The World Without Beliefs in Which Humanity Once Thrived

The World Without Beliefs in Which Humanity Once Thrived

 The Pirahã, an Indigenous Culture that Yet Lives in Harmony with Nature

Remarkably, some hard evidence supporting the idea that people who are happy don’t need beliefs is provided by a book by Daniel Everett, “Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes.” In it, Everett tells the story of his life with the Pirahã over a thirty-year span. They are an indigenous culture located deep the Brazilian rainforest.

By modern standards, the Pirahã have nothing—no institutions, no education, no gods, no beliefs, no money, no marriage, no hopes, no dreams, no conveniences, no technology, no progress, no concept of good and evil, no judicial system, no police, no prisons, and no human rights. And yet, they are considered to be the happiest people on earth, by most of the people who have spent a significant amount of time with them.

Given their lack of anything that all moderns consider essential for happiness, why are the Pirahã so happy? In my judgment, it’s because their feelings are their guide, not instituted law. As a result, they are some of the last humans on earth who are living a sustainable way of life—that is, sustainable over evolutionary time. If, as I have come to believe, happiness is evolution’s reward for being true to life, and if their way of life is indeed sustainable, then how could they not be happy? After all, sustainability is essential to life’s existence.

Of all the things the Pirahã don’t have, the most significant is not on the above list. The Pirahã don’t acknowledge, or care about, the right to own property. As a result, women are not property, and this frees Pirahã women to play their essential role in maintaining order through emotionally bonded social groups. The order created by spiritually free women is neither imposed nor planned, but is simply the result of their presence, their natural reactions to everchanging circumstances.

Men Owning Women Through Marriage Destroys Natural Social Order

On the other hand, when men destroy emotional freedom in even the most primitive cultures, by owning women through marriage, men lose touch with their need for brotherhood and their sense of identity. Normally, men form brotherhoods only when they have a common mission to unite them, which is true even today. In a culture governed by instincts, men’s role, or mission, is to support and defend the sisterhood and their children.

By owning women, men destroy sisterly bonds, thus their natural connection to brotherhood and identity. This reduces men to finding a sense of identity, or purpose, in ritual, superstition, and religion, These “vision quests” lead to errant behavior, sometimes even to cannibalism and headhunting.

The key to the Pirahãs’ emotional health is that they do not practice marriage, and for this reason they don’t need beliefs. Once women are owned by men, female spiritual honesty is no longer possible because, to have a home, each woman must please her husband. This distracts her and her sisters from their essential role of taking care of life. Only primitive cultures that don’t practice marriage, exemplified by the Pirahã, are models for how humans naturally relate to each other and the habitat that sustains them.  

Because the Pirahã own nothing, their survival depends on the quality of their relationships, not the quality of their “holdings.” The Pirahã love one another, which is the key to their happiness. In contrast, we modern people, locked as we are in our ownership paradigm, love our holdings. This does not make modern people evil and the Pirahã good. Neither we nor the Pirahã have any choice but to love, above all else, that which we depend upon to survive.

The reason we love money, instead of people, isn’t because we are different from the Pirahã. It’s because of our circumstances. The nice thing about depending on people, instead of money, to survive, is that people can do something that money can’t. People can love us back. What it all boils down to is: Do we want to spend our lives in a room full of money, or among people who love us? Money can do things for us that those people can’t. But, those people can do things for us that money can’t, like give us a reason to live. The Pirahã have many reasons to live, while many of us aren’t even sure why we’re here.

People Who Aren’t Lost Don’t Need Beliefs

We moderns don’t realize that the right to own property, which we so cherish, not only estranges us emotionally, but brings with it the burden of having to own property to survive. Owning nothing, the Pirahã have no personal claims on the future, which frees them to live in the moment. Indeed, they have no option other than to do so, and the rewards are many. To live in the moment is to be true to our feelings of the moment. When we live in the moment we are spiritually alive. We find all the satisfaction human beings are capable of experiencing through relationships of mutual dependence with those around us—relationships characterized by a natural preoccupation with the wellbeing of those with whom we live and the habitat that sustains us. We feel complete because we live in concert with the needs of our souls. Feeling complete, we need nothing more, not even tomorrow. Like the Pirahã, we too would not fear death.

Everett’s mission was to convert the Pirahã to Christianity. But, after years of valiantly trying, during which his message continued to fall on deaf ears, he finally came to realize that you can’t save people who aren’t lost—that is, who are not in pain. In the end, Everett was instead converted to their values and ways of thinking.

Spiritual Freedom is Easily Lost

There is a practical reason why the Pirahã remain spiritually free—that is, free to be true to themselves, their instincts, their feelings of the moment. It is because their location is so remote, and the conditions so disagreeable, that no legal institution has bothered to exercise its jurisdiction over their territory. To grasp how easily spiritual freedom is lost, consider what would happen if an institution should decide to exercise its jurisdiction over the Pirahã. Overnight, they would be as unhappy as the rest of the world’s institutionalized population.

Under institutional rule, each of them would be fingerprinted (or tagged, by some means, for positive identification), and taxed, and thereby immediately become subjects of the state. To pay their taxes, they would have to start earning money, thus become economically enslaved, as are all civilized people. Each woman would have to make a legally imposed commitment to live with and love a man, for life, in order to have children, to have a “home.” Each “family” would be given title to a separate plot of land, through which they would become responsible only for their own wellbeing. For the first time in the life of their culture, they would find themselves largely without love, not because they had changed, but because their circumstances had changed.

On the very day of their subjugation, they would no longer be dependent on one another for emotional and material support. They instead would be dependent on the state to protect them and their property from one another.

If Beliefs are Beliefs, not Facts, Why do we Believe?

If people like the Pirahã are happy without beliefs, why don’t we solve our problems by ceasing to believe? To answer that question, we must first recognize why the Pirahã are happy. It’s because they are free to answer to the wisdom of their souls. We moderns, on the other hand, depend on institutions to survive, not on the people around us. We have no choice other than to obey the law. Not free to find emotional comfort by being true to ourselves in each moment, we are emotionally repressed. Instead of being true to ourselves, we find comfort in the idealized future promised by our beliefs in science, religion, ideology, progress, etc.. We can’t stop believing because, when not free to satisfy our feelings of the moment, we are as dependent on the future promised by our beliefs for emotional support, as is a drug addict on his drugs. Consequently, as in drug addiction, our belief-drugs become more important to us than life, itself, which is why institutionally subjugated humans regularly kill and die on behalf of their beliefs.

Remarkably, our minds are able to take comfort in the promise of our beliefs, despite the fact that we know that beliefs, by definition, are not supported by facts, or we would never refer to them as beliefs. A belief cannot be proven, because the future in which its promise resides has not yet occurred. The fact that the believer accepts the belief as true, despite knowing its promise cannot be proven, reveals that beliefs are accepted because they satisfy feelings. Religious or political arguments are not resolvable because beliefs are not based on facts. They exist to satisfy the believer’s feelings. No one can argue with another person’s feelings.

Each believer is absolutely certain, of course, that his belief is supported by facts. But, unbeknownst to him, his mind subconsciously blinds itself to all facts that refute his beliefs. This is why intelligent people can hold opposing beliefs, even when informed with the same facts.

Think of a hypnotized man who, as a result of the power of suggestion, is unable to see a comb in plain sight on the floor in front of him. I don’t know whether beliefs actually hypnotize us, but that image of a man in a hypnotic trance, who can’t see something that is in plain view, illustrates how closedminded our brains are to any evidence that refutes our beliefs.

As a consequence of being dependent on institutionally imposed laws to survive, we are not free to find emotional comfort by being true to ourselves, our feelings of the moment, as are the Pirahã. Consequently, rather than knowing the happiness that is inherent to living in the moment, we are so emotionally dependent on the future promised by our beliefs that our minds see truth where there is none, and are shockingly blind to any evidence that refutes what we believe. In the most literal sense, beliefs disconnect our brains from reality—a disconnection that is essential to our ability to function in our unrealistic, emotionally abusive world.

Why, among all forms of animate life on this planet, are only humans unable to see the “comb on the floor?” What must happen if we are ever to see it again?

___________________

Excerpt from: Rediscovering the Wisdom of Human Nature

Download at: http://spiritualfreedompress.com

Toxic Relationships are Signposts of Cultural, not Human Dysfunction

Toxic Relationships are Signposts of Cultural, not Human Dysfunction

James Avery Fuchs, a public speaker, poet, trans educator, and artist in Arizona, summarized his talk on “Consent, Boundaries, and Toxic Relationships” with the following questions.

 

Do you feel controlled in a way you’re not comfortable with, or do you feel like you’re not allowed to have your own opinions or make decisions different than they would?

Does the relationship feel full of drama?

Do you feel like you do a lot of things you normally wouldn’t be comfortable with just to continue the relationship, especially things that go against your personal morals or values?

Does it feel like there’s a new challenge with the person every time one is cleared up?

When something goes wrong, does it seem like every mistake you’ve ever made is brought up?

Do you feel constantly unworthy when you’re around them?

Do you feel trapped in the relationship?

If you answered any of these in the affirmative, there is a chance that your relationship may be toxic.

_________________________

During the audience participation period that followed Fuchs’ speech, I commented that, by those standards, the relationships in both of my failed marriages were toxic—for me and the dear women who were trying to live with me. If my experience is any guide, I would guess that most married couples might answer yes to one are more of those questions.

Why does marriage often result in toxic relationships? I believe it has to do with the issue of consent. When we consent to the obligations imposed by the institution of marriage, we are agreeing to fulfill those duties for the rest of our lives. There is a problem with that. Any agreement regarding fulfilling another person’s needs, for life, overlooks two things: 1) We are feeling beings, not machines; 2) We have innate limitations regarding our ability to fulfill another person’s needs.

Feelings = Who we Are

There is a huge difference between wanting to do something, and having to do it. For example, during a dating couple’s evening together, no promises are forever. If a woman consents to having sex, but later in the evening tells her date that she no longer feels like it, her consent is revoked. Her feelings are the controlling element. In marriage, sexual consent is for life. It obligates both spouses to have sex with each other, and only with each other, for the rest of their lives. Promises are the controlling element, not feelings.

In other words, through agreeing to marriage, you commit yourself to having sex with someone at times when—if you were being honest about how you really felt—you would never consent. And you are committing to never having sex outside the marriage, even in the presence of overwhelming feelings of romantic attraction. Clearly, when we obligate ourselves through marriage, we are agreeing to ignore the fact that one’s feelings regarding when and with whom to have sex often change, throughout one’s lifetime.

What about other human needs? Is it even possible for one person to fulfill another person’s needs, for life? We apparently believe so, or we would never consent to marriage. But many marriages fail, and my own two marriages are examples of how that happens. During both of my failed marriages, there were many instances when I was clueless about how to please my wives. Whenever I asked what they needed, they implied, in one way or another, that if I loved them, I would know. I have to admit that this makes sense, because, how could a woman feel that I understood her, much less loved her, if she had to tell me how to show it?

Try as I might—an effort that involved years of marriage counseling—I was never able to “get it right.” The suffering that resulted from our inability to satisfy each other’s needs eventually led to divorce. I didn’t know it at the time, but I did my ex-wives a disservice when I asked for their hand in marriage. This does not mean I am a bad person, that I didn’t want to please them, or that I am unable to please people, in general. It means that I was unaware of my limitations. Now that I am aware of them, I would never again present myself to a woman as a candidate for marriage.

Only Robots can be Programmed

If I were a robot, I would have had no problem fulfilling the obligations of marriage, or of any other institution. I would be programmed to satisfy the needs of a spouse for life. My user manual would specify how to tweak me to handle any situation. My brain could then analyze my wife’s behavior and reveal to me what she needed in order to feel loved, without my having to ask her, or even think about it. Her need to feel loved would be resolved. 

But, I am a feeling being, not a machine. I didn’t come with an instruction manual. I was programmed by evolution. This means that my reason for being was with me from birth. That programming expresses itself through feelings. When I behave according to those feelings, I am being true to my reason for being, and I am happy.

When we are unhappy in a relationship, our emotions are telling us that we are not being true to ourselves, or to Life. Yes, I know—and we see it every day in modern society—people can and do ignore their evolutionary programming, in order to fulfill promises, such as marriage vows. But they often do this at tremendous emotional cost, as I learned the hard way. By getting married, my spouses and I set ourselves the task of living in contradiction to much of our genetic programming that prepared us to function as a social species, not a pairbonding one. As a result, my wives and I had to mostly lie about how we really felt, for the duration of our relationships. To me, this explains why our relationships became toxic, despite the sincere desire on both sides for a committed relationship of peace and love. 

I’ve come to believe that, like all institutions, marriage treats us as though we were machines that are easily programmable to survive by obeying the law, not feeling beings, programmed by Nature, to take care of life. Institutions don’t respect our feelings. So, how can we?

The answer is, we can’t! Consequently, we routinely tolerate marriage and the toxic relationships that result—but, not because we enjoy working on relationships and managing the pain. We do it because relationships based on promises represent the only concept of family that modern cultures bless. Indeed, when a man and woman live together, without first promising to remain together for life, then signing the contract of marriage, modern people see them as living in sin.

In this way, modern society forces us to consent to relationships that contradict our emotional make-up, as human beings. It has done this by institutionalizing family relationships. This has transformed human families from ones in which we were naturally happy and fulfilled, to ones that severely inhibit our freedom to be who we are.

The Vast Chasm Between Institutional and Natural Life

Some comparisons are in order. Pre-institutionalized families, through which humans were naturally fulfilled, existed for mutual survival. Their relationships knit together groups of people large enough to secure the material things they needed to survive and protect themselves from the dangers of the natural world. The members also collaborated to defend the territory required to sustain themselves.

The emotional ties that resulted were deep ones, fueled by the wisdom of their souls. It was a wisdom refined through eons of evolutionary trial and error, a wisdom optimally fitted to the needs of small, intimate groups of people surviving together. That is the kind of culture in which the social species known as homo sapiens evolved.

From then to now, that evolutionary wisdom has not had time to change in any significant way. Physiologically and emotionally, we remain a social species, not a pairbonding one, even after thousands of years of living in an artificial world, a manmade environment where rules, not feelings, are the controlling factor. It is a world far removed from the time when humans thrived in intimate extended families. All of us are still deeply motivated by our emotional need for closeness and intimacy. We carry a deep and powerful impulse to help one another that leaps to the fore in times of trouble—an impulse which is largely repressed in our rule-orientated world where we answer to the dictates of institutions, not to one another’s needs. The human race has been deprived of natural homes for so long that the very idea of a “natural family” offends modern humans as utterly unnatural—at first.

But, look hard at that dichotomy, for a moment! It marks the measure of the distance we have traveled out onto the limb of artificiality, since humanity took leave of the way of life we had evolved to live. And it brings into bold relief the reason for the emotional suffering that modern people incorrectly assume are “just part of life.”

If what I am suggesting takes you aback, a few questions may be in order:

Is it natural for humans to live with a recurring sense of isolation? Is our high rate of divorce a natural phenomenon, or an ominous sign that we are somehow “trying to fool Mother Nature?” Are humans constituted to tolerate the anxiety we increasingly experience? Does it make sense that so many conflicting belief systems exist among us, many of which turn us into bitter enemies?

All these concerns and many more may well be signs that institutional cultures are, themselves, dysfunctional and that they, not dysfunctional people, are the source of what ails humanity. In view of the perils that face the modern world, a world that at times seems on the verge of collapse, can human dysfunction explain our problems, or are they the result of functional humans being born into dysfunctional cultures? I believe it’s the latter.

These are stark things to consider, I know. But the severity of human emotional suffering in the modern era forces us to consider them seriously. We can no longer let it matter that our minds tell us, instantly, that it is ridiculous to imagine modern human society as fatally flawed. We owe it to ourselves and our posterity to ask whether Thoreau was trying to warn us of these stark truths, when he wrote his famous quotation, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

And, indeed, we should ask why that quotation is so well known. I believe it’s because so many people sense that they are living in a desperate state of mind. They are quiet, not because they don’t want to scream, but because they know it won’t help, and they have no idea what to do about it. 

Natural Families vs. Institutionalized Ones

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb, when I say that the answer comes down to human happiness. We are a social species. Our happiness is tied to the nature and quality of our relationships. Only when people’s fates are intertwined by circumstances can their natural impulses to protect, to give and receive help, and to love, come to the fore. In the time when natural human families still flourished, the high-tech safety net and creature comforts we take for granted didn’t exist. People could not survive alone, so human culture was defined by the physical necessity of collaborating with others. They were emotionally and spiritually fulfilled by their relationships. Even during times of hardship and privation, humans were happy, because it was during those times that they particularly found comfort in their relationships. Their idea of “us” included the extended “family” group of people around them, all of them unbreakably bonded by an absolute dependence on and trust in each other.

But modern families hardly resemble those that preceded us. Humanity is divided, now, into minute cultural “cells,” called “nuclear families”—mother, father, children—and further into tiny cultural particles, called individuals, all of whom now compete against each other for a new universal means of survival, a manmade one called money. Even adult siblings often drift apart, or sever relations entirely, over family strifes, typically involving inheritance rights. For modern people, an individual’s sense of “us” is at-best a nuclear family with kids. Often, there is no “us,” as people increasingly find themselves living alone. In modern circumstances, it’s “every man for himself.” We operate from a me-against-the-world perception, and the danger we face doesn’t come from the natural world. It’s other people.

Functional Cultures vs. Dysfunctional Ones

The comparison facing us is clear. Natural culture based on evolution is functional. Manmade culture based on institutions is dysfunctional.

