A Species In Denial—Deciphering Plato’s Cave Allegory
Having looked at the nature of the human soul and how it became corrupted in ASPECT A, and what knowledge would be needed to synthesise the liberating understanding of the human condition in ASPECT B, we now need to look at ASPECT C.
ASPECT C is concerned with the difficulty of introducing the liberating understanding of the human condition to people who are living in denial of the human condition. Using Plato’s metaphor, we Page 144 of
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ASPECT C has three sections. C1, ‘The difficulty of taking the truth back into the cave’, will explain the difficulty of introducing the denial-free truth about the human condition to people who are living in denial of the human condition. C2, ‘The cave allegory was the theory, this is what happened in practice’, will explain what actually happened when the denial-free truth was introduced to the ‘cave dwellers’. C3, ‘Humanity’s departure from the cave to life in the sun’, will explain how humanity is finally liberated from its tortured state of denial.
C1: The difficulty of taking the truth back into the cave
The Encarta entry says that the prisoners in the cave have to be ‘willing to struggle free of their bonds’. These words bring us to the final impasse that is encountered in the human journey from ignorance to self-understanding. When the explanation of the human condition is finally assembled, how is it to be presented to people who have been living in the cave in fear and denial of the whole issue of the human condition? Having lived this way so long, how will humans tolerate someone entering their cave of denial to tell them that the human condition has been solved?
As has already been described in some detail in the Introduction, at first mention of the human condition a mind that has been living in denial blocks all further words from conscious recognition and effectively becomes ‘deaf’ to any further comment. The analogy used earlier was of a country raided for decades by Genghis Khan to the extent that its people had resorted to a life hidden in the forests and caves. It will be a brave person who first ventures beyond their recognised safety zone once it is announced that Genghis Khan has been destroyed and it is now safe to come out of hiding. It was explained and emphasised in the Introduction that overcoming humans’ habituated fear of the subject of the human condition takes patience and perseverance, but the benefit is to finally see the world truthfully, Page 145 of
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In The Republic Plato described the resistance that humans will have to leaving the cave thus: ‘if he [the cave prisoner] were made to look directly at the light of the fire [the truth of integrative meaning and the issue of the human condition it gives rise to], it would hurt his eyes and he would turn back and take refuge in the things which he could see, which he would think really far clearer than the things being shown him. And if he were forcibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent [out of the cave] and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight [shown the reconciling explanation of the human condition], the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real’ (p.280).
In addition to the ‘deaf effect’ or, as Plato referred to it, ‘blindness’ (‘his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real’), there have been other responses to description and analysis of the human condition.
There has been the response of trying to maintain the denials and false arguments that historically have been used to evade the issue of the human condition. Plato was referring to this response when he said ‘he [the prisoner from the cave] would turn back and take refuge in the things which he could see, which he would think really far clearer than the things being shown him’. Some of the denials that have been used to avoid confronting the human condition were mentioned earlier. They include the denial that there is an integrative purpose to existence; that nurturing played the crucial role in the maturation of our species; that humanity once lived in a state of instinctive cooperation; and that humans are extremely alienated and vary greatly in their degree of alienation. These and many other historic denials and evasions are also referred to in subsequent essays in this book, and addressed in full in Beyond.
Another significant response has been one of extreme anger towards the human-condition-confronting information. The following comment by Professor Iain Davidson, who at the time was head of the archaeology and palaeoanthropology department of the University of New England in NSW, Australia, illustrates the fury that extreme Page 146 of
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In fact people can have such an angry response to the information that they attack the heresy by any means available, including persecuting its supporters—an historic response to unevasive, denial-free truth. In the quote above from Plato’s allegory he was referring to this response when he said ‘if he [the cave prisoner] were forcibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent [out of the cave] and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight, the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object’. Plato later elaborates on the extent of that objection when he specifically states that any person who came back from successfully confronting the ‘sun’, confronting the human condition, would be accused of being mad, would be told that trying to escape the cave was futile, and if that person tried to lead people out of the cave they would try to kill him—’they would say that his visit to the upper world had ruined his sight, and that the ascent was not worth even attempting. And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him’ (p.281).
Plato knew too well about the murderous response to anyone who challenged society’s established view of the world for he had witnessed the murder of Socrates on a charge of ‘impiety [lack of reverence for the gods of the day] and corrupting the young’ (p.11). The truth is, Socrates was one of the most honest thinkers in history. Plato described him as ‘the most upright man then living’ (p.12). In the entry on Plato the Encarta Encyclopedia states that Socrates was charged with ‘atheism and corrupting Athenian youth’, while a National Geographic article written on the US Library of Congress, mentioned that ‘Socrates, condemned to death, is charged with introducing strange gods and corrupting the young. His questioning and reasoning shattered too many illusions. Most Athenians, it seemed, preferred an unexamined life’ (Nov. 1975). The mention of an ‘unexamined life’ is a reference to Socrates’ famous statement that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. The truth is, humans have had to live an ‘unexamined life’, had to live in a dark cave, they have had to avoid confrontation with the issue about themselves of the human condition—all of which is the reason that Socrates was persecuted.
Page 147 of
Print Edition A charge of impiety, of lack of respect for the religious customs of the day, was also made against the supporters of Christianity. When the apostle Stephen was seized, ‘They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against the holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us”’ (Acts 6:13-14). To say that Christ was trying to change the customs of Moses was a misrepresentation charged by ‘false witnesses’, because Christ merely elaborated upon the denial-free honesty of Moses. Like Moses, what Christ essentially did was challenge the practice of denial, and that was the real reason he and his supporters were persecuted.
Challenging the status quo has led to resistance, persecution and even outright physical attack, due to the fact that humans do not like change, in fact they find any new concept difficult to accept. A new device, a new method of doing something or a new idea or way of thinking will typically be resisted. People see change as a challenge to themselves and/or their world, and in an effort to defend themselves against the perceived challenge they mount a resistance to it, sometimes even resorting to fabrication and misrepresentation. For example, when younger, more adaptable minds take up new ways, adherents of the old ways sometimes falsely claim the younger minds have been corrupted.
Historically all new ideas have had to endure initial opposition, and even persecution, from the established order. Humans have been extremely insecure as a result of the human condition, to the extent that any challenge to their particular behaviour or view of the world is perceived as a form of criticism and thus something to be resisted.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer summarised the journey that new ideas in science have historically had to undergo when he ‘said that the reception of any successful new scientific hypothesis goes through predictable phases before being accepted’. First, ‘it is ridiculed’ and ‘violently opposed’. Second, after support begins to accumulate ‘it is stated that it may be true but it’s not particularly relevant’. Third, ‘after it has clearly influenced the field it is admitted to be true and relevant but the same critics assert that the idea is not original’. Finally, ‘it is accepted as being self-evident’ (compiled from two references to Schopenhauer’s work—New Scientist, 15 Nov. 1984 & PlanetHood, Ferencz & Keyes, 1988). Note that each stage of recognition is achieved in a way that protects the ego of the onlookers. The extent of insecurity in the human make-up is very apparent.
Page 148 of
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The reality is that any challenge to humans’ carefully constructed ego-castle, their practiced way of justifying themselves, is regarded as a threat and resisted.
The scale of the change involved is also a factor. It follows from what has been said that the greater the change the greater the resistance and the greatest change of all that humans can be confronted with is a change to their world view, their framework or paradigm of thinking. It can therefore be expected that nothing will be more fiercely resisted than this ‘paradigm shift’.
Even paradigm shifts vary in their degree of difficulty. A paradigm shift which involves little self-confrontation is not as difficult as a paradigm shift where significant self-confrontation is involved. For instance the shift from the agrarian age to the industrial age in early 19th century England was violently resisted, as epitomised by the Luddites who organised themselves to destroy manufacturing machinery, claiming it put them out of work. A paradigm shift that involves changing from a strategy of living in denial of the human condition Page 149 of
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The following statement by Richard Tarnas summarises the resistance that has met each major change to humans’ world view: ‘As if to consecrate the birth of a fundamental new cultural vision, in each case a symbolically resonant trial and martyrdom of some sort was suffered by its central prophet: thus the trial and execution of Socrates at the birth of the classical Greek mind, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus at the birth of Christianity, and the trial and condemnation of Galileo at the birth of modern science’ (The Passion of the Western Mind, 1991, p.395 of 544). While Socrates and Galileo introduced monumental paradigm shifts and as a result were all ruthlessly persecuted, they did not threaten humans’ denial of the issue of the human condition as Christ did. Those exceptionally innocent individuals in history, such as Christ, who could ‘face’ the ‘fire/sun’, confront the truth of the cooperative ideals of life and thus look into and talk openly and freely about the human condition without feeling condemned and depressed, were extremely confronting of the average human’s corrupted state. As a result, the paradigm shift that Christ introduced required such a profound change that to succeed people had to completely abandon their existing strategy to life, namely their life of denial, and be ‘born-again’ to a state of honesty by taking up support of Christ’s denial-free life.
It needs to be emphasised that the paradigm shift involved in adopting a religion, entailing a ‘born-again’ conversion to a life of supporting a denial-free state, is fundamentally different to the paradigm shift that occurs with the arrival of understanding of the human condition. While confrontation with the honest, denial-free state occurs in both situations, with the ability to understand the human condition the need to simply abandon living in denial—the leap to faith, the ‘born-again’ conversion experience—is replaced with the ability to dismantle the need for denial, dissolve with understanding the insecurity that made denial necessary. Religion is about dogma and faith while understanding of the human condition is about knowledge and the psychological amelioration that that knowledge makes possible.
