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Please note, links to all the Freedom Essays are included at the end of this essay. Open any essay to read, print, download, share or listen to it (as a podcast).

 

 

This is Freedom Essay 10

 

What exactly is the human condition?

 

By Jeremy Griffith, 2018

 

The human condition is essentially the riddle of why humans are competitive and aggressive when the ideals of life are to be cooperative and loving. However, it needs to be emphasised that the deeper meaning of the human condition is more elusive. Indeed, the human condition has been such an unbearable issue for humans to think about and confront that many people now have very little idea of what the human condition actually is, thinking it refers NOT to the reality of our species’ agonisingly troubled psychology, but to the state of widespread poverty and physical hardship in human life, or to problems such as human inequality. But these problems are only manifestations and aspects of the human condition. The truth is, the human condition is a much more profound and serious issue that goes to the very heart of who we all are. Watch the explanation of what exactly the human condition is here:

 

 

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This video also appears as Video 10 in the Introductory Series of videos at the top of our homepage at www.humancondition.com.

 

The Transcript of this video

 

The human condition is essentially the riddle of why humans are competitive and aggressive when the ideals of life are to be cooperative and loving. However, it needs to be emphasised that the deeper meaning of the human condition is more elusive. Indeed, the human condition has been such an unbearable issue for humans to think about and confront that many people now have very little idea of what the human condition actually is, thinking it refers NOT to the reality of our species’ agonisingly troubled psychology, but to the state of widespread poverty and physical hardship in human life, or to problems such as human inequality. But these problems are only manifestations and aspects of the human condition. The truth is, the human condition is a much more profound and serious issue that goes to the very heart of who we all are.

 

A summary of what has been explained so far in this series reveals what the human condition really is and also how it is solved

A quick summary of what has been explained so far in this series will reveal what the human condition really isand show how it is solved.

In the first video/​essay of this series I briefly introduced the overall situation that this video 10, and the next video 11, deal withwhich is that while the all-relieving explanation of the human condition has finally been found, virtually everyone has been living in such fear of the human condition they will find they can’t access that wonderful life-transforming and world-saving explanation. But I then explained that there is a way to overcome this ‘deaf effect’ impassewhich is that with patient perseverance the reassuring logic of the explanation will start to ease your subconscious fear of the subject, and before long you will find you can actually take in or ‘hear’ what is being said, and by so doing access the fabulous transforming benefits of being able to understand the human condition.

In the second video/​essay of this series I explained that while everyone uses the excuse that our competitive and aggressive behaviour is due to us having savage animal instincts, which are driven by the need to reproduce our genes, really this is just a convenient excuse while we searched for the real reason for our divisive nature. After all, words used to describe human behaviour such as egocentric, arrogant, inspired, depressed, deluded, pessimistic, optimistic, hateful, cynical, immoral, brilliant, guilt-ridden, evil, psychotic or neurotic, all recognise the involvement of OUR species’ fully conscious thinking mind. They demonstrate that there is a psychological dimension to our behaviour; that we don’t suffer from a genetic-opportunism-driven ‘animal condition’, but the psychologically troubled HUMAN CONDITION. Also, we humans have cooperative and loving moral instincts, the voice or expression of which we call our consciencethe opposite of competitive and aggressive instincts. As Charles Darwin said, ‘The moral sense perhaps affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals’ (The Descent of Man, 1871, ch.4). So saying our behaviour results from having competitive and aggressive instincts like other animals is simply not true; as I say, it’s just a convenient excuse while we waited for the psychosis-acknowledging-and-solving, real explanation of our divisive nature.

And in the third video/​essay of this series I presented that psychosis-acknowledging-and-solving, fully accountable real explanation of our divisive competitive and aggressive human conditionwhich is that when our fully conscious mind emerged our hardwired ignorant, dictatorial instincts unjustly condemned its search for knowledge, unavoidably causing the retaliatory and defensive angry, egocentric and alienated state of the human condition to emerge. Yes, while we couldn’t defend ourselves with understanding all we could do was angrily defy the criticism, egocentrically try to prove we didn’t deserve it by winning as much power, fame, fortune and glory as we could, and block the criticism out of our mind. We became sufferers of the psychologically upset angry, egocentric and alienated human condition.

Then, in the fourth video/​essay of this series I provided evidence from many great thinkers that this ‘instinct vs intellect’ explanation of the human condition is the real reason for our divisive conditionsuch thinkers included Moses, Hesiod and Plato from ancient times, and Marais, van der Post, Rousseau, Berdyaev, Neumann, MacLean and Koestler from contemporary times.

