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This is Freedom Essay 42


Cave paintings evidence the original innocence
and sensitivity of the human race


As has been described at length throughout these essays, and in all of Jeremy Griffith’s work, the overall essential feature of the human journey since we first became conscious some 2 million years ago is that of the accumulation of knowledge at the expense of our innocent all-loving and all-sensitive original instinctive self or soul.

The problem, of course, has been that until this reconciling explanation of the human condition was found that explains why we had to depart from an original cooperative, loving, selfless state of innocence, this fundamental truth was unbearably condemning of our present competitive, aggressive and selfish upset, psychotic and neurotic conscious self, and therefore had to be denied. We couldn’t face the truth until we could explain it. However, with the ‘intellect vs instinct’ explanation of the human condition now found (which is presented in Video/​F. Essay 3), we can acknowledge our innocent past (see F. Essay 21), and appreciate evidence of it, such as the incredibly sensitive cave paintings that are the subject of this F. Essay.


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What follows is an adapted excerpt by Jeremy Griffith from Chapter 8:11C of FREEDOM.


Paintings of a bison, a horse and a rhinoceros from the Chauvet cave

Extraordinarily empathetic renditions of animals in the
Chauvet Cave in southern France, c.30,000 years old


The extreme sensitivity that is particularly apparent in the rock paintings of the Bushmen of southern Africa and Australian Aborigines, and in the cave paintings of early humans in Europe, is especially revealing of how much innocence the human race has lost in relatively recent times. The Chauvet Cave in southern France, for example, contains a wealth of cave drawings that date from around 30,000 years ago that have inspired such descriptions as ‘miraculous’, ‘overwhelming in density, humbling in sophistication, and awe-inspiring in sheer beauty’ (‘The Goddess Bites’; see The drawings (some of which are reproduced in this essay) are three dimensional, even animated, such as the rhinoceros above that is depicted repeatedly throwing his horn forward. Indeed, the bison, mammoth, horses, rhinoceroses, lions, bears and other animals that these early humans so effortlessly drew appear so real it is as if they are alive! You can almost sense what it is like to be those animals; the whole struggle of their lives is revealed before our eyes.


Painting of two rhinos fighting from the Chauvet cave

A drawing of fighting rhinos from the Chauvet Cave


The reason this extraordinary sensitivity has now been lost is because when our mind becomes preoccupied with upset, as it did under the duress of the human condition, it loses the ability to take an interest in anything else. The pain in our brain stops us feeling or seeing or engaging in our surroundings. Plato described our human-condition-afflicted state of alienation or estrangement from the true world that our original instinctive self or soul has complete access to as living in a dark cave where we can only ‘see dimly and appear to be almost blind’ (Plato’s cave allegory is explained in depth in Video/​F. Essay 11). Our brain is distracted from everything else that is happening in the world. The more upset that our mind is preoccupied with, either trying to understand or, if the upset is extreme, constantly trying to block out, the less we can access all the other events and experiences going on around us. So, as the human race became more and more upset, its ability to feel and savour the world around it shrank. So although the humans responsible for the drawings in the Chauvet Cave were not anything like as upset-free/​innocent as humans were 2 million years ago before upset first began to develop in earnest, their ability to draw the animals around them so vividly and empathetically indicates they were much, much more innocent than humans today. Clearly alienation has increased at an extremely rapid rate in the final stages of humanity’s 2-million-year journey through adolescence.


27,000 year old Bushman rock painting of Bushman hunting eland, Kamberg, Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

27,000 year old Bushman rock painting of Bushman hunting eland,
Kamberg, Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa


I might mention that I learnt long ago that to draw the little pictures that are included throughout FREEDOM (all of which can be viewed at, I had to disconnect my conscious mind and just let my instinctive sensitivity express itself, and that if I didn’t do that I simply couldn’t draw at all. For example, the drawing of the three ‘Childmen’ happily embracing (that you can see below left) that I used in ch. 8:4 of FREEDOM to illustrate humanity’s childhood stage was done so quickly I shocked myself because I could hardly believe that such an empathetic drawing could be produced from an almost instant scribble. At that moment I saw just how much sensitivity we humans once had, and how much alienation now exists within us 2-million-years’-embattled humans.