The following quote by journalist Robert Howard adds to the list of world-changing ideas that have occurred with inclusions from relatively recent times. He starts where Tarnas left off, with the birth of modern science and Copernicus: ‘Three major blows have dented humanity’s self-esteem: Copernicus showing that the Earth was not the centre Page 150 of
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Darwin’s idea of natural selection challenged the widely accepted literal biblical interpretation of the creation and of humans’ unique divine status distinct from animals—of having been ‘created’ by God ‘in his own image’ (Genesis 1:27)—and as a result his 1859 book, The Origin of Species, ‘was greeted with violent and malicious criticism’ (title page, 1968 Penguin edn). Nevertheless, Darwin did not address the issue of the human condition. In fact he studiously avoided the subject of human behaviour which, at its core, is the issue of the human condition. There are no references in his book to human behaviour, apart from references to how humans have been able to alter plant and animal breeds, and a single highly pertinent acknowledgment at the very conclusion: ‘In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation…Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history’ (ibid. p.458 of 476).
Freud did bring the issue of the human condition into focus, albeit much less directly than Christ. His work looked at human psychosis, humans’ repression of their soul as a result of the human condition (‘psychosis’ literally means ‘soul-illness’, from the Greek and Latin roots psyche, meaning ‘soul’ and iasis meaning ‘abnormal state or condition’, and ‘psychiatry’ literally means ‘soul-healing’, from the Greek iatrea, meaning ‘healing’). In raising the issue of the importance of humans’ psyche or soul or original instinctive self—as Howard pointed out, the truth is it rivals the rational conscious mind in influence—and for daring to unearth people’s psychological denials, Freud’s work has been resisted and resented and he was subject to much vilification. A November 1993 cover of Time magazine asked ‘Is Freud Dead?’ with the article itself accompanied by a picture of the psychoanalyst’s couch being thrown out the window. Sir Laurens van der Post recognised that the degree of resistance to Freud’s work was a measure of its honesty when he wrote, ‘One could perhaps better have measured the originality of Freud’s achievement by reason of the numbers of the highly intelligent, well-informed men who instantly mobilised to attack him’ (Jung and The Story of Our Time, 1976, p.108 of 275).
Humans have practiced many different denials and should you confront them with any one of them they naturally (as it has been essential to their lives) protect and defend that denial. It follows that with the most important denial practiced by humans, that of the denial of the issue of the human condition, the determination to Page 151 of
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There is one more factor to consider in assessing the difficulty people will have adapting to change, and that is the speed of the change taking place. Some changes are not as sudden as others. Humans have had some 2 million years to adjust to living in denial of the human condition however with the arrival of understanding of the human condition there is no such luxury. With such an important explanation now available to humans and the technology for rapid global communication at our disposal, the knowledge will spread with extreme speed once the initial resistance is overcome and so too the process of adjustment will have to be expeditious. In his aptly titled book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler actually anticipated the shock that would accompany the rapid arrival of understanding of the human condition when he wrote, ‘Future shock…[is] the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time’ (1970, p.4).
The most difficult change of all for humans to have to adjust to is one that involves the rapid adoption of a completely new way of thinking—a paradigm shift of thought. Moreover, if the old way is an extremely habituated way of behaving, in fact a 2-million-year-old practice, and if what is new is totally exposing and confronting of the all-important denial that humans have been practicing, then the difficulty will be all the more intense.
These difficult aspects of change all arise when you challenge humans’ major mechanism for protecting their self-worth, namely their denial of the human condition. A challenge to this particular denial will challenge the very basis of the way humans have been validating themselves, their way of avoiding the implication that they are ‘bad’ or unworthy, which is the implication at the heart of the issue of the human condition. It therefore has to be expected that nothing will be resisted as fiercely. Plato fully anticipated this fierce resistance when he talked about the cave prisoners having to be ‘forcibly dragged’ out of denial with irrefutable logic, saying ‘the process would be a painful one, to which he [the cave prisoner] would much object’. He even spelt out how determinedly they might object, saying, ‘if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him.’
George Bernard Shaw observed that ‘All great truths begin as blasphemies.’ Page 152 of
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There is yet another dimension to this difficulty humans have adapting to change. While virtually all adults have been living in denial of the human condition, those who are more corrupted have had to employ more denial than those who are less corrupted to keep the criticism of their corrupted state at bay. Humans have been living in various degrees of denial and as a result are variously alienated or estranged from their true self or soul. Because change is most threatening to the less secure, it is the less secure who find it most difficult accepting and adapting to change.
It follows that while most people feel the need to resist something they fear, those who are most afraid, those who, in the case of the denial of the human condition, are the more alienated in society, will put up the most determined opposition to the arrival of understanding of the human condition. As will be described in some detail in The Demystification Of Religion essay in this book, the more alienated are initially going to strongly resist having their disguises removed. The last great battle on Earth, referred to in the Bible as the Battle of Armageddon, is in fact the battle between those whose alienation is so great they are afraid to have it exposed and those who are sufficiently free of alienation, sufficiently secure in self, not to be overly afraid of the exposure and therefore able to support and defend the humanity-liberating, all-important breakthrough understanding of the human condition.
It also needs to be emphasised that alienation tends to increase with age. The longer a person lived in the corrupted, alienated world, the more encounters they inevitably had with that corruption and alienation and the more they became corrupted and alienated themselves as a result. Furthermore, the older a person, the more habituated they had become to living in denial of the issue of the human condition.
It follows from what has been said that the people most able to take up and adjust to the arrival of understanding of the human condition will be the more secure or less alienated among young people in society, while the most resistance will come from the more alienated among older people in society. It can be seen that when understanding of the human condition arrives, the worst possible Page 153 of
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Historically, for reasons already explained, young people have always been more receptive to new ideas than older people. Older people, because they are more alienated, and because they are more habituated and ego-attached to their existing ways of doing things and thinking, have always found change difficult. Christ recognised the attachment older people have to their ways of behaving and thinking when he observed, ‘no-one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, “The old is better”’ (Luke 5:39). We have a saying for the difficulty older people have adopting change: ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’—and, as has been emphasised, no new concept is as revolutionary as the arrival of understanding of the human condition. Such a monumental paradigm shift will in fact so test even the adaptability of young people that initially only the soundest amongst them will be able to cope with the change. Not being as wedded or habituated as older minds to the old denial-maintaining paradigm, younger, less alienated minds are significantly more able to ‘hear’, consider, appreciate and then adjust to this new denial-free paradigm than minds that are more alienated or older, or indeed both.
The reality is that it is young people who have to take up new ideas. Even scientists, who are supposed to respond objectively to reasoned argument and explanation, can suffer from extreme prejudice against change as they get older. The science historian Thomas Kuhn found that ‘the old scientists who became established within the dominant paradigm have to die off first: they will virtually never accept the new paradigm. Only the younger generation of scientists, who don’t have the emotional attachment to the old paradigm, will be willing to change their minds’ (a reference to the work of Kuhn by Marilyn Ferguson, New Age mag. Aug. 1982). Physicist Max Planck succinctly described the difficulty older scientists have adopting new ideas when he said ‘science progresses funeral by funeral’ (see his Scientific Autobiography, 1948). Charles Darwin similarly experienced first-hand this problem of older people resisting new scientific ideas, writing, ‘I have got fairly sick of hostile reviews…I can pretty plainly see that, if my view is ever to be generally adopted, it will be by young people growing up and replacing the old workers’ (Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin, 1902). Young people must take up new ideas, this is especially so with the arrival of understanding of the human condition.
There is yet another difficulty and indeed extreme danger for the more alienated, in particular some older adults, when understanding of the human condition arrives. They can wrongfully take on the Page 154 of
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Not only is understanding the human condition something new to have to adjust to, it is also a subject that the more alienated are especially ‘deaf’ to, and therefore cannot evaluate. A new concept is difficult enough for people to adjust to let alone one that they have learnt to live in exceptional fear and denial of and, as a result, do not want to and thus cannot ‘hear’. This poses an extra problem for the more alienated—and the world, for if you cannot ‘hear’ and thus consider the new information then you cannot hope to understand, assess and, if it is worthwhile, appreciate it. This is problematical in itself however there is a further dimension to the problem that the more alienated pose for the arrival of human-condition-confronting information, which has a compounding effect. While they suffer the most from the deaf effect these people are also the most fearful and thus intuitively aware of, sensitive to, and on their guard against any information that brings the human condition into focus. Both the deaf effect and sensitivity to any human-condition-confronting information increases with alienation.
This combination of alienation or loss of ‘hearing’ accompanied by an acute ‘radar’ for any information relating to the human condition is an extremely dangerous mix when understanding of the human condition arrives. While historically there was always a need to repress and live in psychological denial of information that brought the human condition into focus but did not explain and resolve it (because such information left humans extremely depressed and unjustly condemned for their corrupt, divisive nature), when the full, dignifying, ameliorating understanding that resolves the human condition arrives, it ends that unjust condemnation. The full truth about humans dignifies humans, it lifts the ‘burden of guilt’ from humans through explanation and thus amelioration of human nature. Not all human-condition-confronting information is dangerous. The human-condition-confronting information that explains the human condition brings an end to the historic criticism of humans and is thus the least dangerous information possible.
The great danger is that while the more alienated among us, in particular some older adults, cannot ‘hear’ and thus discover that this new information is the safe and complete truth about humans, they will be the most aware and most fearful that the information is bringing the human condition into focus. They will be afraid of the Page 155 of
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The more alienated are the least able to evaluate the safety or otherwise of human-condition-confronting information, and yet, because of their heightened fear of such information, they tend to put themselves forward as the guardians for humanity, the people who can assess what is good for us all. But as blind people are not the ones to tell us when the sun is coming up, the alienated are not the ones able to ascertain when the all-wonderful, human-condition-liberating understanding of the human condition has arrived.
In their extreme fear and resulting hatred of human-condition-confronting information, and in their delusion about their right to act as guardians for humanity against such information, some more alienated people can be tempted to take it upon themselves to eliminate the information from existence, unwittingly trying to kill the goose that lays the golden egg and destroy the information that liberates humanity from the human condition. They can make the worst mistake of any human on Earth.
