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