  • In a functional culture, individuals are responsible for the wellbeing of those around them. In a dysfunctional culture, individuals are responsible for their own wellbeing.
  • A functional culture is governed by feelings that have evolved over eons. A dysfunctional culture is governed by institutionally imposed laws so focused on realizing an idealized future, it’s as if feelings don’t even exist.
  • In a functional culture, people live in a state on intimacy, and are validated by simply being who they are. In a dysfunctional culture, people are isolated from each other by competition, and are validated by whatever the culture sees as success, typically wealth and privilege.
  • Functional cultures result from free association. They form, without effort or intent, when people are free to do what they feel like doing. Dysfunctional cultures are based on the belief that humans are inherently untrustworthy, and must be regulated.
  • In a functional culture, people live in the moment. There are no beliefs—other than origin and destiny stories. In dysfunctional cultures, people live for the future. Beliefs dictate behavior.
  • In functional cultures, people are happy, because they are free to be themselves. In dysfunctional cultures, people are anxious because they must largely ignore how they really feel, in order to realize the future for which they dream.
  • In a functional culture, population density is sustainable, because female feelings control sex. A dysfunctional culture results in population explosions because, by granting themselves the right to own women, males control sex.
  • In functional cultures, people are as one with their environment. They protect, and even worship it. In dysfunctional cultures, people see themselves as having dominion over their environment and use it to their own ends.
  • Functional cultures are matriarchal. The spiritual authority of sisterhoods is in control. Dysfunctional cultures are patriarchal. Institutions created by men are in control.
  • Functional cultures create an environment in which both the individual and the species thrive. Dysfunctional cultures create an environment that results in human suffering and ignores the wellbeing of the species’, entirely.

Dysfunctional cultures have resulted in the modern upholstered world of conveniences in which we live, today, but at what price? Human happiness and the future of our species.

 

__________________

 

Faith and fear are intertwined in the conundrum that human life has become. Faith is the saving grace of humanity. Its elemental connection to the human spirit was severed long ago, when humanity let fear of the future turn us to manmade institutions, as the definers of human culture. In our manmade environment, ironically, fear remains. Yet faith endlessly reappears everywhere in the form of myriad beliefs, each one a separate attempt to restore the grace we have lost. Our quest for faith will never end, until we return to where we started, the way of life based on the faith that Nature gave us—our inborn belief in the wisdom of the human spirit. It’s the only way of life with which fear cannot coexist.

The Elephant in the Room

 The Elephant in the Room

Civilization’s Achilles Heel that Business, Science, Religion, and Government Cannot See

  

Synopsis

Humanity is blind to the failures of civilization. Though we suffer emotionally from the shortcomings in our way of life, we work hard to ignore our pain, assuming our suffering is our own fault. If we could observe civilization from the outside, we might see these failings and be able to free ourselves from all the mistaken beliefs that hold modern society together, and relieve the pain.

  

Subtitles

Emotions Are Expressions of Life

The Modern Psyche will not Accept the Life that Nature Gave Us

When Humans Ceased Behaving like Humans

Emotional Intelligence Serves Life, not Self 

The Three Categories of Unconditional Love

The Elephant in the Room

Recovering from Ownership Addiction

Living In the Moment

Emotional Dishonesty

 

 ________________________

  

 

If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I only do this by
Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment

                 —The Beginning lyrics to Jason Mraz’s “Living in the Moment”

 

Why, indeed, do we lay all these traps, when we “just wanna be free?” Why do we waste our days worrying about things that never happen? What would it be like to live with peace in our minds, hearts and souls? What would it be like to know that wherever we’re going, we’re always home?

From the point of view of this modern world, those questions seem unanswerable. What person has any of us ever known, who is worry-free? How, in this constantly changing world, is it physically possible to be entirely at peace in mind, heart, and soul? What does it even mean, to be “at home,” no matter where you are going? These are magical states of being, not real ones to modern humans. So, you have every reason to be shocked, or surprised, when I tell you that, not long ago in evolutionary time, all humans lived in the moment, never worrying about the future. Whether at rest, or in battle, they were at peace, in mind, heart, and soul. Their “home” was not a place, but the network of intimate relationships of trust they had with the people around them—people with whom they were joined by absolute bonds of physical and emotional interdependence, bonds that have nothing to do with our modern concepts of friendship or, often, even love. For upwards of two hundred thousand years, human beings lived in this state, which I call spiritual freedom, a state defined by the fact that they lived in intimate connection with others, yet were free to do what they felt like doing in every moment of their lives.

 

Emotions Are Expressions of Life

Humans are sentient beings—really, sentient spirits. Each spirit is the repository of the sumtotal of evolutionary wisdom that preceded us. And it communicates that wisdom, moment by moment, to our conscious minds, always in the language of feelings. The significance of this to each human life becomes obvious only if we ask what life would be like without feelings.

If we didn’t feel, we wouldn’t know anything—not when to eat or stop eating, sleep or rise, or even find shelter from the cold. We would have no basis for accepting or rejecting others. Mothers would never love their children, not only for lack of the ability to feel love, but because there would be no children, if not for the desire for sex. Nor would any man ever have a reason to place his life on the line, or to kill, on behalf of others. The beauty of Nature would be as nothing, to us. Without feelings, we would have no will to live, not only because that, too, is a feeling, but because we would be no more aware of our existence than a robot—no matter how intelligent we might be, or how advanced our sensory systems. Everything we know about life comes to us through feelings—including the realization that we exist. Even our desire to learn is inspired by feelings.

In short, feelings make us living things. They are the source of every expression of animate life. Feelings are so central to life that we experience pain every time society’s moral or legal obligations force us to behave in ways that deny how we really feel. Despite the pain, it never occurs to us that to deny how we feel in any given moment is to deny life. We are blind to it, because we accept as a given the society in which we grew up, never wondering where all the myths and competing belief systems invented by human societies down through the ages came from—or why. We have no way of knowing that their only contribution is to numb us to the pain of denying the feelings that are constantly welling up from our souls.

Feelings can’t stop rising within human beings. They are expressions of our essential nature and also of Nature, in other words, of life, itself. Modern as we might be, we have all been imprinted by evolution with a natural core, an innate urge to be true to life. When we hide our feelings to honor religious or societal mores or legal obligations, we’re being true to institutions, not to life. Small wonder that so many modern humans complain of social alienation, lack of intimacy, frustration in relationships. Yet we never blame societal obligations for our pain. We mistakenly see the pain as natural, simply part of life. This is odd, in view of the fact that, since Darwin’s theory of evolution, scientists have recognized how evolution has molded our physical features to optimize the species’ ability to survive. Why, then, did they not take the next step—recognizing that feelings also evolved to inspire each individual to behave in ways that optimize the species’ chances for success?

 

The Modern Psyche will not Accept the Life that Nature Gave Us

In essence, humanity is in a bind, forced by societal obligations to deny the natural feelings Nature has placed within us to guide us through life. With the exception of humans, no other living being on this planet is subject to moral or legal obligations. All creatures, except humans, remain as they always were—spiritually free—free to honor their instincts in every moment of their lives. Nothing stops these living beings from being true to life, not because they are better than we are, or more pure, but because they have nothing other than their instincts to honor. It’s not easy for a bird on a migration route to stay airborne, for weeks at a time. It chooses to be on the wing because there is nothing it loves more than joining in the migration, a journey essential to its species’ survival. Likewise, a beaver cutting down trees to build a dam isn’t doing it because it’s easy. Like the migrating bird, it loves building that dam above all the other things it could possibly think of doing, an activity that also happens to be essential to its species’ survival.

Through such feelings of love and joy, instincts govern the activities of all spiritually free beings. It was the same for humans, once upon a time, when instincts governed our lives, too. But that was a truly ancient time, during the prolonged period of human spiritual freedom that reigned thousands of years ago, before we subjugated ourselves to institutional obligations. It wasn’t easy for the members of pre-tribal and pre-civilized human families to take care of one another, for the sake of mutual survival. Like the animals, they did it because evolution has finely tuned our instinct for experiencing joy from doing anything that contributes to our species’ success. Only by taking care of one another—an activity essential to our species’ survival—did our distant ancestors experience what they craved most, and what we moderns suffer most without—unconditional love.

That evolutionary wisdom, dating way back into our distant pre-history, survives intact, within each one of us. That is why, to this day, there is nothing that makes us happier than to love and be loved. In other words, our evolutionary wisdom—the instincts that spell out how we must live, for both individual and species wellbeing and survival—have not measurably changed, throughout a huge evolutionary span.

Yet the lives we lead, as modern humans, depart entirely from those requirements. We live in competitive societies in which money is the number one value, not taking care of those around us. Wealth and privilege are the motivators that inspire us to action, not the need to love and be loved which, nonetheless, keeps rising from the soul, reminding us of our waywardness. We love institutions far more than we love people, because it is the institutions on which we depend for the means to ensure wellbeing. The right to own property that is granted by institutions, and the material wealth it makes possible, are now the universal measures of success. Notwithstanding all the love songs and sonnets, the life coaches and relationship counselors, the gaudy over-the-top weddings (which too often end in acrimonious divorces) the verdict is in: Humanity has largely abandoned the pursuit of spiritual wealth that we know as love.

Why have humans created a world in which we spend our lives seeking material wealth, when the only wealth that really matters is spiritual—to love and be loved? As a result of having been granted the right to own things, the modern human psyche no longer accepts the way of life that Nature gave us. It’s too busy concentrating on how to guarantee safety and security in the distant future. Love requires living in the moment, which is totally incompatible with a life that is focused on the future.

 

When Humans Ceased Behaving like Humans

Ironically, it was evolution, itself, that gave humans the ability to imagine the distant future. Our imagination undid us, by changing our focus, making the future far more important than the present. This wrong turn started with prehistoric males who, in their quest for certainty, began forming coalitions to grant one another the right to own things—first women, and eventually, land and animals.

What no one realized at the time—and still don’t—is the price we paid for trying to control the future. Our quest for certainty took humanity out of the moment, costing us spiritual freedom, the freedom to live in the moment. Intimacy went by the wayside, and so did love, because these words both reflect the same emotion, and because no feeling can exist outside the moment. Like all feelings, love is a response, not a commodity to be stored and doled out, by intent, to a select few.

For humans, the loss of intimacy results in acute emotional pain, a huge setback for humanity, the responsibility for which can be traced to a single event—the establishment of the right to own things. That event changed everything. Previous to that, there had been nothing on earth to prevent people from being spiritually free. Ownership created a world in which we are each personally responsible for our own future, which destroyed the inter-dependence essential to knowing intimacy. Humanity became so focused on doing the things required to realize our own future success, we didn’t notice that we were no longer experiencing intimacy. Suddenly, material wealth was the measure of success, not loving and being loved. What a contrast to the real world humanity had left behind, a world governed by instincts, where life is not about self. Life is about life.

The transition from living in the moment to living for the future was a sea change in human existence. The change did not represent simply a choice of lifestyles among options, but a blind leap off the evolutionary rails that put humanity on a track that ran 180° counter to our essential nature. For thousands of years since the dawn of the age of property, humans have lived in a state of separation from our true selves, our instincts, one another, and life itself. As a result, we are not behaving like humans:

We are greedy. Being personally responsible for our own futures, that’s understandable, but the competitiveness it renders compulsory is a fist in the face of our need for one another. We have so departed from the ways of our indigenous ancestors that we don’t take care of our habitat—not because we don’t want to, but because we are so separated from the land that we don’t know how. Worst of all, as a result of our dependence on money, we now love money the way we once loved our brothers and sisters. The difference between loving money and loving people is that people can do something that money can’t. People can love us back.

 

Emotional Intelligence Serves Life, not Self

In plain English, the future is foreign to our spirits, which are alive only to the moment. The future is, by nature, uncertain and unpredictable, notwithstanding our constant attempts to make it otherwise. It cannot be controlled, a fact that can be mathematically proven by system control theory. (Only the immediate future—really an extension of the present—being reasonably predictable, can be viably controlled.) As the lessons of history attest: All attempts to control the future by centralizing authority, have resulted in eventual chaos. Consider this question: How certain do any of us feel, right now, after all the governments that have risen and failed in our six- to ten-thousand-year quest for certainty, and after the millions of religious and civil codes of conduct imposed—each justified by our desire to control our destiny? I am guessing that the future seems far more uncertain to us, now, than it did to our distant ancestors, who had the good fortune to live in the time before anyone had ever conceived the idea of a future of certainty.

How did humans make this monumental mistake, which cost us the happiness and intimacy of living in the moment, and why are we blind to it? It’s because our instincts can’t warn us of the danger. They evolved, which means instincts can warn us only of natural dangers, like spiders, tigers, and thousand-foot cliffs. But, the right to own property is not a feature of the natural world. It doesn’t compute! So we are blind to the danger, perceptually, instinctively, emotionally, spiritually—however you want to think of it. In the same way, we are blind to the fact that the spiritual repression, alienation, and social chaos from which we suffer are the inevitable consequences of granting rights of ownership. If rights of ownership aren’t part of the natural world, then these consequences aren’t either!

Our epic mistake has placed humanity on a course that diverges, even today, ever further from feelings—the emotional wellspring of all animate life. The source of all feelings is the “emotional intelligence” of our souls, which represents the accumulated evolutionary wisdom dating from the very first stirrings of life on earth. Emotional intelligence governed all life on earth through the eons that unfolded, before mankind became fixated on the dream of a future of certainty. In those times, every living being contributed to the wellbeing of its species, without realizing it, by simply doing what it felt like doing in every given moment. In this way, emotional intelligence acted as a natural gyroscope to balance all life on earth—until the day humans changed the rules completely, by conjuring up a diametrically opposed alternative, the idea of ownership. In the world that existed before that happened, no one tried to make the world a better place. The concept did not exist. There was only one world, the world as it was, and only one life, a natural life born of Nature, uncontrived. The emotional intelligence of all creatures was born of that world. Happiness, serenity, and wellbeing were intrinsic to life in that world, a world in which emotional honesty—whether it resulted in acceptance, rejection, love, fear, anger, killing, or self sacrifice—was the key to order among all animate lifeforms.

Emotional intelligence has but one function. It inspires us to behave in ways that contribute to the wellbeing of our species. Emotional intelligence knows nothing about the world being round, or the laws of gravity, or how the universe began. Our emotional intelligence connects us to the natural world—inextricably. At our core, we do not exist on the abstract plane of external knowledge, but on the organic plane of intrinsic knowledge born into each us. And that makes all the documented knowledge that now strains the library shelves of the world—and to which modern man increasingly looks for salvation—beside the point. A key tenet of that documented knowledge is the modern belief that scientific knowledge will eventually save us—a conviction that is every bit as religious a proposition as belief in God, or in the hereafter.

Yes, it’s true that abstract knowledge rewards us with many comforts, conveniences, and lifesaving devices. But it contributes nothing to our most elemental needs, which are emotional and tied to Nature. Nature, which overarches all iterations of life, allows no one to guarantee either a present or a future of safety and certainty, regardless of the power of any modern device or abstract thought or ideal. Nature gifts us with a life in which nothing is guaranteed. Life exists as a perpetual state of uncertainty, to which the only solution is acceptance. The only way to live the life that Nature allows is to experience it fully in the microcosm of each moment. The reward for doing that is intimacy, not certainty. When we don’t have intimacy, the present moment seems valueless to us, and we feel impoverished, because it is all we have. But intimacy immerses us in the emotional richness of life’s process. In intimacy, we don’t need a future. Each moment is eternal, in the sense that time is not relevant—only life is. This is why a man will lay down his life for others, and why a mother will lay down her life for her child. It’s also why people who have risked their lives for others virtually always respond to praise by saying, “I am not a hero. I was just doing what anyone else would have done in that situation.” In all those acts, some of which cost them their lives, emotional intelligence is rewarding them for being true to life.

 

The Three Categories of Unconditional Love

The unnatural lives we moderns live are lived entirely in a synthetic world of our own creation, nearly every facet of which imposes role playing that contradicts our inborn emotional intelligence. When humans conjured up the idea of ownership we unwittingly created a world in which emotional honesty has no place. We’ve replaced emotional honesty with fear of the future. It has become our governing fixation that the uncertainty of the future is our enemy. Life’s purpose for modern humans has become an exercise in futility, as we bend every effort to ensure the impossible—a safe and secure future.

Though blunted by our fixation on controlling the future, our emotional intelligence continues to function. In essence, we respond to our artificial environment in the same way humans respond to any environment, by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. For a social species, the ultimate pleasure is unconditional love, and the greatest pain is loneliness, or any sense of separation, even in a crowd. Three kinds of unconditional love exist. Motherly love serves life by inspiring a mother to nurture her young. Romantic love serves life by inspiring a couple to procreate. And brotherly or sisterly love serves life by inspiring a band of brothers and sisters to take care of one another for the sake of their mutual survival.

Modern humans experience only two of these three categories of unconditional love—motherly love and romantic love. Even in the institutionalized world, mothers are allowed to nurture their young, and couples are allowed to honor feelings of romance—except in instances where the romance is illicit. On the other hand, brotherly and sisterly love, through which humans form natural family bonds, have not existed for the thousands of years since men began owning women, through the practice of marriage. With the intent of realizing a certain future, men created marriage, which specifies the obligations of a man and a woman to each other, to their offspring, and to the tribe or state. But, these legally imposed edicts fly in the face of emotional intelligence. They make people dependents of institutions, instead of one another. This destroys the inter-dependence essential to experiencing brotherly and sisterly love.