In fact it is not a mistake, it is a crime, indeed the most serious crime a human can be charged with, that of destroying humanity’s chance of freedom from the human condition. The reason it is a crime is that these more alienated people do have a choice; instead of living out their fear of, and anger towards human-condition-confronting information they can trust in democracy. The democratic principle of freedom of expression allows new ideas to emerge and be tested by society as a whole for their value.
Democracy is the mechanism that has been developed to counter humans’ natural resistance to change. It ensures that the human journey to greater understanding is not shut down by prejudice. It is the mechanism that protects humans from the insecure aspects of themselves.
The arrival of understanding of the human condition poses the ultimate threat to the status quo, the status quo being the state of living in denial of the human condition. At the very deepest level of its relevance and meaning, democracy has existed to ensure this ultimate threat to the status quo is not stifled before it can emerge. If there were zero tolerance of human-condition-confronting information, then understanding of the human condition could never Page 156 of
Print Edition emerge. It was as if the founding fathers of the human race knew that one day a crisis point would be reached, a moment when all human frailties would conspire to threaten to shut down the human journey from ignorance to enlightenment, and to ward against that eventuality they implemented the practice of democracy. Democracy alone had the capability to ensure that human insecurities would not jeopardise the efforts the whole human race has contributed since consciousness emerged, and that understanding of the human condition would be able to emerge.
Where human-condition-confronting information is concerned the more alienated amongst us can be especially tempted to dispense with the democratic principle of freedom of expression and to set out to destroy the information by any means available, but in fact it is where human-condition-confronting information is concerned that the principles of democracy need to be the most scrupulously adhered to.
The wisest and most important legal counsel ever given was that given by a lawyer named Gamaliel during the birth of Christianity. His counsel was essentially to trust in the principles of democracy to ascertain what was of value to humanity and what was not. The apostles had been gaoled and were threatened with death for defending Christ’s denial-free existence when ‘a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin [the full assembly of the elders of Israel] and ordered that the men [apostles] be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin [ie, is a product of egocentricity, insecurity and alienation], it will fail. But if it is from God [if it is sound], you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” His speech persuaded them. They…Let them go’ (Acts 5:34-38).
This was the most important counsel ever offered because it allowed the Christian movement to survive its most vulnerable, early stage when, after Christ’s death, only a few people were aware of the immense importance of the movement and where the death of those Page 157 of
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The reason I rate the survival of Christianity so highly is because it, along with the other great religions, civilised humanity and by so doing bought the necessary time for science to develop and the ameliorating understanding of the human condition to eventually be found. Living in a state of denial was such an awful thing to have to do that it was like acid infiltrating your system, and, indeed, the world that had to absorb the alienated behaviour. As mentioned, religions gave humans a means to be partially freed from their state of denial by being ‘born-again’ to a relatively denial-free state through their support of a denial-free prophet. While a system of total honesty and idealism required the confrontation of the issue of the human condition, religions at least allowed their supporters to acknowledge their corrupted state to an extent. Religions allowed humans to introduce some truth into their world and by so doing reduce the self-condemnation they felt from living so falsely in denial of their corrupt reality. By deferring, albeit in a limited capacity, to the truth that the denial-free thinkers or prophets of old represented, humans were introducing some truthful idealism into their life. While religions did not solve or even address the real problem on Earth of the human condition, they did offer humans some extremely precious relief; they reduced the level of self-loathing and resentment from being unfairly criticised, and thus the level of frustration, unhappiness and anger in the world. Religions made people feel better about themselves. In recent times however, humans have become so alienated that the truthfulness of prophets has become too honest to bear, too confronting, and, as a result, non-confronting forms of idealism, such as environmentalism, have developed to provide this measure of relief.
(More is said about the role that has been played by religion and other non-human-condition-confronting forms of idealism, of Page 158 of
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As Gamaliel urged 2000 years ago, humans should invest their trust in democracy to decide what is ultimately beneficial or not for society, especially when human-condition-confronting information is concerned.
C2: The cave allegory was the theory, this is what happened in practice
Plato’s cave allegory provides the theory of what would happen to someone who ‘returns to the cave with the message’ that the human condition has been solved and through rational argument and accountable explanation makes the cave dwellers ‘look directly at the light of the fire’, directly at the issue of the human condition.
As has been emphasised, it will be the more alienated and, as it follows, older adults who will most fear and resist the change that the arrival of understanding of the human condition inevitably entails. In fact, as has been mentioned, the last great battle on Earth, the Battle of Armageddon predicted in the Bible, is the battle between the more alienated and the less alienated; between those whose alienation is such that they are afraid to have it exposed and as a result determinedly resist exposure, and those who are sufficiently free of alienation, sufficiently secure in self not to be overly afraid of the exposure and able to support the humanity-liberating understanding of the human condition. The more alienated, those with the greater need to live in the ‘cave’ of denial, will, as Plato said, maintain that ‘the ascent [out of the cave] was not worth even attempting. And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him.’
There are people who will feel that facing the issue of the human condition and humans’ resulting state of alienation is impossible, but as the following excerpt from R.D. Laing’s writing emphasises, any real progress for humanity ultimately depends on confronting and dealing with the issue of alienation: ‘Our alienation goes to the roots. The realization of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life [p.12 of 156] …The condition Page 159 of
Print Edition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man [p.24] …between us and It [our soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete. Deus absconditus. Or we have absconded [p.118] We respect the voyager, the explorer, the climber, the space man. It makes far more sense to me as a valid project—indeed, as a desperately urgently required project for our time—to explore the inner space and time of consciousness. Perhaps this is one of the few things that still make sense in our historical context. We are so out of touch with this realm [so in denial of the issue of the human condition] that many people can now argue seriously that it does not exist. It is very small wonder that it is perilous indeed to explore such a lost realm [p.105]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967).
Indeed it is perilous. The last great battle has already begun in earnest; those at the WTM supporting and developing these insights into the human condition have been subjected to an utterly undemocratic and ferocious attack by some of the leading elements of Australia’s media. What happened in this media attack, which took place in 1995, is currently the subject of what legal experts have described as, ‘the most extensive defamation action in Australia’s history’. (For the details of our successful defamation actions the reader is invited to visit our website at <>.)
While this Persecution essay on the WTM’s website looks in detail at the attack there are two broad observations that should be made here as they bear out all that Plato had to say about what would happen to someone who ‘returns to the cave with the message’ that the human condition has been solved.
The first observation is that the nature and ferocity of the accusations made in the media attacks upon the WTM, were similar to those that Socrates was subjected to.
The charges made against Socrates and, later, the pioneers of Christianity, were mentioned earlier to illustrate that humans—especially the more alienated—can see any change to their way of viewing the world as a threat. Further, these people can be tempted to use any means at their disposal, including unbridled misrepresentation and fabrication, to try to eliminate the perceived threat. In particular, when younger, more adaptable minds take up a valuable new idea the defenders of the status quo, the established way of viewing Page 160 of
Print Edition the world, falsely assert that the young people have been corrupted.
In the case of the early Christians, the opponents of the apostle Stephen ‘produced false witnesses who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against the holy place and against the law”.’ In Socrates’ case, he was charged with ‘atheism’ or ‘impiety’ or ‘introducing strange gods’ and ‘corrupting the young’.
These same two allegations have been made against the WTM, that of disrespecting humans’ established view of the world and of corrupting the young.
The understanding of the human condition that the WTM supports does challenge the most established way humans manage their world, namely living in denial of the issue of the human condition; however, this challenge comes not from disrespect, but from enlightenment. Nevertheless, reacting to the perceived threat, the established attitude of denial has attempted to reimpose itself by trying to destroy the WTM, using deliberate misrepresentations and ‘producing false witnesses’, to imply that the WTM is a sinister and dangerous cυlt that corrupts young people. Of the 100-plus active supporters of the WTM there is a core group of 50 or more who are now (2003) in their late twenties and early thirties but who were in their late teens and early twenties and attending university when they first became interested in understanding the human condition. The destructive portrayal of the WTM as a dangerous cυlt was achieved by misrepresenting this core group of young adult supporters who have courageously taken it upon themselves to pioneer this new denial-free paradigm, as having been caught in a sinister mind-controlling, isolationist, reality-abandoning, career-ignoring, family-destroying cυlt, with myself as a dangerously deluded, megalomaniacal leader.
The accusation that the WTM is a dangerous cυlt that corrupts young people is a deliberate fabrication. The most revealing comments made in the decade-long, and continuing, vendetta against my work were made by two of the leading campaigners against my work, Reverend Dr David Millikan and Charles Belfield, father of one of the core supporters. (Both men featured in the television documentary that was the centrepiece of the campaign, their assertions being crucial to the devastating effect the program had on the progress of our work at the WTM.) Charles Belfield said to me, ‘You know you are encroaching on the personal unspeakable in people and you won’t succeed’ (12 Feb. 1995). On a later occasion he similarly said to his son Sam, who is now (in 2003) CEO of the WTM, that ‘You are trying to rattle the Page 161 of
Print Edition black box inside people and you just can’t do that.’ These statements are extremely articulate descriptions of how frightening the issue of the human condition has been for humans. Reverend Millikan, who was the architect and presenter of the television documentary, made a similar comment about the difficulty of having people face the issue of the human condition. During the making of the documentary he said to me, ‘You realise you are attempting the impossible, you will be fighting to have this material accepted right down to the last person on the planet.’
Recall that Plato said that ‘they would say that his visit to the upper world had ruined his sight, and that the ascent was not worth even attempting.’ These comments reflect precisely this response that Plato predicted and also imply that I, and supporters of the WTM, must be mad from having attempted to confront the human condition.
