1. ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION
AND ITS RESOLUTION
WTM FAQ 1.1 What exactly is the human condition? / And why have humans been so fearful of it? / And why do most people suffer from a ‘Deaf Effect’ when they try to read or listen to discussion of the human condition? / And why can analysis of the human condition cause an extremely angry response?
Jeremy Griffith’s response (from his book The Therapy for the Human Condition):
What exactly is the human condition?
It is not uncommon for people to think that the term ‘human condition’ refers to the state of poverty and inequality and other practical hardships and imperfections in human life, but such problems are only superficial manifestations and aspects of the human condition. Much less superficial interpretations of what the term human condition means are that it refers to ‘the riddle of why we humans are competitive and selfish not cooperative and loving’, and ‘the issue of good and evil in our make-up’, and even, ‘the issue of why we are the way we are’. However, the human condition is actually a much, much deeper issue than even these last interpretations.
As I explained in THE Interview and in all my other presentations, we humans once lived in a nurtured-with-unconditional-love, cooperative, selfless and loving innocent state, which the bonobo species of ape is presently on the threshold of achieving (see for the explanation of how we humans acquired our all-loving, unconditionally selfless moral conscience). If we stand back and think about this original cooperative, selfless and loving state and then think about how competitive, selfish and aggressive we humans are now, the contrast between the two states couldn’t be greater. And if we think about that extreme contrast and then think about the situation we have been stuck in for some 2 million years where we haven’t been able to explain our so-called ‘fall from grace’, the corruption of our original all-sensitive and all-loving, innocent instinctive self or soul, then how deeply traumatised with guilt and shame must we humans have been all that time! Certainly, we learnt to block the horror of this situation out of our mind, but that has been the underlying psychological predicament we humans have been enduring. So having had to live with this insufferable, unbearably depressing guilt and shame for having destroyed the magic world of our soul is what the human condition really is!
And why have humans been so fearful of it?
To appreciate how much upset exists in us humans now, imagine living for just one day with the injustice of being condemned as bad, even evil, when you intuitively knew but were unable to explain that you were actually the complete opposite of evil, namely truly wonderful, good and meaningful—in fact not just good but the hero of the story of life on Earth! You would be hurt to the core and furious, wouldn’t you! Now extrapolate that experience over 2 million years and we can begin to appreciate just how much volcanic frustration and anger must now exist within us humans! While we have learnt to significantly restrain and conceal—‘civilise’ as we refer to it—the phenomenal amount of upset within us, under the surface we all must be boiling with rage, and sometimes, when our restraint can no longer find a way to contain it, that anger must express itself—hence our capacity for shocking acts of cruelty, sadism, hate, murder and war. And no wonder we have led such an evasive, denial-practising, lying, avoid-any-criticism, escapist, alienated, superficial and artificial, greedy, egocentric, power, fame, fortune and glory-seeking existence. We have had to smother ourselves with material glory while we lacked the spiritual glory of compassionate understanding of ourselves.
The following are some examples of how excruciatingly depressing the issue of our corrupted condition has been while we couldn’t explain it, and therefore why, generation after generation, almost everyone during their early adolescence had no choice but to resign themselves to living in determined denial of the unbearably depressing issue. (This process of Resignation to living in denial of the human condition that almost all adolescents have had to go through is explained in , and also in .)
This is a description of how the French philosopher and scientist René Descartes felt when he confronted the horror of his, and the human race’s, corrupted condition: ‘So serious are the doubts into which I have been thrown…that I can neither put them out of my mind nor see any way of resolving them. It feels as if I have fallen unexpectedly into a deep whirlpool which tumbles me around so that I can neither stand on the bottom nor swim up to the top’ (Second Meditation, 1641; tr. J. Cottingham, 1984).
And this is another person’s description of what he experienced when he tried to confront the human condition: ‘I felt the worst fear I have ever known. Fear doesn’t even go close to expressing it. What do you suppose you do when you find the most fearful thing you’ll ever encounter is yourself’ (see par. 1185 of FREEDOM). Yes, when in a rare moment of perfect clarity a person sees the contrast between how all-sensitive and all-loving our species once was, which our instinctive soul has the memory of, and how horrifically soul-destroyed virtually everyone now is, the contrast is so great that, without the redeeming explanation for our corrupted condition, its revelation has been ‘fearful[ly]’, unbearably, even suicidally depressing.