 

The Elephant in the Room

In essence, our quest for certainty sets up an excruciating conflict within every human being. Each of us is personally blighted by the clash of artificially imposed obligations with our deepest primal need, the irrepressible impulse to serve life. Little wonder that the nuclear family, and the states that authorize it, are failing. Indeed, as leaders, political analysts, lawmakers, scientists, environmentalists, historians, educators, councilors, philosophers, and theologians seek solutions to the world’s problems, the elephant in the room is the dysfunctional nuclear family, an institution in a state of abject failure.

Why has no one noticed the elephant in the room, in our troubled world where over half of American adults now live alone? Why has no one recognized the implications of the high divorce rates, unhappy couples, overcrowded abuse shelters, and ever more children in need of foster care? It’s because civil states depend on the nuclear family to raise children—having outlawed natural human families by requiring women to marry in order to legitimize their children. In other words, for the state to succeed, the nuclear family must succeed. But, people are blinded to the possibility that the state could ever fail, by their unshakable belief that only centrally imposed order can keep humanity safe, into the distant future. To recognize that the nuclear family, on which the state’s existence depends, is failing, would be for modern humans to recognize that civil rule, itself, is failing. Quite understandably, no one seems ready for that. Not yet. The elephant in the room remains invisible, despite the immense pain that most of us have personally suffered as a result of its dysfunction.

Is the species, in fact, in the process of failing? I believe it is. But what I, or anyone else believes, doesn’t make it true. Only the future contains the truth, and, because the future hasn’t happened yet, it’s not telling. Mankind’s presumption that we can know the future—at least well enough to control it—is what cost us our spiritual freedom, the freedom to be true to ourselves.

If our species is, indeed, in a state of failure, the first step on the journey to recovery is for us to get “religious” about one thing: We must forget about the future, as Jesus implored us to do some two thousand years ago! All efforts to try to improve or correct the way our artificial world functions are not only wasted, but counterproductive, in terms of regaining intimacy and species wellbeing, the only things that really matter.

 

Recovering from Ownership Addiction

Because the future isn’t controllable, we have no choice regarding what happens. As long as we remain personally responsible for our own futures, we will find pleasure in living for the future by trying to control it. The idea of living in the moment by trusting our future to the wisdom of the human spirit will not appeal. And we will continue to suffer the immediate pain and inevitable chaos of our pointless quest, even if we recognize that the quest is pointless.

One reason we will continue on our pointless quest is that, being personally responsible for our own future, we are are left with no choice other than to try to control it. Also, until we understand why ownership rights forces us to live for the future, we will have no clue how to break the chain that continues to deprive us of the intimacy, peace of mind, and wellbeing intrinsic to living in the moment.

To recover from our state of failure we must recognize that granting property rights underlies all our emotional dishonesty. There are messages in pain. Feelings—not reason—inform us about how to be true to life. Reason exists exclusively to figure out how to satisfy feelings. As institutional dependents, we feel totally dependent on the things we own to survive, which is why our rational minds so ardently justify our right to own things, despite the consequences—consequences to which the rational mind is blind.

We think of ourselves as critical thinkers, but a critical thinker could see the elephant in the room—the nuclear family that is failing. Our mind sees the legal arrangement, that we call marriage, as the only possible basis for human families. This explains why our rational minds compulsively overlook the pain that results from giving men the right to own women—the right on which the nuclear family is based.

Because reason is limited to satisfying feelings, in the end, only feelings can inform us of the relationship between ownership and human suffering. The pain of unhappy, abusive, and/or broken family relationships, poverty, homelessness, unstable monetary systems, failed states, insurrections, international conflicts, and habitat destruction—all of which are inherent to granting ownership rights—must become so intense that people finally get the message. Recovering from the “drug” of ownership is much like recovering from any addiction. The pain must become so severe that people feel there is simply no way they can possibly go on. Only then will our rational minds consider abstinence. At that point, we may well realize we will be far better off if we accept the life that Nature gave us. To do that, we must forget about the future, and also abstain from the false presumption that by owning things we could ever control it.

 

Living In the Moment

Can people survive without owning anything? Well, we can’t do it alone. It requires a spiritual home, a place where, by virtue of emotional intelligence, the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own. Establishing a spiritual home is beyond the scope of the present discussion, but is covered at length in my latest book, Take Us Home, Girls!

Why the focus on women? It’s because of my belief that humans are matriarchal, by nature. The core of a family governed by emotional intelligence is a female social bond—that is, a sisterhood. The significance of female bonds was alluded to in the movie, “A Field of Their Own.” When attending a reunion at the Baseball Hall of Fame, near the movie’s end, the son of one of the original team members told the lead character, played by Geena Davis, that his mother had passed on. He went on to say, “When I heard about the reunion I felt that I owed it to her to be here. She always said that the years she spent with the women was the best time she ever had in her life.” I see women as central to forming spiritual homes because I believe that to raise their children, women need to trust their lives to other women, instead of to the future promised by institutions or by men. By relying on emotional intelligence to form family bonds, they would be free to live in the moment. They would have “the best time they have ever had,”—even a better one than the women depicted in the movie. They would be playing life’s real game, rather than a contrived one. And the game would last for life.

Why is life a game? Because its outcome is uncertain. If life’s outcome were certain, then life would have no meaning, just as any game would be meaningless, if its outcome were certain.

And what about men? Ronald Reagan once said, “If there were no women in the world, men would have no clue what to do. We would be standing around in the forest staring at trees.”

In short, men would have no sense of who we are or why we are here. Regans words describe the essence of the spiritual difference between men and women. Without sisterly bonds to serve, men have no natural sense of purpose or identity. Thus, when they took ownership of women, men destroyed the sisterly bonds, depriving themselves of their natural identity. This is why men created the institutions with which they now identify, and why they hold them so sacrosanct (I am a patriot… I am a bishop… I own this land… I am a senator…).

In reality, it was always the women who held the spiritual authority and around whom the men gathered, as their emotional dependents and protectors. Modern women—so bereft of their natural spirits in modern life—yet retain the capacity to reconnect with their spiritual authority by again merging into sisterhoods, to form the core of new spiritual homes. If they can renounce institutional definitions of family, and again trust their inborn emotional intelligence to form family relationships, they will create new spiritual homes. Men’s spirits, too, will reawaken in response, as they realize that the only place where life is happening is where the women are. Thus, men and women will renew, together, the key elements of humanities Nature-given way of life—living in the moment. As supporters and protectors of the women and their children, men will rediscover, fully, their natural sense of purpose from which they once derived total fulfillment, while asking nothing for themselves, other than be accepted as a member of the family.

Modern men who join the new spiritual homes and natural families that I describe will no longer see women largely as trophies or sex objects, but as the beautiful and remarkable multidimensional spirits they really are. The atmosphere of human relationships in these new spiritual homes will take on an existence wholly different from the role playing and obligations that we now accept as family life. This is the atmosphere of unconditional love, which is best described as a relationship of mutual giving, without the expectation of anything in return. If just a few modern humans can experience the freedom and sense of wellbeing of such an atmosphere of spiritual trust, spiritual homes can spread rapidly, even in the midst of our institutionalized world.

Could spiritual homes spread rapidly enough to save our species? Saving the species is not an individual concern. Thanks to the gift of emotional intelligence, all spiritually free people contribute to their species’ success, simply by being true to their feelings. But no individual—or institution, for that matter—has the power to save our species on its own. Though we can’t save our species, our emotional intelligence amply rewards us for being true to life, through feelings of unconditional love. Should we regain the freedom to be emotionally honest, by forming spiritual homes, we will be fully rewarded in each moment. The future, the problems that so beset the world, the survival of our species—none of these will any longer be our concern. Nor should they be. None of these are concerns over which we ever had control.

 

Emotional Dishonesty

The pain of emotional dishonesty imposed by living for the future can be deadly. I recently attended a funeral service for a woman and her two children. The mother had been so distraught, as a result of her recent separation from her husband, that she had killed her two teenage children and herself. Hundreds of people were at the service, and the testimonials went on for an hour. My son was a longtime business partner of the husband, and had been trying to help them through their difficulties. After the services I told him how surprised I was that there were so many people there. In view of what she had done, I figured the mother must have felt isolated and alone. My son replied that, in the end, she was alone, because their problems had been kept hidden from the larger community. Here was this intelligent and remarkable women, so burdened with guilt and shame for having failed institutional obligations, that she chose death to sharing her feelings with her friends. How is it possible that we hold institutions so sacrosanct that we hide from, or lie about, how we really feel, to our closest friends?

First of all, religions teach us that it is more important to honor our institutions than to be true to ourselves. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23. To fail the institution of marriage, which we are taught is ordained by God, is to be a sinner. Given that, why wouldn’t a woman feel shame because her marriage was failing? But the issue goes deeper than religious beliefs. We all want our lives to count. In an institutionalized world, girls grow up believing that their purpose is to get married, have children, and raise a family. So, the mother wasn’t just facing the shame of seeing herself as having failed in the eyes of God. She was also facing the end of her life’s dream. The future to which she had devoted her life, was gone.

 

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Happiness and Species’ Survival are Inexorably Linked

Happiness and Species’ Survival are Inexorably Linked

In the natural world, each individual enjoys life by satisfying its feelings, feelings that reveal the survival wisdom of its species. In this way, by enjoying life, it simultaneously contributes to its species’ success. No individual chooses not to satisfy its feelings. In Nature, circumstances do, sometimes, prevent an individual from satisfying its feelings—for example, when it can’t find water to quench its thirst. But, no individual ever knowingly deprives itself of happiness by ignoring how it feels. In other words, it never intentionally breaks the rules of life’s game that are essential to its species’ success. There is no righteousness, holiness, or purity about this: It is because, in Nature, there is no reason for an individual to ever do anything other than to try to satisfy its strongest feeling.

Only we humans, who live in institutionalized societies, knowingly deny our feelings of the moment. We regularly deny how we really feel, for example, in order to honor the spirit of the legal arrangements that define our relationships. Indeed, the lack of intimacy and happiness rampant among humans is largely the result of trusting our relationships to legal arrangements, instead of to feelings. It is a practice humans have engaged in since the advent of our very first social contracts. Having said that, it’s important to understand that we aren’t to blame for this transgression against life. Denying our feelings of the moment is simply a normal biological response to an abnormal sociological environment.  It is imposed by the circumstances of our present-day existence, which none of us ever asked for. Our souls (by which I mean our instincts, our emotions, our spirits) are punishing us enough for our transgressions. Let’s not add to our suffering by blaming ourselves. But the transgression, intended or not, has derailed our species from its normal trajectory of survival, despite the fact that there are now over eight billion of us. Overpopulation, like habitat destruction, is but a reflection of humanity’s inner turmoil.

The game of life is never intentional. It is the result of individuals doing what their emotions tell them they need and want to do, every moment of their lives. Given this central importance of feelings to life’s very existence, it’s curious that humans have never stopped to ask why feelings exist, even as we continue adding to our collective knowledge by making an astonishing number of discoveries that are of are lesser importance, by comparison. Many philosophers and self-help authors have written about feelings, but only within the context of managing them to reduce pain, with techniques such as meditation, positive thinking, being grateful for what we have, or finding comfort in beliefs, myths, and mantras. But they have not addressed the crucial question of why feelings exist in the first place.

Like us, early humans did not know that feelings exist to inspire the natural order required for species to thrive. So, once their linguistic skills evolved to the point that they could imagine and share concerns about the indefinite future, they began to fear that their future would be chaotic. To prevent chaos, humans created centralized systems of rule, never realizing they were replacing the natural governance of feelings with artificial systems of governance. These “systems,” regardless of what form they took—kingships, dictatorships, democracies, capitalism, socialism, or communism—were all based on the illusion that there are rational solutions for the problems that face mankind. Not knowing that only feelings can create life-sustaining order—an order that is infinitely complex, compared to the order that any system of rules could prescribe—they had no choice, other than to seek order in illusions. The consequences of this mistake were soon compounded, as we began organizing en masse—first tribes, then, with the advent of the written word, nation states.

Living Without Want

As subjects of states many things became possible for humans that could not even have been imagined when we were subjects of Nature. For the first time in human existence, large numbers of people could be applied to achieving specific goals. Thus began humanity’s unending quest for the know-how to attain ever-more-complex goals, a quest which has resulted in our remarkable body of accumulated knowledge, and the technological progress it made possible.

But, how does all this square with the game of life? The question was never asked. For thousands of years, now, humanity has increasingly been absorbed in our quest for knowledge, as if the very reason for our existence is to satisfy our curiosity regarding all things unknown.

This conviction, so persistent among modern humans, was addressed in a poignant quote from the film, “Particle Fever,” a documentary on how the Large Hadron Collider is being used to investigate the origin of all matter. Particle physicist Savas Dimopoulos was celebrating human curiosity, when he spoke. But, ironically, from my perspective, he has proven my point about the error in humanity’s increasing estrangement from our natural origins.   

Why do humans do science?

Why do they do Art?

The things that are least important to our survival,

Are the very things that make us human.

We think that all the abstract knowledge we have amassed, all the technology that upholsters our lives with comfort and takes us to the moon, are what make us human. But in my view, this is an errant perspective that will surely seal our fate, if it continues.

I am not disparaging Dimopoulos, nor other scientists, for the joy they experience with each advancement of knowledge that occurs in their fields. Advances in awareness excite me too, which is why I am involved in the study of human behavior. Dimopoulos’s statement profoundly demonstrates, however, that when we are cut off from the full orchestration of our natural feelings, we can’t participate in achieving life’s objective. Simply, and utterly, life’s objective is species survival. Without realizing that objective, no species can exist, and that objective has nothing to do with understanding the origins of the universe. 

Since we were first taken by the sense of purpose we derive from advancing human knowledge, we have never looked back, never considered even the possibility that we had made a wrong turn. But, in terms of winning life’s game, our quest for knowledge was a wrong turn. You see, neither the knowledge we have gained, nor the technological progress that resulted play any role in the game of life. Knowing that galaxies exist, that the earth is round, that the sun will burn out in around six billion years, that the force of gravity is inversely proportional to the distance squared between objects, or how to go to the moon—none of this has anything to do with the game of life. Consequently, the progress that we so value contributes nothing to the spiritual/emotional wellbeing without which both individual happiness and our species’ eventual survival are impossible. This is why, as Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly noted in his Noble Peace Prize Lecture, “The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become spiritually.”

We think we are soaring, but we’re not even in life’s game. Not free to satisfy our feelings of the moment—a freedom that only the game of life allows—we quite naturally are in pain. This explains “the poverty of the spirit” of which King spoke, and from which humanity suffers, today.  

Excerpt from: Take Us Home, Girls!  Download a free copy at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

Three Husbands and a Thousand Boyfriends

This document contains my comments to Patricia Brooks about her new book, Three Husbands and a Thousand Boyfriends, that tells the story of her recovery from love addiction, alcoholism, and the post-traumatic stress of spousal abuse.

 

Patricia:

There are messages in pain. Yet, most people don’t seem to learn much from painful experiences, which is probably why they tend to fall back into their dysfunctional patterns of behavior. You, on the other hand, have not only learned. You are able to effectively share what you have learned. I agree with every point you make. And they are essential points. While my views are based—to some extent—on my own life experiences, they are mainly based on how I believe the life of a species works, as a biological process. Through the following remarks on your work, I have tried to meld two views, one based on what you learned in your recovery, the other on what I believe humans must learn—which are the same things—if our species is to recover from the dysfunction currently afflicting modern humanity.

In terms of critiquing your book for improvements, I don’t have much to say. Other than the minimal issue of being confused about the timeline, a few times, it is a great read. I ran across numerous phrases that particularly struck and intrigued me, because they take the reader to the core of a number of issues regarding human relationships. These issues frequently touched on ideas that I am writing about, in my effort to introduce a new perspective on human behavior.

As far as I know, my comments reflect a unique point of view on life. They are all based on a single axiom: The objective of life is species survival. So, I don’t expect everyone to agree with all of my views. But, because your writing so resonated with me, I feel that you will find some of my ideas of value.

______________

Pg 64   Keeping control was his way of handling our relationship.

I believe that, by nature, humans are social bonders, rather than pair bonders. As a result, men often react to pairbonding in one of two dysfunctional ways. In some instances they let the woman take charge, in which case the woman doesn’t fell she has a life partner, the man is “henpecked,” and he eventually becomes passive-aggressive. As in your case, other men seek control. If their sense of self-importance is based on their ability to control what they own, and they see the woman as their property, the situation often leads to abuse.  

In my own relationships, I tend to react by letting the woman run things, which is why I no longer seek personal relationships with women. One may ask, “If you know that what you do is dysfunctional, why don’t you behave differently?” My answer: “How can I feel I have a home, if, in order to be there, I have to pretend I am something that I am not?” The next question is, “But, couldn’t you change if you worked at it?” I answer, “I believe I am here to be true to myself—to what Nature made me—not to some idealistic notion of who I, or anyone else, thinks I am supposed to be. If I have to work at a relationship, then, in my mind, I’m not being true to myself, or to life. When we are being true to life, our relationships work for us, not the other way around.

 

Pg 83   My ego was holding me back.

In my mind, egos are false identities that all modern humans carry, because, as subjects of institutions, we are not free to be ourselves—members of a social species who survive by attending to the needs of the people around us. Relationships are the lifeblood of any social species. It is through pleasure, joy, love, and happiness, that our instincts reward us for being true to the life of our species in our relationships with one another. Conversely, it is through pain, in its many forms, that our instincts punish us for not being true to life in our relationships. The problem is that, as dependents of institutions, we must acquire wealth and honor legal arrangements to be respectable and survive. We are not free to attend to the needs of one another according to our feelings of the moment.