Drawings by Jeremy Griffith of happy innocent childmen and a mother and child

A sample of Jeremy’s drawings


Yes, the extraordinary empathy and accuracy of the paintings of animals in the rock and cave paintings shown above are similarly incredibly indicative of the amount of sensitivity we humans once had and have since lost; we truly are an embattled species now, so worn out, so brutalised. How extremely sensitive must early humans have been! Sir Laurens van der Post wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote about the relatively innocent Bushmen that ‘He and his needs were committed to the nature of Africa and the swing of its wide seasons as a fish to the sea. He and they all participated so deeply of one another’s being that the experience could almost be called mystical. For instance, he seemed to know what it actually felt like to be an elephant, a lion, an antelope, a steenbuck, a lizard, a striped mouse, mantis, baobab tree’ (The Lost World of the Kalahari, 1958, p.21 of 253). Plato made a similar observation when, as is mentioned in F. Essay 53 and paragraph 174 of FREEDOM, he described our innocent ancestors as ‘having…​the power of holding intercourse with brute creation [being able to relate to other animals]. (Sir Laurens’ profound appreciation of the Bushmen, and his contribution to understanding the human condition, is explained in F. Essay 51.)


Drawings of lions in the Chauvet Cave

Drawings of lions in the Chauvet Cave


Painting of a bison with huge chest from the Chauvet Cave

A drawing of a bison in the Chauvet Cave


The pictures included to this point offer some indication then of how, when all the upset in humans heals, the world is going to open up for us humans. Our long repressed all-loving and all-sensitive original instinctive self or soul is going to come back to the surface. We are going to be able to feel everything around us. We are going to have so much kindness and love and empathy for each other and our fellow creatures because we will, once again, be able to feel everything they are experiencing, including just how embattled the lives of animals are; they suffer enormously from the ‘animal condition’, from the unrelenting need to compete for food, shelter, space and a mate. While, through the nurturing, love-indoctrination process, our ape ancestors were able to break free from the tyranny of genes having to ensure their own reproduction, other animals remain stuck in a continuous cycle of competition (read about the love-indoctrination process in F. Essay 21). Unlike humans (and bonobos, who are in the midst of developing love-indoctrination), other animals can’t develop full unconditionally selfless cooperative instincts (this limitation is explained in F. Essay 25: The truthful biology of life). And so above all else, it is this empathy with, this feeling for, the relatively short, brutish, forever-having-to-fight-for-your-chance-to-reproduce lives of animals that those who made these drawings have so sensitively expressed. To use Sir Laurens’ words, they ‘seemed to know what it actually felt like to be’ a bison, horse or rhinoceros. You can, as described, sense the whole internal struggle of the animals’ lives in these drawings (of the horse, rhinoceroses and the bison included earlier, and the bison above). Their huge chests heave with their brutal and tough battle to survive and reproducethey are struggling so much to endure their lot it is as if they have asthma! Yes, now that humans can get over the terrible agony of our ‘human condition’, we will again be able to empathise with the terrible agony of the ‘animal condition’. It’s not very nice to have to belt the living daylights out of others to ensure your genes reproduce, let alone other members of your own speciesin fact, your cousins, uncles and even your own father! No, it is not at all easy being a non-human animal, and that is an extreme understatement, just as it has not been at all easy being an upset human, which is, of course, another extreme understatement!


17,300 year old cave painting of a wounded bison, a dead man with a broken spear beside him, a bird and what appears to be a rhinoceros in Lascaux, France.

17,300 year old cave painting of a wounded bison, a dead man with a broken spear beside him,
a bird and what appears to be a rhinoceros in Lascaux, France. While there are many paintings
of animals in the Lascaux caverns there is only this one image of a human.


Again, while the Paleolithic artists clearly weren’t as alienated as humans are today, they were still much, much more alienated than humans originally were. I think this is revealed by the fact that these cave artists almost completely avoided depicting humans. For instance, in the entire Chauvet Cave complex there is only one representation of a human, and even that is limited to a drawing of only the lower half of a woman’s torso; similarly, amongst the hundreds of paintings in the Lascaux caverns, there is only one image of a human (see above). On the few occasions when these cave artists tried to depict humans they almost invariably ended up drawing stick figures. The human face, in particular, which you would think would be the most interesting and relevant of subjects for these artists to depict, seems to have been totally beyond their ability. It seems clear that the facial expressions of humans were by then so alienated, so devoid of the innocence that they must have once exhibited, that our instinctive self or soul couldn’t relate to it; it couldn’t, and perhaps didn’t want to, draw us. What did the great psychiatrist R.D. Laing say about our present alienated state?‘between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete’ (read more about R.D. Laing in F. Essay 48). The artist Francis Bacon revealed just how corrupted and alienated upset humans really are in his honest painting of the psychologically-contorted-smudged-human-condition-afflicted-face that is included after paragraph 124 of FREEDOM and provided below. Indeed, the weird, kidney-shaped blob for the human face that the Aboriginal artist drew in the rock painting shown below, from Ubirr in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia, is very Bacon-like! Revealingly, when I was looking at this painting at Ubirr, which is thought to be some 2,000 years old, I asked a guide, who was accompanying a tour group, whether she thought the reason the paintings of wildlife were so accurate while the paintings of the humans were so pathetic was because we are now too alienated for our soul to be able to empathise with us, the guide, and everyone else, reacted with a real shudder and audible choking noise. What I had said was just too close to the truth.


Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for self-portrait’

Self-portrait by Francis Bacon

Jeremy Griffith’s photo of spear thrower and tortoise at Ubirr

©2010 Fedmex Pty Ltd

Ubirr rock painting of a human figure in the Kakadu
National Park, Northern Territory of Australia


It is truly an insight into how sensitive and loving humans once were that our instinctive self or soul can’t relate to the way we are now. Consider the tenderness in the expression on the face of the Madonna in the drawing of the Madonna and child that was included to the right of the three ‘Childmen’ earlier. My soul drew thatI, my embattled conscious self, had nothing to do with it. What did the great Spanish artist Pablo Picasso famously say about his ability to paint: ‘It’s taken me a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.’ Truly, as the poet William Wordsworth wrote, ‘trailing clouds of glory do we come, From God [the integrated, loving, all-sensitive state], who is our home’ (read about Wordsworth’s all-revealing poem in F. Essay 31). And people say humans have brutish, aggressive instincts! No, it’s the world we humans currently inhabit that is mad. It is just so traumatised with psychological upset that it hasn’t been able to deal with the fact that it is deeply, deeply dishonest; horrifically alienated. Turn on the television and find any wildlife documentary and I bet it will show pictures of crocodiles on the Mara River tearing wildebeest apart, or white sharks devouring seals, or snakes striking at the camera lens, or some equally ‘brutal’ interaction. All the beauty in nature has been reduced to representations of butchery and horror because we humans have become so upset that all we can cope with are pictures of animals ‘being’ as aggressive as we areeverything else in nature is far too confronting. I have been to natural Africa and seen its spectacle, and the sheer magic of it surpasses all imaginings; it is just achingly beautiful, the most sacred realm on Earth‘sublime amnesia’ are the only words I can think of to describe it and they don’t even make sense. In 1992 when Annie and I visited Africa I particularly remember one experience there when we were fortunate enough to join a small reconnaissance party that was being sent in on foot into the northern end of the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, which was an area that had been shut off from the public for many years due to the prevalence of dangerously-armed poachers from Somalia. We were sitting hidden downwind amongst the trees on the banks of the Tiva sand river there and saw dust rise above the tree line in the shimmering midday heat and then watched as a vast herd of black Cape buffalo, led by an old crooked horn cow, quietly materialised from the bush, cautiously coming down to drink at pools in the river bed. It really felt like we were spies in heaven. It was all just unbelievable. Earth at its primal, spiritual, authentic, pristine, soulful, magical very best. I think God was there beside us sitting on his heels like a little Bushman smiling at all that he had created. That visit to the Tiva river remains the highlight of my life. With our sophisticated communication technology, why oh why don’t we have documentaries sensitively immersing us in all of that. It is so sad. We haven’t been able to cope with any truth. Our world has shrunk to the size of a pea. All the beauty and magic that is out there escapes us, we don’t see it; worse, we don’t want to see it. No wonder our soul can’t relate to us and just draws stick figures with weird blobs for faces.


Jeremy Griffith and his partner Annie Williams in Samburu National Park in Kenya, 1992.

Jeremy and Annie in Africa in 1992


But as we always emphasise, while it is true that we humans have been torturously alienated from all the natural sensitivity and beauty of our soul’s world, this is not the full story about humans. As has been stressed throughout these essays, and across all of my work, the greater truth is that humans have also been the most courageous, heroic, successful and meaningful creatures to ever exist on Earth. We are not the awful beings we appeared to be; rather, given the magnificence of our fully conscious mind, nature’s greatest invention, and all the injustice we humans have had to endure for some 2 million years, we fully deserve to be considered divine beings!


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Watch Jeremy Griffith present the breakthrough redeeming explanation of the human condition in Video/​F. Essay 3, or read chapter 1 of FREEDOM. You can also read more about the development of art and other cultural forms of expression under the duress of the human condition in chapter 8:11C.


Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomedsee below.




