‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 3 The Real Explanation of The Human Condition
Chapter 3:7 Our instinctive moral conscience has been ‘A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!’
Greek mythology describes how Prometheus stole fire from his fellow Gods and gave it to humans for their use, an act which enraged the Gods, and Zeus in particular who punished Prometheus by having him strapped to the top of a mountain where, every day in perpetuity, he was forced to suffer having his liver eaten out by an eagle. In light of what has been revealed, we can now understand that in this story fire is the metaphor for the conscious intellect (as it is in many mythologies; indeed, ‘Prometheus’ literally means ‘forethought’), and that the consequence of humans gaining a conscious mind was extremely upset behaviour, which explains why Prometheus was punished by the Gods—in their eyes his gift to humans of consciousness was responsible for the corruption of the human race, for our falling out with the Godly ideals.
Yes, for 2 million years our intellect has been seen as the villain of the piece while our instinctive self or soul’s moral conscience was held up as the epitome of goodness, but the truth, which we can now finally explain, turns out to be the exact opposite in the sense that it was our instincts’ unjust criticism that caused us to become upset. This paradoxical turn of events in which our ‘good side’ is revealed to have been the ‘bad side’ is the theme of the crime writer Agatha Christie’s famous play The Mousetrap. The play is just another ‘whodunit’ murder mystery and yet it is now the longest running play in history, having been performed continuously since opening in 1952; indeed, the play’s enduring popularity is such that it celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2012 with a global tour. All enduring myths and stories contain truths that resonate, and in the case of The Mousetrap, the police inspector involved in the murder investigation, who is held up throughout the play as the pillar of goodness and justice, is revealed at the very end to be the culprit. It is the essential story of humanity where the apparent ideals of our original instinctive self or soul’s selfless, loving world are revealed, at the very last moment, to have been the unjustly condemning influence. As with so many aspects of the human condition, THE TRUTH WAS NOT AS IT APPEARED. We discover at the very end of our journey to enlightenment that conscious humans, immensely corrupt as we are, are ‘good’ and not ‘bad’ after all, and that which was ‘good’, our moral conscience, turns out to be the cause of our ‘sin’.
The same essential paradox appears in G.K. Chesterton’s 1908 ‘masterpiece’ (Simon Hammond, The Guardian, 7 Oct 2012), The Man Who Was Thursday, in which a policeman representing the ‘good’ side has to infiltrate and expose the sinister members of a quintessentially corrupt organisation, but as the tale unfolds each of the apparently corrupt members are revealed to be forces for good commissioned to fight evil.
The poet Alexander Pope acknowledged the pain, guilt and frustration caused by the unjust criticism emanating from our species’ instinctive moral conscience when he wrote, ‘our nature [conscience—is]…A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!’ (An Essay on Man, 1733, Epistle II). It was a sentiment echoed by William Wordsworth in his great 1807 poem, Intimations of Immortality: ‘High instincts before which our mortal Nature / Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised.’ Albert Camus was another who felt the sting of the criticism from our naive, ignorant, innocent soul when he asked ‘whether innocence, the moment it begins to act, can avoid committing murder [?]’ (The Rebel, 1951, p.12 of 269).
Considering then how unjustly hurtful our instinctive self or soul has been it is little wonder we learnt to psychologically block it out, deny and bury it to the point where we now refer to it as ‘the child within’ and the ‘collective [shared by all, instinctive] unconscious’. Indeed, if we look at the situation from the perspective of our original, unconditionally selfless, all-loving, moral instinctive self or soul for a moment, we can begin to appreciate just how enormous the schism between our instinctive soul and conscious mind has been. Imagine then what a shock it was for our all-loving, moral instincts when our conscious mind began searching for knowledge and became angry, aggressive, selfish and competitive—our soul would have been absolutely mortified, as children are today by the extreme imperfection of human behaviour. Our soul would have been utterly bewildered and distressed, completely overcome with shock and disappointment, absolutely devastated: ‘Why, when all our behaviour has been so cooperative, loving and perfect, and our world so happy and content as a result, are you, our conscious mind, doing this?—this is SO wrong!’, is how our soul has perceived the situation. Unable to explain our divisive behaviour, we conscious humans have never allowed ourselves to properly consider the hurt that behaviour has caused our moral soul, but now that we can at last explain our upset state we can afford to do so. Yes, when our conscious mind emerged and the angry, aggressive, selfish and competitive behaviour started to appear, our original, all-loving and all-sensitive instinctive self experienced the most profound shock imaginable. Our soul has been completely distressed and overwhelmed by this turn of events: ‘Why is this happening, this behaviour simply must stop, this is absolutely wrong!’ Our soul has been in tears of distress and disappointment, utterly overcome with unhappiness—BUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING HAD TO GO ON, THE UPSETTING SEARCH FOR THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WOULD LIBERATE OUR SPECIES HAD TO CONTINUE.