In effect, to survive, we moderns must pretend that we are something we aren’t. Having to assume a false identity in order to get through life, is painful. The difference, in your case, is that your “false identity”—the “you” you felt you needed to present to the world—trapped you in a desperate situation, rather than just an uncomfortable one.

 

Pg 85   Her life [the woman at the Sojourner shelter] was fixing the broken wings on the seagulls left damaged on the beach.

What a beautiful passage to explain your situation, examples of which I found throughout your book.

 

Pg 86   Why do the dishonest charmers often suck in the well-educated, successful women, to years of abuse?

Typically, women refer to dishonest charmers as “risk takers,” the type of man most unable to participate in the life of a stable home. Women will say, “What did I ever see in that no good #^%#?!” In our natural state—back when humans depended on social groups to survive—risk takers performed an essential role: They stood as the first line of defense against external dangers. Thus, their lives were the most vulnerable to being lost. For the survival of our species in that natural context, it was essential that women be romantically attracted to men who were naturally inclined (loved) to take risks. Otherwise, the family would soon be without a defense.

In this way, the instincts that still inspire the feelings and actions of modern humans, today, evolved for survival in the natural world—the one humans stopped inhabiting long ago. In effect, our instincts are stuck in a sociological paradigm that fit much earlier humans. So, when modern women become romantically involved with the “wrong” guy, they are actually doing what was once right—no, essential—for the survival of the species. The fact that so many remarkable, intelligent, and attractive women keep falling in love with this type of men is the quintessential example of how our instincts don’t fit the modern world.

Romance represents our species’ sensibilities about genetic selection. When romantic feelings seize us, they are telling us who to mate with, and they inspire the behavior required for procreation. The resulting period, during which both individuals feel an intense desire for physical intimacy, typically lasts two to three months—long enough to ensure conception. The fact that modern humans make lifetime commitments based on feelings that last for only a short time, compounds the mindlessness of the situations in which we keep finding ourselves. All too often, the result is disaffected family relationships, the ultimate example of which is spousal violence.    

 

Pg 98   Alienation was never the best answer, but I chose it just the same.

To a significant extent, all modern humans are alienated. What was endemic in earlier human life is nonexistent in our modern world—the natural sisterhoods, and brotherhoods, through which early humans experienced enduring relational intimacy.

 

Pg 101 “This small life I have is OK with me. I accept it as an opportunity to find myself,” I told my therapist, even when I did not believe it myself.

You were right not to believe it. As members of a social species, the primary way we know ourselves is through our relationships. If our relationships are in concert with the needs of our souls, we like ourselves. To whatever extent our relationships are not in concert with the needs of our souls, we don’t like ourselves.

 

Pg 110   By not running away from them [the two women in your office who had once walked in your shoes] my freedom from captivity began.

This emphasizes a previous comment. Women know themselves—know what Nature made them—mostly through their relationships with women, as is true also of men with men. To emphasize the point: When asked by a Today Show host if he remembers the barbershops of his youth, Ice Cube replied: “It was cool. You go in there and the barbers treat you like they’ve known you your whole life. I know barbershops have all different kind of flavors all over the country. What’s the same is it’s a place where you can be yourself.”

Indeed, only through the freedom to be ourselves, can we know ourselves! By valuing barbershops as cultural outposts where men are free to be themselves, Ice Cube was making a significant observation regarding the spiritual deprivation inherent to our present way of life—for both men and women. 

 

Pg 118  Drinking was not an option.

It is remarkable that, despite the problems you once had with alcohol, you did not revert to it when facing the burden of your other difficulties. I congratulate you for that.

 

Pg 119  I no longer needed to control my life.

The key to experiencing life as it is meant to be experienced, is to surrender, to give up control to the feelings of the moment. Our problem is that we are not free to give up control, because our institutional dependency renders each of us personally responsible for our own future. In other words, we do not have the option of being emotionally honest about how we really feel. Our only option is to presume to be in control by honoring our plans and dreams. At best, we make partial surrenders, in a variety of ways, and, to whatever extent we can surrender the belief that we are ultimately in control, it helps. This is why belief in God—an entity to which people can mentally surrender control—is important to so many, and often plays a key role in their recovery. 

 

Pg 119   Stop blaming yourself for what happened.

Blame is based on the illusion that “we”—that is, our conscious minds—are in control. Actually, it is our subconscious mind that controls us, through feelings that constantly change, as our mind reacts to ever-changing circumstances. As designed by Nature, the conscious mind’s only chore is to figure out how to satisfy feelings—to find safety when afraid, find a place to rest when tired, express anger when angry, for example. This served both the species and every living individual in the natural world of early humans, where the only feelings the conscious mind ever had to satisfy were based on instinct. But, in the institutionalized world, those same feelings all too often demand satisfaction, in vain, because they are superseded by the necessity of realizing goals and future plans. The idea of blame is not grounded in reality. It is based on the belief that our choices are independent of circumstances, when actually—whether in the natural or institutionalized world—our  choices are dictated by circumstances, which by nature, are beyond our control.

If this point about our not being in control seems inaccurate, consider: First, instincts are inherited. We have no control over that. Had we not inherited instincts for procreation, to give one example, we would never have to satisfy feelings of romance. This observation is equally true for all feelings. Secondly, how we live as humans is an either/or proposition: Through the full sweep of human existence, individual humans have been born, either into a natural culture in which humans socially bonded, or into a tribal or institutionalized culture based on pairbonding. In the natural culture, choices were exclusively based on the need to satisfy instinct. As subjects of institutions, choices are unavoidably based on the need to realize one’s own future plans—even plans regarding our future relationships. A more emphatic demarcation line could not be drawn to contrast the entirely natural lives of our distant forbearers with our own. In a word, we have modernized ourselves to the point of near total separation from our essence, our nature, and from life, itself. If mankind is ever to regain touch with our real selves and the realness of those around us, the first step on the journey is for all of us to do what you did, when you followed your sponsor’s advice and stopped blaming yourself. We need to stop blaming ourselves, or anyone else, for what has happened.

Only by no longer blaming yourself, did you realize that your circumstances were the problem, not you. This was an awakening essential to your self-acceptance, a prerequisite for your recovery. Likewise, only when humans stop blaming one another for our personal and collective “crashes,” will we realize that our circumstances are the problem, not us. It is crucial that we learn to accept ourselves and others as the beings that Nature created, instead of what everyone thinks everyone else should be. This acceptance is essential, not only for mankind to stop crashing, but, more significantly, for mankind to even comprehend the debilitating nature of our present circumstances.

 

Pg 142  but I trusted my instinct.

You were right to do that! Trusting our instinct is the only way life can be fully experienced. The fact that modern humans are largely not free to trust our instincts, is the source of most of our emotional pain and cognitive dissonance. A few people possessing most of the world’s wealth, or sports figures making millions, while teachers have to make do with little, are examples of cognitive dissonance. We know, by the authority of our souls—the instincts Nature gave us—that these situations are just wrong. But, trapped as we are by our institutionalized obligations, no one has a clue what to do about it. So, in order to go on, we have no choice but to ignore what our souls know. What our souls know is that, as surely as there is fire wherever there is smoke, there is human suffering wherever humans live in situations of cognitive dissonance.

 

Pg 149   We honored the universal truth that women are the same all over the world.

Amen.

 

Pg 168   They had an image problem and what others thought of them was paramount in their lives.

I agree. Men’s issue in life is primary that of identity. In instances where a man tries to satisfy the issue of “How important am I” through his relationship with a woman, the situation usually becomes desperate for both parties. If he doesn’t feel that he is in control of his domain/property—“his” woman—he becomes anxiety ridden regarding the issue of how he is seen by others. Your reference to OJ Simpson was well placed. Here was a man who had his life, his domain, under complete control, except for that #%& woman. I agree that your situation closely paralleled Nicole’s. Because these men see “their” women as intentionally thwarting the significance of their existence, they feel justified in killing. That’s probably one reason Simpson got off. Feeling justified, he was not burdened with guilt.

Because it runs in families, people tend to see the problem of spousal abuse as a learned behavior, rather than an image problem, as you experienced it. If spousal abuse is not a learned behavior, but largely the result of an image problem—or any other inherited trait that produces a violent reaction in the abuser—then, the situation is unlikely to improve, until that possibility is recognized.

 

Pg 169   because her journal had stopped beating.

This is another great example of your writing style. What a nice way to say how essential keeping your journal was to your heart’s ability to continue beating.  

 

Pg 171   “Life is either a daring adventure, or its nothing at all. Security is mostly a superstition. It doesn’t exist in Nature.”

Thanks for introducing this Helen Keller quote to me. It speaks volumes to the core of my beliefs. By institutionalizing human cultures, we have tried to create a certain world. But, the idea of a secure future is indeed a superstition, because the future cannot be controlled—not for long. To the extent institutionalizing human relationships creates a secure world, life ceases to be a adventure. To that extent, it is, indeed, “nothing at all.”

 

Pg 189   I asked God to help me forgive both of them for scaring and hurting me so I could move on.

This gets back to the issue of blame.

When we use blame to explain feelings of discontent, we are indulging in an illusion. There is a message in pain. Each time we indulge in blame to explain human suffering, we miss out on another essential message that human nature is trying to convey to us, through pain. For instance, when we blame leaders, or one another, for the failures of institutions, we are overlooking the likelihood that the unnatural obligations imposed by institutionalizing human existence is the problem, not people.

In my view, to blame leaders, or people, for the failure of institutions, is like blaming the captain, or the passengers, for an airliner disaster caused by a flaw in its control system. So long as we are compelled to believe that human nature is indeed the culprit when our private or public institutions crash, we have no reason to even consider the possibility that the idea of trying to control the indefinite future by institutionalizing human relationships, is riddled with flaws and inconsistencies.

When you spoke of your abuser as the enemy, I was wondering if you had gotten to the point of not blaming him, which in my view is essential to your ability to move on. Here, you answer that question.  

 

Pg 208   I forgave the enemy and myself so I could fully experience my life.

Ditto.

 

Pg 213  he is gentle with his daughter and kind to his friends.

What an important observation to include in your book, which, given what you had suffered at his hands, including almost losing your life, you had every reason to omit. You have clearly overcome the impulse to indulge in the illusion of blame. 

I have never researched it, but I am guessing that most abusers are quite normal in all aspects of their lives, except in relating to “their” women. If so, it supports the idea that institutionalizing human relationships is the problem, not us—the quite ordinary folks who are struggling to find existence meaningful by trying to fulfill unnatural obligations.

 

 

________________________

 

In summary, I can only repeat what I told you after first reading your book. While your experience did not serve you well during the many years that you suffered, the remarkable book that has resulted from it, Three Husbands And A Thousand Boyfriends, will continue to serve many women, thanks to your having so effectively shared your experience.

 

 

Read Take Us Home, Girls! A free download available at: Spiritual Freddom Press

The Quest for Intimacy

The Quest for Intimacy

 

As the state of human affairs becomes increasingly burdened with conflict and strife, we hear more people say: “Everyone wants basically the same thing. So why can’t we somehow just get along?” If we all want the same thing, what is it that everyone wants?  Were we to ask people if they would prefer to live a life of wealth and privilege, or one in which they loved and were being loved, most would probably choose the latter. And yet, we spend most of our time on earth pursuing wealth and privilege—whether we succeed or not. Could the likelihood that we are pursuing what we don’t really want have something to do with why we can’t seem to get along?

Where does our desire to love and be loved come from? We weren’t taught that we need it when we were in school. And most people haven’t learned about love from experience. Quite the opposite. In our increasingly alienated world, loneliness, not love, seems to be the order of the day. If we haven’t been taught that we need love, and we haven’t learned about it from experience, then we must be born with the need to love and be loved. 

Are animals born with the same need? Do dogs, wolves, horses, beavers, lions, gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants need love? We can’t ask them, so there is no way to really know. But, behavior reveals a lot. I would guess that most people who have spent time with those animals would agree that they share our need for love.

Are animals getting what they need? Well, a caged gorilla isn’t able to love or be loved. And body language experts could probably detect its state of distress in its behavior. But the ones who yet live in the wild probably have all the opportunities they need to fulfill their desire to love and be loved. This is a hypothetical proposition, but, what if we asked the animals whether they preferred wealth and privilege to loving and being loved? I think they would likely choose love. If I am right, regarding the matter of love, we are like the animals. The difference is, they are getting what they want, and we aren’t. And body language experts could probably detect our state of distress in our behavior.

Why are the animals experiencing love, and we aren’t? It’s not that we never experience it. A mother experiences love when attending to the needs of her child. During romantic involvements, couples experience love. And we love our pets. Based on these examples, there are three observations we can make about love. First of all, love is not something we choose. It happens to us. Mothers, even ones who have achieved fame, speak of motherhood as being the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to them. Romantic love is also a happening. The lyrics to Richard Roger’s, “Some Enchanted Evening” say it well: “You may see a stranger, from across a crowded room, and somehow you know, you know even then, that somehow you will see her, again and again.” Regarding our pets, we can’t choose not to love them, which reveals that love is beyond our control. The point is that in every instance of love, it is a happening, not a choice.

Love is a response. It happens only in the moment. Of course we might experience the anticipation of a romantic involvement, as well as fondly remember one. But these are not the actual experience. And promises of love undying remove us from the moment. The reason we love our pets so freely is that our love has no promises attached. That is the only way to keep any relationships an in-the-moment experience. And, because we have promised our pets nothing, our love for them is an in-the-moment experience. Promising them nothing frees us to be honest in our relationships. We can even be angry with them. Being angry is an event of the moment. It breaks no promise, and leaves the love untouched.

When we promise love, we are presuming that we will forever feel the same as when the promise was made. This takes us out of the moment, turns us into pretenders. How can we be close to anyone, when we can’t be honest about how we feel? Love lives in the moment, or it doesn’t live at all.

And finally, love, regardless of what kind—motherly, romantic, brotherly, sisterly, or our love for our pets—is beyond verbal description. Think of trying to describe romance to someone who has never experienced it. They would think you’re crazy! Not only is the experience indescribable, the words “I love you” can neither make love happen, nor can they keep a waning romance alive. The feeling is either there or it isn’t. Words are beside the point.

Modern humans know about motherly love, romantic love, and love for our pets, because we have experienced them. But very few people who are alive today have experienced brotherly or sisterly love, because the common ground required for this kind of love no longer exists. The conditions for brotherly love, however, are sometimes present on the field of battle. Though words can’t describe it, let’s consider what occurs in the lives of men who have experienced brotherly love. I refer to the work of photojournalist Tim Hetherington, a wartime correspondent who spent a year filming American soldiers at a remote outpost in Afghanistan for his documentary, “Restrepo.” Throughout his career, Tim’s particular interest was to study the relationships among men on the field of battle.

Following are quotes from the film, “Restrepo:”

Man Eden

Man Eden

Tim: One of the pictures that I really like is what I call my kind of “Man-Eden” picture. It really isn’t like a kind of war photograph. It’s a very pastoral scene to it. It kind of brings up ideas of medieval paintings and it kind of indicated that the work was going in another direction. As I stayed on, then I started to make the more kind of nuanced pictures about men and war and these kind of  relationships.

The lure of a place like Restrepo inhabits a much more profound place in young men than just, “oh, I need some adrenaline.” Tim called it “The Man Eden.” It was just sort of for the young male psyche that this was an easy place to be.

Brendan O’Byrne, Sergeant: Filling sandbags on the side of the mountain, waiting to get shot at, while making fun of each other and eating bad food and telling bad jokes. It was a great place to be if you’re a man. [Laughs] There was no social norms. I think that doesn’t happen a lot in our society. Out there, it didn’t matter how you were dressed and it didn’t matter how you looked, how much money you made. It didn’t matter how hot your girlfriend was. If you weren’t filling sandbags, you were fucking wrong.

Brendan O’Byrne, Sergeant: They’re just family. They’re the best guys that you could ever be with. You know, even the guys you don’t like, you love them, you know. Even the guys you fight with, you argue with, you’d still die for them, so how much can you hate them? Talk about dudes that, you know, work together and you think that after 13 months, you’d start to fall apart. But the truth is, it’s only brought us closer.

Sebastian Junger, voice over: Tim had been in a lot of combat in Liberia, and I think one of the things he was looking for after that experience wasn’t the truth about combat as a form of conflict, but the truth about combat as a form of bonding. And what he saw with his camera in this environment of killing and fear and hardness was connection.

James Barbizon, voice over: My grandfather was a professional soldier. He fought right through the Burma campaign. He lost all of his friends, and I said to him, you know, “Do you regret any of this? Would you change any of it?” And he explained it to me like this. He said, “War is the only opportunity that men have in society to love each other unconditionally.” And it’s understanding the depth of emotion at war that Tim was fascinated with.

Tim, Voice over: “Restrepo” is a distillation of what Sebastian and I have really come to understand about young men and war. The war machine isn’t just technology and bombs and missiles and systems in this kind of CNN TV mediated world. The war machine is, put a group of men together in extreme circumstances and they will bond together, and they will kill and be killed for each other. At the end of the day, you realize they were all young men just put together on the side of this mountain, and all they were trying to do was to survive and look after each other so that they all got back home alive. That was it, really. Nothing to do with war. Nothing to do with the politics of war.