Most significantly in terms of understanding what the human condition really is, what I emphasised in that fourth video/essay is just how ashamed and guilt-ridden our conscious thinking self has been for having corrupted our wonderfully cooperative and loving, Edenic, moral instinctive self or soul. I said that to fully appreciate the agony of our human condition we need to immerse ourselves in the absolute horror of our predicament. Since we did once live cooperatively and lovingly, as the great thinkers recognised we did (F. Essay 21 explains how our distant ape ancestors came to live in a cooperative and loving state), then how appalled by our corrupted state have we beenbecause the question screaming out to be answered is, “Why on Earth would we have been so seemingly stupid to have departed from such a wonderfully gentle and peaceful way of living and become brutally aggressive warmongers, egomaniacal competitors and psychotic and neurotic mad people? How were we to explain our species’ so-called ‘fall from grace’? Why did we corrupt our original all-loving and all-sensitive moral instinctive self or soul? Why did we destroy paradise, turn utopia into dystopia!? That has been our terrible predicament or condition: how on Earth could we explain and justify that seeming act of madness; we surely must be evil monsters?!

I then said that trying to live with the implication that we are despicable, evil, worthless, utopia-destroying monsters has to have been absolutely unbearableand to cope with that diabolical situation we had no choice but to adopt the patently dishonest savage instincts excuse while we waited for the real explanation to be found. We deluded ourselves that other animals constantly compete and fight with each other in an effort to make sure they reproduce their genes, and that’s what our forebears did, and so that is where our brutal competitive and aggressive nature comes from, which we‘we’ being our conscious selfsupposedly have to spend our whole lives trying to control. This is all a reverse-of-the-truth lie, because it’s our instincts that are loving and seemingly good not aggressive and seemingly bad, and it’s our conscious mind that has been the corrupting seemingly bad influence, not the controlling seemingly good influence. What a get-out-of-jail-free-card, but what a lie! But, as I said, until science revealed the difference between instinctive orientations and conscious understandings that have finally allowed us to explain the real reason for our competitive and aggressive behaviour, we had no ability to explain ourselves and therefore no choice but to deny that we have a cooperative and loving heritage and instead believe the lie that our distant ape ancestors were brutally aggressive savages. And of course, we also had no choice but to live a retaliatory and defensive angry, egocentric and alienated existence.

In the fifth video/​essay of this series Tony Gowing then described how now that we have found the real defence for our competitive and aggressive behaviour all the old artificial ways of defending ourselves are obsoleted. We no longer have to live a defensive and retaliatory egocentric and aggressive existence, or live a dishonest, alienating life of denying truth. Every human can now be transformed from a horrible human-condition-stricken existence to a fabulous human-condition-free life. As Tony said, “We don’t have to be ashamed. We don’t have to shake our fists at the heavens anymore and prove to everyone and everything that they have been wrong about us. First-principle science has proven that we are worthwhile; that we are gloriously heroic beings. It had to be the way it’s beenthere was no other waybut it’s all over now. The relief of finally being able to understand floods through our whole being; the anger and frustration dissipates; all the bullshit, falseness and lies end. We can finally love ourselves and participate in the world instead of constantly fighting it. No longer preoccupied with proving our self-worth, we will finally have the room in ourselves to properly help others; to selflessly participate in stopping the suffering everywhere we look.”

Tony is absolutely right; until we found the real explanation for the human condition the only way we could deal with our immense insecurity about our worthiness was by pursuing the artificial, materialistic forms of reinforcement of seeking power, fame, fortune and glory, BUT now that we have found the real defence for ourselves all those artificial forms of reinforcement are obsoleted, no longer necessaryand the whole human race is transformed! Redemption and rehabilitation comes to humankind!

I might mention that the Millennial generation is the product of so much psychological exhaustion from humanity’s now 2-million-year-long heroic but immensely upsetting search for understanding (ultimately for understanding of the human condition) that a great many of them are voting to just dogmatically impose a socialistic cooperative and loving world as the only solution they have to try to counter all the upset in themselves and in the world. But dogma is the opposite of knowledge, which means that dogma for conscious thinking humans cannot work, and in fact it never has worked. However, as has just been explained, now that the search for knowledge has finally found that ultimate knowledge of understanding of the human condition, the whole competitive and aggressive way of living is ACTUALLY obsoleted now, bringing about the transformed world Millennials so desperately desire. So, while their extreme psychosis makes it almost impossible for them to read all this confronting analysis of the human condition, Millennials are the generation who will rejoice the most that this fabulous breakthrough has occurred. (I talk much more about the difficulty of reading about the human condition in the next Video/​F. Essay 11, and about the particular difficulty Millennials have with this information in F. Essay 55.)