And this is the deadly accurate description psychoanalyst Carl Jung (who will be talked more about shortly) gave of the ‘rare and shattering experience’ that can occur in moments of clarity about a person’s seemingly ‘absolute evil’ condition while it wasn’t yet explained: ‘When it [the shadow 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).
This next honest description, from the great Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, recognises not only how difficult confronting the human condition has been, but also how finding knowledge depends on confronting not avoiding the human condition: ‘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. 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’ (The Destiny of Man, 1931; tr. N. Duddington, 1960, pp.14-15 of 310). Yes, trying to confront the issue of our corrupted or ‘fallen’ condition without the explanation for it only left us with the ‘bitter’ ‘ancient, primeval terror’ that we humans have had to endure for some 2 million years of thinking we must be ‘evil’, ‘worthless’ monsters—and yet confronting it is what was ‘require[d]’ to find ‘knowledge’, ultimately self-knowledge, understanding of our ‘good and evil’-stricken human condition.
So Berdyaev made the point that while virtually everyone has lived in fearful terror of the human condition, ultimately it had to be confronted to be solved. And to do that was going to require very rare individuals who were fortunate enough to have sufficiently escaped encountering all the upset in the world during their upbringing to be uncorrupted in soul enough to not be terrified by the issue of the human condition. It is this ability to confront and think truthfully and thus effectively about the human condition that the South African philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post and I possessed, and so were able to find ‘the knowledge of good and evil’ explanation of the human condition. (See or of Jeremy Griffith’s definitive book FREEDOM for the ‘instinct vs intellect’ explanation of the human condition. You can also read more about Sir Laurens in ; and a biography of Jeremy in .)
And why do most people suffer from a ‘Deaf Effect’ when they try to read or listen to discussion of the human condition? And why can analysis of the human condition cause an extremely angry response?
What now needs to be pointed out, and this follows from what has been explained about humans’ historic fear of the human condition, is that when the understanding of our corrupted condition is finally found, as it now has been, even though it is redeeming, trying to read about or listen to discussion of that corrupted state is going to trigger extreme subconscious fear in virtually everyone, and this fear will express itself by their mind not allowing what is being talked about to be tolerated. The blocks they have been employing to protect themselves from confronting the human condition will come into play and their mind won’t allow what is being talked about to be taken in and absorbed. Then, not aware that their mind is blocking out what is being discussed (we can’t block something out and know we’re blocking it out or we wouldn’t be blocking it out), they will blame the quality of the presentation for the difficulty they are having reading or listening to the presentation. And that is what happens: people typically say that what is being presented is ‘impenetrably dense’, ‘confusingly worded and long-winded’, ‘unnecessarily repetitive’, ‘desperately needs editing’, and that it is ‘exceedingly boring and tedious’, and even that it is ‘completely lacking in any substance or meaning’. Quite often people even request ‘an executive summary so I have some idea of what it is that you’re trying to say’! This is the well-known ‘Deaf Effect’ that many people experience—at least initially, because with perseverance the redeeming nature of the explanation gradually reassures a person’s mind that it is finally safe to look into the human condition—and from there they become extremely excited to be able to understand the human condition, and from there every aspect of human existence!
Of course this fear of the human condition can also cause some to try to put the blocks to confronting the human condition back in place by contriving all manner of false arguments against the explanations of the human condition that are being put forward. Indeed what is being presented can cause such an angry response that those supporting the fully accountable, genuinely redeeming, human-race-saving, biological explanation of the human condition are viciously attacked and persecuted!
Amazingly, everything that has been said about how fearful the human race has been of the human condition and about all the defensive responses that the arrival of its explanation initially causes, was fully anticipated by that exceptionally truthful and effective thinking Greek philosopher, Plato. Indeed, Plato was such a magnificent philosopher (philosophy being the study of ‘the truths underlying all reality’ (Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, 1998)) that Alfred North (A.N.) Whitehead, himself one of the most highly regarded philosophers of the twentieth century, described the history of philosophy as being merely ‘a series of footnotes to Plato’ (Process and Reality [Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927–28], 1979, p.39 of 413). So, way back in the Golden Age of Greece, some 360 years , this is what Plato wrote in The Republic: ‘I want you to go on to picture the enlightenment or ignorance of our human conditions somewhat as follows. Imagine an underground chamber, like a cave with an entrance open to the daylight and running a long way underground. In this chamber are men who have been prisoners there.’ Plato described how the cave’s exit is blocked by a ‘fire’ that ‘corresponds…to the power of the sun’, which the cave prisoners have to hide from because its searing, ‘painful’ ‘light’ would make ‘visible’ the unbearably depressing issue of ‘the imperfections of human life’. Fearing such self-confrontation, the cave prisoners have to ‘take refuge’ ‘a long way underground’ in the dark ‘cave’ where there are only some ‘shadows thrown by the fire’ that represent a ‘mere illusion’ of the ‘real’ world outside the cave. The allegory makes clear that while ‘the sun…makes the things we see visible’, such that without it we can only ‘see dimly and appear to be almost blind’, having to hide in the ‘cave’ of ‘illusion’ and endure ‘almost blind’ alienation has been infinitely preferable to facing the ‘painful’ issue of ‘our [seemingly imperfect] human condition’. (See for Plato sources).