_______________

To the extent it can be conveyed through words and pictures, Hetherington’s film reveals what brotherly love feels like. These men did not go to war intending to experience brotherly love. Like all types of love, it just happens when the conditions for love exist. Indeed, when the conditions are right, love cannot be avoided.

And what did they find when they returned home? They found a place where the conditions for brotherly love do not exist, a place where intimacy is impossible. They found a place where living in the moment is not possible, because everyone is focused on realizing future plans. In this place people depend on money to survive, not on others who are bonded in spiritual trust. The key to acceptability is adherence to cultural norms, and the amount of money a man has makes all the difference. Hetherington’s solders came home to a place where you can’t have a good fight, for fear of being locked up, because of having taken matters into your own hands. Home, it turns out, is the kind of place where all promises and agreements, including those regarding family relationships, must be documented and signed, because no one trusts anyone. The world to which these young men returned is so bereft of the conditions for love that, having once experienced brotherly love, many of them cannot go one without it.

I don’t have an equivalent picture for The Woman Eden. Children would definitely be part of the scene. And, if promises force us to live for the future, rather than in the moment, then in Women Eden no women would have to promise to love and to live with a man for the rest of her life, in order to have a child. In their Eden, women would surely find the same sense of peace within their sisterhood that those brothers found in Hetherington’s Man Eden. Indeed, when I visited an indigenous tribe while touring Panama a few years ago, I noted that the women and their children were gathered in a separate group from the men. That’s not surprising. Isn’t that what we observe among boys and girls on school playgrounds? And social gatherings are not very enjoyable, unless, at some point during the evening, the men gather in one location and the women in another.

We take pride in the belief that, unlike the animals, we are rational beings. But life’s meaning can be known only through love, not reason. Is motherly love, romantic love, and brotherly sisterly love rational? Of course not. They are feelings, they are the source, of our human addiction to taking care of life. From a rational point of view, laying down one’s life for another is senseless. Maybe so, but for a band of brothers who love one another, it’s the only thing that could possibly make sense. And the fact that it makes sense is the source of life’s meaning, the source of their connection.

A rational being would never be subject to addictions, and could therefore never be possessed by the need to take care of life. In our present existence, bereft of brotherly/sisterly love, through which we would normally be “hooked” on taking care of life, we are reduced to becoming hooked on all sorts of things—ideologies, religions, politics, progress, technology, money, drugs, dreams, and, last but not least, hooked on the certainty that we are rational beings. Those guys in Man Eden were hooked on their relationships. Their “drug” was their concern for one another, and in that concern they lived in the moment and new all the peace that can be visited upon mankind.

So, at the moment of birth, our destiny is to love and be loved, a destiny we share with all the other animals. But we moderns are not fulfilling our destiny. It isn’t through any fault of our own. Each of us is as capable of brotherly love as those soldiers, given the circumstances for interdependent relationships. Considering our present state of affairs, is there any hope for us to realize our natural destiny? There is no way to know. One thing is certain. If we are to love and be loved, we must first recognize it as our destiny. How can we fulfill a destiny that we don’t even know exists?

The other thing needed to realize our natural destiny is that it requires natural family relationships, the kind our predecessors enjoyed through eons, while human emotions were evolving. I have used Hetherington’s Man Eden to exemplify the circumstances required for brotherly love. The reader might ask: What’s natural about a group of soldiers stationed at a remote outpost in Afghanistan fighting on behalf of a nation state on the other side of the world? Agreed, in many respects, the situation of Hetherington’s soldiers was extremely unnatural. But, in one essential way, it was very natural. They were depending on one another to survive, as did all humans before the first institution existed. In that state of interdependence, they knew a love for one another that surpasses all rational explanations.

How crucial is the importance of natural relationships? Natural relationships are essential, because they are the only ones that we emotionally understand. In other words, when family relationships are natural, we pretty much understand why everyone in the family is behaving as they are, even if the family consists of thirty people. How can we know so much? That is why our brains are so large—to enable us to know things like that. Without the ability to emotionally understand what’s going on around us, we can neither love nor be loved, and that applies to both humans and animals:

If you place one male and one female elephant in an enclosure, it doesn’t work, because in their natural habitat female elephants bond with females and males function alone. In the unnatural relationship within their enclosure, neither the male nor the female emotionally understands why the other elephant is behaving as it is. This is a stressful situation, the same stress men and women often suffer when expected to live as pair bonders. You see, in our natural habitat, the brotherhood’s “mission” isn’t to protect the interests of a state, but to protect and support the sisterhood and their children. Regarding bonding, however, women bond with women and men with men, except for the romantic sojourns surrounding procreation. 

So, if we are ever going to fulfill our natural destiny to love and be loved, we need natural family relationships. Given our present state of institutional dependency, the question becomes: Is reestablishing natural relationships possible? That depends on whether human beings can throw off the weight of our longstanding dependence on institutions, for survival, rather than on brothers and sisters bonded in spiritual trust. For as long as we have depended on institutions, we have distrusted our own human spirits. Given this state of affairs, many people will see reestablishing spiritual homes as impossible, to the point of rejecting the idea out of hand. But, think of the rewards. When considering that, what now seems impossible might just be possible. 

For thousands of years, men have been creating artificial systems of authority, to grant one another the right to own women and, eventually land and animals. Through all that time, the human race has been on a quest for certainty. Systems of authority appeal to us because they promise a certain future. But it‘s a meaningless promise. A certain future—if it were possible—would result in a meaningless existence. Everyone’s behavior would be reduced to a mindless prescribed routine, as in Adam Huxley’s book, Brave New World. No place for love in that scene. It’s also a false promise, because a certain future is not possible. When we trust our lives to institutions in our quest for certainty, we are seeking something that is not possible. This is why we can’t get along, though we all want basically the same things.

The situation for those men at Restrepo was not certain, just as life is not certain for any being on earth, including us, the institutionalized ones. Indeed, had things been certain, at Restrepo, those young men would not have needed one another, and they would never have experienced intimacy. I propose an exclusion principle:

You can seek the false promise of certainty, or you can know intimacy, but not both. 

The free human spirit does not promise certainty. It promises that we will know intimacy, if we trust it to manage the future’s uncertainties in our own lives, as the men of Restrepo did in theirs. And when we have intimacy, we don’t need certainty, just as those soldiers didn’t need it. So, the question for each of us is this: Are we seeking certainty, and are we willing to live without intimacy, in order to have it? It’s a question that must be answered with care, for intimacy can be known only through natural human relationships.

Women are the key to reestablishing natural human relationships. They will do it by reclaiming their natural spiritual authority, which finds expression and is nurtured, only through loving sisterhoods, in which women trust their lives to women, instead of to the promise of men, laws, institutions and money. With women seated in their spiritual authority, brotherhoods will have real missions, missions through which they protect and serve the needs of the sisterhoods and the children, instead of advancing the cause of a government whose authority is based on documents, not love.

The Trump Phenomenon

The Trump Phenomenon

With Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president, many people are mystified about how it could have happened. Trump is belligerent, racist, sexist, offensive, insulting, and disrespectful—even of heroes. He accepts atomic proliferation, and, in many instances, is downright nonsensical. The weirder he gets, the more support he receives.

How could this be, we ask. Trump’s success has as much to do with the state of mind of the electorate, as it does with Trump. When people feel their lives are being sufficiently marginalized by the institutions that govern them, there comes a day when they no longer look to “the establishment” for solutions. They look for a savior, someone who, with a wave of his mighty hand, can sweep all our troubles away. If the establishment argues for reasoned approaches, then the voice of irrationality becomes, in effect, the word of God. This has occurred many times throughout history, a prominent example having resulted in WWII.

If this phenomenon regularly recurs, how do we stop it? A good way to begin is to stop laying blame. Trump clearly believes in his heart that he can save us, as do those who are trusting him to offer that service. It makes no sense to blame Trump or his followers, for what they believe, because they can’t change what they believe anymore than you or I can change our beliefs. If someone blamed you for your beliefs or offered what, to them, is a rational argument against them, would that change anything? Not a chance. You would believe even more strongly! Blame reinforces beliefs. It does not change them. 

If blame can’t solve the problem, maybe we should look at things from a different point of view. Maybe the answer we are lacking is that no one is to blame. Could it be that each of us is just a cog in some gigantic machine playing out roles over which we have no control? If that’s true, unhappiness is not evidence of human failure, but of the failure of the machine.

Many will insist: “In no way am I a cog in a machine. I am free to do anything I want. I could quit my job, drive off a cliff, or kick my brother in the teeth, if I wanted to.” That’s true, but, there’s a big difference between what we could do, and what we want to do. When it comes to what we want to do, the possibilities are remarkably limited. Regarding politics, our behavior is dictated by our beliefs, beliefs that we are powerless to change, because we don’t want to. 

What is the machine? To understand that, consider the animals. We see ourselves as different from animals, because we have choices, and they don’t. They are clearly cogs in a machine, because their behavior is governed by instinct. If that’s true, then the only difference between our machine and their machine is that our choices are governed by beliefs that we can’t control, and theirs are governed by instincts that they can’t control.

If humans are expressions of evolution, then there was surely a time when we based our choices as the animals do, on instinct. How did we end up becoming cogs in a machine where our decisions are based on beliefs, rather than instinct? The story of how it happened is remarkably short. When human linguistic skills evolved to the point where our distant forbearers could imagine their future circumstances, years in advance, the males of our species began granting one another the right to own women, land, and animals, in the belief that, by doing so, they could create a certain future.

Having no way to know the spiritual depravation and material chaos that granting ownership rights would eventually inflict upon humanity, those males innocently transformed natural reality into a false reality, that became the norm that all future humans would unknowingly accept as real. In the natural reality of a non-ownership culture, success is based on spiritual wealth—the measure of our service to those around us. In the false reality of an ownership culture, success is based on  material wealth—the measure of how much property we have as accumulated for ourselves.

There are two axioms that underpin all my beliefs about human behavior. (Yes, because I am not free to be true to my instincts, I too, am a believer.) The two axioms are:

  • When people are free to be true to their feelings of the moment—instincts—they are emotionally honest, and relate to one another and to the habitat in ways that enable our species to thrive.
  • People living under a governing body that grants the right to guarantee future material wellbeing by owning things, are planners, schemers, hoarders, pretenders, conquerors, believers, and dreamers, whose relationships are so dysfunctional that they ensure our species’ eventual demise.

If these axioms are true, then—difficult as it is to imagine—our species is on the way out. But, whether our species survives is not our concern. We will be long gone before that is settled. Our issue is: How do we prefer to live—among animals who take care of one another according to the sensibilities of their souls, or animals who regularly ignore the needs of those around them because, through no fault of their own, they must pursue wealth and privilege, in order to “succeed?” 

The key implication of the above axioms is this: To live in a culture governed by instincts, rather than beliefs, would require that we stop granting one another the right to own things. But, how could we survive without owning anything?

The answer to that question is complex, indeed, so complex that it cannot be described by words. But explaining it isn’t necessary. Over eons of evolution, Nature has already worked out all the details about how to survive without owning anything. These details are revealed to us through our feelings of the moment, which are the messages coming from the instinctive wisdom that speaks to us exclusive through emotions, just as it did to early humans. In other words, if we will forget about the future (as Jesus implored us to do), then the answer regarding how to survive without owning anything will be revealed to us, as needed, through our feelings in each unfolding moment. Like the other animals—and like the humans of long ago—we will survive by simply doing what we feel like doing. There is the answer to the question of how to survive without owning anything.

But, trusting our instincts, in this way, isn’t something we can do on our own. We are a social species. Our “survival unit” is a social bond—not an individual, not a pair bond, not a herd, and certainly not a mass society. Human beings need small-group intimacy, in order to experience the interdependence and exchange of emotions on which our sense of wellbeing absolutely depends. This is what I call a “spiritual home,” a place where the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own, and without which our species cannot survive.

If I am right that humans are matriarchal by instinct, it falls to women, then, to re-establish spiritual homes. Establishing a spiritual home would require that a small group of women who are socially bonded—who love each other—trust their lives to one another without separate bank accounts, and without any plans, other than for the immediate future. No being, human or otherwise, can live for the moment, if they have a monetary identity through which they are personally responsible for their own future, or if they are subject to plans through which the group is trying to control everyone’s future.

If women were to trust each other in this way, they would, in fact, be trusting their lives to life-itself—the only way to regain what we have lost. And, if they did this, I believe men would show up to support them and their children in any way they could. And every member of that extended family would place the wellbeing of the people around them above their own, not because they believed they should, but because they wanted to. After all, that is how all humans once flourished, in the time before we started granting one another the right to own things. I see no reason why it can’t happen again. 

No way of life is ideal. Evolution, after all, does not represent perfection. It is a work in progress, and mistakes that harm life are made, even in the natural world. An ideal existence—one in which life’s uncertainties have been eternally eliminated—would be meaningless. Everyone’s behavior would be reduced to a mindless assigned routine. The difference between a spiritually free life and one that is subject to institutions is not that one is ideal and the other isn’t. The difference is: When governed by instincts, we live for the moment in a state of intimacy, and our behavior sustains life. When governed by beliefs, on the other hand, we live for the future in a state of anxiety, and our behavior destroys life. That state of anxiety is the unavoidable result of an existence without intimacy. Indeed, the mind creates beliefs for the exclusive purpose of quelling anxiety. This explains why we cannot change what we believe. By beliefs, I mean belief in the promise of religion, institutions, ideologies, science, and finally, belief in the promise of a presumed savior, like Trump.

As modern humans, our very existence is dependent on our right to own things. Ironically, this central feature of our modern lives is the very agent of our institutional subjugation, world chaos, and generalized personal unhappiness. Surrendering the right to own things is, therefore, the absolute prerequisite, if we are ever again to live in concert with the forces of Nature that created us. But, because our survival is presently dependent on the things we own, to surrender our rights of ownership would be the equivalent of jumping from the top of a 100-story building.

This explains the powerful sway that the concept of ownership has on our psyches. Notwithstanding this, we each carry within us the complete map of life, as Nature created it through eons of evolution. Our emotional nature embodies that map, which could well be as intricate and as complex as our physical nature. The map’s directions, through which we know our way in Nature’s world—a world without ownership—come to us through our emotions. For humans to recover our natural functionality, we need to realize that the very nature of our modern world—it’s institutions, it’s rules of behavior, it’s network of beliefs so deeply enmeshed in human culture—is a closed system that perpetually reinforces it’s influence over us. Emotionally, it encumbers. It encloses. It constrains. It’s institutions began forming the day humans first authorized the right to own things.

In order to respect the laws that grant ownership rights, our minds literally have no option, other than to ignore the emotions through which we would normally, without effort, “read” life’s map. This modern life of owning things has brought material wealth, at the cost of spiritual wealth. It deprives us of the happiness with which life would naturally reward us, if we were abiding according to life’s map. In this world bereft of spiritual fulfillment, we struggle for whatever fulfillment we can find through beliefs, and through the pursuit of wealth and privilege. In that process, we have transformed natural life into an artificial manmade life—the “skyscraper” on which we now stand. It is our own Tower of Babel, in the form of beliefs, temples, governments, financial systems, and modern technology.

But the skyscraper which metaphorically represents the institutions on which we depend to survive is on fire, because those institutions are failing. Believing that they must not fail, we have been rationalizing, for a long time. We’ve gotten away with it, because the world seems to keep going on, despite the ubiquitous warning signs that continually add to the background of anxiety so many modern humans carry. We continue to rationalize to ourselves that this is just the way of the world, and that the world will go on, regardless. But that ignores the historical fact that many civilizations have fallen and died, many species disappeared. Our minds, our psyches, are in fact faced with a decision of existential import to our species.

The anxiety so generally felt, the unhappiness, the dissatisfaction and irritation over the way things always seem to be—all these are warnings from our souls, the seat of natural wisdom that Nature gave us, to embed in our species the wherewithal to survive. To ignore these warnings is to presume that we can avoid an inescapable confrontation with reality.

Will our psyches ignore the warnings and waste more time blaming individuals, or groups, or human nature, for the failures of our institutions? Until we recognize that owning things is the problem, not us, we will never comprehend that laying blame solves nothing. Because of our institutionalized obsession with controlling outcome, the flames would have to be licking our bodies, before we would leap from the skyscraper. Leaping is an action. But we are passive people, institutionalized people, trained to lay blame for as long as we can, before ever taking action. We will not leap, because of our need to believe we are in control. We can do nothing, without first presuming a successful outcome. Thus, we remain bystanders watching the world deteriorate. This is the passive role that ownership has foisted on humanity.

Will our psyches, instead, hearken to the message of wisdom set securely in place by Nature, through eons of evolution? If we do that, we will make the leap from that skyscraper, by surrendering the right to own things. But we won’t do it alone. We will do it by trusting our lives to people we love, not to what we own. When we place our trust in life itself, we will realize that the decision to leap is not about anticipating the outcome. Rather, it is about allowing life to unfold according to the wisdom of Nature, not the imaginations of men.

The primordial fact of Life is still the same as it has always been: Life is larger than we are, and unfolds as it will, despite our best efforts to control that unfolding. We acknowledge this fact, only obliquely, with the joking phrase, “you can’t fool with Mother Nature.” Yet, rights of ownership do fool with Mother Nature. Because of granting and enforcing those rights, we have no choice but to strive for wealth and privilege—an existence of forced servitude that insults and offends the emotional makeup Nature gave us, by depriving us of the intimacy of interdependent relationships humans so deeply need.

