Freedom Expanded: Book 2––Questions & Answers
Section 1:7 Can you give me a very quick summary of the explanation of the human condition?
QUESTION: ‘Could you give me a very brief snapshot of what you and Professor Prosen believe the biological explanation of the human condition is? I think I’m reasonably intelligent and I would like to quickly see if it is going to make any sense to me? If it can explain me, well go ahead—tell me about me!’
ANSWER: [LAUGHTER] Fair enough! And I agree, what is to be presented is a first principle-based, rational, testable, biological understanding of the human condition. There is no dogma, or faith, or belief, or mysticism, or superstition, or any abstract concepts involved in the explanation. So you’re on safe ground, this explanation is all about knowledge that either stacks up or it doesn’t—and if it doesn’t you should throw it over your shoulder, reject it. What I have to explain will either make sense to you—in fact, make sense of you, because this explains human behaviour—or it won’t.
I will begin with an analogy. What would happen if we were to take a migrating stork and put on his head a fully conscious mind, such as we humans have? We’ll call him Adam Stork because this story is like the Biblical account of Adam and Eve, but with a very important difference. (Refer to the following picture of The Story of Adam Stork.)
When we first come across Adam Stork he is following his instinctive migratory path up the coast of Africa to the rooftops of Europe for the summer breeding season, as storks do. However, with his newly acquired fully conscious mind, Adam Stork is now different—for the first time he is able to think for himself, and so he starts thinking. He sees an island off to his left and thinks, ‘Well, I think I might fly down there for a rest’, and so he does, he diverts from his migratory flight path and flies down towards the island.
But what is going to happen when he does? Isn’t Adam Stork’s instinctive self, which is orientated to a migratory flight path that doesn’t include the island, going to try to pull him back on course? We can imagine that not wanting to upset his instinctive self Adam’s conscious thinking self would decide to abandon his experiment in self-adjustment and choose not to go down to the island.
Flying on, however, Adam Stork sees another island with some apples and thinks, ‘Why not fly down there for a feed?’ Again, his instinctive self resists this experiment in self-management. This puts Adam in a dilemma. If he continues to obey his instinctive self and never carry out experiments in self-management he will never learn to master his conscious mind. Only by experimenting in self-management will Adam Stork ever learn to understand the difference between right and wrong.
The basic problem is instincts are only orientations, not understandings. Over the course of thousands of generations and migratory movements, only those storks that happened to have a genetic make-up that inclined them to follow the right route survived. Thus, through natural selection, storks acquired their perfect instinctive orientation to certain flight paths. However, when the nerve-based learning system gave rise to consciousness and the ability to understand the relationship between cause and effect, it wasn’t enough to be orientated to the world—the conscious thinking self had to find understanding to operate effectively and fulfil its great potential to manage events.
If Adam Stork obeys his instinctive self and flies back on course, he will remain perfectly orientated but he’ll never learn if his deviation was the right decision or not. All the messages he’s receiving from within inform him that obeying his instincts is good, is right, but there’s also now a new inclination to disobey, a defiance of instinct. Diverting from his course will result in apples and understanding, yet he already sees that doing so also makes him feel bad.
But, sooner or later Adam Stork must find the courage to master his conscious mind—so, not knowing any reason why he shouldn’t fly down for the apples, he perseveres with his experiment in self-management and does so. Again, his decision is met with criticism from his instinctive self, which he now must live with. Immediately he is condemned to a state of upset. A battle has broken out between his instinctive self, perfectly orientated to the flight path, and his emerging conscious mind, which needs to understand why that flight path was the correct course to follow.
Adam had to do something to resist the unjust criticism that he was having to endure from his instinctive self—it would be completely unbearable to have to just accept the criticism when he rightly feels it’s not deserved—but without the ability to explain himself all he could do was retaliate against the criticism, try to prove it wrong or simply ignore it—and he did all of those things. Adam became angry towards the criticism. In every way he could he tried to demonstrate his self worth, prove that he was good and not bad. And he tried to block out the criticism. He became angry, egocentric and alienated, or, in a word, upset.
Adam Stork became angry, egocentric and alienated as the only three responses available to him to cope with the injustice of his situation. Only when he could find the explanation of his upset condition—the explanation that has just been given here that science has at last made possible, which is of the difference between the gene-based instinctive orientating system and the nerve-based conscious understanding system—could he hope to relieve his situation. Suffering upset was the price of his heroic search for understanding—it was the inevitable outcome of his transition from an instinct-controlled state to an intellect-controlled state, as it was for humans, because we were the ones who developed the fully conscious thinking mind.
The so-called Seven Deadly Sins of the human condition, of lust, anger, pride, envy, covetousness, gluttony and sloth, are in truth all different manifestations of the three fundamental upsets of anger, egocentricity and alienation that unavoidably emerged when humans became fully conscious and had to set out in search of knowledge in the presence of unjustly condemning instincts.
This analogy is similar to that of the story of the Garden of Eden, except in that presentation when Adam and Eve took the ‘fruit’ ‘from the tree of…knowledge’ (Gen. 3:3, 2:17)—went in search of understanding—they were ‘banished…from the Garden’ (ibid. 3:23) of our original innocent state for having become ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. In this presentation, however, Adam and Eve are revealed to be the heroes, NOT the villains they have so long been portrayed as. While we are immensely upset—that is, immensely angry, egocentric and alienated—humans are good and not bad after all!
We can see that as soon as we are able to explain that we are actually good and not bad, all the upset—all the anger, egocentricity and alienation—that resulted from not being able to explain our upset condition subsides; it disappears. Finding understanding of the human condition is what liberates and TRANSFORMS humans from our upset angry, egocentric and alienated condition.
That was a very brief description of the liberating and TRANSFORMING explanation that is fully presented in Freedom Expanded: Book 1. What it reveals is that we humans are nothing less than the heroes of the story of life on Earth. I say this because our fully conscious mind is surely nature’s greatest invention and to have had to endure the torture of being unjustly condemned as evil for so long (humans have had a fully developed conscious, self-managing mind for some two million years) must surely make us the absolute heroes of the story of life on Earth. And indeed, doesn’t the feeling exist in you and in all humans that far from being ‘banish[ment]’-deserving evil blights on this planet we are all immense heroes? When we humans defiantly shook our fist at the heavens we were saying, ‘One day, one day, we humans are going to establish that we are good and not bad after all.’ Doesn’t this explanation at last make sense of your and everyone else’s immensely courageous and defiant attitude? Doesn’t this explanation validate a core feeling in you that you are not a meaningless wretch but in fact an immense hero? Doesn’t this explanation bring deep, bone-draining relief to the whole of your being? It is precisely this explanation’s ability to at last make sense of human life, of all our behaviour, that lets us know that we have finally found the true explanation of the human condition. Albert Einstein said that ‘truth is what stands the test of experience’ (Out of My Later Years, 1950), and since this explanation is about us, our behaviour, we are in a position to personally ‘experience’ its validity, to know if it’s true or not.