These essays were created in 2017-2019 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood, Fiona
Cullen-Ward, Brony FitzGerald & Lee Jones of the Sydney WTM Centre. All filming and
editing of the videos was carried out by Sydney WTM members James Press & Tess Watson
during 2017-2019. Other members of the Sydney WTM Centre are responsible for the
distribution and marketing of the videos/​essays, and for providing subscriber support.



Please note, we encourage constructive discussion about this information and so reserve the right to moderate or decline posts that we feel are not relevant or inappropriate. In particular, with the subject of the human condition being so confronting, malice can easily occur, and where comments are deemed to be motivated not by objectivity but by malice, they will be declined. It has to be appreciated that the possibility of malice toward this subject matter is very real, and we have a responsibility to manage that as best we can.

  • Susy on July 2, 2017 at 10:49 am

    This email is out of this world! When I first read Chapter 8:11C of Freedom (which this is an adaption of as it says) I thought I would melt in all the beauty and sensitivity that it revealed. This information is just too good to be true. I am a resigned, embattled human with two million years of the human condition in my blood and it never ceases to amaze me how much this information brings me back to life more and more every day. This really is amazing to be learning about our extremely innocent past with Jeremy Griffith’s explanation of these Paleolithic artists, and indeed Jeremy’s own art as is mentioned above (visiting his art page is a real treat for the soul! The images from the Chauvet cave
    are simply breathtaking (although I know I wouldn’t have even glanced twice at them without this explanation, my ‘blind and deaf effect’!) I love thinking about the future when we can, for instance emerse ourselves in the animal condition once more. What is coming back to this planet is truly heaven on Earth. All we have to do is support this information and all our dreams will come true!

  • Alec on July 3, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    This is rather more beautiful that words can say. How incredible to have knowledge that allows us to appreciate the depth of sensitivity in ancient art. It makes the experience of gazing at these heaving beasts a deeply emotional one, especially after reading Jeremy’s extraordinarily sensitive description of the suffering of the animal condition. It is obvious that this is written by a man whose soul is still intact.

  • Bella on July 5, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Having read the comments below I wholeheartedly agree with them and won’t try and say it in my own words because they’ve said it beautifully.
    I recently visited Thailand and was so excited to spend a day with elephants in a nature park who were relatively free, and see their immense intelligence, sensitivity and interaction with each other. A few days later I felt so terribly upset seeing the reality most of these animals are subject to now with the human condition at it’s full atrocity of upset and I knew the only thing I can do worthwhile is to support these understandings because unless we have compassion and understanding for ourselves and our unloving alienated state nothing is going to change for these majestic animals and any animals on earth, the environment, or for ourselves. I’ve had the benefit of having this information for a long time…it’s been easy for me at times to block out any unwanted thoughts and conveniently forget things I don’t want to see but when you go overseas to a third world country and see the reality of what 99 percent of the world are dealing with, their living conditions and the state of poverty, cruelty to people, children and animals it doesn’t bear thinking about for long but this time it gave me to conviction to really support this information in my mind and know that it really has the answers to the world’s problems and is the ONLY macro solution to every micro problem. It’s so relieving that this information will stop the suffering of the planet and allow us all to feel and love again and see the incredible beauty around us. As I mentioned I’ve had the relieving, therapy of these understandings for a long time and have been complacent. Seeing the animal condition and the human condition on top of the animal condition in a place like Asia brought the importance of these truths in this information home.

  • Anna on December 3, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Great explanation. The significance of cave paintings has always evaded me, but the context in this email makes complete sense.
    The parallels with Bacon’s work are intriguing.

  • Prue Wb on December 3, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve never read anything like this essay. This essay must be one of the most beautiful documents on earth.
    In a world where sensitivity, soul, innocence and depth of feeling is all but lost, this essay shows how it did exist, and still exists in the author, and that now with the human condition solved, the extraordinary empathy and sensitivity of our ancestors can come flooding back through in the future.

    It makes so much sense that “the more upset that our mind is preoccupied with, either trying to understand or, if the upset is extreme, constantly trying to block out, the less we can access all the other events and experiences going on around us”.
    I feel that upset and alienation in myself but I’m not worried, as I can now use this information and understand there has been a good reason why we have lost all that sensitivity and I know that it is ok.

    I am so grateful for this explanation and essays like this that do allow me to appreciate the sheer wonder of the empathy in the drawing of the Lions above; and in Jeremy Griffith’s words about Africa above, “Earth at its primal, spiritual, authentic, pristine, soulful, magical very best. I think God was there beside us sitting on his heels like a little Bushman smiling at all that he had created”. 

