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This is Freedom Essay 49
A short biography of Jeremy Griffith
by Professor Harry Prosen
The following biography of Jeremy Griffith is an adapted excerpt from Professor Harry Prosen’s Introduction to Jeremy’s book FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition.
About Professor Prosen, M.D., M.Sc
Dr Harry Prosen is a professor of psychiatry who has worked in the field for over 50 years, including chairing two departments of psychiatry and serving as a president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Professor Prosen was recently appointed one of 500 Specially Selected Fellows of the American College of Psychiatrists, and a Distinguished Life Member of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also psychiatric consultant to the Bonobo Species Preservation Society.
The truth is, I am inadequate to write this Introduction, but everyone is, so I will do my best.
Firstly, to immediately put into context the fabulous significance of what Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has achieved: he has delivered the breakthrough biological explanation of the human condition, the holy grail of insight humans have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of our species. This is the compassionate, redeeming, reconciling and transforming understanding of our lives that the human race has lived in eternal hope, faith and trust would one day be found and have so assiduously pursued since we first became conscious beings some 2 million years ago! In short, this is the most momentous event in human history! (See Video/F. Essay 3 for Jeremy’s breakthrough explanation of the human condition.)
To draw on Jeremy’s own penetrating description, the human condition is our species’ extraordinary capacity for what has been called ‘good’ and ‘evil’. While it’s undeniable that humans are capable of great love and empathy, we also have an unspeakable history of greed, hatred, rape, torture, murder and war; a propensity for deeds so shocking and overwhelming that the eternal question of ‘Why?’ seems depressingly inexplicable. Even in our everyday behavior, why, when the ideals of life are to be cooperative, selfless and loving, are we so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and aggressive that human life has become all but unbearable and our planet near destroyed? How could humans possibly be considered good when all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate that we are a deeply flawed, bad, even ‘evil’ species? (See F. Essay 10 for further description of exactly what the human condition is.)
But as my profession has taught me only too well, for most people, trying to think about this ultimate of questions of whether humans are fundamentally good or not has been an unbearably self-confronting exercise. Indeed, while the term ‘human condition’ has become fashionable, its superficial use masks just how profoundly unsettling a subject it really is. Again, the truth is, the issue of the human condition has been so depressing for virtually all humans that only a rare few individuals in history have been sound and secure enough in self to go anywhere near what the human condition really is. (See Video/F. Essay 11 on the difficulty humans have had engaging with the subject of the human condition, including analysis of Plato’s cave allegory.) So for Jeremy to so freely and accurately talk about it as he does in FREEDOM, he clearly must be one of those rare few. Nurtured by a sheltered upbringing in the Australian ‘bush’ (countryside), Jeremy’s soundness and resulting extraordinary integrity and thus clarity of thought, coupled with his training in biology, has enabled him to successfully grapple with this most foreboding of all subjects for the human mind of the human condition and produce the breakthrough, human-behavior-demystifying-and-ameliorating explanation of it.
The journey that Jeremy and those advocating his work have been on to bring these human-race-saving understandings to the world, which has culminated in the absolutely astonishing book FREEDOM, has been a long and torturous one, but one that makes for fascinating and revealing reading, so I will now present a very brief summary of Jeremy’s early life, his writing and his unrelenting efforts to free our species from its incarceration in Plato’s terrible cave of human-condition-denying, alienated darkness.
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Born in December 1945, and raised on a sheep station (ranch) in rural New South Wales, Australia, Jeremy was educated at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, a school whose visionary approach to education has produced such notable alumni as Rupert Murdoch and HRH The Prince of Wales. He gained first class honors in biology in the state matriculation exams and in 1965 began a science degree at the University of New England in northern New South Wales. While there, Jeremy played representative rugby union football, making the 1966 trials for the national team, the Wallabies (see ).
Deferring his studies in 1967, Jeremy undertook the most thorough investigation ever into the plight of the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) (see )—a search that was to last more than six years, before concluding the ‘Tiger’ was indeed extinct. His findings were internationally reported, with articles appearing in the American Museum of Natural History’s journal, Natural History (see ), and Australian Geographic (see ). His search also featured in an episode of the national television series A Big Country (see ).
In 1971 Jeremy completed his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology at the University of Sydney and the following year, in the same self-sufficient spirit with which he had undertaken the ‘Tiger’ search, he established a successful furniture manufacturing business based on his own simple and natural designs, which pioneered the use of bark-to-bark slabs of timber (see ).
