a feeling, such as hunger, anger, caring, or romance. If satisfaction doesn’t result from what it is doing, the brain can try something else. But reason fails, whenever the brain tries to control the future.
To control the future, the brain must abandon the moment, because it can’t attend to both. Either it honors its feelings of the moment, or it authorizes a system of laws to dictate the behavior required to realize its idealized future—a future, by the way, in which there are no killings, where conflicts are settled by negotiation, rather than on the field of battle, and where every deserving individual has reasonable access to his or her material and emotional needs.
The consequences to the individual of abandoning the feelings of the moment are severe: When the brain outlaws those feelings—our sole connection to the survival wisdom of our species—we no longer can function as ourselves. Forced to deny our feelings of the moment, we become zombie-like caricatures of ourselves. Moreover, legal systems do not result in the idealized futures their creators imagined. Nor are they sustainable. Ironically, the fact that they don’t work does not concern the brain. All the brain cares about is that its most desperate need of the moment be met—the need to believe it is in control of the future. Legal systems enable the brain to believe that the future is no longer uncertain, by providing a framework that “proves” it is bracketed and contained by laws and enforcement. The brain’s need for such “proof” is not irrational, but a testament to the most salient, everpresent, fact of life—that life is not safe, that the future is, by nature, uncertain, and that humans are not made to face that uncertainty alone. Nature made us social animals, built to cling to each other in mutual reliance. But we broke our bonds with each other, thus also with life, by attempting to control the future. This forced upon us the only other alternative—life as believers in law.
But, how can the brain continue to believe in something that doesn’t work? In essence, the brain has no choice other than to believe. Only by belief in legal truth can the brain avoid going into a state of panic regarding the uncertainties of the future. But, what about the evidence that law and order isn’t working? The brain automatically blinds itself to the significance of all such evidence. The brain, it turns out, is far more concerned with avoiding an immediate state of panic, than it is about actually controlling the future. Blinding itself to the reality that it is not actually in control of the future may seem complicated, to us, but such blindness is easily managed by those hundred billion neurons that make up our gray matter. It is, after all, those neurons, not “us,” that are the assigners of significance to anything we recognize as important, including such things as food, clothing, shelter, love, our own existence, and the illusions through which our brains comfort themselves regarding future uncertainties.
But why would our brains seek comfort by choosing illusions over love? The answer is, they don’t choose. They simply make the best of whatever circumstances they are in. In an organic human culture, one in which no human is making lifetime claims on any other, our brains are true to their genetic wisdom, thus to life. The unconditional love inherent to interdependent relationships is the unavoidable outcome. But, when subject to institutions, being true to life is no longer an option. Our brains make the best of that situation by creating illusions through which they dream of future comforts to compensate for the pain of an existence that is essentially bereft of love.
“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”
Self–deception is finding comfort in ideas, ideologies, and beliefs that apply to the ldistant future, thus having nothing to do with life. Self-deception is essential to our emotional health when we are not free to serve life. For instance, as a subject of the state, my brain is finding meaning in developing this thesis about spiritual freedom. But, it’s really an exercise in self-deception. I have no hard evidence for these views, because the proof for them resides in an imagined future. Furthermore, by projecting my views into the lives of people with whom I am not emotionally acquainted, I am breaking the laws of life. But, we must not blame ourselves for our exercises in self-deception. It is our only access to meaning, when we are not free to be true to life.
Though the brain easily recognizes self-deception in others, it is stone blind to its own. In other words, my brain is blind to the possibility that the views I am presenting, herein, may not be true. Such blindness is essential to our emotional health when we are not free to serve life. Otherwise, our institutionalized brains, which are denied the natural comfort that results from being true to life, could not find the only comfort that is available to them by deceiving themselves.
Love is the only antidote to self-deception—keeping in mind that love is not something we do, but is what happens to us when we are free to be true to life. Were I existing in our natural state, a state of love, I would be so involved in the lives of the people around me that these thoughts would be the last thing on my mind. Intentional love, on the other hand, is just another form of self-deception, but not a very satisfactory one. Love is hard to pretend.
It is interesting to take note of how the brain reacts, when subject to institutions through which it presumes to be in control of the distant future. As the future becomes ever-more uncertain, the brain doubles down, craving even more the comfort provided by its belief in institutions—a comfort so transient that it requires constant renewal, through pledges of allegiance, nationalistic fervor, invocation of the name of God on behalf of the state, flag waving, etc. Through this process, the legal-truth virus perpetually tightens its grip on our minds, in a self-replicating sequence of events that will surely seal the fate of our kind, unless that grip can somehow be broken.