If our minds cannot stop trying to fix things by laying blame, then, for the umpteenth time in recorded history, we will surely go down with our institutions. We need to recognize that trying to control the future by granting one another the right to own things is the problem, not humans. Perhaps that recognition will inspire us to forgive ourselves and everyone else for whatever despicable deeds we or they may have done, or supported, in the defense of our institutions and beliefs.

With the cognizance that ownership is the problem, our minds will be freed from the illusion of blame. For the first time in thousands of years we would be free to embrace the only real option that has ever been available to us. We will place our trust in the people around us, and take the monumental leap, hand in hand, the leap through which we surrender our right to own things.

I can promise nothing. How could I? Promises are made in the belief that we are in control of the indefinite future. The leap to life is made without any promises. It represents an acceptance of the way of life. It is a demonstration of the intrinsic understanding that life is an unfolding whose outcome we cannot know, and do not need to know. In the real world, love is the glue that bonds us, not what we know, or intend, or promise.  

Perhaps it seems stark, to some, when I say that we do not need to know. Surrendering our rights to own things is not an inconsequential thing but, if we can trust our lives to people we love, instead of to what we own, then a spiritual home will immediately appear, as our instincts take over. To take a plunge into this unknown is not to fall. It is to rip off the dense cladding that has repressed our emotional core since rights of ownership were first established. In the sudden absence of that barrier, what’s left is life’s most precious gift—the immediate, instinctive impulse for connectedness with those around us that is the essence of humanity’s spiritual home. We will recognize our spiritual home on arrival, because it is a place where the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own. Only then are our spirits free.

Imagine what it would feel like to be at a place, any place, where the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own. Love completes us. When we have love, we need nothing more, not even another day. And, if we don’t need another day, then the future, as well as the problems of the world, will no longer be our concern.

We cannot extinguish the fire that is bringing down the skyscraper. It’s far too well established to put out. Our need is for a few people to understand that governments granting people ownership rights is the skyscraper’s foundation. They will then realize that if they can figure out how to survive without owning things, their lives will no longer be afflicted by false promises upon which the skyscraper stands. But, is it even possible to survive without owning anything, in today’s world?

Humans have long taken comfort in the belief that our possibilities are limited only by our imaginations. If that is indeed true, and a few people were to start imagining how it would feel to live in a state of intimacy, rather than an environment where “success” is based on personal wealth and privilege, they might surprise themselves with what is possible. Only two bits of knowledge are required to create the intimacy of a spiritual home. The rest is all instinct.

The women who establish the core of a spiritual home must understand: 1) Why they cannot have separate monetary identities, and 2) Why they must have no plans regarding how individuals contribute, other than for the immediate future. I emphasize the word “why,” because, if these principles are seen only as rules, they will be broken within days. If they are broken, it will transform the spiritual home into a quasi-legal arrangement—in effect, a spiritual prison—and it will disband in due time. But, if they understand that honoring those two principles is essential to the very existence of a spiritual home, they will never discard them. (In a world owned by money, the family itself will have to have to have both a monetary identity, as well as plans for the future.)

We cannot save the world. The world will do what it will. The point is that there is a way—even in the midst of all the dysfunction around us—for people to save their own spiritual lives, by participating in the life of a spiritual home.

Since the advent of ownership, the world has experienced the cyclic rise and fall of empires. Trump is not the problem. He is as blameless as you and I. His political success is the harbinger of the next end. We do not know how many more of these cycles our species can tolerate. Humans will either eventually realize that ownership is the cause of it all, or we won’t. In the first case, we will return to living as the expressions of Nature that we are. Or, if we don’t recognize how ownership destroys our spiritual lives, as well as the planet on which we live, we will continue trying to control the future, and eventually our species will cease to exist. In either instance, mankind will be relieved of the present pain of our pointless suffering. 

_________

 

 

I first introduced the idea of a spiritual home in my book The Brain Virus. It is greatly amplified and clarified in my latest book, Take Us Home, Girls! You can download both books free at: SpiritualFreedomPress.com

 

 

 

 

 

What Is a Home?

 What is a home? 

We think of home as family—father, mother, children. But we forget that marriage is an institution, a contractual arrangement set up and enforced, by government, to define the obligations of a man and a woman to each other, and to their offspring. This institution, the nuclear family, made up of pair-bonded parents and their children living separately from others, has existed for thousands of years, as virtually the only concept of home, among humans. Yet, for many more thousands of years previous to that, humans lived in organic families—small groups with multiple men, women, and children who depended on each other to survive. The question is: Which kind of family best serves our emotional needs as human beings? Is it the emotionally bonded family that nurtured our human and pre-human ancestors, even eons before humans evolved into a distinct species, or is it the modern human family, based on institutionally prescribed obligations?

 

Emotions Evolve to Fit Sociological Circumstances

To address this question we might ask: What determines our emotional needs? Are they culturally imposed, or are they based on instinct? In some cultures, people feel families should be polygamous, while, in most, only pair bonding is acceptable. Cultural influences clearly affect our feelings about what constitutes an appropriate family. But, all cultures recognize the need for family. Apparently, our need for family is not culturally imposed, but innate. This makes sense. As a social species, humans cannot survive the natural world alone. In the natural world, where humans lived while our emotions were evolving, any individual who lacked the desire to seek and treasure family relationships would have perished. For any human living at that time, such lack of desire would have constituted a genetic defect—a defect that would be eliminated from our species’ gene pool by that individual’s demise.

This illustrates how emotions evolve to fit sociological environments, just as physical features evolve to comply with physical environments. Think of what it would be like for us to live on a planet where gravity is ten times greater than it is on Earth. Having evolved on Earth, we are not physically fit for such an environment. Likewise, as a social species, humans cannot survive the natural world, either alone or in pairs. Given our physical limitations, our survival requires tightly knit social groups. This is how we survived for eons, while our emotions were evolving, and for most of the 200,000 years we have existed as a distinct species.

But, at some point, humans began functioning in pairs, instead of social groups. Family relationships no longer involved emotional intimacy with 20 to 30 people of both sexes and of all ages (emotional intimacy does not imply sexual intimacy). Suddenly, family was limited to one other individual, of the opposite sex, and the resulting children. Having evolved as a social species, were humans emotionally fit for such a dramatic change in family life? Are we, even now? I don’t think so. The ongoing failure of the nuclear family implies that pair bonding is as difficult for us to manage, emotionally, as a tenfold increase in gravity would be for us to manage, physically.

Excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!

Free download of Take Us Home, Girls! at: SpiritualFreedomPress.com

The Game of Life

The Game of Life

I can’t imagine a better beginning to this discussion of the poignant dilemma intrinsic to modern human society than this eloquent quotation from Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture in 1964.

This evening I would like to use this lofty and historic platform to discuss what appears to me to be the most pressing problem confronting mankind today. Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere. This is a dazzling picture of modern man’s scientific and technological progress.

Yet, in spite of spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

That the world is morally and spiritually poor is not new. The world was morally and spiritually depraved at the time of Jesus, which is why his message remains as significant in today’s world, as it was in his. The remarkable thing is that our “spectacular strides in science and technology” have not really changed anything regarding our spiritual wellbeing. If anything, “progress” is making things worse. At least people in Jesus’ day weren’t facing the specter of a denatured environment. Why, despite all our technological achievements have our lives not improved spiritually?

To gain a perspective from which to consider this dilemma, let’s think of life as a game being played by every creature that inhabits this planet. To win, in this “game of life,” each individual must behave in ways that optimize its species’ chances for success. Failure is behavior that does not serve the species. If failure is widespread, the species will eventually lose out in life’s game. But, with nearly nine million species on earth, there are many winners.

Seeking Order in Illusions

Think of the complex of rules required to govern such a game, rules that stipulate the moment-to-moment activities of trillions of individuals, comprising millions of species, in such a way that the vast majority are winners. None of these trillions know they are part of a game, yet remarkably—as a product of evolution, and despite the complexity—every creature knows everything it needs to know, to win. It knows by its feelings. That is, to win in the game of life all any being has to know is how it feels. Emotions are the source, the impetus and inspiration of all behaviors required for each individual to contribute to its species’ success. Whenever a being figures out what it needs to do to satisfy its most dominant feeling—yes, animals can think—and succeeds at doing so, life rewards it with spiritual fulfillment. The satisfaction of finding resolution to feelings of the moment informs all living beings that they are winning life’s game. Life’s sublime gift is that winning is not a one-time event, but occurs again and again, every time an individual finds resolution to its everchanging feelings.

What are they, and where do they come from—these emotions that are so essential to the existence of life? They are manifestations of life that express its survival wisdom. They began evolving with the first stirrings of life on earth. Each species possesses a unique set of emotions, just as it has a unique set of physical features. Physical features give individuals the ability to react to their circumstances. Emotions tell them how to react. Just as evolution selects successful physical characteristics over less-successful ones, emotions that inspire actions that contribute to the species’ success, are the ones most likely to be passed to future generations. The genes of a mother who takes pleasure in nurturing her young, for example, are far more likely to survive, along with her offspring, than the genes of a mother who finds no satisfaction in caring for her young. This example illustrates how crucial emotions are to a species’ success, so vital that emotional characteristics define a species every bit as much as physical ones do. We use physical characteristics to describe a species, not because emotions are less important, rather because they can’t be seen.

Emotions govern all life on earth, by inspiring creatures to seek pleasure and avoid pain. To avoid the pain of hunger, individuals seek the pleasure of eating. To avoid the pain of chill, they seek the pleasure of warmth. And the members of social species avoid the pain of loneliness by seeking the pleasure of familiar associations. In these ways, feelings not only inspire activities that are essential to each being’s survival, they also instill values in every individual that go far beyond the bare necessity of survival. For example, in social species, love exemplifies a value that is essential to forming and maintaining the relationships needed for the species to flourish. But love is not required for the survival of any individual. We can all manage without love. Indeed, modern humans survive largely without it, but it’s not a very spiritually fulfilling way to live.

Excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!

Download a free copy of Take Us Home, Girls! at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

The Answers We Seek are Revealed by our Feelings

The Answers We Seek are Revealed by our Feelings

The real values of life are spiritual/emotional, not material. This is the message we continue to receive from our souls, notwithstanding the value we must place on material wealth because, in our world, wealth is the basis for “success,” respectability, and security. Of all of life’s real values, love is the most profound for the members of any social species. This is why, given the choice, our ultimate aspiration in life would be to love and to be loved unconditionally—even though most of us have never experienced it. You see, the human spirit interprets living without unconditional love as evidence that we are losing life’s game, again and again, in every moment of existence. What other conclusion could our spirit come to, as it endures our day-to-day renunciation of the ultimate aspiration of human life?

Can humans reclaim our natural state of intimacy? To do so, we would have to give up on the idea of progress, which isn’t easy for a people who are counting on progress for salvation. Spiritually, we have been in dire straits ever since making the mistake of outlawing our feelings of the moment—back when we first centralized authority. In effect, by outlawing our feelings of the moment, which are expressions of Nature, we declared war on Nature. Having turned our backs on Nature, our only real savior, we first sought salvation in mortal, earthly god-kings—and, a few thousand years later, in immortal, heavenly ones. Since the advent of the Renaissance, we have increasingly come to seek salvation in scientific and technological progress. Indeed, we are now so steeped in the “religion” of progress that any idea that questions it is subconsciously rejected, in the same way that any viewpoint refuting any belief—be it religious, philosophical, ideological, or nationalistic—is discarded, out of hand, by its true believers.

Though I have no proof, I have come to believe that, if we are to physically survive as a species and, more significantly, enjoy spiritual fulfillment in the process, we must look for salvation in the reality from which we came—one in which intimacy is the most common life experience, and the most valued. Should we do so, we might be surprised to discover what I believe Jesus tried to tell us two thousand years ago—that the answers we seek cannot be found in the ersatz glory of some idealized future. They’ve been residing within us all along. He told us that “Heaven is at hand.” But, to enter, we need to stop ignoring the answers, as revealed by our feelings of the moment.

 

Excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!

A free download of Take Us Home, Girls! is available at SpiritualFreedomPress

Do Institutions Prevent, or Create, Chaos

Do Institutions Prevent, or Create, Chaos

Modern humans believe that legal institutions are necessary to prevent chaos. But institutions serve another purpose, also. They grant men the right to own property. In other words, if institutions did not exist, no one would have the right to own anything. The issue is: Which came first, chaos or ownership? I argue that, without ownership, chaos is impossible.

Why do we allow people to own things, if chaos is the result? It’s because we are not the rational beings we think we are. If we were rational—that is, able to objectively analyze our circumstances—we would have recognized that granting rights of ownership would lead to the chaos of revolution when a few people inevitably own everything, and never have instituted the practice in the first place. We moderns believe it is natural to institute governing bodies to authorize rights of ownership. Those rights, however, result in a host of aberrations in our personal and collective lives—aberrations that go far beyond just the issue of chaos.

The right to own property, for instance, resulted in the institution of marriage, an aberration that granted men a special right—the right to own women. The dysfunctional families that resulted, aren’t the only issue. As a result of the right to own things—land, animals, and women—men started thinking the earth belongs to us, instead of us to the earth. This constituted a shocking aberration in the natural order of things. Through our right to own things, we each see ourselves as gods of our own domains, while we remain clueless to the fact that attaining “god” status renders us the absolute subjects of the institutions that grant us ownership rights. Through ownership, we presume to control our destiny, but there is a consequence. We must suffer the anxiety of living for the future, instead of knowing the peace that comes of living in the moment. Forced to focus on concerns about our personal future wellbeing, our behavior is dictated by our beliefs, instead of common sense. Our legal identities, through which we have the right to own property, are far more important to us than who we really are. Having to project a successful “legal self” for the sake of our survival and respectability, there no longer exist any grounds on which to become acquainted with our natural selves, and with the natural selves of those around us.

The aberrations that result from granting people rights of ownership affect our collective lives, as well. By making us each responsible for our future wellbeing, ownership spiritually alienates us from one another. Success in our alienated world is earned through competition, rather than cooperation. Success requires independence, self sufficiency, and personal wealth. Success in a natural culture, on the other hand, requires social acceptance among people who are bonded in mutual trust. Without others to depend on, and who depend on us to survive, loneliness is endemic. Ownership affects how our brains process information. It creates class consciousness, in which the status of each class becomes a measure of how much its members own. And people without the right to own anything have no social standing at all. They are slaves and, like animals, to be bought, sold, and used at will. Depending, as we do, on the things we own to survive, we have become abject dependents on the institutions that grant us the right to own things. As a consequence of this dependence, throughout recorded history, people have willfully killed and died on behalf of the institutions that granted them that right, believing, in every instance, that “God” was on their side.

Ownership so controls our perception of reality that the reason humans invented God, I suspect, was to create an entity to authorize their right to own things. Nothing in the natural world grants that right. For instance, we see marriage—through which men have traditionally been granted the right to own women—as instituted by God. Also each government, the institutions that modern humans believe makes living in mass cultures viable, is authorized by either a mortal god (a king, dictator, etc.), an immortal one (a heavenly father), or a constitution whose edicts hold godlike status in our minds.

People who live in intimacy—in socially bonded communities that depend on Nature to survive—do have origin and destiny stories, but they have no gods—none that dictate moral commandments. This isn’t because they are incapable of creating them: If they can create origin stories, they certainly could create gods. They don’t create gods because they have no need for them, either to sanctify their right to own things, or to offer solace from the pain of an existence without intimacy—the very pain that granting people the right to own things creates.

The point is that legions of unintended aberrations have resulted from men granting one another the right to own property. Why are we unable to recognize these as aberrations? What prevents us from understanding how ownership transforms our perception of reality? Because of the aberrations that result, why did our distant ancestors institute the right to own things, in the first place?

 

Excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!

Free Download of Take Us Home, Girls! is available at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

Releasing the Reins

Releasing the Reins

People wax mystical about the human soul and spirit—so much so that many see the soul continuing on for eternity after we die, without a physical embodiment. We do this, because the soul contains so much wisdom. We don’t know why we get hungry at a specific time, one day, but find that we are not hungry at that time the next. We can’t explain why romance is there for two or three months, and then it’s gone—much less fathom our romantic attachment to any specific individual. We do not know why we experience anger, joy, or grief, or why one man will lay down his life for another. To the rational mind, the soul is an incomprehensible mystery, which, I suppose, is why so many judge it to be supernatural. But, to the process of life, there is no mystery. Only by honoring soul-felt needs, without question, can we know the happiness of interdependent relationships, and simultaneously contribute to our species’ success.

I figure that if we are ever again to know spiritual freedom, we must look at the soul from virtually the opposite perspective from which we have traditionally seen it. We must understand that it is real, not supernatural. Only then will we understand that the reason it is so wise is that its wisdom has been accumulating throughout evolutionary time. It’s because of that massive accumulation of awareness that the spirit is able to inspire behaviors that seems magical to the rational mind.

If the soul knows so much that the activities it inspires seem like magic to us, then, despite the difficulties arrayed against it, regaining our spiritual freedom might simply be a matter of letting the spirit be—as my father did by releasing the reins when lost on horseback, in the middle of a blinding western-Kansas blizzard, years ago. If we have the courage to release the reins in our own lives, we can do so by focusing on our feelings of the moment, as we relate with the people around us, rather than focusing on the future we fear. If we can do that, maybe we we’ll discover that the human spirit knows what my dad’s horse knew—how to work the magic of taking us back home. And, if intimacy, happiness, and the elimination of anxiety indeed result from placing our trust in the free human spirit, it could result in a far more widespread transformation of the human way of life than we can presently imagine—a movement back to the natural homes in which all human spirits once thrived. As for the specific events that lead to the formation of a spiritual home, in no two instances will they be the same. As for the families, themselves, each will be unique in countless ways, though there will be characteristics common to them all.