Most significantly, these statements reveal that these leading detractors knew my work to be deeply penetrating and profound, the very opposite of the superficial, irrational, meaningless, New-Age kind of deluded, idealistic dogma my work was represented as in the media attacks—the sort of dogma by which cυlts entrap naive young people. The whole campaign against the WTM has been based on representing it as a terrifying, dangerous cυlt, and myself as its deluded, megalomaniacal leader, yet these comments reveal that they knew this to be a misrepresentation. I simply cannot be sound enough to look deeply into the human condition, as their comments acknowledge I have done, and be so unsound as to be a deluded megalomaniac duping young people with meaningless dogma. The cυlt accusation is a deliberate, fear-inducing, reverse-of-the-truth lie that was fabricated to try to destroy the WTM and prevent the emergence of these ideas, against which our attackers hold monumental prejudices.
The fact is a person cannot be sound enough to confront, look into, and bring out understanding of the human condition and simultaneously be a deluded megalomaniac. The denial-free thinker or prophet, Jesus Christ, pointed out this obvious truth when, in responding to his persecutor’s accusation of him being ‘possessed by Beelzebub…the prince of demons’, he stated, ‘How can Satan drive out Satan?’ (Mark 3:22, 23). He was making the same point when discussing the differentiation between false and true prophets: ‘Watch out for false prophets…by their fruit you will recognise them…a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit’ (Matt. 7:15,16,18). Only Page 162 of
Print Edition true prophets can deliver insight into the human condition. Sir Laurens van der Post also made the same point when in a passage reminiscent of Plato’s cave analogy, he wrote: ‘He who tries to go down into the labyrinthine pit of himself, to travel the swirling, misty netherlands below sea-level through which the harsh road to heaven and wholeness runs, is doomed to fail and never see the light where night joins day unless he goes out of love in search of love’ (The Face Beside the Fire, 1953, p.290 of 311). Alienation cannot look into the human condition, one precludes the other. Examination of the human condition requires exceptional soundness. The truth is, unsoundness lies within the person who cannot tolerate someone looking into the human condition.
Another aspect of the misrepresentation of the WTM as a cυlt was the assertion that the young people involved were being mind-controlled by some form of pseudo-scientific, mind-numbing doctrine. The statements by these leading opponents reveal that there was clear awareness of quite the opposite situation, that the young adults were responding to extremely profound, human-condition-confronting information, brain nourishment not brain anaesthetic.
Statements such as ‘You are trying to rattle the black box inside people [you are confronting people with the issue of the human condition] and you just can’t do that’ show that the real reason for the attack was, as Plato predicted, that these men believed ‘the ascent was not worth even attempting.’
What has happened is that a small group of older adults, amongst them parents of a few WTM supporters, have taken it upon themselves to shut down the WTM because of extreme prejudices against our work. It was explained in the previous section that although the more alienated, in particular some older adults, are the least able to evaluate the safety or otherwise of human-condition-confronting information, they can, because of their extreme fear of such information, take it upon themselves to act as guardians for humanity against this information. As a result they can commit the most serious of crimes, that of dismissing the democratic principle of freedom of expression and endeavouring to destroy the emerging information by any means possible, including unbridled fabrication and misrepresentation.
In the case of the few intolerant parents the situation is extremely tragic because the ability of the young people involved in the WTM to be able to recognise and support this extremely confronting information, is in large measure due to the exceptional nurturing and Page 163 of
Print Edition reinforcement they received from their parents. For these few parents to then doubt the sanity and integrity of their offspring’s involvement, to the point of campaigning against their involvement, amounts to a betrayal of the love they invested in them.
In this situation where older adults go to war against the new information using any unscrupulous means they can think of, while young adults, being able to ‘hear’ and greatly appreciate the new information, become enthusiastic supporters of it, the worst possible generation gap can occur. In the case of parents who participate in this unscrupulous war against their offspring’s interest in the new information, it can be expected that if the offspring are of sufficiently strong character they will not succumb to their parents’ intimidation and emotional blackmail and the result will be that of family division. This courageous support for the information and resistance to the behaviour of their intolerant parents can then be further misrepresented by the unscrupulous older adults as the result of the young people being held in a cυlt by some form of mind-control and being torn from their family, abandoning reality, becoming dislocated from society and ignoring their careers.
The truth is the real mind-control is being practiced by the advocates of the world of denial. As was pointed out in the Introduction, living in denial of the human condition has been the real state of mind-controlled indoctrination. Humans have been progressively indoctrinating themselves with the denial and avoiding any form of deeper thinking for 2 million years. Effectively they have been drumming into their minds that they must not think about the issue of the human condition or any of the many other important truths that bring it into focus. What the WTM is introducing is understanding that frees—de-programs—humans from their highly mind-controlled state of denial. It is a reverse-of-the-truth lie to accuse the WTM of mind-control.
With regard to the young adults’ enthusiasm and tenacious support of this new information that explains the human condition, it is not surprising that once people appreciate the importance of the information, they hold on to and defend it tenaciously. The human mind has thirsted for understanding of the human condition since the onset of rational thought. Plato foresaw this situation too, saying of those who learn to confront the ‘sun’ (that is, understand the human condition): ‘it won’t be surprising if those who get so far are unwilling to return to mundane affairs, and if their minds long to remain Page 164 of
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An alternative to the word ‘cυlt’ that was also used to maliciously label the WTM, is the term ‘new religious movement’. This accusation is another deliberate reverse-of-the-truth lie because we simply cannot be establishing a religion as well as be demystifying and rendering obsolete the need for religion. Religions catered for the insecurity created by the human condition. Therefore, by explaining and ameliorating the human condition—bringing dignifying biological understanding to humans’ ‘sinful’, corrupted state—the need for religion is obsolete. Further, our work is concerned with bringing understanding to the human condition. It challenges people to think about the human condition, question and understand themselves, a process that is the very opposite of abandoning thought about the dilemma of the human condition and, instead, deferring to some form of dogma, faith or belief.
I should mention that, like the people who attacked Socrates when they accused him of ‘atheism’, Reverend Millikan has said that ‘Griffith does not…believe in God’ (review of Beyond The Human Condition, Bulletin mag. 3 Dec. 1991). This accusation is particularly ironic given that my work is based on the recognition of integrative meaning or God, rather than on the denial of this most fundamental and universal of truths that almost everyone else has been practicing.
In summary, older adults can find change very difficult, especially when the change involves leaving the state of denial of the issue of the human condition. The great Australian educator, Sir James Darling, gave this wise counsel about the danger of older people resisting change: ‘At every time when there has been great activity and great originality, there has been opposition and tenacity from the old. Those who have grown up in another age…are terribly afraid of newness of life…they cannot adapt themselves to the new life. They are wrong, of course…[their] opposition is often cruel, sometimes fatal. That is what older people should remember in their criticism, for theirs is the power, usually not indeed to stop the Spring from coming, but at least to trample and to kill the first few flowers of the year…The mind of most men is not adaptable after a certain age and the onrush of a Renaissance is very rapid’ (The Education of a Civilized Man, 1962, p.53 of 223).
In his 1964 song, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Bob Dylan anticipated what would occur when the extremely confronting but wonderfully liberating understanding of the human condition arrived. The reader will notice in the fourth stanza the description of the Page 165 of
Print Edition tragic generation gap that can occur. ‘Come gather round people wherever you roam / And admit that the waters around you have grown / And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone [the suffering and destruction on Earth resulting from the agony of having to live with the dilemma of the human condition are fast reaching crisis levels, we are entering end-play] / If your time to you is worth saving / And you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / Oh the times they are a-changin’ // Come writers and critics who prophesise with your pen / And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again / And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin / And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’ [As has already been explained, up until now humanity has had to hide the truth of who is corrupted and alienated and who is not, because without understanding of the human condition, it would have led to unjust condemnation of those who were no longer innocent. However, with the human condition now compassionately resolved, who is alienated and who is not can be, must be, and unavoidably will be revealed.] / For the loser now will be later to win / For the times they are a-changin’ // Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call / Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall / For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled [Once the human condition is explained there is no point trying to put the old denial back in place because the denial has become transparent to those who have grasped the explanation of the human condition.] / The battle outside ragin’ / Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls [the liberating, but also exposing, truth about humans is on its way] / For the times they are a-changin’ // Come mothers and fathers throughout the land / And don’t criticise what you can’t understand / Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command / Your old road is rapidly agein’ / Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand / Oh the times they are a-changin’ // The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast [the exposing truth about human nature is out] / The slow one now will later be fast / As the present now will later be past / The order is rapidly fadin’ / And the first one now will later be last / For the times they are a-changin’ [as has already been explained, having, been repressed up until now, innocence now comes to the fore to lead humanity home].’
A quote from John Stuart Mill, included earlier, emphasised that there is no guarantee that a worthwhile new idea will be able to survive persecution, that persecution can be, as Darling said, ‘fatal’. The following quote from the findings of the science historian Thomas Kuhn makes the same important point: ‘In science [according to Kuhn] ideas do not change simply because new facts win out over outmoded Page 166 of
Print Edition ones…Since the facts can’t speak for themselves, it is their human advocates who win or lose the day’ (Shirley C. Strum, Almost Human, 1987, p.164 of 294). Clearly, the WTM must somehow stand up to, endure and ultimately defeat the persecution it is being subjected to, or, quite probably, as Dylan said, ‘the chance won’t come again’ for humanity to be presented with the liberating understanding of the human condition. With alienation increasing so rapidly in the world today, and extreme delusional behaviour in the form of pseudo-idealism, and in particular postmodern deconstructionism, taking place everywhere, it is very likely that soundness and truth will not appear again. It is critically important that society does not tolerate what is being done to the WTM.
The second observation that bears out all that Plato had to say about what would happen to someone who ‘returns to the cave with the message’ that the human condition has been solved concerns the treatment recently given to the late Sir Laurens van der Post.