This apparent inability of our brains to accept the ambiguity of the indefinite future may seem like a tragic failure, but it is not. Managing the distant future is not the job of a brain whose natural state is to be absorbed by the intimacy and satisfactions of mutual reliance, within a small group of people who depend on one another for survival. Therefore, it is inescapable that the pervasive anxieties of modern humans are not an ailment, but a signal that we are not where we belong, not living the lives we were made for.
Animals do not know about life’s laws, but they don’t have to. Without the linguistic ability that makes it possible even to attempt to control the distant future, animals can’t break them by outlawing their feelings of the moment. But, for our “languaged brains” which have outlawed their feelings of the moment, knowing that the laws of life exist is paramount.
With that knowledge, our brains have a choice that heretofore did not exist. Either avoid an immediate state of panic about the uncertainties of the future, by believing in law and order, or avoid it, by believing in the laws of life. If our brains choose to find comfort in the promise of instituted laws, then our lives will remain much as they are, regardless of what we do. If our brains, instead, find comfort by believing in the laws of life, given time, that belief might transform our existence.
A Spiritual Home
How will believing in the laws of life transform existence? First, trusting the laws of life involves surrendering our designs on the future, a surrender without which real intimacy is impossible. Relinquishing our legal identities—which is to surrender our designs on the future—frees us to trust our lives to the feelings of those we love. Having placed our trust in life’s laws, we will regain our spiritual connection with our souls, and behave like members of the social species that we are. We will serve ourselves by doing what we love most, which is to take care of others. In the simple act of living, we will make a real difference in the lives of those around us. No longer functioning like spiritual zombies, we will feel connected to life, instead of feeling like mere observers of a world that inexplicably seems to have gone mad, and over which we have little, if any, control.
At long last, we will have a spiritual home, the kind of home humans and pre-humans lived in when our emotions were evolving over millions of years. We will no longer be consigned to threading our way, as best we can, through a chaotic and emotionally-hostile world—one that we don’t emotionally understand—to get to life’s end with whatever semblance of pleasures and dignities we can manage.
In our spiritual home, we will have a sense of belonging without need for religious, ideological, or national identities. We’ll have a sense of significance, without advanced degrees, achieving wealth, or climbing Mt. Everest. We will know that we care, because of the pleasure we’ll take in caring for those around us, every day of our lives. We will also know that we are cared for, even at the end, when we take our leave in the presence of those we love.
Evolution has honed our souls, so that a spiritual home is the only place in the universe where our spirits fit. This is the place our hearts know as home, the place where we can contribute simply by being ourselves. Because our emotional natures took their form in spiritual homes, to live in one means that no one has to pretend to feel anything other than what he or she actually feels—even when angry. (Anger is as legitimate an expression of the laws of life, as any other feeling.) The happiness of loving and of being loved cannot happen in circumstances in which we must pretend—by which I mean, we must lie about our feelings of the moment, in the hope that our lie will please someone. Such lies presume that our feelings of the moment are of little significance, hence, that the laws of life don’t exist.
Something to keep in mind:
If being true to life is our goal, then unconditional love—which is life’s ultimate reward for being true to life—is our only measure of success.
On the face of it, a spiritual home may seem like a commune, but it’s actually the opposite. By definition, a commune is a planned community. The planners establish rules, revealing that they are far more concerned about realizing their imagined future, than about their freedom to be true to themselves, regarding their relationships and how they serve one another. Obligating oneself to the dictates of rules, for the privilege of living with others, results in a lifetime of work. Contributing toothers by our own choice, by which I mean, in ways that satisfy our feelings of the moment, is never work. Quite the contrary, it is how we gift those we love with our presence. Our lives are either given, as gifts, or they are governed by obligations. The point is, either we trust our souls, or we trust plans. There is no in-between, and our choice makes all the difference.
Because commune members abide by rules, they exist in a state of self-conflict. This is because no behavior can honor the rules and, simultaneously, be true to life. Whenever we are subject to rules, we are possessed by two competing selves, the natural one and the rule follower. In order for the individual to remain a member of the commune, the natural self—which inspires us to be true to life—must be repressed by the rule follower. Repressing the sensibilities of one’s soul, in any way, results in emotional pain. The reason communes disband is that the members eventually reach the point where they must find relief from the pain of spiritual repression. In the same way, all states eventually collapse. Being based on constitutionally imposed plans, states are, in effect, massive communes.