But, what about the future? Will regaining our spiritual freedom mean there will no longer be refrigerators, skyscrapers, modern medicine, television, smart phones, etc.? In a modern society, whose hallmark is our present state of spiritual estrangement, success is largely a measure of longevity and the number of conveniences acquired. To us, a better future would require even more conveniences and longer lives. But, if I understand the laws of Nature, as they apply to the existence of any social species, the best possible future we can have—whatever it entails—can be realized only by attending to one another’s needs, through interdependent relationships, now!

Life’s only real measure of success is the happiness and contentment we find in our relationships. To live in a state of intimacy is to be immersed in the love one experiences when our survival depends on the people and habitat around us. That’s when we know that life is working. That’s when we stand with Jesus, not those who wanted him crucified. That’s when we comprehend what Jesus understood—that only our souls know the way. That’s when life is organized so that our souls can have their way, empowering us to serve the needs of the people who surround us and the land that sustains us all. And, just as importantly, that’s when we serve the needs of the uncountable generations yet to come.

I believe we have suffered a psychic dislocation of ourselves in time and space. Do we know anymore where we are in relation to the stars, moon, and the solstices? Like the wilderness itself, our sphere of instinct has diminished.

—N. Scott Momaday

 

Excerpt from: Take Us Home, Girls!

Free download of Take Us Home, Girls! available at Spiritual Freedom Press

The Hell of Certainty

The Hell of Certainty

My hope, in responding to my friend’s critique, has been to call the reader’s attention to the possibility that the very institutions we trust to prevent chaos are actually the cause of it. We think we must control the indefinite future, via the authority of instituted law, when in fact the future cannot be controlled. As a result of that misguided effort, our minds have gotten wrong virtually everything else about life. Our most problematic error occurred when men elevated the authority of the written word over that of the human spirit. In doing so, men superseded the authority of the sisterly bonds that naturally maintain order among humans, by placing themselves in control.

It is problematic, also, that we civilized beings find meaning in trying to establish future certainty, when the very certainty we seek destroys meaning. The well-known humanist philosopher, Eric Fromm, expressed a view that parallels my own when he said, “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” But, in his book, The Art of Loving, he seems to contradict himself, by trying to make love a certainty. He says, “Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”

Here, he is acting as though he were a spokesman for institutions. By claiming that love is intentional, not a feeling, he is saying that we are rational beings who can decide to love and to promise love, not feeling beings to whom love comes unbidden, and leaves the same way. He is saying that, by the force of reason, alone, we can control love. In saying this he aligns himself with every institution in existence by ignoring the significance of feelings—particularly, the significance of the fact that feelings change. He implies that, if we are true to our wedding vows, we can make love a certainty. But, if certainty blocks the search for meaning, then can love have meaning if it is a certain?

Indeed, how can anything have meaning that is certain? Would sports events have meaning if their outcomes were certain? A Twilight Zone episode once had fun with the idea of certainty. In the protagonist’s afterlife, the Devil informed him that the punishment for his misdeeds would be that he could have anything he wanted. “Wow! That’s my punishment,” the guy exclaimed excitedly in disbelief. As the show progressed, it became evident that having anything you wanted at any moment you wanted it, or having certainty—as Fromm might refer to it—is Hell! Indeed, certainty ended up driving the Twilight Zone character crazy.

That’s how I feel about civilization. To whatever extent civilization can create certainty, it is Hell. It is the hell of living in a world where everything becomes a mindless routine, where the natural process of life, in effect, have been halted. If civilization could in fact realize its apparent goal of absolute and eternal certainty, the result would be absolute and eternal hell. But, when civilization’s attempts to create certainty inevitably fail, that too is hell. It’s just hell of a different kind, the hell of mindless chaos and destruction.

So, Hell, as I see it, is the mindlessness imposed by certainty. It is also the mindlessness to which the human spirit is driven in its inevitable revolt against any and all attempts to realize a certain world. What, then, is Heaven? Heaven is the mindfulness of living in the moment. It is the mindfulness of accepting life as uncertain. It the mindfulness of acknowledging that life’s meaning lies in its uncertainties. 

People who believe in institutions are invested in the idea of certainty. They fear the uncertainty that would result from the free expression of human emotions, and see it as the ultimate threat to life. I am on the other side. I believe that any attempt to corral emotions on behalf of certainty is the ultimate threat to life. Philosophically, this puts me about as far apart from the rest of the world as possible, which might explain why many find it difficult to accept my views. Indeed, at times I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness.

An excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!

Get the whole story. Download a free copy at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

The Most Profound Truth Resides Within Us, Not in Anyone’s Words

The Most Profound Truth Resides Within Us, Not in Anyone’s Words

Bob,

Thanks for looking at my document and for your well-considered notes on it. Readers can feel more confidence in new ideas, when writers supply references to support their opinions, so I wish I could include them, as you suggest. But I am talking about a paradigm shift in human thought, a different perspective on the nature of our purpose here, a purpose for which there are no references of which I am aware. In my thinking, I have gone back to that most elemental question about the purpose of human existence, and sought to explain how humanity arrived at the particular package of understandings that define the nature and quality of life for every human being on earth.

Einstein lamented the fact that we were put here, but weren’t told our purpose for being here. When you think about it, life serves no purpose. Like the animals, we are born. We live. We propagate. And we die. With perpetuity, the cycle unfolds—before us, after us, and in places known and unknown. Yet, unlike the animals, modern human beings live in a civilized world of our own making. We live largely apart from Nature. Was this a conscious choice? Or did it happen by default, back in more primitive times, as human minds began to assert their own finite judgment over Nature’s?

Yes, there are many documents that question the viability of civilization, itself, noting the historical fact that all civilizations eventually fall. But I’ve never found one that explains what caused civilization, in the first place!

As far as I know, few would disagree with Thoreau’s famous quote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” But no one has ever suggested that Thoreau was speaking of a desperation that is entirely unnecessary. It seems to have occurred to no one that the emotional pain Thoreau describes is caused by the very institutions through which civilization orders, and attempts to protect, our lives. I know of no one who has attempted to describe in further detail the nature of the emotional pain to which Thoreau called our attention. To my knowledge, no one has yet connected that emotional pain with the pervasiveness of the heavy institutional hand that civilization places on each human spirit.

I believe I am virtually alone in recognizing how serious is the question of whether civilization, itself, is the cause of human unhappiness—individually, and also collectively, in the form of humanity’s worst problems. I am fairly certain that I am alone in recognizing what initially caused civilization, which is men granting one another the right to own things. So, I am not surprised when people are frustrated by the dearth of references to support my views. I am fully aware of the natural human bias against questioning the civilization into which we were born, and naturally take as a given. I see clearly how the fruits of our modern technological prowess make it seem obvious that we are going in the right direction, notwithstanding the omnipresence and intractability of the kinds of problems civilized people and their societies uniquely face—lack of intimacy, unhappiness, loneliness, anxiety, greed, addictions, disaffected family relationships, spousal abuse, class consciousness, religious and ideological factionalism, violent and nonviolent crime, terrorism, insurrection, international conflicts, habitat destruction, and the eventual cataclysmic failure of every civilization’s institutional structure.

We are taught that all of these are failings of human nature. But are they? In essence, I am proposing a reasoned explanation for the multiplicity of predicaments to which every civilization has historically been subject. I believe it is important to question the wisdom of laying blame on the very spirits that animate us for the miseries and sufferings that have plagued all human civilizations. Are we so unlike the animals that our spirits are somehow flawed, while theirs are not? Or have we so completely subjected ourselves to the rules and dictates intrinsic to institutions that our habit of acquiescence has gradually turned us against our own souls? 

If this is true, as I believe it is, it is urgent that we question whether the development of human civilization has helped, or gravely harmed, humanity. I have reason to believe incalculable harm has been, and is being, done, not only to every living soul, but to the human species, itself. If I am right, the stakes couldn’t be higher. They warrant the bluntest kind of sincerity, in addressing the negative consequences that civilization may well have caused us to visit upon ourselves.

That is why I ask the reader to entertain this reasoned explanation—strange and unfamiliar as it may seem—and to consider how it resonates, in the light of his or her own life experiences. I ask that because I believe the most profound truth resides, not in anyone’s words, but in each one of us. When it resonates, we know it, without being told.

 

Excerpt from: Take Us Home, Girls!

Get the whole story. Free download of Take Us Home, Girls! available at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

Spiritual Wealth vs. Material Wealth

Spiritual Wealth vs. Material Wealth

New Picture (3)a

Whether a monetary system exists, or not, determines what humans think of as success. With money, success is the measure of one’s material wealth. Without money, success is the measure of one’s spiritual wealth. Why did humans allow such a transformation in values to happen? It’s because we are virtually unaware that it has happened, much less understand how. But, before addressing that, let us consider the issue of monetary systems, in general.

As the world economic system seems on the threshold of faltering, and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, there is increasing talk of alternative economic systems. An example can be found at http://tinyurl.com/z2wls44  Following is a paragraph taken from this website’s explanation of what a cooperative economy might look like.

There would have to be fair negotiations—prices throughout the supply chain would have to be set with an eye on rational economics. Industry facilitators to assist negotiations and/or a government arbitration board to make decisions when parties are unable to agree to terms might be necessary. Community input would also be desirable, in the industries in which a given community is directly involved and for retail prices of consumer goods. It may be desirable to include these community interest in pricing negotiations directly. As more people take on more responsibility, more will gain the experience of fair negotiations, enabling more to peer over the shoulders of those involved in these decisions. In turn, more experience means more people within the community who can shoulder responsibility.

The above exemplifies the enormous degree of cooperation that would be required to manage any attempt at a rational, fair, monetary system. But, what would inspire people to cooperate? The problem with monetary systems, practiced or imagined, is that they put each individual’s future wellbeing in his own hands. Idealistically, that does not defeat the argument for cooperation. But, in practice, it does destroy cooperation by creating a situation in which everyone is out for himself. Competition destroys intimacy, the most important ingredient in human spiritual life.

Cooperation also requires that people agree on simple things, such as whether the government should redistribute wealth, and if so how and to what extent. That issue has never been settled among humans, since the earliest monetary systems were established, and it ominously and painfully divides this country, today.

Dependent on money to survive, modern humans quite naturally believe in money, even love it. Having never experienced a world without money, we are unaware of how monetary systems have transformed human existence, particularly our ability to cooperate.

We don’t normally think about it, but, until only a few moments ago in evolutionary time, humans did cooperate. Before institutions existed, we cooperated with one another to survive. Cooperation among multiple individuals is a complex process, but evolution gifted our massive brains with the wisdom needed to make it seamless. We humans are born to cooperate by simply being true to our feelings of the moment in our relationships with those around us. Indeed, we love cooperating as much as all the things we are good at doing. Our ability to cooperate made human survival possible. It also gave us a spiritual bonanza—the freedom to be true to ourselves and to those around us, thus to abide in a state of intimacy.

The use of money not only destroys intimacy, it literally changes our definition of what constitutes success. With money, success is the measure of our ability to purchase the things we need to survive. To the people who lived on this land, before us, success was an entirely different matter. Consider this excerpt from the book, The Soul of the Redman:

The culture and civilization of the Whiteman are essentially material; his measure of success is, How much property have I acquired for myself? The culture of the Redman is fundamentally spiritual; his measure of success is, How much service have I rendered to my people? His mode of life, his thought, his every act are given spiritual significance, approached and colored with complete realization of the spirit world.

This reveals that what humans view as success is determined by whether or not a monetary system exists. In a culture with money, success is the measure of our ability to serve self through personal wealth, on which we depend to survive. Without a monetary system, success is the measure of our ability to serve the people on whom we depend to survive. Collaboration is the coin of the natural human culture that evolution created.

As subjects of monetary systems, we may achieve wealth and privilege, but we are spiritually poor. Without money, wealth and privilege don’t exist, nor does poverty, for that matter, and we are rich spiritually.

Readers may ask: Since we are all subjects of monetary systems, what’s the point of informing us about how money adversely affects our spiritual existence? True, in a world owned by money, people are forced to look out primarily for themselves. But, I believe there is a way for us to again experience rich spiritual lives, despite the fact that money is in control, at least for the time being. To have rich spiritual lives, we would have to leave behind our personal monetary identities, by trusting our lives to organic human families, bonded by the need to cooperate to support each other, both materially and emotionally. The family itself, would have to have a monetary identity, to which various members would contribute. But family members without personal monetary identities would be immune to the spiritual alienation caused by money.

 

TakeUsHomeGirls

Figuratively speaking, if we follow those women pictured on the cover of my book, Take Us Home, Girls!, they will lead us, not to just a physical home, but to a spiritual home, as well.

What is a spiritual home? It is one in which we feel as one with the people around us. More significantly, it is a place where the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own.

That is the test for spiritual freedom. When the wellbeing of those around us is more important to us than our own, our spirits are free. But we can’t create it on our own. Spiritual freedom requires a spiritual home.

____________________

Learn more. Read my latest book, Take Us Home, Girls!

Download a free copy of Take Us Home, Girls! at Spiritual Freedom Press

Forgive them, for they Know Not What They Do

Forgive them, for they Know Not What They Do

One of the difficulties I face in writing about spiritual freedom, is that I’m not practicing what I preach. I decry the existence of legal identities, yet my life is defined by one. My legal identity provides me with a place to live, food, respectability, the ability to move about freely, and other privileges that, if I am lucky, will hold out until the day I die. By clinging to my legal identity, I am placing my trust in institutions, not in love, which is the opposite of what I believe Jesus told us to do. By virtue of my dependence on a legal identity, I, in effect, am standing with the people who wanted Jesus crucified, so many years ago. I do this, not because I really want to, but because I want to survive. And, in our world, a legal identity is the key to survival, not loving and being loved.

Jesus implored us to place our trust in love, but he never blamed anyone for choosing institutions, instead. He recognized how powerfully our desire to survive institutional subjugation dictates our behavior. His message also called into question the state’s sovereignty, and thereby the validity of legal identities—something that civilized people could only see as an existential threat. So, he didn’t blame any of the people who clamored for his crucifixion—not the good citizens who stood by in silence, not those who cried out for it, before Pilot, not the Roman officials who wanted this troublesome heretic removed from the scene, nor the soldiers who were commissioned to do the deed. I feel obliged to acknowledge that, as a subject of the state, I would not have refused the commission to crucify Jesus, particularly if I had a family to support.

Among Jesus’ last words were: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That statement does not apply to me. Through my studies, I have come to see institutions as a threat—not only to human happiness, but to the very existence of mankind. Therefore, I have had to face the fact that Jesus’ forgiveness doesn’t apply to me. I know what I am doing. In other words, by maintaining my legal identity, despite the fact that I no longer believe in having one, I know that I am standing with those who wanted Jesus crucified, but I’m doing it anyhow.

Readers of this book who find themselves in concert with its precepts, may find themselves suffering the pain of that same epiphany. But, we can take comfort in the fact that being cognizant of our error does not disqualify us from forgiveness, because no subject of a state can survive without a legal identity. In view of how clearly Jesus understood how our circumstances dictate our behavior, let’s trust that he would forgive us, even though we know what we are doing is wrong.

But, how are we to answer the accusations of hypocrisy that may be leveled against us, for not practicing what we preach? I don’t have a good answer for that. But, however you decide to reply, keep this in mind. Jesus would understand why we aren’t practicing what we preach. And, having no need to explain ourselves to Jesus, we need not answer to anyone. For those who are unable to understand, it is their problem, not ours. But, in order to show respect for their souls, regardless of the circumstances that compel them to denounce us, however we reply, let us be kind.  

 

Sanctifying Institutions

The largest question is the one that remains: Trapped as we are by the necessity of survival, how are we humans to slip our institutional bonds, and re-enter Heaven/Eden—the state of mind in which Jesus lived? Addressing this question returns us to the issue of blame: To re-enter Heaven, we, ourselves, must first recognize what Jesus knew, which is that there is no human to blame, not us, not anyone else, regardless of what happens. Consider Hitler, whose name carries the full stigma of the holocaust and WWII. Hitler would have been powerless in a world where humans were subjects of Nature, because that would be a world without chiefs, kings, gods, institutions, or governments. In the natural world, Hitler would have been a social misfit, in which case he may not even have survived. In the real world—the one that sustains human life—the key to survival is social acceptance, not a legal identity.

Consider how Hitler came to power. The German people were subject to institutions, not to Nature. Their lives were being marginalized, not just by their institutions, but by the institutions of the world. This made them eminently vulnerable to Hitler’s illusions, the ones his mind created to emotionally survive the fact that his own life was being marginalized by those same institutions. That situation brought upon the world its greatest human tragedy, to date. 

Was Hitler the problem? Or was it institutional subjugation? To answer, let’s consider why human beings lay blame. We lay blame in the belief that, by pointing out who is at fault for our tribulations, we are doing something about them. But, do we really think that blaming Hitler for the human tragedy of WWII, will prevent future Hitlers? When people feel their lives are being sufficiently marginalized, we can be assured that another Hitler will appear.