 

Our immense guilt and insecurity about our fundamental worth and goodness has been driving our behaviour

In terms of revealing what the human condition really is, the key points in the summary I have just given are: “That has been our terrible predicament: how on Earth could we explain and justify that seeming act of madness [of destroying the cooperative and loving world of our instinctive soul]; we surely must be evil monsters?!”, and “Until science revealed the difference between instinctive orientations and conscious understandings…​we had no ability to explain ourselves”, which left us “no choice but to believe in the savage instincts excuse and live a retaliatory and defensive angry, egocentric and alienated existence”.

Yes, the psychological impact of not being able to explain and understand WHY the human race became a ‘fallen’, corrupted, brutally competitive, aggressive and selfish species has been colossal. In fact, most of human behaviour now is driven by, and most of our personalities are a direct result of, our inability to understand and know whether we are evil monsters or not. That IS the absolute bottom-line truth about our livesthat virtually all our behaviour has been based upon an immense uncertainty and insecurity about our fundamental goodness, worth and meaningfulness. As the explanation of the human condition in the third video/​essay of this series finally explains, trying to keep at bay the dark shadow of our horrifically corrupted, guilt-stricken condition by constantly seeking validation of ourselves, and constantly blocking out and, if necessary, attacking any criticism of our sense of goodness, worth and meaning, is why we are an immensely egocentric, alienated and angry species!

The reality IS that we humans have been SO insecure we have spent our whole lives propping up our sense of worthiness, resisting any implication that we aren’t good people. Indeed, our insecurity about our worthiness or otherwise has so preoccupied our lives that we have almost completely lost access to the all-sensitive and all-loving instinctive soul within us. Our original instinctive self or soul has died away because of our preoccupation with trying to validate ourselves, establish that we are good and not bad. In fact, as has been emphasised, we actively repressed the memory of our species’ innocent time in the ‘Garden of Eden’ because that memory only compounded our sense of insecurity, guilt and damnation. And, not only have we repressed the memory of our species’ time in innocence, we also repressed the whole unbearably depressing issue of the human condition itself. We have had no desire at all to be reminded of our species’ past time in innocence and the unbearable issue it raised of our horrifically corrupted human condition‘Why go on such a suicidally depressing guilt trip?!’

 

Man running from shadow
Carl Jung

Carl Jung (1875–1961)

 

So yes, the psychoanalyst Carl Jung wasn’t exaggerating at all when he wrote that ‘When it [our shadow, which is the brutally competitive and aggressive darker aspects of our corrupted condition] appears…​it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil’ (Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self, 1959; tr. R. Hull, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9/​2, p.10). The ‘face of absolute evil’ HAS BEEN the ‘shattering’ possibility that we humans really are just a cancerous blight on this planetand to cope with that possibility, our only way to survive was to block out the whole unbearable issue of our corrupted, soul-destroyed, Garden-of-Eden-devastating human condition!

 

Resignation

Yes, the truth absolutely is that the distress of our condition has been SO great that we humans not only had to repress the memory of our species’ innocent past, we learnt to repress the whole ‘shattering’ issue of our corrupted, ‘fallen’, seemingly ‘evil’ condition. And since we humans aren’t born denying the issue of the human condition, we had to learn to do thata torturous education that occurred during the early years of adolescence when, at around the age of 12, we first started thinking deeply about the seeming wrongness of human behaviour, including our own. The inability to explain and understand the human condition meant that the more we thought about the subject the more depressed our thinking became. In the end, when we reached the age of around 14, our thinking typically became so suicidally depressed that we realised we had no choice but to resign ourselves to blocking out from our mind the whole unbearable issue of our seemingly horribly flawed condition.