Communes and states also fail, regardless of how remarkable their achievements, because endeavors taken up by associations of people that are governed by long term plans, not by the wisdom of the human soul, are predisposed to eventual chaos. The authors of Genesis tried to warn us about this, with the story of The Tower of Babble. How did they know that chaos was the consequence of verbally-specified plans? They lived at the time when the practice of centralizing order, through the authority of the written word, was first getting underway. They observed, firsthand, the consequences of which we moderns are unaware, because, now—some thousands of years later—they are the norm.
Our Own Worst Enemies
We modern humans, you see, are not participating in life according to our deepest, most heartfelt sensibilities, as humans did for our first 200,000 years. Instead, the legal-truth virus keeps us trying to protect ourselves from life by obeying written laws that specify what is good and what is evil. By finding comfort in the belief that it is necessary to protect ourselves from life, our infected brains are oblivious to something important—life is all there is. It seems to me that what the authors of Genesis were really saying, is: By presuming to know good and evil, we, as presumed gods, are trying to protect ourselves from all there is.
Our presumption that we are in control of life—that we, like gods, are above Nature and Nature’s governance—obliges us to feel that we must govern ourselves. Unfortunately, this is a task for which Nature never prepared us, as is evident by our unhappiness and our destructiveness. Because it is not in the nature of life to destroy itself, life’s laws limit the destructiveness of all animate beings, other than modern humans: Under the rule of “sovereign” states, we are no longer subject to the limits life’s laws would normally place on our behavior. As a result, our capacity for destructiveness is virtually without limits. In a strange way, through our presumption that we must protect ourselves from life, we have become the very embodiment of what we most fear.
Under Nature’s governance, tens of thousands of years ago, humans didn’t live in a state of fear—particularly not in fear of the future. Having no legal claims on the future, they had no reason even to concern themselves with it—other than its certainties, such as sunsets and changing seasons—leaving them free to live in the moment. Indeed, instead of trying to control the future, they dealt with its uncertainties as they unfolded into each moment. As members of organic human families, they were bolstered by an abiding sense that they could deal with anything the future could possibly throw at them. No, this doesn’t mean, of course, they could actually deal with every possible future event. They just felt that they could. But, how we feel is what’s important, not the facts. Regarding the future, there are no facts, only beliefs.
Science writer David DiSalvo explains the centrality of feelings to the human condition, in his book: What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should do the Opposite:
“A happy brain interprets uncertainty as a threat and wants us to get back to “right.” But what we often overlook is that what we are really trying to recover is the feeling of being right—because it is the emotional response of rightness that shuts off the alarms and puts us at ease. It’s easy to confuse this feeling with the real thing, and all of us are culpable. The truth is, however, that the evidence may not align with the source of your certainty, and that’s a difficult realization for any of us to acknowledge.”
When money rules our world, we quite naturally feel we are right to pursue happiness through wealth and privilege. But, the human spirit should rule our world, just as the spirits of lions, eagles, and elephants have always ruled theirs. By satisfying our need to feel right, through our devotion to money, not relationships, we are “confusing the feeling of being right with the real thing.” Consequently, we are missing out on life’s ultimate feeling of certainty, the certainty experienced by the members of a real human family who feel that, together, they can deal with whatever uncertainties the future has to offer. By finding certainty in money, instead of relationships, we are also missing out on life’s ultimate experience of love.
Why wouldn’t our spirits find certainty in relationships based on the love inherent to interdependence? Modern we may be, but our spirits still carry within them the same sensibilities that evolved over eons of living in spiritual homes. Indeed, it is these spiritual connections—improbable in modern life—that have always enabled natural humans to face the future with a calm and confidence that is all-but-unknown to those of us alive today.
As subjects of instituted law, not relationships, we must plan our futures. Our plans are not based on trust or love. They are based on money, property, and contracts—all manifestations of spiritual distrust, which is the opposite of love. And, since our sense of wellbeing depends entirely on our ability to realize our plans, we quite naturally feel that we have a God-given right to the money, property, and contracts on which stand our plans. But, whenever our plans are thwarted—by theft, damaged property, broken contracts, or whatever—we do not beseech God for justice. We look to the judicial and police powers of the state. This is how the state, an entity that exists only by virtue of our fear of something that doesn’t exist becomes our god. And what do we fear that doesn’t exist? Imagined futures. This is also why we believe in good and evil. Anything supporting the state, or its laws, is good, that means anything that authorizes our God-given right to our money, property, and contracts. Likewise, anything that thwarts the state or its laws is evil.