    This information deserves all our support and in turn opens our eyes and our minds to everything.

  • Liam on January 21, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Totally agree with the other comments below. Another beautiful and fascinating essay! Revelation on revelation. A point made early in this essay that really struck me, was that now we can acknowledge our innocent past we can appreciate evidence of it like these incredibly sensitive cave paintings. That’s my experience: the WTM information allows me to appreciate something like these beautiful and revealing cave paintings and moreover the psychology of our forebears who created them. That’s the point, now the Human Condition is explained by WTM we get to “appreciate” so many things in our world that we otherwise would be totally deaf and blind too, think 50 foot of solid concrete. A couple of other sentences that really struck a chord were “The pain in our brain stops us feeling or seeing or engaging in our surroundings…as the human race became more and more upset, its ability to feel and savour the world around it shrank”. I totally relate to this in my resigned existence and to the relief and distraction of crocodiles ambushing wildebeest, for example, but these truths are the springboard to force home the good news of WTM work. The logic that now the Human Condition is solved and once upset is healed in due course the world is going to open up for us humans. Future generations are going to get to “feel and savour the world”. That is a cause for genuine joy and optimism and just another reason to support the WTM.

  • John tembo on February 17, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Since 1992 Jeremy and àñnie was in Africa in which country ? And then when u moved one country to another u lean a lots of thing thank very interesting book I have enjoyed

    • nomad on February 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      They visited Tsavo East National Park in Kenya according to the essay.

  • Manuel Paparelli on May 19, 2018 at 3:25 am

    Beautiful , é un’articolo molto bello!

  • Pierre C. Carbonneau on November 28, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I think it’s fascinating to see how ancient men painted the animals they were chasing! I bought a « hors-série » number of « Le nouvel observateur » a few years ago that was explaining « 30 000 years of history : the man and the animal » which was a fascinating group of articles by specialists on that topic!

  • Kevin Gaudette on January 15, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    I met Laurens van der Post back in 1975, when he gave a presentation at the San Antonio, Tx. Jung Society. I sat in the front and,while he was talking, I unrolled for his eyes, a primitive/archetypal/collective unconscious style drawing of a Madonna-like woman, drawn by a young Mexican friend of mine. In 1968-70, as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, I lived in a simple village in Sa. Leone.
    I am pleasantly surprised/impressed by this great project.It seems to share Morphic Resonance with the work of Rupert Sheldrake/Terence McKenna/Steve Cutts. Here is a relevant mash-up video I shot/edited.
    1. Promote the new. Or…”increase the perceived value
    of the new idea.” This is the principal work of the
    Change Agents, but they certainly depend upon the work
    of the Innovators, who make a ‘cool’ product initially.

    2. Critique the old. Or…”decrease the perceived value
    of the status quo by attacking it, either directly or
    subtly, in short, making the old way of doing things
    seem uncool. This is generally the work of the
    Iconoclasts, though Change Agents also help.

    3. Facilitate the switch. “This is the most important
    and the least obvious strategy for making change happen.
    It is also where many change efforts fail, because they
    forget to reduce the perceived cost of making the
    Believing Cassandra
    To Facilitate the Switch–one method can/should be using you great wealth of multi-media materials
    for the global English-learners

    • Matt on January 17, 2019 at 7:54 am

      It is important for me and perhaps others on this forum to appreciate that there is absolutely no pseudo-science involved in Griffith’s treatise, and in that respect it bears no comparison to writers such as Rupert Sheldrake or Terence McKenna. Essay 21 about how humans overcame the dominance heirachy that exists in most primate species, and gained our amazingly sensitive cooperative instincts, was something that occurred millions of years ago through the evolutionary process of what Griffith calls ‘love-indoctrination’. This is all rational accountable science and is worlds away from that video. This passage in Freedom para 1180 is important because it’s clear that only rational understanding of the human condition can fix up ourselves and our world, ‘we needed brain food not brain anaesthetic; we needed knowledge—specifically the dignifying, uplifting, healing, ameliorating, relieving, peace-bringing understanding of the human condition. Anything else was an abrogation of the fundamental responsibility that came with our greatest capacity and nature’s greatest invention: our species’ fully conscious, thinking, self-managing, self-adjusting mind.’

  • Juan Ubiera on March 20, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I finaly start getting and making sense from the writting

  • Augustin on January 3, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    This article is loaded with facts and conveys undeniable truth. Great

  • Phil on May 2, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Much appreciated