We humans take pleasure in the fact that our brains are highly adaptable. But could that be our problem? Have we unknowingly adapted to an unsustainable way of life? Furthermore, have we done it so well we are unable to notice something is fundamentally wrong? If so, then most of the problems we are trying to solve, such as domestic violence, poverty, religious and political strife, economic instability, and habitat destruction are only symptoms of the real problem, which is: In our attempt to fix the future by force of law, we have outlawed the human spirit by which we would normally be true to life. Having outlawed our emotional natures, we have deprived ourselves of the awareness by which our species knows how to secure a place for itself on this planet. That is the proposition that my book, Eden, lays before us.
We each think we know the truth. Though there are countless religions that project quite different versions of reality, every believer believes their particular version represents the truth. To some, the truth is that science and technology embody mankind’s purpose and hold the promise of our salvation. Just as “devoutly,” others see science and technology as leading to our self destruction. Some believe that to realize a viable future people must account to one another mostly through government edict, as in socialistic systems. Others believe that only by the free market, which makes us accountable to one another through the singular dimension of money, will we realize our goals.
Before addressing why there are so many beliefs, we might ask, why do we believe in the first place? As civilized people we exist in a “reality” where we presume control of our destiny – in our minds, the future supersedes the present. That is what governments, laws, and economic systems are all about; mechanisms by which we intend to realize the future we have in mind. Having thus rendered ourselves subjects of our dreams, we need a story by which we think they can be realized. That story becomes our belief, or belief system, if you want to think of it that way.
Having addressed why we each have a story, we now ask: Why are there so many stories? It is because our beliefs apply to the future, and thus cannot be proven or disproven. Why would we believe in something for which there is no proof, you ask. That is like asking, why do we find beauty in flowers and sunsets. Throughout evolution, the most sexually attractive among individuals of about equal attributes, were those who celebrated the earth’s beauty and, by their beliefs, did not live in fear of the future. Thus, the genes for beauty and believing were passed on. We are believers by Nature.
In our natural state, in “Eden” – before there were governments and institutions – we secured our lives in relationships, not in money or legal claims. Instead of trying to control the future, we believed in our ability, as a body of people, to manage any uncertainty the future could throw at us. This isn’t to say we actually could. But we believed we could for the same reason we now trust our futures to institutions, religions, ideologies, and modern technology. We did so, and do so, to find spiritual peace in uncertain circumstances.
Where our future sense of wellbeing is involved, our peace of mind is at stake. Hence, our need to believe is one of our most dominant innate sensibilities, equal almost to our will to live. This is evident in that, even after repeated and colossal failures of not only socialistic and capitalistic systems, but also of entire civilizations, people continue to believe. Why? Beliefs, it turns out, have nothing to do with reality; they result from our brains adapting so as to provide us peace of mind – normalizing our sociological circumstances regardless of what they are.
Not only do beliefs have nothing to do with reality, it is through beliefs that we lose touch with reality. For instance, throughout history, people in cultures that practiced slavery saw and treated slaves as subhuman. Such blindness is not by free will. In a culture that is dependent on slavery, one’s future sense of wellbeing – the realization of one’s dreams – requires slavery. Therefore, without conscious awareness or intent, the subconscious mind reprograms how feelings are expressed so the individual can sleep at night, i.e., find spiritual peace.
The fact that, by their brains having adapted, slave owners are free to treat slaves as animals, makes clear how thoroughly our beliefs possess us. When our sense of wellbeing requires behavior that offends our souls, only absolute, total blindness to reality suffices to assure us peace of mind. If a mind dependent on slavery can reprogram itself such that it does not feel slaves are humans, then, for a mind dependent on institutions, blinding itself to the implications of the repeated demonstrated failures of socialistic and capitalistic systems is a piece of cake. It also becomes clear why we believe in religions, including the religiously-held belief that science and technology will save us. As beings who presume to control our destiny, only through such beliefs can we find emotional comfort.
Since our beliefs disconnect us from reality as surely as slavery emotionally separates the master from his reality, there is nothing to limit their number or scope. This again explains why there are so many beliefs and also why they are often so grandiose in their proclamations, for example, the idea that belief in a certain creed will result in eternal life, or that, by advances in science and technology humans will someday inhabit the universe.