Indeed, when we act on behalf of the state that authorizes our “God-given” right to realize the future we have planned, we believe, in all sincerity and certainty, that we are acting on behalf of God. This explains why all soldiers go to war in the belief that God is on their side. Unfortunately, though we presume to be acting on behalf of God, we don’t have the mind of God—that is, we are not gods. So, most of the things we do in the name of the state—instituting laws, subjugating ourselves to laws, or defending laws—is mindless, which explains our destructiveness to our own kind, and to the planet.
But, let’s be kind to ourselves. We have become our own worst enemies, not by evil intent, but because we wanted to do the right thing. Our gifts of language and abstract thinking did this to us. They gave us the ability to imagine what difficulties the distant future might bring, and to discuss and share our concerns about them. This, quite naturally, afflicted us with a powerful fear of imagined future events. Hoping to prevent what we feared from happening, we focused on controlling the future. But, in that effort, we outlawed most of our feelings of the moment, thereby breaking the laws of life. Though unintended, it was a costly mistake. By trying to control the indefinite future, we surrendered the spiritual freedom humanity had forever known. No longer able to live in the moment, we sentenced ourselves to lives of emotional isolation, fear, and the general state of unhappiness from which we now suffer.
Our recovery will not be the result of some grandiose, well-planned and well-financed final victory of good over evil. Our recovery will be a matter of comprehension. We must understand how we got ourselves into the fix we’re in, and, in particular, how our fear of imagined futures—which, in fact, do not exist—led humans to invent the concepts of good and evil, which don’t really exist, either. Only with that awareness, can the laws of life regain control, in which case recovery will simply be a matter of letting the chips fall where they may. Without that comprehension, I have every reason to believe that the chips will just keep right on falling where they have been.
So, we can see how our minds—determined to avoid a state of panic regarding future uncertainties—deny us the freedom to stop believing in anything, by conscious choice—including law and order. However, the likelihood that there are indeed unseen laws that will create life-sustaining order (if we only trust them) provides our minds with a new option. It’s an option that may eventually result in a conceptual transition—an “Oh My God!!” epiphany, through which we will become cognizant of the consequences of institutionalizing order. That epiphany will mark the moment when our brains cleanse themselves of the legal-truth virus. Then, we will understand why, as subjects of states, we never could have known the happiness, love, and devotion to those around us, for which we are spiritually equipped.
Once the epiphany has cleansed our minds of the legal-truth virus, we will never again be able to take comfort in the illusion of state sovereignty. We will never again be able to see institutions as trustworthy. There will be nothing left to separate us from our natural, inborn trust in the unseen forces that sustain life, or from our innate belief in one another.
Should that epiphany happen to enough people—and it won’t take that many—then, we will do something. But what we do will be a matter for discovery. It’s a matter of waiting to see where our emotions—which express life’s laws—will take us.
No one knows the future. But, I am fairly certain of one thing. Once those unseen life forces regain control—call them God, if you want—human beings will again become essential to one another, and we will bond—not in pairs, nor en masse, but as sisterhoods and brotherhoods that support each other. Projecting human life into the distant future—if it is to be so projected—will be a shared experience in which everyone’s feelings count, never again a lonely one, in which spiritual repression is the order of the day.
I am absolutely certain of something else. Once it dawns on us that states are not viable expressions of life, we will no more be able to go back to believing in legal truth than we can now go back to believing that the earth is at the center of the universe—or that a child, once it sees the truth, will ever again believe in Santa Claus. And, no matter how onerous the journey, or its consequences to us, personally, we will never regret our awakening, should it even cost us our lives. I am as sure of this as I am certain that Jesus never regretted going to the cross, even at the moments of his greatest suffering. Having experienced the epiphany, himself, and being fully cognizant of the mindlessness of an existence ruled by states, he suffered far more for life, than he could ever have suffered for himself.
Go not where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path,
And leave a trail
If you would like a copy of the Essays “The Brain Virus” and “Unconditional Love” please click the down load button.