 

Collage of 3 images depicting teenage depression

 

Collage of 3 images depicting teenage depression

 

Collage of 3 images depicting teenage depression

 

This agonising process of Resignation to living in denial of the issue of the human condition that virtually every human had to go through while there was no truthful understanding of the human condition is described in some detail in F. Essay 30. While resigned adults living in denial of the human condition typically blame the ‘teen angst’ that adolescents experience on the hormonal upheaval of puberty, the so-called ‘puberty blues’, the real reason for their distress is that they are thinking truthfully about the human condition, including its manifestations in themselves. The picture amongst the ones I’m showing (all of which we found on the internet) that has an image of a ferocious wolf and the words ‘It’s not a phase Mom! This is who I really am!’ is particularly revealing of the agony of experiencing the human condition within. And, as I have emphasised, since there has been no truthful understanding of the human condition until now and so no way to alleviate the confusion, guilt and shame they were experiencing, adolescents eventually had no choice but to resign themselves to blocking out the subject from their minds, at which point they joined the adult world that, in truth, has been preoccupied avoiding the issue of the human condition in virtually everything they did. Such has been the extent of our fear of the human condition!

Basically, growing up under the duress of the unexplained human condition meant living an extremely superficial, escape-the-issue-of-the-human-condition-at-all-costs existence; just leave the whole unbearably depressing subject completely alone and just get on with trying to manage the symptoms of itall the aggression and hatred and wars and unhappiness and suffering and devastationas best we could!

This practice of blocking out of our mind or denying the issue of the human condition is the reason why there is so little awareness now amongst resigned adults of what the human condition really is. They say, ‘Oh no, I know there are all these hideous problems out there in the world. I’ve been talking about them for years.’ But the human condition is not ‘out there’, it’s within us, it’s been underlying all our thoughts, action and behaviour, and the truth is that since resigning some time in your teens you have spent your every waking moment since working out and perfecting how to avoid it, how to work around it, and even try to make it appear as though you’re unaffected by it. Everyone smiles and jokes, and puts on incredibly brave faces, but underneath it all it has always been there.

 

The human condition has been the real elephant in our living rooms

 

Drawing by Jeremy Griffith of an elephant in a room

 

Hopefully, after what has now been explained about the human condition, resigned adults can see that they have so blocked out the issue of the human condition that it is the real ‘elephant in our living rooms’ that everyone has long recognised existed but could never allow their minds to actually identify. Even though the issue of the human condition is the one great outstanding and all-important issue that had to be addressed and solved, it is the one great issue virtually all adults have pretended doesn’t even exist. As the great psychoanalyst R.D. Laing has written, the ‘desperately urgently required project for our time[is] to explore the inner space and time of consciousness [explore what our conscious mind really thinks about]…​[yet] We are so out of touch with this realm [living in such fearful 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’! (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.105 of 156; also, see more of this quote from Laing in F. Essay 48).

The extreme fear that resigned adults have of ‘explor[ing] such a lost realm’, even though it has now finally been explained and rendered safe to look at, is the subject of my presentation in the next Video/​F. Essay 11, which is titled The difficulty of reading about the human conditionwhich Plato predictedand the solution. Basically, resigned adults’ fear of the human condition has been so great that as soon as discussion of the human condition begins, their minds become subconsciously alert to the fact they are being taken into what has been a completely off-limits realm and consequently starts blocking out what is being said. Their mind finds it difficult taking in or ‘hearing’ what is being said; it suffers from a ‘DEAF EFFECT’ to what is being presented. Obviously this problem of the ‘deaf effect’ blocking access to this life-transforming and world-saving understanding of the human condition is of critical concern, which means the solution to it that is provided in Video/​F. Essay 11 is critically important. As I mentioned earlier, Millennials particularly suffer from this problem of the ‘deaf effect’, which does mean it is up to the pre-Millennial generations to discover and initiate support for this breakthrough, all-important understanding of the human condition.

 

The world-changing and world-saving relief of having finally solved the human condition

So it should be very clear now why finding understanding of the human condition has been described as the holy grail of the whole human journey of conscious thought and enquiry! ONLY that understanding could end the immense underlying guilt and insecurity that’s been causing us to behave in such a defensive angry, competitive, selfish, destructive, insensitive and cruel way. While the renowned Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson has presented the most dishonest of all savage-instinct-based excuses for the human condition in the form of his Multilevel Selection theory, which I explain and talk at length about in Video/​F. Essay 14, Wilson did speak the truth when he wrote that ‘There is no grail more elusive or precious in the life of the mind than the key to understanding the human condition’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, 2012, p.1). Even though we have practised living in denial of the issue of the human condition, finding understanding of it HAS BEEN ‘the key’ to a psychologically relieved world for humans. As the saying goes, ‘The truth will set you free’ (Bible, John 8:32), and it finally, finally has. Yes, Carl Jung was also forever pointing out that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he recognised that only the redeeming understanding of our dark, human-condition-stricken, upset state could free us from that terrible condition.