The reason we lay blame isn’t to actually solve problems. We do it for a much simpler reason—to sanctify, rendering blameless the institutions upon which we depend to survive. We blame people for our difficulties, instead of institutions, because our sense of wellbeing is far more dependent on our belief in legal identities, than on our belief in any human being. We are so blinded by our dependency on legal identities that it has never even occurred to us that our institutions could possibly be at fault. So, we routinely seize upon human beings as the cause of our suffering. We are so desperate to identify the source of our troubles that we work overtime seeking out which human targets to blame—targets as diverse as Hitler, identifiable human subgroups, our national leaders, the leaders of other nations, our bosses, our spouses, and, worst of all, even ourselves.

Blaming people enables our brains to overlook the real problem, by implicating people for the spiritual insults that institutions inflict upon us. So, we remain possessed by the illusion that, if we could just get every human on earth to do the “rational” thing, we could control our destiny by the force of instituted law. But, because of the vast diversity of religious, ideological, and other beliefs, we are hopelessly deadlocked on what constitutes the rational thing. As long as we humans continue sanctifying institutions by blaming one another, we will continue suffering from the illusion that, by the gift of reason, we can control our destiny…until we are no more.

 

Excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls—The Future of This Planet Lies in the Hands of Women

Free Downloads of Take Us Home Girls available at Spiritual Freedom Press

A Happy Brain

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.

 

No Regrets

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—as few as four to six women could start the process—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.

 

 This is an excerpt from the book: The Legal Truth Virus

 Free download available at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

 

 

Destroying Happiness: The Perverse Inclination of the Institutionalized Mind

Destroying Happiness: The Perverse Inclination of the Institutionalized Mind

Humanity is disconnected from reality because our brains are not serving their purpose, which is to sustain the life of our species. Ownership has literally repurposed them, putting aside the millions of years of evolution that honed the process by which our brains produce the feelings that inspire humans to act in ways that serve the species. In their co-opted state, as creatures of institutional subjugation, our brains exist in utter denial of that core purpose. And they are stone blind to the fact that they are in denial. All those billions of neurons are working just the way they should, but they can’t see what’s happening to them. Our brains aren’t stupid. They are denying their own purpose, because, above all else, we need to survive. And right now that means being successful within the context of modern civilization, which requires us to trust our future to legal claims, not to one another.

If, however, a drastic change in our circumstances occurred, it could change how we feel. As a result, we could find ourselves trusting our lives to the human spirit, at which point we would be finding satisfaction in the moment. This would relieve us of having to keep optimism, hopes, and dreams alive. Dreams will never, nor have they ever, saved humanity. They are simply the means our brains use to patch up the emotional wounds we regularly suffer on our various treks to hell, the very wounds through which our instincts are trying to warn us that, regarding the issue of taking care of life, we are off course.

What would happen, for example, if hell arrived in the form of a total collapse of the international monetary system, on which people the world over now depend for the resources we need to survive. Ironically, in what we think of as our worst nightmare, we might discover heaven. Without institutions to depend on, people would have no choice other than to reach out to one another in relationships of mutual trust. Though their material circumstances would be dire, they would learn, through placing their trust in the human spirit, that intimacy is the only real path to happiness, not dreaming of wealth and privilege.  

On the other hand, if we encountered a learning experience—as I have through my years of study, during which I became convinced of the essential role of feelings in realizing life’s objective of survival—that too could irrevocably change how we feel. Should any learning experience teach us the significance of the fact that we are feeling beings, not rational ones, we would then realize why we should trust our lives to the human spirit! When that day comes—when we feel the need to trust our lives to life itself—that will throw a switch in our minds, at which point our rational minds will apply themselves to the process for which evolution honed them—to seek happiness in the intimacy of interdependent relationships, instead of owning things.

Is it even possible to be happy without owning anything, you may ask? Well, humans have flourished on this planet for around 200,000 years. The age of the ruins of ancient temples and other places of worship are testament to the fact that the type of hierarchy that is required to authorize ownership, did not begin to appear until around 11 to 15 thousand years ago. So, for at least the first 180,000 years of human existence, no man or woman ever owned anything. Are we to presume that those people were unhappy? Quite the opposite, I think. You see, only they—and the members of the other species, that didn’t own anything either—were free to live in the moment. The freedom to live in the moment is the only freedom that can sustain life, the only freedom of value to the souls that animate all life.

Since the earliest civilizations, wherever civilized people have encountered indigenous peoples living on land that civilized people wanted, we have callously wiped them out. If we are so civilized, how could we have done this? It has to do with the perilous limitations of our ability to reason. What in hindsight seems callous, was rational, at the time.

Civilized people own property. Indigenous people don’t. Civilized people see themselves as expressions of, and subject to, the laws of godlike institutions that grant those property rights. Indigenous people, on the other hand, see themselves as expressions of Nature. Yes, they’re subject to Nature’s laws, but they experience themselves as free. This is because Nature’s laws do not refute human instincts. Indeed, instincts express Nature’s laws.   

The civilized mind has no clue that Nature’s laws apply to humans. To the civilized mind, anyone living outside the control of our godlike institutions is lawless, amoral, and spiritually depraved. As our civilized ancestors saw them, indigenous people were of little significance, and—like Nature itself—to be used or discarded at will. To the institutionalized mind, annihilating indigenous people was a rational solution to a problem. The only feelings involved—feelings the rational mind was compelled to obey—were those of distaste, superiority, and arrogance. 

Consider that the sole distinction between a citizen and a slave, throughout all of civilized history has been the answer to this question: Does the individual have the right to own property? Our inability to display soul-felt respect for those who do not have property rights demonstrates, above all else, the degree to which the “drug of ownership” affects how our brains process information. What chance did indigenous people have against civilized ones who were so out of touch with reality that they were incapable even of recognizing indigenous people as human?

Had we only known.

But we didn’t know.

The issue of life is happiness. We were destroying happiness and we didn’t know it. We thought we were destroying things that were of no significance, whatsoever.

 

An excerpt from the book, Take Us Home, Girls!

Download a free copy of Take Us Home, Girls! at SpiritualFreedomPress.com

Institutions are the Sole Justification for their Own Existence

Institutions are the Sole Justification for their Own Existence

Before institutions existed, I believe, chaos would no more have been possible among humans than it is in other species. I am not saying that natural order meant perfect order. Perfect social order (meaning order without conflict, either within or among groups), doesn’t exist, even among the most highly evolved social species, like elephants and dolphins. But, perfect order isn‘t required for a species to flourish. A high degree of order is. In fact, existence is so dependent on a high degree of order, that existence and order are, in effect, synonymous. Whatever order existed among humans before we created institutions, the very fact that human life existed at all, assures us that whatever order they had was far closer to perfect than chaotic. So, institutions could not possibly have been created to prevent chaos.

This brings up the compelling question to which your comment alludes: If institutions are not needed to prevent chaos, why did humans invent them? I believe the males of our species created institutions to satisfy their desire to own things. They believed that, by creating institutions, they could grant themselves the right to make personal claims on women, land, and animals, and that this would guarantee the satisfaction of each man’s emotional and material needs, for life.

The men who first granted each other the right to own things thought they had found a rational solution to the problem of securing one’s future needs. We humans take pride in our belief that we are rational beings, and granting rights of ownership seems rational. But the practice inevitably creates a problem, for which—as modern humans have yet to discover—there is no rational solution: What is a culture to do, when a few of its members own almost everything!

Chaos is both the endgame, and the only possible solution, to that problem, the chaos of revolution, war, or the eventual cataclysmic collapse of all nation states. In effect, we human beings have built a perverse contradiction into our own lives, by employing institutions to authorize the right to own property—which guarantees eventual chaos—and by justifying those same institutions as protections against chaos! Ironically, the institutions to which we have subjugated our lives are the sole justification for their own existence! How droll it is to realize that our belief in institutions results in a dilemma much like that of a cat chasing its tail!

When cats chase their tails, they eventually figure out their dilemma. Though their tails are at-first enticing, they offer no nourishment, at least nothing of which a cat wants to partake. Likewise, our right to own things entices us with promises of an idealized future, but offers no satisfaction in the end—at least nothing of which humans want to partake. The issue for mankind is: When will we figure out our dilemma? As I see it, our happiness, and the continuing existence of our species depend upon it. 

 Let’s face it! It isn’t at all rational that we have failed to make the connection between ownership and chaos, despite thousands of years of history repeating itself! This is proof positive that we are “feeling” beings. Even though we think our reactions to our circumstances are rational, they are actually dictated by feelings that come from the evolutionary wisdom—the genetic wisdom—that our species has accumulated over evolutionary time. When humans are allowed to behave naturally, this wisdom provides each individual with a framework of feelings that guide us to respond to each circumstance we encounter, in whatever way best serves life.

It must be understood, however, that our feelings inspire us to serve life only when we are living the way our species evolved to live, and that is without the legal identities that now subject modern humans to institutionally imposed laws. Once we have a legal identity, that changes everything! To understand the degree of the change, consider: One of the most remarkable characteristics of the brain is its ability to adapt. It is so good, in fact, that a person wearing image-inverting glasses will begin seeing the world as upright again, within a day or so. This happens automatically, without intent. In the process of adapting, the subconscious mind, in effect, reconfigures its internal connections. It changes our brains physically. It changes how the brain processes information, in order to counter the effect of the inverting glasses.

Regardless of how senseless its situation, the brain will always adapt, by reconfiguring how it processes information to make the best sense it can of the situation. If you brand every newborn with a legal identity that forces him or her to survive by complying with instituted laws, then every member of that culture will grow up thinking that the only thing that makes sense is to do whatever must be done to substantiate his or her legal identity. That includes their willingness to kill and die on behalf of the institutions that branded them. Whoopee! Awaken to the world in which we all now live.

So you see, it’s not because of who we are, but because of our brains having been forced to adapt to a senseless world—a world hostile to life’s existence—that we spend our entire lives seeking wealth and privilege, when the only thing each of us really want, in our hearts, is to love and to be loved.

Altering how our brains process information to make sense of our institutionalized world, requires a far more complex physical reconfiguration than that required to compensate for a simple inverted visual image. Our brain must produce neurological pathways for all the beliefs that are so important to us, because only those beliefs make it possible to emotionally survive an existence without intimacy—beliefs in Gods, religions, ideologies, nationalism, money, law, technology, progress, hopes, goals, and dreams for the future. That’s bad enough, but the crucial issue is this: With the reconfiguration in place, success is defined by wealth and privilege. This places all individuals in direct competition, which profoundly separates us from one another. Ultimately, all modern humans feel this separation, and we pine for the “something” that is missing from our lives. Regardless of our family relationships, our accomplishments, our positions of power, our beliefs, our circle of friends, ultimately we all “know” that we are alone.

In the natural world that humans once took for granted, the one without legal identities, there were no artificialities to adapt to. The things we believed in did not require our brains to reconfigure any neurological pathway. We were born to believe in one another, and to love the land that sustained us, and that’s what we did. Success, in that world, was gained through social acceptance within the intimate context of small extended family groups. In the give and take, the desire to cooperate, the loving relationships within a circle of people totally dependent on one another for survival, all humans simultaneously served their own needs and each other’s, while serving the needs of life itself. And no one ever had any reason to feel alone.

If the guy who wears the inverting lenses, for a week or so, removes the glasses, then “reality” is upside down again—until he readapts. The same would be true of humanity, if only we could remove the veil that the brain’s adaptation has pulled down over our eyes. If we could remove the veil, we could see beyond the artificial reality that our brain’s adaptations cause us, now, to take for the real world.

The complex distortions our brains must create, in their effort to make sense of institutionalized reality, exist in every modern human being, and include all the beliefs and goals every individual holds so dear. Little wonder that we all feel threatened beyond words at the very idea of an existence without institutions. We are nonplussed! We can’t even picture existence, without them! But, whether right or wrong, I proclaim, here and now, that we, too, could readapt. We are every bit as capable of readapting as that guy who took off his inverting glasses. These brains of ours, that are doing such an remarkable job of adapting to our artificial modern civilization, have not lost their ability to readapt. They would quickly respond to the removal of the veil of artificial reality, at which point the natural reality that sustains human life, after thousands of years, would again make sense.

The way we would take off our inverting glasses would be to figure out how to survive without a legal identity. That involves cooperating with others outside the usual rules that come with legal identities. Call it direct cooperation, with no separate legal or monetary identity, and no rules on the wall to prescribe acceptable behavior! No rules is essential, because that frees the human spirit, which has been taking care of life since its very beginnings, to decide what behavior is socially acceptable. If we could cooperate directly with each other, we would quickly become cognizant of the fact that, in the real world, individual survival doesn’t happen without mutual survival. With that cognizance, our lives would suddenly make infinite sense, compared to the ones we are now living.

Another consequence of humans having been granted the right to own things is that we have become addicted to having that right. The highest form of human irrationality is our desire to own things, a desire that persists, despite both the spiritual alienation it immediately creates, and the chaos to which it eventually leads. Indeed, it is because we are feeling beings, not rational ones, that we are vulnerable to addictions. And ownership is the ultimate addiction. As happens with any addiction, the pleasure we take in owning things renders us blind to the consequences—alienation and chaos. Keep in mind that the need to satisfy feelings is the inspiration for all thoughts. Because satisfying feelings is the conscious mind’s singular goal, the reasoning required to satisfy them doesn’t have to be rational!

But, in one important sense, comparing owning things to a drug addiction is unfair. People don’t have to take drugs to survive. As institutional dependents, on the other hand, our addiction to the “drug of ownership” is forced upon us, because possessions, property, and the prosperity associated with them, are the only source of survival and respectability for modern humans.  

An excerpt from Take Us Home, Girls!  

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Programming the Brain

Programming the Brain

Continuing a discussion in answer to my friend’s critique: Your idea of de-institutionalizing human life makes sense, but isn’t it simplistic?

To understand the real complexity of Nature, just imagine having to program what our brains know. You obviously can’t program a brain. It would have to be a robot! But that’s what laws are trying to do. Laws are trying to replace what our brains know about species survival, when laws don’t even recognize that species survival is life’s objective. You can make a law against murder. Sounds simple. But, then, you have to write a thousand amendments to that law, to specify what constitutes murder and doesn’t. And you will never come up with an answer all can agree on. If you are not free to react in a normal way to what’s going on around you—even if that means killing, or sacrificing your own life for others—then, you’re not participating in anything. Nothing is going on that has anything to do with our species’ survival.

What happens naturally is this—and, yes, it IS exceedingly complex: Put us in any situation, and our brain is evaluating that situation from hundreds of different perspectives. All of this happens without conscious awareness. For instance, the brain is constantly evaluating the temperature, checking whether we are cold or warm. If the temperature is okay, we don’t know the brain is evaluating it, because it doesn’t produce any feeling that tells us about it. There are always countless things going on that the brain is evaluating, but we’re unaware of it, because 99% of it is okay. The brain knows you don’t have to do anything about it, so it expresses no feelings. Only when we do have a feeling, such as hunger or anger, acceptance, rejection, romance, etc., does the brain tell us to act on it. And that act is automatic: It requires no rational thought whatever, for us to register the fact that we are in danger of freezing to death in the cold. Modern minds will differ, because we are so invested in the belief that our rational minds are in control. But, in truth, the rational part of our mind that we are so certain is in control is too finite to take care of the endless details of living that our subconscious mind constantly monitors, on background, and to which it reacts, by producing feelings that inspire the appropriate response, as needed.

One of the crucial things to understand about life is that our brains have been programmed, by evolution, to manage the unimaginable complexity of life, for the sake of the only objective of life, which is species survival. Humanity doesn’t seem to recognize any of this—either that the brain has a built-in program, or that species survival is the objective, or how complex, how unimaginable, that process is. But it is because the functions of natural life are so very complex that our subconscious minds must continually evaluate our circumstances, always looking for an answer to the question, “How can I best serve life?” Indeed, the reason our brain continually evaluates the temperature is that we can’t participate in our species’ success, if our brain allows us to freeze to death. If we modern humans can see and understand all that, we can also see how absurd it is to create laws to govern our behavior, and then to say that our survival is dependent, not on our Nature-given program, but on obeying manmade laws. And now we understand why the brain is comprised of almost 100 billion neurons.

We have this admittedly complex system of laws, all based on protecting human rights, an issue that is unrelated to, and outright defies, our species’ natural ability to succeed.

Life is a gift. It comes with needs, not rights. So, the issue over which those legislators despise one another, doesn’t even exist in the natural world. In Nature, there are no rights, no giraffes claiming the exclusive rights to massive tracts of land, no baby elephants born with silver spoons in their mouths.

In Nature, nothing is guaranteed. In institutional life, we fool ourselves by believing anything can be guaranteed. The truth is that life is a series of snapshots. Moments. We never know when we will reach the final one, and we are not here to know that. We are here to experience each moment fully. When living in the moment, all we need is the moment. And if we are not free to live in the moment, then the only place where we can possibly satisfy our feelings is in the future. The future, then, becomes the only thing that is important to us. This explains our congressmen’s sincere, but misguided, struggle over an issue that, in reality, doesn’t exist—human rights.

About complexity, a question needs to be asked. Are the few thousand words of a constitution sufficient to order and organize all areas of human life, among millions of people? Does the mere fact of birth into a royal family qualify a person for absolute hegemony over a people? To answer, imagine a “scale of justice,” if you will. On one side are the few thousand words that are the foundation for all the laws of a land, or the brain of the firstborn of a deceased king. On the other side are the brains of every inhabitant in the land. To me, trusting this remarkably complex process to mere written words, or to the brain of a firstborn son, is what’s simplistic. But that is the mindless simplicity to which all humans have innocently, but willfully, subjugated ourselves, for thousands of years.

An excerpt from “The Test for Happiness” Part Four of: Take Us Home, Girls!

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