And, with regard to the problem of the ‘Deaf Effect’ response the ‘cave’ ‘prisoners’ would have to reading or hearing about the human condition, Plato then described what occurs when, as summarised in the Encarta Encyclopedia, someone ‘escapes from the cave into the light of day’ and ‘sees for the first time the real world and returns to the cave’ to help the cave prisoners ‘Escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave [which] symbolizes the transition to the real world…which is the proper object of knowledge’. Plato wrote that ‘it would hurt his [the cave’s prisoner’s] eyes and he would turn back and take refuge in the things which he could see [take refuge in all the dishonest, illusionary explanations for human behaviour that we have become accustomed to from human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic science], which he would think really far clearer than the things being shown him. And if he were forcibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent [out of the cave of denial] and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight [shown the truthful, real description of our human condition], the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real.’ Significantly, Plato then added, ‘Certainly not at first. Because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave’. Yes, reading and listening to discussion of the human condition can ‘at first’ cause an extreme deaf effect, but that can be overcome by patiently becoming ‘accustomed to the light’.
Plato went on to also warn that when understanding of the human condition eventually arrives it will not only cause a ‘Deaf Effect’, it will also cause an extremely defensive and angry response in some—writing that some of the ‘cave’ ‘prisoners’ ‘would say that his [the person who attempts to bring understanding to the human condition] visit to the upper world had ruined his sight [they would treat him as mad], and that the ascent [out of the cave] was not worth even attempting. And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him’! Thankfully, we live in more civilised times, but we in the World Transformation Movement (WTM) have endured years of this vicious, try-to-‘kill him’-type persecution (as documented in the section on our website, and in and ).
Since it is well known by psychologists that ‘denials fight back with a vengeance when faced with annihilation’, it is not surprising that this most denied and repressed of all truths of the issue of the human condition was going to meet extreme resistance when the real and true analysis of it appeared. Additionally, being a scientific insight, this understanding of the human condition has to endure the initial resistance new ideas in science have typically encountered—as playwright George Bernard Shaw pointed out about important breakthrough insights into the nature of our existence, ‘All great truths begin as blasphemies’ (Annajanska, 1919). And since there is no greater ‘blasphemy’ to mechanistic science’s established way of thinking (which I will talk more about next) than confronting the human condition, it is not surprising that appreciation and support for this most needed of all scientific breakthroughs was going to take time to build—nevertheless, the scientific establishment, and the establishment in general, needs to support this breakthrough SOON or the human race will become extinct!
The arrival of the all-redeeming but at the same time inevitably all-exposing understanding of the human condition is actually the long-feared ‘judgment day’. When the understanding of the human condition is finally found and the ‘curtains are drawn open at last’, or ‘when the lights are finally turned on’, revealing our 2-million-year corrupted human condition, it can’t help but be a great shock. However, because this exposure day, or truth day, or honesty day, or transparency day, or revelation day, or come-clean day is actually a day when compassionate understanding comes to the human race, it is actually a day of universal relief from excruciating bondage and suffering. Yes, as an anonymous Turkish poet once recognised, judgment day is ‘Not the day of judgment but the day of understanding’ (Merle Severy, ‘The World of Süleyman the Magnificent’, National Geographic, Nov. 1987).
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For further description of what the human condition is, and why we suffer from a Deaf Effect, see biologist Jeremy Griffith’s 2022 presentation ; see also . For the actual explanation of the human condition see or read . See for the explanation of how we humans acquired our all-loving, unconditionally selfless moral conscience.