I mentioned in the Introduction that Sir Laurens van der Post has been of such importance in my journey that I dedicated Beyond to him. He is the person I have quoted most often in my books. I also mentioned in the Introduction that in his London Times’ full-page obituary he was acknowledged as ‘a prophet’, and that given the truly exceptional profundity and integrity of his thinking—which has been amply exhibited in quotes I have already included from his writing—he was clearly an exceptional prophet, an exceptionally unevasive, denial-free, penetrating thinker. In 2001, the publishers John Murray released a posthumous biography of Sir Laurens by journalist J.D.F. Jones, titled Storyteller: the many lives of Laurens van der Post. A review of that biography written by author and journalist Christopher Booker, a long-time acquaintance of Sir Laurens, appeared in the London Spectator on 20 October 2001. It begins: ‘The key to what makes this biography of the writer Laurens van der Post so unusual is betrayed in a tiny footnote on p.357. In a flash of vanity, J.D.F. Jones cannot resist claiming credit for an obscure review he had written of one of Sir Laurens’s autobiographical books back in 1983, in which the “present author” (himself) had gone out “on what was then a slender limb and declared that he did not believe a word of this ‘flabby and embarrassing stuff’.” What makes this so odd is that, 16 years later, after Sir Laurens’s death in 1996, Mr Jones should have pushed himself forward to become his “authorised biographer”, to be given access to most, but not all, of van der Post’s private Page 167 of
Print Edition papers. Without revealing his belief that van der Post was a complete fraud, he won the confidence of the author’s daughter Lucia, who had worked with him at the Financial Times. He received an advance of £50,000 from Sir Laurens’s publishers. He then set out single-mindedly to strip away every last shred of the reputation of the man whom the headline to his 1983 review had called “van der Posture”. It must be the only occasion in history when someone has managed to hijack the position of “authorised biographer” to produce what is nothing but an utterly ruthless hatchet job.’
The review goes on to say, ‘Alarm bells began to ring when Mr Jones appeared to be making only the most perfunctory efforts to interview all those who had been closest to Sir Laurens’. The review also refers to a number of claims made by Jones, such as that Sir Laurens van der Post was ‘descended from a 17th-century Hottentot princess-turned-prostitute’, and that ‘he romanticised his famous “discovery” of the Kalahari Bushmen in the 1950s.’ The review refers to the ‘lucrative serialisation [of Jones’ book] in that same Sunday tabloid, along the lines of “we expose the secret sex life of Prince Charles’s guru”’, and says that ‘when Jones is eager to recycle any salacious anecdote about Laurens’s love-life, however distorted or improbable, it is almost comical how much less demanding he is of the evidence for his own stories than he is for those told by the man he obsessively tries to blacken as a fantasist and a liar.’ The review continues, ‘So relentless is this denigration that it reminds one just how easy it is to turn anyone’s life into a negative caricature if one sets out to do so…he [Jones] is so determined not to see anything positive in his subject…he is wholly incapable of understanding those qualities in Laurens which evoked such extraordinary response from millions of readers, such love from his wide circle of friends, and which gave him his unique position in the inner life of our age.’ Booker concludes, ‘Certainly there are those who relish the idea of a hatchet job being done on the “self-styled mystic”…[but] ultimately this book exposes the limitations not of van der Post, only of its author.’
The injustice inflicted upon Sir Laurens van der Post further illustrates Plato’s assertion that if anyone tried to ‘lead them up [out of the cave of denial], they would kill him if they could lay hands on him.’ In this instance, an utterly vicious attack was made on his character. The attack had to be in the form of character assassination because it is not possible to attack his work, the marvellous insights into the human condition that he is so famous for. It is remarkable how closely this attack parallels what has and is happening to the WTM.
There are quite extraordinary parallels in the production and Page 168 of
Print Edition content of this so-called biography of Sir Laurens van der Post and the ‘utterly ruthless hatchet job’ that was done on my work and that of the WTM. It is as if there were a manual that people follow when they set about trying to destroy profound, human-condition-confronting thinkers. In my, and the WTM’s case, after Reverend Millikan had completed his 1995 documentary on the WTM, we learnt that he had written an antipathetic review of my work ‘back in’ 1993, describing it as ‘flimsy and petulant ruminations’. This was remarkably similar to Jones’ description of Sir Laurens’ writing ‘back in 1983’ as ‘flabby and embarrassing stuff’. Jones’ gained the confidence of Sir Laurens van der Post’s daughter Lucia. Millikan similarly ‘won [our] confidence’ and cooperation in the making of the documentary by having us believe that it would be about ‘seminal thinkers capable of taking humanity into the next millennium.’ Jones persuaded Sir Laurens’ publishers to commission his work; Millikan similarly managed to seduce Australia’s national public broadcaster, which should facilitate profound and creative thought, into instead funding and bringing to public attention his vendetta of prejudice. For his documentary, Millikan, like Jones, ‘made only the most perfunctory efforts to interview’ key supporters of my ideas, especially the leading scientists who had given first-rate commendations for my work. Similarly, a vicious smear campaign was conducted throughout the Australian community with horrid untruths about the sexual behaviour of WTM directors, including myself. Similarly, much was made of my being a ‘self-styled’ ‘guru’, and again, Reverend Millikan’s ‘denigration’ of the WTM was publicly ‘serialised’ in republications in the media. Like Jones with Sir Laurens, Millikan was ‘determined not to see anything positive’ in my life and, even though he knew the profundity of my work, he was ‘wholly incapable of understanding’ it, allowing none of the rational, scientific understandings in my books to be fairly examined in his documentary.
Recall that Plato anticipated that ‘if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him.’ Plato was correct about the level of hate and the ferocity of the attack that we would be subjected to. While people do not kill each other as they did in Plato’s day—murder is not tolerated in our ‘civilised’ times—they still have means of attacking that can be equally terminal in their effect. In fact I can quote Reverend Millikan’s own awareness of the way truthful thinkers who threaten the world of denial have been treated. In view of what he did to us this comment Page 169 of
Print Edition could not be more ironic: ‘Of course [Christ] was all too much for the people who ran the church. What he was asking for was too radical. It was not just the question of their authority but his whole perception of the truth. They felt he was actually attacking the foundation of the church’s message. So they took the measures they felt necessary to defend its purity. The same thing happens today; although we have more urbane ways of neutralising our trouble-makers’ (D. Millikan, The Sunburnt Soul, 1981, p.110).
Sir Laurens van der Post has been, as it were, fed to the dogs. In Australia, the national newspaper, The Australian, printed a review of Jones’ book under the headline ‘Charming Charlatan’. The reviewer, journalist Luke Slattery, was so seduced by the book that he suggested that readers ‘might be inclined to offer a wheelbarrow of his [Sir Laurens van der Post’s] books to the nearest second-hand shop, or to junk them all’ (19–20 Jan. 2002). In the review, Slattery even asserts that ‘Jones is never unfair to his subject’. While academic Peter Alexander, in his review of Jones’ book in Australia’s other leading newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, was sufficiently seduced by the book for his review to be titled ‘A life’s work of lies’, he at least acknowledges Jones’ inability to appreciate the essence of Sir Laurens van der Post (namely his phenomenal ability to tell the truth about humans), pointing out that Jones ‘responds to Van der Post’s verbal aerobatics by asking, in evident exasperation: “What does that mean?”’ (16–17 Feb. 2002). As Booker noted, Jones was ‘wholly incapable of understanding those qualities in Laurens which evoked such extraordinary response from millions of readers’. Being unable to deal with the essence of your subject’s life’s work in a biography is a fundamental flaw and any review of Jones’ book should be prefaced on that point. Further, as Booker pointed out, it is not merely that Jones does not understand Sir Laurens’ life’s work, he despises it, describing it as ‘flabby and embarrassing stuff’. The fact that Jones has no understanding of Sir Laurens’ work and yet is contemptuous of it, together with the evidence that Jones lobbied to be Sir Laurens’ authorised biographer, should lead any reviewer to recognise, as Booker did, that Jones’ book is a hatchet job and certainly not a biography.
I am just thankful I had the courage to provoke those who hate the truth with sufficient truth for them to attack me while I am still alive. I think it is appalling that Sir Laurens van der Post’s detractors waited until after his death. I can only imagine what a devastatingly effective response he would have made to their cowardly attack had he been alive to defend himself.
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Print Edition Similar attempts were made to assassinate the characters of Arthur Koestler and Carl Jung following their deaths. Koestler, like Sir Laurens van der Post, was another exceptionally sound, denial-free thinker or prophet, and was quoted earlier courageously acknowledging the truth of integrative meaning. The reader of Beyond will recognise many of his extraordinarily truthful insights, while much will be said about the exceptional integrity of Jung’s mind in the next essay.
The haters of the truth placed the head of Christ’s mentor, John the Baptist, on a platter and forced Plato’s mentor, Socrates, to drink poison. The world of prophets has been one of brutally enforced estrangement, but that brutality was only a measure of how much their truth exposed, condemned and hurt people. Sir Laurens van der Post let so much truth out he left the world of lies a wasteland. No wonder they hated him. He destroyed their psychological home. He dragged them out of the safety of their cave of denial.
Attacks on those who expose the truth about humans can be so vicious that, without knowing the real motivation for such denigration, the public is easily persuaded that the subject is evil—which is precisely the attacker’s intention, to demonise the truth-sayer and destroy his credibility by assassinating his character. In the WTM’s case, the portrayal by Reverend Millikan, although entirely fabricated, was so awful that to this day we are treated as lepers and pariahs by much of our community—which is why we must clear our name through the courts.
It is worthwhile repeating Christ’s summation of the way some people respond to those who bring light to the dark, cavernous state of denial humans have lived in to protect themselves from exposure to the issue of the human condition: ‘the light shines in the darkness but…everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.’ Indeed an awareness must have come down through the centuries as to how to go about denigrating prophets because it appears Christ was also subjected to the technique. To warn, as he did, of ‘ferocious wolves’ ‘in sheep’s clothing’ (Matt. 7:15), and of being ‘like lambs among wolves’ (Luke 10:3 & Matt. 10:16), he must have experienced deceptions and vicious misrepresentations himself (perhaps also by a ‘wolf’ in the ultimate ‘sheep’s clothing’ of a priest’s cloak). In fact the Bible records that ‘looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death…Many testified falsely against him’ (Mark 14: 55,56).