So, this is all why the explanation of our psychologically troubled human condition that I presented in the third video is so incredibly precious and important. When Professor Harry Prosen wrote in his Introduction to my book FREEDOM that ‘I have no doubt this biological explanation of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race’, he was recognising that our species’ transformation from a state of horrific psychological insecurity depended on finding understanding of the human condition. Finding understanding of the human condition, which science has finally made possible by discovering the difference in the way genes and nerves work, is the ‘Understandascope’ that the great Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig was brilliantly intimating we desperately needed in this cartoon.

 

Cartoon by Michael Leunig that appeared in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper on 17 Mar. 1984

Cartoon by Michael Leunig, Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, 17 Mar. 1984

 

Yes, what an enormous relief it is that we can, at long last, explain and understand that we humans are not, in fact, monsters but the glorious HEROES OF THE STORY OF LIFE ON EARTH! Our ability to finally understand why we destroyed our original Edenic state of cooperative and loving paradise enables the ‘psychological rehabilitation’ that allows us to return to it. Again, as I mentioned at the end of the fourth video/​essay, the poet T.S. Eliot perfectly described this journey from ignorant innocence to enlightened understanding when he wrote, ‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’ (Little Gidding, 1942).

 

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Please note that in the video of this presentation I didn’t include the next two sections about Michael Leunig’s and William Blake’s extremely honest descriptions of the human condition because I wanted to keep the video as short as possible. However, since they are very revealing and provide further confirmation of what the human condition actually is they are included here at the end of this transcript of Video/​F. Essay 10.

 

Michael Leunig’s extraordinarily honest portrayal of the human condition

 

Cartoon by Michael Leunig that appeared in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper on 8 Oct. 1988

Cartoon by Michael Leunig, Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, 8 Oct. 1988

 

To convey what an unfathomable horror the human condition has really been, consider this second incisive cartoon by Michael Leunig, ‘Gardens of the Human Condition’. Leunig’s ‘park’ is certainly not a picture of a lovely ordered environment where people peacefully and happily enjoy themselves, as we all too easily prefer to delude ourselves that the world we have created is like. Rather, it shows a mother and child approaching the ‘Gardens of the Human Condition’ with an expression of bewildered dread on the face of the mother, and in the case of the child, wide-eyed shock. Yes, as Leunig cleverly intimates, our world is no longer an innocent Garden of Eden, but a devastated realm of human-condition-stricken, psychologically distressed humans where ‘inhumanity’ reigns. (Again, F. Essay 21 provides the biological explanation for how our distant ape ancestors came to live in a cooperative, loving, innocent, Edenic state, and you can read many wonderful descriptions of this time of innocence in F. Essays 4 & 53.) With this masterpiece, Leunig has boldly revealed the truth that despite the magnificence of our mental capabilities and our undeniable capacity for immense sensitivity and love, we humans have become a brutally angry, hateful, cynical, destructive, arrogant, egocentric, selfish, mad, lonely, unhappy and psychologically depressed species. Instead of love, beauty and harmony, Leunig has people fighting, beating and strangling each other, drunk out of their minds, depressed, lonely, crying, hiding and suiciding, going mad, and egocentrically holding forthreflecting, in effect, every aspect of the human condition.

The full horror of our species’ contradictory nature was made explicit by the polymath Blaise Pascal when he wrote, ‘What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth, repository of truth, a sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe!’ (Pensées, 1669). William Shakespeare was equally revealing of the paradoxical true nature of the human condition when he wrote, ‘What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!…​in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me’ (Hamlet, 1603)!!

Yes, the dichotomy of ‘man’ that Pascal and Shakespeare have written about is what the human condition really is. We humans embody this most extraordinary ‘contradiction’ of being the most brilliantly clever of creatures, the ones who are ‘god’-‘like’ in our ‘infinite’ ‘faculty’ of ‘reason’ and ‘apprehension’, and yet we also behave in the most seemingly completely unclever way by being the meanest, most vicious of species, one that is only too capable of inflicting pain, cruelty, suffering and degradation. As the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, ‘man is the only animal which causes pain to others with no other object than causing pain…​No animal ever torments another for the sake of tormenting: but man does so, and it is this which constitutes the diabolical nature which is far worse than the merely bestial’ (Essays and Aphorisms, tr. R.J. Hollingdale, 1970, p.139 of 237). Yes, there has been this immensely perplexing and seemingly unanswerable question of are we ‘monster[s], the ‘essence’ of ‘dust’, ‘the scum of the universe’, or are we a wonderful ‘prodigy’, even ‘glor[ious] ‘angel[s]? Thank goodness that greatest of all questions has finally been answered and the truth revealed that we are indeed ‘glor[ious] ‘angel[s], the heroes of the whole story of life on Earth!!

