WTM FAQ 1.30  Is upset so engrained in our DNA now that we’ll never be free of it? / Have we been living with the human condition for so long now that our upset angry, egocentric and alienated behaviour has become instinctive and unchangeable even though we’ve solved the human condition?


Jeremy Griffith’s response:

It is true that we have been living with the upset state of the human condition for so long that the human race is now highly adapted to upset, but that doesn’t mean that with understanding of the human condition now found we won’t be able to live free of upset.

To explain why this is true, the concept of ‘baskets of lives’ needs to be explained.

It makes sense that every human alive now is a product of a great deal of genetic selection for, and thus adaption to, all the stages and states of upset that have occurred during our species’ 2 million years of having to live with upset. Just to look at the major stages that are described in chapter 8 of FREEDOM of the development of upset that the human race as a whole has been through during those 2 million years (which each individual has also variously progressed through as they grew up in this upset worldthe principle in biology that ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’), we can see that there has to have been a great deal of adaption to upset.

During the Middle Demonstrative Childhood stage which, as described in chapter 8:6, our Australopithecus africanus ancestor went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 7 and 8), the intellect started demonstrating the power of free will and experienced its first encounter with the frustrations of a conflict with our by then well-established moral instincts, the frustrations being the beginnings of our upset human condition.

Then during the Late Naughty Childhood stage which, as described in chapter 8:7, our Au. robustus and Au. boisei ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 9 and 11), the intellect naively lashed out at the increasing unjust criticism it encountered from the moral instincts as a result of its first tentative experiments in self-adjustment.

Then during the Early Sobered Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:9, our early Homo habilis ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 12 and 13), we fully encountered the sobering imperfections of life under the duress of the human condition.

Then during the Distressed Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:10, our late Homo habilis ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 14 and 21), we struggled with the extreme guilt and depression brought about by full engagement with the issue of the human condition and, except for the exceptionally innocent, had to resign to living in denial of the human condition. (The agonising process of Resignation is described in Freedom Essay 30.)

Then during the Adventurous Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:11A, our Homo erectus ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 21 and 30), we took up the battle to overthrow our idealistic instinctive self or soul’s ignorance as to the fact of our conscious self’s fundamental goodness, having to adopt all manner of artificial ways of reinforcing ourselves in the process.

Then during the Angry Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:12, our Homo sapiens ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 30 and 40), we encountered the reality, frustration and anger of trying but failing to defeat the ignorance of our idealistic instinctive self or soul and had to adopt self-discipline in order to contain or civilise our now overly upset state.

Then during the Pseudo Idealistic Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:13, our Homo sapiens sapiens ancestors went through (and we individually went through between the ages of 40 and 50), we experienced a ‘mid-life crisis’ where we had to find some way of relieving ourselves from our now extremely overly upset state by adopting pseudo or false forms of idealism, which is the religious ‘born-again in support of cooperative idealism’ and socialistic and politically correct lifestyles.

Then during the Hollow Adolescence stage which, as described in chapter 8:14, our species is currently in (and we individually went through from the age of 50 onwards), we became disillusioned with the treacherous, selfish, extremely dishonest and deluded ‘do good to feel good’ pseudo idealistic existence and returned to the upsetting battle to find knowledge and champion the ego over our condemning instincts. But, as a result of this return to participating in the upsetting battle, we became even more upset, embattled and frustrated and so became horrifically angry, punch-drunk, ego-unsatisfied, bitter and vengeful, soul-destroyed, hollow people heading towards terminal levels of alienation/​psychosis.

So those are the major stages our species (and, according to our age, we individually) have been through. To now see how much instinctive adaption our species must have made to all these stages, imagine there are 1,000 original innocent infant humans who have to adjust to an emerging upset world of falseness and lack of real love. We can imagine that there would only be one or two who would happen to have some instinctive/​genetic make-up that would allow them to cope to some degree with this highly imperfect situation and thus survive and thus over time multiply into 1,000 people who then all have the genetic make-up to cope to some degree with that stage of living with upset. Then imagine these 1,000 encounter the next stage, which is childhood, where you are supposed to be reinforced with unconditional love but there is almost no such reinforcement. Again we can imagine there would be a few who happen to have a genetic make-up that allows them to cope well enough to survive and then multiply to another 1,000 people. Then those 1,000 hit adolescence and have to be able to adjust to resigning to living in denial of the human condition, and again we can imagine there would be a few who happen to have a genetic make-up that allows them to do that, so those few survive and multiply. And so this adaption-to-upset process goes on through all the subsequent stages, the result of which is that any human living today has within them the instinctive capacity to cope to some degree with all those stages of upset that the human race has been through. They have already prepared within themselves ‘baskets of lives’ that they can take up or call on when needed; genetic adaptions to cope with each level of upset that can occur when living with the upset state of the human condition. We can expect that these ‘baskets of lives’ (prepared adaptions for coping with degrees of upset) would be circumstance-locked, especially age-locked, meaning they wouldn’t be triggered to be called on until the upset circumstances that required them were encountered. A child is not going to call on the abilities to cope with the upsets an adolescent encounters, but when it becomes an adolescent and encounters those upsets it will, and so on through all the stages and associated upsets it grows through.