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Print Edition It was mentioned that the ferocity of the attacks on truthsayers could be so intense that people who were not aware of the motivation for the attack could easily be persuaded simply by its ferocity that the subject of the attack must be evil. In fact truthsayers could be attacked with such ferocity that even those who did know the motivation for it could be disconcerted. The attack on Christ, for instance, was so determined and vicious—he was condemned by the populous and then publicly crucified—that even the strongest of his own supporters were sufficiently unnerved to temporarily disown him. Christ knew this would happen. In the early hours of the day he was arrested he said to his most faithful disciple, Peter, ‘this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times’ (Matt. 26:34).
In being deceived by Reverend Millikan’s ploy that he wanted to make an international documentary about seminal thinkers who would take humanity into the next millennium, I and my partner of 23 years, Annie Williams, and my fellow WTM directors (in 2003)—my brother Simon; my close friend and courageous supporter in this journey into the human condition, the world renowned mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape; and long-time friend and staunch supporter, Tim Watson—were in hindsight too trusting. My brother Simon, Tim Macartney-Snape and I all went to Geelong Grammar School, the ethos of which was precisely what Plato advocated for education: ‘Plato’s ideal education system is primarily structured so as to produce philosopher-kings [denial-defiant thinkers].’ The emphasis at Geelong Grammar School during our time was on protecting and cultivating the innocence of students, rather than concentrating on their intelligence and academic achievement. Geelong Grammar cultivated soul over intellect. To quote from an article in the school’s magazine titled What we profess and practice: ‘Primal innocence, like primal Eden, is destroyed: yet both can be restored; the Divine Image lives on, the burden and the glory of mankind, and true education consists in its recognition and its restoration’ (M.D. de B. Collins Persse, The Corian, Apr. 1982). One academic year was spent living in huts in the mountains, bushwalking every weekend after studies. Competition in sport and in study was played down, and many non-academic activities were fostered. Above all service to society was emphasised over self-interest and personal gain. No doubt this background made us potentially vulnerable to the more mean and ruthless ways of the world. In fact Sir James Darling, whose 30-year tenure as headmaster of Geelong Grammar established the school’s ethos, was well aware of this problem of vulnerability. In his Page 172 of
Print Edition 1962 book, The Education of a Civilized Man he wrote that: ‘The objective [of education] is a development of the whole man, sensitive all round the circumference…[A] criticism [of developing such sensitivity]…is that the sensitive man cannot survive in the hard modern world. In a sense this is true…he may at first sight appear less well equipped to deal with life than his more callous or superficial fellow…But the future, someone has said, lies not with the predatory [selfish] and the immune [alienated] but with the sensitive [innocent] who live dangerously [defy the denial practiced by the cave world]. There is a threefold choice for the free man…He may grasp for himself what he can get and trample the needs and feelings of others beneath his feet: or he may try to withdraw from the world to a monastery…: or he may “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them”…[And so] There remains the sensitive, on one proviso: he must be sensitive and tough. He must combine tenderness and awareness with fortitude, perseverance, and courage’ (pp.32-34 of 223). I might mention that while this ethos of cultivating soul over intellect was highly unusual in education and tended to strand students in a lonely state of idealism, Geelong Grammar School became one of the most highly regarded schools in the world. The future king of England, Prince Charles, was sent there for part of his education.
Christ was aware of the dangers of innocence being too trusting and abused as a result, for he warned of the need to be ‘shrewd’, something that is very difficult when you are sheltered, innocent and thus naive about the capacities of the toughened, angry, ruthless, alienated world. He said, ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves’ (Matt. 10:16).
Plato also foresaw that naivety would be a problem. He said, ‘Nor will you think it strange that anyone who descends from contemplation of the divine to the imperfections of human life should blunder and make a fool of himself, if, while still blinded and unaccustomed to the surrounding darkness, he’s forcibly put on trial in the law-courts or elsewhere about the images of justice or their shadows, and made to dispute about the conceptions of justice held by men who have never seen absolute justice’ (p.282).
Astonishingly enough, as can be seen from the above quote, Plato predicted that we would be ‘forcibly put on trial in the law-courts’. We in the WTM pursued every possible means of redress after the media attack but in the end were left with no option but to seek vindication through the courts. As Plato also recognised, the trial will be problematic for us in that we will be judged by a system that has no familiarity with the truthful, sunlit, human-condition-confronting Page 173 of
Print Edition world; we will be ‘made to dispute about the conceptions of justice held by men who have never seen absolute justice.’
The traditional practice in court of swearing on the Bible ‘to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ is a mockery because all resigned humans are dedicated to lying. Humanity has been living in denial of all the truths that bring the issue of the human condition into focus; it has been lying on a massive scale. What we are introducing is information that does not lie, that does not comply with this denial, and now we are asking the legal system to defend us. Yet the legal system has been upholding the lying world, the world of denial. In the same way as mechanistic science, our system of justice has been complying with that historic need to deny any truth that brings the issue of the human condition into focus. Our legal system has been defending lying, injustice, but now, for the first time, it is being asked to dispense true or ‘absolute justice.’ It is at odds with itself, with the world it comes from.
It is true that while the dignifying understanding of the human condition had still to be found there was some need to lie, to block out and live in denial of and, in the case of truth-acknowledging prophets, to fabricate a way of repressing their overly confronting truth. As Booker’s review of the Sir Laurens van der Post biography said, ‘certainly there are those who relish the idea of [ie there are those who need] a hatchet job being done’ on someone as profound in his thinking as Sir Laurens van der Post.
There are two points to be made about this justified need to repress and deny truths that brought the human condition into focus.
Firstly, there always had to be a balance between denying confronting truth in order to protect humans from suicidal depression and allowing some confronting truth to survive. This balance was necessary because there had to be some confronting truth, some honesty in the world, or the world would become unbearably dark and sinister. It was also necessary if the full dignifying truth about humans was to be found. For example, if Sir Laurens van der Post’s books had not been allowed to be published, I doubt I would have had the strength to stand so alone against the world of denial and eventually find the greater dignifying understanding of the human condition. I am deeply indebted to Sir Laurens van der Post, which is why Beyond is dedicated to him. With regard to the world becoming unbearably dark and sinister, if you study the so-called ‘great’ literary works, what is great about them is that they manage to defy, Page 174 of
Print Edition to some degree, the denial that almost everyone is practising. They punch holes, as it were, through the heavy layer of block-out and alienation that is blanketing the world. While humans needed to live in denial, they also recognised the need for some honesty.
How much human-condition-confronting information a society could tolerate depended on the average level of alienation in that society. The more alienated and insecure a society the less human-condition-confronting information it could tolerate. Obviously the responsibility of society was always to try to tolerate as much ‘sun’—human-condition-confronting information—as it possibly could.
Secondly, as has already been emphasised, it was always necessary to allow for the possibility of the full dignifying understanding of the human condition to emerge. To completely repress human-condition-confronting information would mean destroying any chance humanity had of achieving its freedom from the human condition. Not to allow for that possibility would be akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
As has been stressed, the democratic principle of freedom of expression was put in place to ensure that some human-condition-confronting truth would always be allowed in society (assuming not everyone became completely alienated), and that ultimately understanding of the human condition would be able to emerge.
While it is acknowledged that some fabrication or unfair argument or misrepresentation has been necessary when opposing human-condition-confronting information (since the repression could not be achieved using truthful evidence, as it was the truth that was being repressed), there has always also been the need and responsibility to allow for some freedom of expression of human-condition-confronting information in society. An unrestrained vendetta that shows no regard for democracy and is designed to destroy the existence of human-condition-confronting information, such as has been waged against the WTM, is the most serious of crimes.
It was explained earlier that where human-condition-confronting information is involved there is a great danger that the more alienated, in their extreme fear and resulting hatred of such information, and in their extreme ‘deafness’ and resulting inability to assess and appreciate the possible importance of such information, may take it upon themselves to act as guardians for humanity against the human-condition-confronting information. Overriding the principle of democracy, they may set out to destroy the information by any means Page 175 of
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As has been carefully explained, there is no more confronting and difficult material for humans to have to adjust to than the arrival of understanding of the human condition. Again, as George Bernard Shaw observed, ‘all great truths begin as blasphemies’, and there is no ‘greater truth’ than understanding of the human condition. Exposing and dismantling humans’ historic denial of the issue of the human condition can appear to be the ultimate ‘blasphemy’, ‘impiety’, irreverence, heresy, profanity, sacrilege. Feeling it to be such a threat, people can set out to destroy the threat by any means at their disposal, no matter how undemocratic their actions. However, if in their fury, people allow themselves and/or are allowed by society, to abandon the democratic principle of freedom of expression, then the worst possible crime can be committed.
Our democratic principles were arduously formulated, fought and died for, and enshrined in law and constitution, to ensure that when humanity embarked on the final crucial stage of our journey to self-understanding, prejudice would not prevent that all-important understanding emerging. The principles were not developed to be dispensed with the moment self-confrontation loomed; quite the contrary, it is precisely at that point that these principles should be scrupulously adhered to.
Our criticism of our attackers is that instead of trusting in the democratic principle of freedom of expression they threw out the rule book on such principles, reverting to a strategy of no-holds-barred, all-out fabrication and misrepresentation to try and obliterate these emerging ideas. The fact is they were arrogantly intolerant of the possibility that these ideas might in fact be the ultimate dignifying and thus safe understanding of the human condition that humanity has struggled towards for 2 million years.