 

Burj Khalif building, UAE

‘How infinite in faculty’at 830m high,
the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the world’s
tallest skyscraper

Exploding building in Aleppo, Syria

But ‘what a monster’war
in Aleppo, Syria, 2013

 

William Blake’s exceptionally honest description of the human condition

To further help convey what the human condition really is, consider the following words from the renowned South African author Alan Paton, which he submitted to TIME magazine following a request that he contribute an essay on apartheid in South Africa. Rather than that essay, however, TIME instead received, and published in its place, a deeply reflective article on Paton’s favourite pieces of literature. In what proved to be the writer’s last work, Paton wrote: ‘I would like to have written one of the greatest poems in the English languageWilliam Blake’s “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright”, with that verse that asks in the simplest words the question which has troubled the mind of manboth believing and non believing manfor centuries: “When the stars threw down their spears / And watered heaven with their tears / Did he smile his work to see? / Did he who made the lamb make thee?”’ (25 Apr. 1988).

The reason Blake’s 1794 poem The Tiger resonated so strongly with Paton, and is one of the most famous poems in the English language (it has been described as ‘the most anthologized poem in English’ (The Cambridge Companion to William Blake, ed. Morris Eaves, 2003) and is a mainstay of the English curriculum in schools), is because of its profundity, which can be clearly understood now that the human condition has been explained.

 

William Blake’s 1794 ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’

The cover of William Blake’s 1794 Songs Of
Innocence and Of Experience: Shewing the
Two Contrary States of the Human Soul

William Blake’s 1794 poem ‘The Tyger’

The Tiger by William Blake, from
Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience

 

As explained in paragraph 1144 of FREEDOM, the opening lines of Blake’s poem, ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright, In the forests of the night’, refer to humans’ great fear and resulting denial of the issue of our seemingly imperfect, ‘fallen’ or corrupted state or conditiona subject we have consciously repressed and yet one that has been ‘burning bright, In the forests of the night’ of our deepest awareness. As Blake so honestly describes the horrific depression that the issue of the human condition has caused: ‘what’ ‘eye’ ‘could’ be expected to look at the ‘fearful’ subject, ‘what’ ‘hand’ would ‘dare seize the fire’ that ‘could twist the sinews of thy heart?’; the terrible ‘hammer’, the ‘furnace’ in ‘thy brain’, no one can possibly ‘dare its deadly terrors clasp!’ The very heart of the issue lies in the line, ‘Did he who made the lamb make thee?’a rhetorical question disturbing in its insinuation that we are wholly unrelated to ‘the lamb’, to the world of innocence.

The poem raises that fundamental question involved in being human: how could the mean, cruel, indifferent, selfish and aggressive ‘dark side’ of human naturerepresented by the ‘Tiger’be both reconcilable with and derivative of the same force that created ‘the lamb’ in all its innocence?

 

Innocent baby boy
Image of the head of an angry psychotic man drawn by Ireland

 

As Paton identified, despite humans’ denial of it, the great, fundamental, underlying question that ‘has troubled the mind of man’ has always been, are humans part of God’s ‘work’, part of ‘his’ purpose and design, or aren’t we? In other wordsas is explained in F. Essay 23 about the integrative meaning of existence that we have personified as ‘God’why don’t humans live in accordance with the cooperative, loving integrative meaning of existence? Are we good or aren’t we?

So again, to have finally found the redeeming understanding of our seemingly horrifically flawed condition BRINGS THE GREATEST RELIEF IMAGINABLE FOR HUMANS! The world that has opened up for humans now is INCREDIBLY exciting. In fact the truth is, we humans are now so numb and exhausted from the 2-million-year-long struggle to finally get to this position where we are able to explain the human condition, understand why we corrupted our species’ original Edenic state of innocence, that it will be virtually impossible for us to comprehend just how exciting the life that’s available for humans now is. You can see in the picture earlier that I drew of ‘the elephant in the living room’ how we humans have been jammed against the wall, crippled by this overwhelming but previously unconfrontable issue of the human condition. Well, here’s a picture I’ve drawn of what it’s going to be like now for humans to be able to be free of the human conditionwe’ll be just jumping for joy!