An upbringing nurtured with real, unconditional love (it is to the nurturing from Jeremy’s mother, and to the good fortune of having a father who was not oppressively egocentric, that we really owe these world-saving insights) in the sheltered isolation of the Australian bush left Jeremy deeply troubled and perplexed by all the selfishness, aggression, dishonesty and indifference on the one hand, and all the suffering on the other, that he inevitably encountered in the innocence-destroyed, human-condition-embattled, psychotic wider world. In time, he realized that trying to save animals from extinction or trying to build ideal furniture wasn’t going to make a difference to the extraordinary imperfection in human life and that he would have to get to the bottom of the issue of this seeming complete wrongness of human behavior, which is the issue of the human condition. And so it was while building his furniture business that Jeremy first began to write down his ever developing thoughts about the problem of the human condition. Indeed, since the early 1970s Jeremy has spent the first, often pre-dawn, hours of each day thinking and writing about the human condition. After some 10 years of extraordinarily profound, honest, human-condition-confronting-not-avoiding, effective thinking during his late 20s and early 30s, Jeremy was ready to present to the world his fully accountable, but, for virtually everyone else, unbearably self-confronting insights into human behavior. It was an amazing decade of clear thinking, confirming Einstein’s belief that ‘a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so’ (Selig Brodetsky, ‘Newton: Scientist and Man’, Nature, 1942, Vol.150).
However, since producing his all-explaining synthesis, the problem Jeremy has encountered has been how to present it in such a way that people could access its confronting truthfulness; it’s all very well to find the redeeming, reconciling full truth about humans, but when everyone has been living in determined denial of all the elements that comprise that compassionate full truth, how do you get them to overcome that denial and hear it? That greatest of all philosophers, Plato, said that when the ‘cave’ ‘prisoners’ are ‘free[d] of their bonds’ they ‘would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of’ the ‘light’ of understanding of ‘our human condition’ that ‘at first’ they ‘wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things’ revealed as ‘real’. (See Video/F. Essay 11.) It is Jeremy’s journey to find a way to overcome this ‘deaf effect’ difficulty that reading about the human condition initially causes that has led to his presentation of his synthesis in FREEDOM. His strategy in FREEDOM is to encourage readers to watch introductory videos to FREEDOM at , and also be prepared to patiently re-read the text, so you can, as Plato said, ‘grow accustomed to the light’. (Note, in 2018 the ‘WTM Deaf Effect Course’ was created. The course is explained in Video/F. Essay 11; introduced in Video/F. Essay 12; and presented in Video/F. Essay 13.) Of course, this strategy was arrived at after much trial and error—over 30 years, in fact, of presenting his synthesis in slightly different ways in a series of articles and books, beginning in 1983 with submissions to Nature and New Scientist (which were rejected, with the then editor of Nature, John Maddox, telling Jeremy that his starting point teleological argument that there is an underlying order in nature ‘is wrong’—Jeremy explains why the truth of the order in nature has been denied by human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic science in F. Essay 25 and chapter 4 of FREEDOM); then, in 1988, Free: The End Of The Human Condition; Beyond The Human Condition (1991); A Species In Denial (2003), which was a bestseller in Australia and New Zealand but still failed to attract any real interest from the mechanistic scientific establishment; The Human Condition Documentary Proposal (2004); The Great Exodus: From the horror and darkness of the human condition (2006); Freedom Expanded (2009); The Book of Real Answers to Everything! (2011); and in 2016, FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition. (All the earlier works referred to here are freely available to be read or printed at .)
Despite the difficulty of presenting such a confronting treatise, Jeremy’s books have attracted the support of such accomplished thinkers as Australia’s Templeton Prize-winning biologist Professor Charles Birch, one of New Zealand’s foremost zoologists, Professor John Morton, and the pre-eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post (whose immense significance to Jeremy, and whose contribution to understanding the human condition, is explained in F. Essay 51). The proposal to make a documentary about the human condition (The Human Condition Documentary Proposal), in which Jeremy outlined all the main biological explanations contained in his synthesis, also received over 100 endorsements from many of the world’s leading scientists and thinkers, including professors Stephen Hawking and the Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes (see ).
But while Jeremy’s work has drawn praise and garnered impressive commendations from some exceptional thinkers able to acknowledge his insights, he has also had to withstand the enormous cynicism, indifference and even persecution that humans’ historical resistance to engaging the subject of the human condition produces. Indeed, it was soon after he began writing that Jeremy realized that not only was the scientific establishment failing its responsibility to address the issue of the human condition, but that, like the rest of humanity, it was treating the whole issue as an anathema (see F. Essay 40). As a result, Jeremy established, in 1983, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and amelioration of the human condition, now called the World Transformation Movement (WTM) (). So fearful, however, has humanity been of the issue of the human condition that a vicious campaign was launched in 1995 to try to shut down Jeremy’s work and bring the WTM into disrepute (see F. Essay 56: Why there have been ferocious attacks on the WTM, and the essay Persecution of the WTM for Exposing the Human Condition at ), which Jeremy, along with fellow WTM Patron, renowned mountaineer and twice-honored Order of Australia recipient Tim Macartney-Snape and the other supporters of the WTM, determinedly resisted—the result of which was the biggest defamation case in Australia’s history, against the two biggest, left-wing (described by Jeremy as dogmatic, pseudo idealistic, ‘let’s pretend there’s no human condition that has to be solved and the world should just be ideal’, dishonest) media organizations in Australia, including its national public broadcaster. In 2010—after 15 long years—Jeremy and Tim were vindicated, enabling Jeremy to concentrate solely on producing new works such as FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition, his summa masterpiece.