We can certainly expect that, even with all the adaptions to upset that our ancestors have been through, coping with upset has never been easy, and this is very evident with children today finding it almost impossible to cope with the extreme levels of upset in society now. How we humans have managed to carry on throughout these 2 million years of living with upset, always trying to smile and be as positive as we could, is an absolutely astonishing achievement. In fact, the heroism of the human race has been so great that it will, for all time, likely be beyond our powers of imagination to fully appreciate it.

It also has to be pointed out that, even though we could survive physically, we paid an immense price in this toughening adaption process; in particular because the adaptions involved having to block out from our minds any awareness of our soul’s true world of beauty, truth and happiness because any such awareness was all too condemning, confronting and hurtful. The extreme insecurity of the situation we were having to endure where we couldn’t explain why we conscious humans corrupted our all-sensitive and all-loving instinctive self or soul meant we had to suffer living in Plato’s metaphorical cave of almost total darkness. As the prophet Isaiah truthfully described our horrible life in alienation: ‘justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes…​Truth is nowhere to be found’ (Bible, Isa. 59). Whilst such defensive adaptions as extreme denial saved us from overwhelming psychological trauma and suicidal depression and thus from physically dying, it did mean that we were dying in soulwhich does mean we have been the walking dead! The artist Francis Bacon’s depictions of the human condition, such as this one, don’t exaggerate the horror of humans’ present state of horrific soul-separation or alienation!


A detail from ‘Study for self-portrait’ by Francis Bacon of a grossly contorted, twisted human torso and head

Detail from Francis Bacon’s Study for self-portrait, 1976


We can also expect that it would be true that even though everyone has these already prepared ‘baskets of life’ within them, if a basket is not needed it would not be activated. Thus, for example, even though every human has the ability now to resign to living in denial of the human condition during their adolescence, if an individual was sufficiently nurtured during their infancy and childhood, they wouldn’t need to call on the ability to resign, and would thus remain a denial-free, truthful thinking individual, which is a person we call a prophet. The psychiatrist R.D. Laing recognised this truth when he wrote that ‘Each child is a new beginning, a potential prophet’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.26 of 156), while the playwright Samuel Beckett recognised how rare it is for anyone to remain innocent long enough to become a prophet when he wrote, ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more’ (Waiting for Godot, 1955)meaning that in the extremely upset world we now live in, innocence rarely lasts very long after we are born. Yes, Laing was being extraordinarily truthful when he wrote further that ‘To adapt to this world the child abdicates its ecstasy’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, p.118), meaning that to adapt to the upset world in which we now live a child almost always has to kill off its access to its all-loving and all-sensitive soul.

As an example of someone who did not have their Resignation ‘basket of life’ called on, I am able to think truthfully about the human condition necessarily because I’m unresigned, however, I have three brothers who obviously have a very similar genetic make-up to me but who find confronting and thinking about the human condition very difficult, obviously because they are resigned. And on a larger scale, look at how much enthusiasm, creativity and happiness I have been able to exhibit and enjoy during my life compared to the desperately sad, depressed, oppressed, artificial and superficial life resigned humans have to live, and there is basically no genetic difference between myself and everyone else. And on an even more macro scale, if you read Freedom Essay 39 about Christ, you can see how much incredible love, soundness and power unresigned individuals in history like Christ and Moses had, and they were basically genetically the same as every other human in the world todaymembers of the highly upset Homo sapiens sapiens variety of humans. The great ‘ecstasy’-filled, soul-infused-and-directed powers of an unresigned mind are well and truly still alive in the now extremely upset human race.

In another example, as explained in chapter 8:11B of FREEDOM, homosexuality is just another level of perversion to heterosexuality; it is one of the more extreme sexual lifestyles that humans are capable of adopting if the amount of upset they encounter when they are growing up is sufficiently great, which means any human has the ‘basket of life’ in them, the potential, if triggered, to be homosexual.

The so-called nature/​nurture debate was an evasive, human-condition-avoiding way of talking about this whole subject of how much of our behaviour we are born with, i.e. how much is genetic, is ‘nature’, and how much is a result of the level of ‘nurture’ we received. That debate was always highly confused and acrimonious because in the first place there was no admission that the human race was once innocent, or that nurturing was the key influence in making us human. It is reasonably obviousif you are not living in denial of such truthsthat there must be a great deal of genetic adaption to upset in every human living today, and that how much nurturing and reinforcement we receive while we are growing up will determine how much and how many of those adaptions will be called on during our life.