 

Cartoon by Jeremy Griffith ‘WE ARE FREE’

 

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Before concluding, I want to emphasise the importance of distinguishing between Blake’s use of the ‘Tiger’ as a metaphor to represent the issue of the competitive and aggressive ‘dark side’ of human nature and the false ‘savage instincts’ excuse that biologists such as E.O. Wilson have put forward to supposedly explain our competitive and aggressive human condition. As has been emphasised, we humans have cooperative and loving moral instincts, the voice or expression of which is our conscience, and the savage, competitive and aggressive instincts supposed explanation for our human condition is a completely human-condition-avoiding dishonest lie. (I write much more about the dishonest and the now unnecessary and extremely dangerous perpetuation of the ‘savage instincts’ excuse in four essay’s time, which will be in Video/​F. Essay 14.) As the title of Blake’s book of poems, Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, clearly shows, Blake understood that humans have an ‘innocen[t], ‘lamb’-like, cooperative and loving moral instinctive heritage, not a competitive, aggressive instinctive heritage, and that the competitive and aggressive ‘dark’, ‘Tiger’-like side of humans’ ‘Two Contrary States’ relates to our ‘Experience’-based CONSCIOUS mind’s PSYCHOLOGICALLY upset competitive and aggressive condition that is peculiar to humans. Incidentally, we can see here that Blake is another of the thinkers who, like those mentioned in Video/​F. Essay 4, have recognised the true ‘instinct vs intellect’ elements involved in the human condition.

In relation to another aspect of what I said in the second video of this Introductory Series, understanding that the human condition is psychologically derived, not innate, means that Blake also understood that our condition would be healed when the explanation of the human condition was at last foundunlike instincts which we are born with and are thus unchangeable, psychosis can be healed with understanding. As Blake famously prophesised in his appropriately titled 1790 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, ‘When the doors of perception are cleansed, man will see things as they truly are. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.’ And, interestingly, the final words of Paton’s acclaimed 1948 book about apartheid, Cry, the Beloved Country, also allude to humanity’s dream of one day finding the real answer to why humans don’t live in accordance with the cooperative, loving integrative meaning of existence, and, through finding that answer, freeing itself from the terrible ‘bondage of fear’ of our condition: ‘But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.’

 

William Blake’s painting ‘Cringing in Terror’ with arrow to his painting ‘Albion Arose’

William Blake’s Cringing in Terror (left) and Albion Arose (right).
These are further examples of Blake’s profound insight into the human condition.

 

Humanity’s hope and faith has always been that one day we would be able to explain the human condition and reconcile ‘the Two Contrary States’ of ‘innocence’ and ‘experience’, and, as a result of doing so, liberate or ‘emancipat[e] ourselves from ‘the bondage’ of our species’ immensely psychologically upsetting sense of unworthiness or guilt. And it is this explanation of the paradox of the human condition that science has finally made possible by discovering the difference between the gene and nerve based learning systems. It is this all-important, world-saving, psychosis-addressing-and-relieving, real biological explanation of the human condition that is presented in Video/​F. Essay 3, and in chapters 1 and 3 of FREEDOM. And as described by Tony Gowing in Video/​F. Essay 5, and more fully explained in F. Essay 15, the effect of finally knowing and understanding and living with this explanation is that it transforms humans from ‘the bondage’ of their psychologically insecure, human-condition-stricken existence to a psychologically secure and mature, human-condition-free state. This is the explanation that lifts the so-called burden of guilt from the shoulders of the human race. This is the explanation that ends the condemnation that we humans have had to endure for so longthat explains that ‘he who made the lamb [DID] make thee’!

Again, in the next essay, one of the most serious consequences of humans’ historic fear and practised denial of the issue of the human conditionnamely the ‘deaf effect’ difficulty people initially find in reading about the now fully compassionate and liberating explanation of the human conditionwill be described, and the solution to it provided.

 

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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.

 

Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomedsee below.

 

 

 

These essays were created in 2017-2018 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 2017-2018. Other members of the Sydney WTM Centre are responsible for the
distribution and marketing of the videos/​essays, and for providing subscriber support.

 

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