The court case that is taking place as a result of this undemocratic attack on these ideas is the most crucial case in human history because it stands at the crossroads of humanity’s 2-million-year journey from ignorance to either enlightenment or total darkness.
If those of us who are supporting these ideas can stand up to and defeat this resistance then humanity will be liberated from the human condition, because these ideas do resolve the human condition. As has been stressed, the evidence for that is that the subject is being so openly discussed here and that people are already able to confront Page 176 of
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In fact, what is required now is not repression of these ideas but support and development of them. Now that the fortress walls of denial have been breached, humanity needs as much truth as possible. Indeed humanity needs a veritable banquet of understanding about the human condition, because these understandings, while dignifying, are initially extremely confronting and destabilising, so significant bridging understanding and associated psychological counselling is required to help people manage the change. This banquet of understanding is also required because the sooner we can put an end to the argument and resistance to the truth about humans, the sooner we can resolve the dangerous situation that the world has arrived at where alienation and its effects are destroying humanity and the planet. The great battle between those who want to stay in the darkest corner of the pit of their cave ‘prison’ of denial, with all its dangerous distortions and angry hurt from having to live in such a dark state, and those who want to enter the denial-free sunlit, true world—the long-anticipated battle of Armageddon—needs to be a short battle, and in fact it can be.
C3: Humanity’s departure from the cave to life in the sun
At the beginning of the previous section a quote from Plato’s Republic was included that described the difficulty humans would have leaving ‘the cave’ of denial. The quote ended with the comment that ‘the process would be a painful one, to which he [the prisoner in the cave] would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real.’ Plato followed this comment with the following description of how humans can gradually adjust to a life ‘in the sun’ free of denial outside the ‘cave’: ‘Certainly not at first, because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave. First he would find it easiest to look at shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later on at the objects themselves. After that he would find it easier to observe the heavenly bodies and the sky at night than by day, and to look at the light of the moon and stars, rather than at the sun Page 177 of
Print Edition and its light. The thing he would be able to do last would be to look directly at the sun [the truth of integrative meaning or God], and observe its nature without using reflections in water or any other medium, but just as it is. Later on he would come to the conclusion that it is the sun that produces the changing seasons and years and controls everything in the visible world, and is in a sense responsible for everything that he and his fellow-prisoners used to see. And when he thought of his first home and what passed for wisdom there and of his fellow-prisoners, don’t you think he would congratulate himself on his good fortune and be sorry for them?’ (p.280).
The final sentence emphasises just how wonderful, brilliant and above all meaningful the world really is once you can see it free of denial. What passed for wise insight in the ‘cave’ of denial was in truth superficial shallowness. There is a comment in the Bible that makes the same point: ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile’ (I Cor. 3: 20 & Psalm 94:11).
The Encarta entry states that Plato anticipated humanity’s ‘escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave…the transition to the real world, the world of full and perfect being.’ Given that the understanding of the human condition that is now available survives the persecution it is currently being subjected to—survives the efforts, as Plato said, to ‘kill’ it—and given that humans can develop the patience and perseverance needed to overcome the historic denial—the patience ‘needed to grow accustomed to the light’—then humans will discover an incredible freedom, ‘the world of full and perfect being.’
With understanding of the human condition found, humans can be shown that it is now safe to confront the truth about themselves and by so doing end their alienated state of living in denial of the issue of the human condition. Plato talked about the need to ‘put sight into blind eyes’, and proceeded to say, ‘this capacity [of a mind…to see clearly] is innate in each man’s mind’, but once lost ‘the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change [away from the world that denies the absolute, unchanging truths or realities] until it can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which is what we call the Good…this business of turning the mind round might be made a subject of professional skill, which would effect the conversion as easily and effectively as possible. It would not be concerned to implant sight, but to ensure that someone who had it already was turned in the right direction and looking the right way’ (p.283). With these perceptive words Plato was anticipating the practice of psychiatry, which will become one of the most important activities in the world now that understanding of the Page 178 of
Print Edition human condition is found. Humans can and must turn their minds from the practice of denial to the new truthful way of thinking. When Plato referred to ‘someone who had it [the capacity to see clearly] already’ he had already commented that this capacity ‘is innate in each man’s mind’, so the ‘someone’ is in fact everyone. All humans were born innocent, with a perfect instinctive orientation to cooperative meaning.
Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing referred to this need to ‘turn the mind round’ from its alienated state when he wrote: ‘Our capacity to think, except in the service of what we are dangerously deluded in supposing is our self-interest, and in conformity with common sense, is pitifully limited: our capacity even to see, hear, touch, taste and smell is so shrouded in veils of mystification that an intensive discipline of un-learning is necessary of anyone before one can begin to experience the world afresh, with innocence, truth and love [p.23 of 156] …True sanity entails in one way or another the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality: the emergence of the “inner” archetypal mediators of divine power, and through this death a rebirth, and the eventual re-establishment of a new kind of ego-functioning, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer [p.119]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967).
With regard to being honest about humans’ corrupted state, to living with the truth rather than in denial of it, to acknowledging people’s alienation, to differentiating people according to their level of soundness, which was referred to earlier in this essay when talking about the ‘meek inheriting the Earth’ and the ‘first being last and the last first’—it has to be emphasised that the more innocent or less corrupted or ‘meek’ have no interest in power and glory. It is difficult for people living in denial of the human condition and living off egocentric, competitive and aggressive forms of reinforcement not to project their way of viewing the world onto everyone else, but the truth is there are people sufficiently innocent and thus secure in self, people in whom our species’ original instinctive self or soul is sufficiently uncorrupted, for them not to be ego-centric, not to have their mind centred around ego and in need of the reinforcement to be gained from fame, fortune, power and glory. In fact all humans will have a selfless rather than a selfish mindset when they finally leave the cave. As Plato said, ‘Will our released prisoner hanker after these prizes or envy this power or honour? Won’t he be more likely to feel, as Homer says, that he would far rather be “a serf in the house of some Page 179 of
Print Edition landless man”, or indeed anything else in the world, than live and think as they do?’ (p.281). Christ was also aware of this when he said ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all’ (Mark 9:35).
In the Introduction it was emphasised that people need to adopt an attitude of patience and perseverance to overcome their state of denial. Plato made the same point—the cave dweller ‘would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave.’ The fact is, with such a massive paradigm shift as is involved in changing from living in denial to living free of denial, there is a great deal of psychological adjustment that has to take place, which takes time. The existence of people living with and in support of these understandings in the WTM demonstrates that these understandings of the human condition do enable people to at last safely begin confronting the issue of the human condition and begin living in a denial-free, truthful world.
This psychological adjustment takes time, in fact the full adjustment will take a number of generations, but this does not mean that people who are in various stages of freeing themselves from living in denial cannot participate fully in the new, exciting, humanity-liberating paradigm. People can live fully in support of these critically important understandings while slowly confronting the truth that the understandings contain. The more alienated the individual, the slower the process of confronting these understandings has to be. To support the understandings you only have to have established in your mind that they are indeed the liberating understandings that humanity has been searching for. Once you acknowledge that then you know that these understandings are worthy of your support and you can offer that support while avoiding overly confronting the truth the understandings contain. The last chapter in Beyond describes the various activities of the human-condition-resolved new world. It shows everyone participating in different ways, each according to their particular level of insecurity with the truth. Individuals can now live an extraordinarily meaningful existence despite their yet-to-be-ameliorated insecurities and by so doing they can avoid impeding humanity’s liberation from the human condition. Once people recognise this is possible, their relief and enthusiasm for this truthful, all-meaningful and liberating way of living will carry all before it. Soon from one end of the horizon to the other an army will appear in its millions to do battle with human suffering and its weapon will be understanding.
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Print Edition It should be emphasised that the new way of living that is now possible is fundamentally different to, in fact the very opposite of that in a religion or cυlt, where people deferred to or put their faith and trust in a deity or figure of reverence, or even in a belief system. The freedom that understanding of the human condition brings is not dependent on dogma or belief or faith, in fact it is such a fundamental liberation that it takes humans beyond the situation where they need dogmatic forms of reinforcement or religious faith and belief. Humans no longer have to deny, escape and transcend the issue of their corrupted self, deferring to others for the management of their lives. They can understand and begin confronting their corrupted condition, ultimately end their insecure state, and begin managing their lives through their ability to understand existence.
What is being introduced means the end of faith and belief and the beginning of knowing. Knowledge is the opposite of faith, dogma and belief. Humans can know the truth now. In fact their faith, trust, hope and belief that one day understanding of ourselves would be found has been fulfilled. As Bronowski predicted, ‘Knowledge is our destiny. Self-knowledge, at last bringing together the experience of the arts and the explanations of science, waits ahead of us.’ The convergence of the humanities and science—ultimately of theology and biology—eventually had to occur. Religions themselves looked forward to their fulfilment, and, paradoxically, obsolescence. For example, in ‘Genesis’ in the Bible it says that one day ‘you will be like God, knowing’ (3:5), and in Chapter 9 of the Lotus Sutra, Buddha (Siddartha Gautama 560–480 BC) says, ‘In the future they will every one be Buddhas. And will reach Perfect Enlightenment’ (The Lotus of the Wonderful Law, tr. W.E. Soothill, 1987, p.148 of 275). ‘Revelation’, the last book in the Bible, refers to the arrival of a new world free of the horror of human suffering under the duress of the human condition, stating ‘There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Rev. 21:4).