To return, however, to viewing the situation from the perspective of our conscious intellect, this ‘sharp accuser’, these ‘high’ and mighty ‘innocen[t]’ ‘instincts’ that made us ‘tremble like a guilty thing’, have been ‘murder[ous]’ and thus completely unbearable, SO WE SIMPLY HAD TO BLOCK OUR MORAL INSTINCTIVE SELF OUT, OTHERWISE WE WOULD DIE FROM THE PAIN, THE SHAME, THE MORTIFICATION, THE GUILT, IT WAS CAUSING US. So the extent of our soul’s unhappiness with us, which was of a level of extreme unhappiness, is the extent we, our conscious mind, had to block out and become alienated from it, which is, it follows, a level of extreme alienation. As a species, we are EXTREMELY soul-repressed, or psychotic, and EXTREMELY mentally committed to living in denial, or neurotic. R.D. Laing was right when, as mentioned earlier in par. 123, he described humans as being ‘a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be…between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete…The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness. The state of outer darkness is a state of sin—i.e. alienation or estrangement from the inner light…We are bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another’, and ‘We are dead, but think we are alive. We are asleep, but think we are awake…We are the halt, lame, blind, deaf, the sick. But we are doubly unconscious…We are mad, but have no insight [into the fact of our madness].’ We have certainly been, as Plato said, ‘enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned’—but again, our conscious, intellectual self simply had no choice but to block out our instinctive self or soul, to banish it to our subconscious where it only now occasionally bubbles up in dreams and on other occasions when our conscious self is subdued, such as when praying or meditating. As Carl Jung wrote, ‘The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche [soul], opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness’ (Civilization in Transition, 1945; The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, tr. R. Hull, Vol.10). That pre-eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post also wrote about the repression of our soul when he acknowledged that ‘Human beings know far more than they allow themselves to know: there is a kind of knowledge of life which they reject, although it is born into them: it is built into them’ (A Walk with a White Bushman, 1986, p.142 of 326). And in talking about how human psychosis and neurosis develops, the psychiatrist D.W. Winnicott wrote that ‘The word “unconscious”…has been used for a very long time to describe unawareness…there are depths to our natures which we cannot easily plumb…a special variety of unconscious, which he [Sigmund Freud] named the repressed unconscious…what is unconscious cannot be remembered because of its being associated with painful feeling or some other intolerable emotion’ (Thinking About Children, 1996 posthumous publication of his writings, p.9 of 343).
Yes, our ability now to understand the human condition, understand the consequences of humans gaining a conscious mind, means the whole mystery of our life in extreme alienation finally becomes fully understandable. Of course there is ‘a kind of knowledge of life which they [conscious humans] reject’, even ‘though it is born into’ us—our moral conscience has been an unbearably ‘sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!’ Of course we have had to block out our soul, and with it any truth that brought the unbearable issue of our corrupted human condition into focus! And no wonder we are 2 million years wedded to a life deep underground in Plato’s metaphorical cave of dark, truthless, alienated denial. And, given how precious, indeed life-saving, that block-out or denial has been, and how practised and habituated we are in applying it, it is no wonder it has been almost impossible for anyone to break through that denial, actually confront the human condition and find the liberating explanation of it—and, further, that there has been so much resistance to having all that denial demolished and exposed. Tragically, we had no choice other than to suppress our all-sensitive, unconditionally selfless, all-loving (although unloving of our intellect’s need to search for knowledge!) soul—as the saying goes, ‘we hurt the one we love’—BUT THANKFULLY, WITH THE EXPLANATION OF WHY WE FULLY CONSCIOUS HUMANS BECAME ANGRY, AGGRESSIVE, SELFISH AND COMPETITIVE FOUND, WE NO LONGER HAVE TO. Indeed, we now have the ability to end our psychosis, to rehabilitate our wondrously sensitive soul. Further, our conscious mind no longer has to practise denial, which means we can also end our neurosis—all of which means the human race can be psychologically rehabilitated; our species can be brought back to life from its psychologically dead state.