A Species In Denial—Introduction

The need for patience and perseverance

Once the reader has gained the initial foothold of awareness of the existence of the human condition and that it can now be overcome, then the main requirements to more fully overcoming the denial and its deaf effect are patience and perseverance.

It was mentioned earlier that in his cave allegory Plato wrote that ‘if he [a person] were made to look directly at the light of the fire [the Page 68 of
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issue of the human condition], 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’ (Plato The Republic, tr. H.D.P. Lee, 1955, p.280 of 405).

It is now relevant to add what immediately follows the above dialogue. Plato continues: ‘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 and its light. The thing he would be able to do last would be to look directly at the sun, 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? [what was considered wise in the world of denial was for the most part intellectualised blindness](ibid. p.280). The main point is that it takes time to adjust to living outside the cave of denial in the presence of the truth about the human condition.

In the example of the cancer sufferer’s denial, the patient said, ‘it took another two weeks before reality began to sink in.’ Readers have to be prepared to accept that their mind needs time to get over the shock of being confronted with the issue of the human condition. With time the historic denial will gradually be eroded and the mind will discover that it is at last safe to confront the issue of the human condition.

As already mentioned, the WTM is an organisation that has been established to promote and develop this understanding of the human condition. We have learnt that people’s historic resistance to Page 69 of
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description and analysis of the human condition can be overcome with patience and perseverance. The mind simply needs time to ride out the initial shock of having the subject of the human condition broached and all manner of mystery unlocked. Once you break into the human condition, a veritable avalanche of answers is unleashed, and an attempt to absorb so many new insights quickly can become overwhelming. It must be acknowledged that a whole new paradigm is being introduced, and humans are notorious for taking time to adjust to even a small change, let alone a revolution to an entirely new way of viewing their world and ultimately of living. Alvin Toffler was anticipating the shock that the arrival of understanding of the human condition would cause when he wrote in his 1970 book Future Shock, ‘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’ (p.4).

In the case of accessing the explanations through this book and other WTM material, our experience is that you need to be prepared to persevere with re-reading the information. With repeated readings, the concepts do gradually become clearer, the deaf effect is eroded, and when that happens you will realise that the deaf effect is very real. With that crucial realisation, you will be encouraged to be even more patient until eventually you are able to access the full, compassionate, liberating, unevasive, denial-free explanation and understanding of ourselves. You enter a positive feedback loop. Plato was referring to this positive feedback loop when he said ‘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?’

Reference was made earlier to a couple who could not access the information despite repeated reading of a certain page. The couple’s experience may seem to contradict the assertion that re-reading the information helps overcome the deaf effect. However, their focus was too narrow; it is more a case of re-reading whole sections so that there is a chance for the compassionate big picture to gradually emerge and erode the mind’s need for the denial or block-out. The whole truth about humans dignifies them but it is built from many partial truths that on their own appear to condemn humans. For example, a partial truth is that humans were once innocent. On its own this truth condemns humans’ present corrupted state. However, once the reason for humans’ corrupted state begins to become Page 70 of
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apparent, the truth of our past innocent state seems less condemning. You cannot punch an isolated hole in mist or fog, the hole will just close over; to see the entire view all the mist must lift.

Our experience with introductory talks about these ideas provides a good example of how the deaf effect can be eroded. During the early 1990s I regularly gave a standard talk introducing the concepts in my books. While we have moved to presenting the ideas through the Internetas many university and other educational institutions are doingour experience with this introductory talk showed that people needed to attend or listen to it at least three times to start to hear the information. All those who have overcome the deaf effect through listening to the introductory talk attest to the need to hear it a number of times. In fact, it became a point of amusement within the WTM how often people who, having attended a second or third introductory talk, said, ‘That was a much better presentation this time than last time, the explanations and descriptions were so much easier to follow.’ The comment was amusing because the talks were virtually identical. What had dramatically improved was the listener’s ability to ‘hear’ what was being said. Similarly, people who have read Free and Beyond more than once find their understanding improves on each reading.

(Again please note, a helpful and more recent essay which describes the problem of the ‘deaf effect’ and how to overcome it is provided at www.humancondition.com/freedom-essays/the-difficulty-of-reading-freedom.)