The finding of understanding of the human condition takes humanity beyond the insecure state of the human condition, the state of insecurity that religions catered for. It takes humanity as a whole from the insecure state of adolescence (where humans search for their identity, for understanding of who they are, specifically for understanding of their divisive nature, the human condition) to the secure state of adulthood—hence the name for the organisation that has been established to promote and develop the understanding of the human condition that is now available, the Foundation for Page 181 of
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During the Middle Ages the Italian saint, Thomas Aquinas, produced his monumental work Summa Theologica in which he ‘sought to close the gap between reason and faith, holding that reason can prove the existence of God, and that nothing in Christian teaching is contrary to reason’ (The Last Two Million Years, 1974 edn, p.291 of 488). Of course Aquinas has been proved right—reason has proved the existence of God, and nothing in Christian teaching turns out to be contrary to reason. I say ‘of course’ because faith and reason, religion and science, are clearly two different perspectives of the one reality and so it is obvious that they had to be ultimately reconcilable. The concern with Aquinas’ view was that while the human condition had still to be explained there remained a need to maintain the denial of it that protected humans from suicidal depression. Humans needed to face away from the ‘fire/sun’. ‘God’ needed to be either totally denied or viewed as a mystical, abstract concept that was not too confronting. The condemning truth of the cooperative, integrative meaning of life needed to be evaded and denied. To a large degree humans had to be protected from reason making their reality transparent—that is, until understanding of the human condition was found. For many people it was a case of the whole truth or no truth. People needed an intellectual escape from the truth of their circumstances, a way to mentally evade the unconfrontable. As a result a whole series of intellectual evasions of Aquinas’ obvious truth developed, such as:
‘Rationalism’, as promoted by René Descartes, with his dictum that ‘doubt itself cannot be doubted’ (The Last Two Million Years, 1974 edn, p.292 of 488), which denies that anyone can be sure of what is true, in which case no one can be sure that there is any such thing as an ideal state to become corrupted and alienated from;
‘Empiricism’, as promoted by John Locke and David Hume, which held ‘that nothing exists but sensations—there is no God to underlie them’ (ibid. p.293), which denies there is any profound truth, no ultimate morality, and therefore nothing to condemn humans;
‘Socialism’, as promoted by Karl Marx with his belief that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it’ (Theses on Feuerbach, 1845), which denies the truth that the object of human life is to try to confront the issue of the human condition and ultimately find the dignifying, reconciling, ameliorating understanding of it, and instead maintain that the object is simply to stop humans being non-ideal, deny them their reality, by dogmatically Page 182 of
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‘Existentialism’, as promoted by Jean-Paul Sartre, which ‘stresses man’s freedom to determine his own future’ (The Last Two Million Years, 1974 edn, p.293 of 488), that is be free from, live in denial of, the depressing issue of your corrupt reality and instead simply enjoy being whoever you are.
The ‘New Age’, ‘Self-Improvement’, ‘Peace’, ‘Green’ and ‘Feminist’ movements were called ‘social revolutions’ and posed as ‘alternative cultures’ but they failed to revolutionise anything, they failed to introduce any alternative to the artificial, superficial, destructive, unequal, egocentric, dishonest world humans have been living in. The truth is that while they moderated some excesses, these movements brought no fundamental change, no ‘revolution’, no ‘alternative’ to the horror of our species’ plight. These ‘movements’, led by false prophets, seduced people with the belief that they could bring about an equitable, sensitive, caring, corruption-free, healed ‘New Age’ without having to confront and solve the human condition. They sought to dogmatically impose idealism rather than attempt to understand why humans have not been ideally behaved. In fact their proponents opposed trying to confront, understand and by so doing reconcile the issue of the human condition. Instead of leading humans to peace they were leading humanity away from it. These pseudo-idealistic movements were merchants of delusion, they cultivated rather than clarified a denial of reality. (The extreme danger of pseudo-idealism is explained in chapters 8:15-8:16 of FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition at <>. Also my 2021 book Death by Dogma provides a powerful exposé of the pseudo-idealistic, left-wing culture at <>. Also see Freedom Essays 14, 34, 35 & 36 at <>.)
Most recently, ‘Postmodern Deconstructionism’, promoted by Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault and others, has taken lying to its most sophisticated level, asserting that life ‘has no absolute truth or meaning’ (Macquarie Dict. 3rd edn, 1998), that is there is no truth or meaning so there is nothing from which to be corrupted and alienated. It is the ultimate denial because by eliminating meaning and truth the concepts of innocence, corruption, alienation and the human condition become meaningless.
Thankfully, with the human condition explained and humans at last dignified, all intellectual escapism is unnecessary. All the lying stops. Because humanity’s predicament was largely one of wanting ‘all the truth or no truth’, our world has largely been one of no truth, all lies, a totally dark cave existence, an almost completely empty, Page 183 of
Print Edition meaningless, virtually dead realm. This quote about intellectualism from Sir Laurens van der Post’s writing was included in the Introduction: ‘Once asked then which people he [psychoanalyst Carl Jung] had found most difficult to heal, he had answered instantly, “Habitual liars and intellectuals”…Jung maintained that the intellectualist was also, by constant deeds of omission, a kind of habitual liar’ (Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976, p.133 of 275). Intellectuals were ‘hard to heal’ because, being necessarily the ‘hardest bitten’ by the dilemma of the human condition, they took it upon themselves to be the custodians of denial, the keepers of the lie.
Although humanity had to evade the issue of the human condition while it was unsolved, now that it is solved everything changes. Humanity suddenly moves from a situation where there is virtually no truth to a situation where all the truth is revealed. Templeton prize-winning Australian biologist Charles Birch recently said that the ‘meeting of science and religion is as yet no bigger than a cloud on the horizon’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Feb. 1998). Since it is with religions that the truths about humans have been kept, albeit in safely abstract forms of description, such as ‘God’, ‘soul’ and ‘sin’, and in science that those truths have been investigated, albeit without them being acknowledged, then the ‘meeting’ between science and religion that Birch is talking of is the time when the reconciling, non-abstract and non-evasive scientific understanding of the human situation is finally synthesised.
Birch’s metaphor of this reconciliation of science and religion being like a cloud on the horizon is apt because the cloud is the precursor of an immense storm of lightning and thunder. In fact there are many accounts describing the arrival of the dignifying and thus liberating, but, at the same time, all-exposing and thus immensely confronting truth about humans using precisely this imagery. For example, it was mentioned in the Introduction that Sir Laurens van der Post titled his book that anticipates the arrival of the naked truth about humans as ‘The Voice of the Thunder’, while the Bible describes the arrival of the truth about the human condition as being like a great storm with ‘lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other’ (Luke 17:24, see also Matt. 24:27). Bob Dylan’s 1964 song When the Ship Comes In anticipates what it will be like when the truth about humans finally arrives. He says it will be like a ‘hurricane’ arriving: ‘Oh the time will come up when the winds let up and the breeze will cease to be breathing / Like the stillness in the wind before the hurricane begins / Page 184 of
Print Edition The hour that the ship comes in / And the sea will split and the ships will hit / And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking / And the tide will sound and the waves will pound / And the morning will be a-breaking.’
What is being introduced brings the real ‘culture shock’, ‘future shock’, ‘brave new world’, ‘tectonic paradigm shift’, ‘gestalt switch’, ‘turning point’, ‘renaissance’, ‘revolution’, or ‘sea change’ humanity has long anticipated. The most exciting and the most challenging adjustment humans have ever had to make lies directly ahead of humanity now, over the next half century. Difficult as it will be, given how afraid of the naked truth some people are, adjusting to the truth about ourselves can be done. Humans would never have had the strength to pursue the immense journey to find knowledge, ultimately self-knowledge, if we had not always believed that when we did finally find that truth we would be able to cope with it. What makes truth-day, honesty-day, exposure-day, come-clean-day, self-confrontation-day, the day of reckoning, the day when people’s alienations will be exposed—‘judgment day’ in fact—bearable is that it is actually a ‘day’ of great compassion, a state free of any condemnation or judgment. To quote an anonymous Turkish poet, judgment day is ‘Not the day of judgment but the day of understanding’ (National Geographic, Nov. 1987).
Being able to understand why humans have been so competitive, aggressive and selfish removes the underlying insecurity in human life. The source psychosis of all human psychoses is repaired, allowing the corrupt aggressive, egocentric and selfish behaviour of humans to abate and eventually disappear forever.
Real reconciliation of the poles or duality of human life of good and evil in all their manifestations—such as of instinct and intellect, soul and mind, conscience and conscious, subjectivity and objectivity, ignorance and knowledge, dogma and logic, mysticism and rationalism, religion and science, faith and reason, holism and mechanism, idealism and realism, Yin and Yang, left wing and right wing, socialism and capitalism, women and men, young and old, black and white, innocence and corruption, soundness and alienation, happiness and unhappiness, frivolity and discipline, fragility and toughness, naturalness and artificiality, play and work, spiritualism and materialism, poverty and wealth, country and city, Abel and Cain, honesty and falseness, unevasiveness and evasiveness, instinctualism and intellectualism, altruism and egotism, sensitivity and insensitivity, the non-sexual and the sexual, peace and war, love and hate, selflessness and selfishness, cooperation and competition, the integrative and the Page 185 of
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The proverbs assert that ‘understanding is compassion’, ‘the truth will set you free’ (The Bible, John 8:32), ‘honesty is therapy’ and ‘in repentance lies salvation’, but humans have never been able to ‘understand’ themselves, know ‘the truth’ about themselves, be ‘honest’ about their condition, explain why they have been divisively rather than cooperatively behaved and in so doing end their insecurity, ameliorate their lives and thus be able to ‘repent’ and change their ways.
Humans’ divisive nature is not an unchangeable or immutable state as many have come to regard it, rather it has been the result of the human condition, the inability to understand themselves, and therefore it disappears when that understanding is found—which thank goodness it now is. The denial can now end, all the lying can stop. In Plato’s imagery, we can now, as the song Sunshine from that immensely optimistic 1960s rock musical Hair, says, ‘Let the sunshine / Let the sunshine in / The sunshine in’ (lyrics by James Rado & Gerome Ragni).
The journey of human thought has been illustrated with the works of many great thinkers, yet the imagery and concepts expressed by those thinkers consistently echoes that of Plato’s. Whitehead was right when he said the history of philosophy has been ‘a series of footnotes to Plato’.