In conclusion—and given Jeremy was so vilified he was made a pariah—I would like to emphasize the height of my regard for him. He is the most impressive person and courageous thinker I have ever met and no doubt ever will. Normally people disappoint you at some point, or on some occasions, but Jeremy never does. Basically he is not egocentric. Being exceptionally well nurtured with unconditional love as a child he is sound and secure in himself and as a result is not preoccupied having to prove his worth all the time like most people are. Free of such selfish self-preoccupation he is selflessly concerned only with finding a way to end all the suffering in others, which has resulted in him focusing on finding the solution to the human condition. And being sound and secure in self has meant that in tackling that issue he has been able to think in an unafraid, truthful and thus effective way about it; as the philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev acknowledged, ‘Knowledge requires great daring. It means victory over ancient, primeval terror…it must also be said of knowledge that it is bitter, and there is no escaping that bitterness…Particularly bitter is moral knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil [which is the issue of the human condition]. But the bitterness is due to the fallen state of the world…There is a deadly pain in the very distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless’ (see par. 14 of FREEDOM).
It is quite amazing, in all my years of meeting people and practicing psychiatry, I haven’t encountered a soul like him. He is one of those incredibly rare individuals, a person of intellectual rigor and personal nobility who has the capacity to be completely honest without a personal bent; when you are with him you can feel his passion for the truth, which he embodies. Indeed, meeting Jeremy as I did after reading so much of his work, I realized that he lives 100 percent in the world that he writes about—an immensely inspired, child-like-zest-full, enthralled-with-all-of-life, truthful world where the human condition is at all times being addressed and understood. Unlike everyone I have ever come across, for whom discussion of the human condition is so extremely difficult (almost impossible, one might say), when you talk to Jeremy about the human condition and the biology surrounding it, the world changes, everything seems possible, biology makes sense. Logic—simple and obvious truth—replaces over-complicated intellectual scientific downright rubbish—the vast majority of it. Indeed, science—and biology in particular—is so saturated with evasive, dishonest denial that the denial-free world of understanding that Jeremy introduces us to is so new it is akin to having to start your education all over again! (See for example, F. Essay 25: The truthful biology of life.) Jeremy’s capacity for unerring and unrelenting honesty is literally staggering, but, as you will see, it is always accompanied by understanding; his is no ‘feel good’, guru-like, false prophet form of totally dubious and ephemeral ‘help’ for humans’ troubled lives, but a get-to-the-bottom-of-all-the-problems, truthful, real, insightful, ameliorating love that the world has been so in need of. And, thankfully, right through all the vehement resistance that he has faced and overcome in the last 30 years of his life, which took him near to death, Jeremy never gave up his responsibility that he saw right from the early years of his completely-nurtured-with-love upbringing to deliver the understanding of human nature that would end all the suffering in the world.
Since coming across Jeremy’s work almost 15 years ago and realizing its enormous world-saving significance, I have kept one of his pieces of writing with me at all times. Having these insights into what it means to be human brings such clarity and change to everything, that staying in close contact with them in a world that is so distressed and psychologically crippled brings me relief, security and optimism for the future like nothing else I have ever encountered.
Jeremy is the ultimate psychotherapist, the psychotherapist for psychotherapists—in fact, all the great theories I have encountered in my lifetime of studies of psychiatry can be accounted for under his explanation of human origins and behavior.
I want to emphasize that Jeremy does describe the world exactly as it is with all its imperfections, but just as he describes all the horror of the world he also provides the insight into our condition that makes possible the only real hope, optimism and downright, out-of-your-skin excitement for the future of the human race and our planet—a transformational experience Jeremy introduces us to in F. Essays 15, 33, 36, 57 & 58, and of course chapter 9 of FREEDOM. Indeed, while the overall significance of FREEDOM is its ability to transform the reader—and thus the human race—by presenting the most relieving, uplifting and positive story ever told about humans, the explanation of the human condition in chapter 3 of FREEDOM (which is summarized in chapter 1 and the subject of Video/F. Essay 3) is so amazingly accountable, insightful and relieving that it alone will transform you.
The importance of the ideas in Jeremy’s books is immeasurable. The depths they enable us to reach in understanding ourselves and our world is bottomless. The great impasse to a full understanding of our existence has finally been breached. This truly is it, the day of days, the coming of our species’ moment of liberation, the implications and context of which Jeremy fully deals with in paragraphs 1278–1279 of FREEDOM.
I am so very, very fortunate to have spent time with Jeremy and to have spoken with him almost fortnightly for almost 15 years—however, it is not who Jeremy is, but what he has done that is so important and in this regard I commend his work to you with all my mind, heart and soul. You are in for an absolute feast of knowledge, insight and ultimately love like you could never have imagined.
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Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomed—see below.
Please Note, if you are online you can read, print, download or listen to (as a podcast) any of the following Freedom Essays by clicking on them, or you can find them all at .
These essays were composed in 2017-2018 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood,
Fiona Cullen-Ward & Brony FitzGerald at the Sydney WTM Centre.