Phobia of the human condition is real
A close friend and I recently hiked for several weeks through Central Australia. Towards the end of the hike we reached a public picnic site. We had unpacked our backpacks under a shelter and were having lunch. I had taken Jeremy Griffith’s latest book FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition with me on the walk and I had put it down on one of the benches.
Shortly after, a couple in their 60’s came over and sat down under the same shelter as us. After some small talk about our hike the female of the duo must have spotted FREEDOM on the bench and she said to me, ‘Well, that looks like a heavy book…and heavy to carry as well.’ I gave her a brief background of my support of Jeremy Griffith’s work.
Reflecting on this afterwards, there was quite a lot communicated in her brief comment. I reckon it gives insight into the mechanics of what Jeremy terms the ‘deaf effect’ which he introduces and addresses in chapter 1.4 of the book. At par. 78 he says ‘As soon as discussion of the human condition begins, our minds will be subconsciously alert to the fact they are being taken into a historically off-limits realm and start blocking out what is being said.’ Jeremy then quotes a range of reactions from first-time readers of his material.
From a distance of a few metres, this lady could only see the book’s title on the cover and spine, FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition, the quote ‘The book that saves the world’ and the illustration of a radiate sun coming up over the horizon. Based on that small amount of information, her observation that the subject matter of the book looked ‘heavy’ reveals, I suggest, an underlying awareness of the subject matter that is potentially being engaged and that it could be daunting and difficult.
At par. 80, Jeremy uses the analogy of a person suffering from a phobia of snakes being asked to read a book on snakes to illustrate the response to reading discussion of the human condition. At first, the reader might think this analogy is trite or an exaggeration but I want to really emphasise how fundamental this proposition is, and attest to its validity. I do this with the aim of helping anyone who is newer to the explanation to hear what is being said and thereby help open up the proverbial Pandora’s box of liberating and world-saving insights that Jeremy has synthesised.
He makes the observation that we are blocking out the subject of the human condition but we don’t know that we are blocking it out. He makes, what seems in the abstract, an obvious and uncontentious point that if you knew you were blocking out or denying a conscious line of thought, subject or incident then, necessarily you are not blocking the thought out. Reflection on the state of block out defeats the very function of the ‘tool’ of denial or block out from the hurtful or confronting feelings. As I say, in the abstract I think most of us would accept this concept but when we have to apply it to ourselves and the subject of the human condition it becomes a lot more tricky.
At par. 83, Jeremy quotes extracts from Plato’s The Republic in which Plato describes a human being brought out of a dark cave into the sunlight: the sunlight hurting his eyes and being painful, him believing he could see more clearly in the dark, of being overwhelmed by the brightness and not being able to see a single thing revealed as real in the clear sunlight, and critically that he would need time to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things outside the cave.
When you start wading into FREEDOM , I recommend entertaining the possibility that the ‘deaf effect’ might, in fact, be real. Entertain the possibility that there is a reaction in your mind (that you are not consciously aware of) that results in a conscious block to actually hearing what is being said, to engaging and comprehending discussion of the human condition. Consider that your mind can see (before you can) the subject matter and what it believes will be the associated implications coming a mile off, like the lady above spotting FREEDOM, and that your mind shepherds you away. You might start thinking the explanation is too basic, too long, too intellectual, too dense, too bright, too bleak, too repetitive, too something. You might find yourself agreeing with some of it but then getting seriously hung up on a particular aspect. You might get angry, offended or depressed. If you find yourself struggling or having a negative reaction of whatever kind just try and step back and consider that perhaps these reactions are in fact the ‘deaf effect’ at work. That is, your mind setting up a defensive framework to steer you away from the subject matter by throwing up some particular line of thought as a smoke screen.
I appreciate at first this might seem slippery or intellectually offensive or patronising to be told not to intrinsically trust and take at face value your own thinking. Importantly, you are not being asked to suspend your critical judgement. I can vouch for the fact that if you implement the three solutions to the deaf effect that Jeremy sets out in chapter 1.5, pars 87, 90 and 91 and persevere with allowing your mind to become accustomed to discussion of the human condition you will validate 100% that the ‘deaf effect’ is real and not make-believe. As I said above, realisation of the reality of the ‘deaf effect’ at work in your mind allows you to really access the wider explanation and its transformative outcome.
The realisation of the reality of the ‘deaf effect’ at work in your mind allows you to really access the wider explanation and its transformative outcome.