As an example of the acrimony that could develop in Plato’s cave world of denial, instead of recognising this reasonably obvious process of adaption to upset, what the human-condition-avoiding, resigned, mechanistic, dishonest world did with the question of the origin of extreme upset (for example with the question of whether psychopaths are ‘born or made’) was to blame extremely upset behaviour on genes, and the reason for doing that was because blaming genes for upset was so much less confronting and condemning for us upset humans than having to admit that we were unable to adequately nurture our offspring; as the author John Marsden once said, ‘people would rather admit to being an axe murderer than being a bad father or mother’ (The Sun-Herald, 7 Jul. 2002). To counter such dishonest blaming-of-our-behaviour-on-genes, some people then tried to acknowledge the obvious role of nurturing, such as the anthropologist Ashley Montagu who wrote how ‘love is, without question, the most important experience in the life of a human being…​Criminal, delinquent, neurotic, psychopathic, asocial, and similar forms of unfortunate behavior can, in the majority of cases, be traced to a childhood history of inadequate love’ (‘A Scientist Looks at Love’, 1970; The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol.51, No.9). Some lying, then some truthing, then more lying, and so the argument went on, waiting for the reconciling explanation of the human condition to be found that alone could end it.

So to now look at the original question of how much instinctive soul-corruption/​upset are we humans going to be left with now that we can explain, ameliorate and therapise the upset state of the human condition? The answer is that if we don’t encounter upset during our formative youth as a result of the human race having been able to gradually, over a few generations, therapise it all away, then none of the upset ‘baskets of lives’, none of our genetic adaptions for living with upset, will be triggered and so humans will no longer be troubled by upset. We will still have genetic adaptions for coping with upset within us but those adaptions will no longer be called on and we will be able to live a life free of upset behaviour. It’s a bit like whether butterflies, who have the genetic ability within them to be caterpillars and chrysalises, would be butterflies or caterpillars or chrysalises depending on which genetic ‘basket of life’ in them is being called on!

Most importantly, it also has to be appreciated that while there has to be a great deal of adaption to upset within us from all the upset the human race has been living through for the last 2 million years, our far greater genetic heritage is the many millions years prior to 2 million years ago when we lived cooperatively and lovingly. In fact, upset has only become extreme in the last 11,000 years or so since the advent of agriculture and the domestication of animals that led to humans living closer together, which greatly increased and spread upset. Our original all-loving and all-sensitive instinctive self or soul is by far the biggest part of our instinctive behavioural make-upwhich is hugely apparent in the instinctive happiness and soundness of children before they become overwhelmed by the human condition. So all our soul needs is the chance to be the all-dominating part of ourselves, and it will be because it is the all-dominant part of ourselves. When Christ said that only when we can ‘change and become like little children…​[can we] enter the [fabulous, happy, enthralled-with-all-of-existence, psychologically secure] kingdom of heaven’ (Bible, Matt. 18:3), he was anticipating the ‘heaven[ly] time that is now possible when all humans can live all of their life ‘like’ happy ‘little children’; in the butterfly analogy, it will be like staying radiant butterflies all their life!


Soulful innocent happy children


Also, as explained in chapter 4 of FREEDOM and in F. Essay 25: The truthful biology of life, since cooperative and loving behaviour is part of the true integrative state or meaning that all of existence is actually aware of and is striving to live in accordance with, once we can return to living in accordance with that cooperative and loving integrative state, that cooperative and loving state will be an extremely powerful force. Once we can remove the great boot of horrific repression with which we have had no choice but to crush our soul out of existence for its unjust condemnation of our conscious mind, our soul will burst into life. We will again be living ‘in the image of God’ (Gen. 1:27); in happy and relieved compliance with Integrative Meaning. We will have come back home to soundness and happiness and will be radiantly alive. To use William Blake’s illustrations below to depict the transformation, we will progress from living a human-condition-stricken, ‘Cringing in Terror’ life of fear that we are evil, worthless beings, to living a secure life free of the human condition like ‘Albion Arose’.


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

William Blake’s Cringing in Terror (c.1794-96) left, and Albion Arose (c.1794-96) right


As I’ve written in paragraph 1049 of FREEDOM, “Even the upset that is now instinctive, in our genes, will not be an issue because when our capacity to love is finally liberated, as it can now be, it will effectively make all our upsetboth psychological and instinctivedisappear without a trace.” And in paragraph 743, “The world of soundness and happiness is not far below the surface in humans today. So while there must be a degree of genetic adaption to a resigned, soul-destroyed existence in humans now, a sound, sensitive and happy life is retrievable for all humans.”

Yes, with understanding of the human condition now found, upset is history. To quote Bono from U2, ‘I’ve conquered my past, the future is here at last, I stand at the entrance to a new world I can see. The ruins to the right of me, will soon have lost sight of me’ (Love Rescue Me, 1988), and to quote the words of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, ‘Joy!’, ‘Joyful, as a hero to victory!’, ‘Join in our jubilation!’, ‘We enter, drunk with fire, into your [human-condition-understood] sanctuary…​Your magic reunites…​All men become brothers…​All good, all bad…​Be embraced, millions! This kiss [of understanding] for the whole world!’ (1824).


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To read about how the instinct vs intellect explanation of the human condition is able to immediately transform all humans from their human-condition-afflicted, tortured existence to a fabulous life free of the human condition, see chapter 9 of FREEDOM.