My “truth” is: There is no truth. There are only the innate sensibilities by which our species has arrived at a sustainable way of life. These are expressed through feelings such as hunger, thirst, intimacy, anger, romance, the sense to accept, reject, know ugliness, beauty, loneliness, empathy, to celebrate, to sacrifice, to kill, and to be loyal. These are only a few of the sensibilities by which our species, when its members function as “bodies” of people, keeps its life ordered, meaningful, and happening – not a shred of truth among them. We are members of a highly evolved social species. To express the enormous orchestration of situational awareness through the specific feelings required for a group to function as a body on behalf of our species, is why our brains are so huge. Truth, as opposed to innate awareness, is “known” only by beings who, as subjects of social and material contracts, presume to control their destiny.
As citizens (dependents of social and material contracts) our truths blind us to reality in so many dimensions the question becomes: How are we ever going to emotionally, intellectually, or by some other means, dig ourselves out? Survival as a species, as well as real peace of mind, require that we eventually recognize reality.
I do not know if it is possible to extract ourselves. We would first have to desire to get out. Does a slave owner desire to leave his culture? How do you get people to surrender illusions upon which, by our brain’s amazing ability to adapt, our emotional lives depend? It is like an addiction. Only through our beliefs can we find comfort; they are, in essence, our drugs. There is no need for self blame regarding this. That would be the equivalent of blaming an addict for his or her illness, except, of course, the addict initially had a choice and we didn’t. As citizens, our very survival, both emotional and material, depends upon us taking comfort in “truths” by which we presume control of our destiny.
Whether or not it is actually possible to dig ourselves out, I will address the issue by telling my story – my belief – about how it might happen. If we were to again secure our lives in relationships, meaning in extended families bonded by our natural need for one another, as we did while our kind was coming into being, we would again know relational intimacy – that sense of being as one with others, with our surroundings, and with the essence of life, itself. When experiencing contentment in the moment, dreams are no longer required. They will simply evaporate, as will the truths by which we intend to realize them.
So this is the story I use to manage for my emotional comfort in a world without intimacy – my drug, if you will. Though we each feel that our story is true, I don’t know that mine is, just as you don’t know that yours is. There is an important distinction between feeling a belief is true and knowing it is, a difference the brain consistently and perfectly overlooks, which is why our beliefs become the truth.
According to my “truth,” we must secure our lives in relationships – without separate legal and monetary identities and without rules that prescribe how we are to serve one another. By doing so, our wellbeing and that of our brothers and sisters will become one. We will find ourselves loving and caring for one another, as surely as we now love and care about our money and our institutions. Furthermore, the reward for depending on one another is relational intimacy, not the loneliness, greed, social taboos, and, religious, political, and economic strife that result from dependence on money and institutions.
Though for now this is just a story, in one way it is different from all the rest. This story is testable. Throughout our evolution, as members of a social species, we trusted our lives, as bodies of people, to the human spirit. Institutional subjugation, on the other hand, is based on the “truth” that humans are not trustworthy. Having thereby adapted to circumstances in which we were never meant to function, we have, by our lack of trust, become spiritually dysfunctional. We have thus been programmed to distrust the human spirit by words, acts, and deeds for thousands of years. Though this story is testable, as a result of our long term indoctrination in spiritual distrust, there is no one left who believes in the human spirit enough to want to take part in the test.
With my book Eden, Regaining our Spiritual Freedom, I hope to remedy that situation. That is the dream to which I have subjugated myself – in a world essentially without love, I too am a dreamer. I hope to credibly explain how humans, by our desire to control the future by force of law, came to collectively trust our lives to illusions. The future, it turns out, cannot be controlled; it can only be reacted to. Any attempt to control the long term future is predisposed to eventual failure, and is therefore grounded in illusion. If enough people were to come to believe in human nature, then we may decide to trust our lives to something real, the human spirit. As such, we would again function as bodies of people, the nucleus of which would be sisterly bonds – the brotherhoods would be there to support the women and their children. Then we would know whether my story is true. If when trusting our lives to one another we do not experience intimacy, and thus remain subjects of our dreams, then my truth is false. If, on the other hand, I am right, we will find that when we secure our lives in relationships we will know relational intimacy. By finding fulfillment in the moment, instead of in our dreams, we will no longer be dependent on the “truths” by which we hope to realize them.
Once natural families – families bonded by feelings – form, they will be stable, not because they will be problem or effort-free, idealistic, or utopian. They will be stable because, only by trusting our lives to others who are likewise trusting their lives to us, will we ever know genuine and lasting intimacy. Given access to basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, if we have love, then nothing else really matters. And if we do not have love, then nothing else really matters anyhow.