Spiritual Zombies

Books, movies and video games that feature zombies are presently quite the thing. Could this be because, at some deep level, we feel like zombies? For eons, our spirits – or our emotional natures, if you prefer – evolved to react to the exigencies of the immediate future. But we modern humans have abandoned that successful model. We have given up our freedom to honor our feelings of the moment in return for a legal and monetary identity through which we plan to secure our material and emotional needs for life. In return for this promise of security, we must nurture and serve that legal and monetary identity and those plans as fervently as our ancestors once celebrated life by caring for one another and the land that sustained them.

From childhood, we are taught to plan for our future. Indeed, not to do so is considered mindless. I suggest quite the opposite is true: This need to realize our plans results in mindlessness by either blinding us to one another’s needs in the moment, or even when we recognize such needs, out of concern for the wellbeing of our monetary identity, we are unable to respond. Furthermore, in trying to realize our hoped-for future, we repeatedly find ourselves stuck in classrooms, domestic arrangements, or work situations, etc. which are the last places on earth we feel like being – often without our even complaining about it. By such blindness and imprisonments we are, spiritually speaking, zombies – we are the walking dead.

The only way to be alive to the moment as members of a social species, is to secure our lives in relationships, not in plans. This is not by design, law, or intent. It is simply the nature of things. Indeed, in my view, that is what defines a social species: It is a species that survives and thrives by its members trusting their lives to each other through their relationships as embodied by extended families. Only through serving one another directly can we know relational intimacy – that sense of being as-one with others, with our surroundings and with the essence of life itself, where all time, past and future, folds into the present. But what are we doing? Instead of trusting our lives to our relationships, we employ legal arrangements to secure them. Our relationships are not based on trust, but just the opposite, on distrust!

The problems we face, ranging from divorce and spousal violence to habitat destruction and atomic weapons, are not real, but only symptoms of trusting our lives to institutions, instead of to our relationships. But even if institutional subjugation is the problem, how can modern humans possibly trust our lives to the human spirit when, through illicit sex, crime, violence, greed, holocausts, and all manner of misbehaviors, we seem utterly untrustworthy? Though it may appear otherwise, it is wrong to think that, by instinct, humans are born untrustworthy. We are trustworthy when our lives are secured in relationships. This is evident in that our species has survived for so long. During the millennia of human evolution, up until money and law took possession of us only a few thousand years ago, humans successfully managed for their survival by securing their lives in their relationships. Our species flourished when we functioned as “bodies” of people bonded by our emotional and material need for one another.

This ability to manage for our species’ wellbeing is key to our survival. It is therefore the only kind of trustworthiness that is of any conceivable significance. But to comprehend that significance requires that we value our own existence more than our plans. For spiritual zombies this is the stumbling block: In the absence of others to care for through interdependent relationships, realizing personal plans and dreams is our only reason for being. We therefore value our plans more than our existence – which is also to say, we value our illusions more than existence. That we worship our plans above all else is evident when we enthusiastically place our lives on the line to defend the institutions that authorize them. In rising to defend our institutions, we experience a facsimile of the emotional intensity and utter reality of being alive. We thereby temporarily cease being the zombies we have been turned into by our enslavement to the very plans we are defending. This also explains the madness of both habitat destruction and atomic weapons. To stop destroying the habitat would interfere with our plans – i.e., with who we think we are. And without A-bombs, the institutions that authorize our plans would be vulnerable to being taken over by other nations. By such madness, we reveal that our national identity, as it exists on paper, is more elemental to our sense of being than our identity as manifested materially and emotionally. Worshiping paper identities in preference to one another’s actual existence virtually seals the fate of our kind, should we remain trapped in this “plans-over-existence” or “future-supersedes-the-present” state of mind.

We are not free to be true to ourselves nor to life when we trust our lives to plans based on serving personal needs. We are free only when we, instead, trust our lives to the human spirit, which, by being true to feelings, instinctively manages for our species’ wellbeing. Our most basic desire is to care for one another, as did our forbearers for the millions of years while they, by being true to their spirits, nurtured the process that has gifted us with life. But, instead of serving our species, by caring for one another in the moment, our survival requires that we serve the state by securing personal lifetime needs through the legal system by which it is manifest. How can we possibly be trustworthy when not free to be ourselves – the life-sustaining entities that Nature created?

Once we began securing our lives in legalities, it became a vicious circle, the unavoidable consequence of institutional subjugation: The more we view one another as untrustworthy—as a result of having to abide by legal edicts, instead of by our deepest sensibilities—the more dependent on legalities we become. The law is its own justification!

Can we break free of this self-energized loop of spiritual zombieism, this “dog-chasing-its-tail” spiral to self-extinction? Maybe. Maybe not. Only the future, to which we presently have no access, contains the answer. One thing seems certain. To find a way out, we must understand what happened, and why ours is the only species whose members consider their plans and their paper identities more important than their existence. That knowledge is what my book, Eden, strives to offer mankind. Only with such awareness in hand can we hope to uncover the path that will return our species to a state of wellbeing, a state in which knowing intimacy and living in the moment are as natural as breathing. Only love can save our species and its habitat, and thus humanity, from the death spiral of spiritual zombieism.

And what is love? Love is the gift we receive for being true to life. It is that mystical experience by which Nature rewards us, via our emotional natures, for being faithful to the life of our species – the true source of our being – in our relationships with one another and with the land. Love is circumstantial, unplanned, unintended. Intentions, by imposing plans, pave roads to hell, not to love. Love and happiness are one and the same. Love happens on its own, whenever we are serving others directly instead of indirectly by legal or monetary edicts. To love those to whom we are trusting our lives is our natural state of being, indeed, our only possible state when not possessed by money and law. Given 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.

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