Why do so many of us live in pursuit of happiness, rather than in a state of happiness? Why, in our world, do problems with no apparent answers keep piling up? Why do marriages fail in such numbers that the very idea of the family, as an institution, is being called into question? Why do we talk endlessly of love, yet live out our lives largely in a state of spiritual estrangement from those around us? Why do we place such faith in an increasingly fragile and debt-ridden international monetary system that, should it fail, would be the end of the world as we know it?
These concerns are so much a part of our way of life that we accept them almost as normal. This isn’t because we are pleased with our situation. It is because we are without an option other than to depend on money and law to attain resources and define our family relationships. Though distressed, we feel powerless to bring real change. We are thereby reduced to finding what pleasures we can, with little sense of even why we are here.
I believe we can re-establish a way of life in which we are no longer directly dependent on money to secure our material needs, a life in which love is the bond that unites all families, and a life in which, being free to give and receive love, we know why we are here. But, to do so will require a leap of faith in which we choose to again place our trust in the human spirit—our emotional or behavioral nature—instead of money and law.
In some ways, we are not all that surprised by our situation. From the cyclical failures of civilizations throughout history, it is evident that our kind has repeatedly been swept aside by problems that do not yield to solutions. Why do we, time and again, find ourselves attempting to solve problems that have no solutions? I believe it is because of our unique lingual skills that enable us to think in the abstract. Our use of language is a remarkable tool for survival that sets us apart from the other species in a special way. But in its power resides a hidden danger that leads, not only to our general state of unhappiness, but time and again to difficulties that overwhelm, and thus eventually destroy, all our plans.
Unlike the animals, we can imagine our future circumstances years in advance. With that ability, we eventually invented the practice of imposing social and material contracts in our attempt to secure the futures we had in mind. This made us subjects of the nation-states that authorized our contracts, instead of one another. Subjugating ourselves to central authorities allowed us to organize en masse, which enabled us to accomplish amazing feats that previously had not been possible, ranging from ancient pyramids and temples to modern skyscrapers and space ships. In our minds, these accomplishments have justified centralizing authority to the point that the practice is now virtually beyond question. Despite our accomplishments, two issues that confronted us when we imposed our first contracts some six thousand years ago remain with us today: 1) Our general lack of happiness; 2) Issues that keep accumulating to the point they eventually overwhelm the economic and legal systems we depend on to survive. That these two problems remain with us indicates there is a fundamental problem with the practice of subjugating ourselves to monetary and legal systems, in spite of the accomplishments it has made possible.
We are now at a special place in human history. Previously, when a civilization failed, it affected only a portion of the world’s population and habitat. The world is now ruled by money, meaning our wellbeing is presently more dependent on the stability of the international monetary system than even the functionality of our governments. In light of the dire nature of our circumstances, should the international monetary system fail, I question the very practice of trusting our lives to legal and monetary systems. After all, for most of the two hundred thousand years that humans have lived here, legal and monetary systems did not exist.
The practice of imposing social and material contracts to control our future seems innocent. After all, what could be wrong with establishing institutions to authorize legal arrangements with the intent of realizing the futures we have in mind? The problems are twofold. First, the futures we are trying to secure do not presently exist. They are creations of our imaginations, and thus not real. Second, the practice makes us dependents of our governments instead of one another. It therefore robs us of our principal reason for being—to take care of one another.
It is generally recognized that all individuals behave in accordance with their perceived self-interest. As modern humans, we depend on money to secure our material needs. We therefore spend our lives seeking wealth and privilege, not because doing so is even remotely natural, but because we perceive it to be in our self-interest. This explains why we are tasked, from kindergarten on, with becoming economically viable. The problem is that, wealth and privilege provide for our material, but not our spiritual needs. Satisfying our spiritual needs, which is essential for true happiness, requires interdependent relationships, the very relationships humans abandoned when we became dependent on money and law.
How is it that, in going about our normal lives, and by that I mean behaving in accordance with our perceived self interest, we have ended up devoting our lives to seeking wealth and privilege, when intimate relationships, not wealth, are required for true happiness? To comprehend how we have gone astray regarding happiness, we must extend our thinking in terms of times past.
The archeological record indicates that humans have lived on earth for upwards of two-hundred thousand years. Until only a few thousand years ago, all human cultures were ruled by the human spirit—our emotional/behavioral nature—not by instituted law. In this, our natural state, which I metaphorically equate with the biblical Garden of Eden, we secured our material needs by bonding with others. We utterly were dependent on our brothers and sisters for both safety and material sustenance. Evolving as material dependents has also made us emotionally dependent, which is why relationships are so essential to our happiness. In “Eden” we loved and took care of one another, much as we now love and take care of our bank accounts, not because we were good or righteous, but because it was natural. We perceived taking care of those who took care of us to be in our self-interest.
In that time before the advent of money and instituted law, the most successful people were those who were genetically predisposed to want to be with others. Those not so disposed did not survive for the simple reason that humans cannot survive the natural world alone. Not for long. Survivors also exhibited personality traits that made others like having them around. Social acceptance, not wealth and privilege, was the requirement for both happiness and survival.
The question is: If our spiritual/emotional natures predispose us to find happiness, acceptance, and security in intimate bonds, why does the idea of trusting our future to a body of people seem so strange, if not outright offensive, to us now? Once subjugated to money and law, we were each individually responsible for our own future wellbeing. Being forced to compete with, instead of depend on, one another for material resources, in effect, poisoned our souls. With everyone out for himself, people would be fools to trust their lives to one another.
That we became fools for doing what previously came naturally demonstrates the radical paradigm shift that occurred in our culture when we took our first bite of the metaphorical apple, an act I associate with the imposition of the very first social and material contract. In that instant, we ceased devoting our lives to those around us, but instead became devout subjects of the nation-state that authorized our contracts. As for the land, we no longer held it in reverence, as life’s sole resource as territory to be shared according to need. It became just another commodity, a symbol of wealth and privilege for whichever person, by presumption of ownership, proclaimed god status over that domain.
The result was mankind’s fall from grace, a radical transformation from our natural state, where we sought happiness and security in relationships, to a life of striving to find it in wealth and privilege. In the process of that descent, happiness—which I equate with relational intimacy—was transformed from a key element, implicit in our way of life, to some elusive, transient Nirvana that must be constantly pursued.
That Eden offered happiness is not to imply that it was Nirvana. The story of Eden is about intimacy and species survival, not about paradise! Paradise implies a place where no serious issues arise, but what a meaningless existence such a life would offer. Even in today’s world, we find meaning in overcoming problems. WW II is an example. It may have been one of the greatest conflicts of all time but, costly though it was, when the issues finally were resolved it resulted in one of the greatest celebrations of all time. Rick Matson addressed the importance of having problems to overcome in a verse of his poem about life, “Let it be a Dance”(italics mine):
the morning star comes out at night
without the dark there could be no light
if nothing’s wrong, then nothing’s right
so let it be a dance
Though, at times, we faced grave issues in Eden, as members of extended families we depended directly on each other to overcome them. We were never alone!
Out of our natural need for one another, spiritually-free humans—meaning ones who are not subject to money and law—knew relational intimacy. Consider, for instance, what happened to the native Americans when they were placed on reservations. Once they became dependent on institutions for resources and safety, instead of one another, they too lost intimacy. One way to think of our expulsion from Eden is: By subjugating ourselves to institutions, the whole human race has, in effect, placed itself on reservations.
What’s wrong with reservations? To answer that question we must consider how the life of a species works. Our ability to abstract reality may have enabled us to radically change our environment, but language never changed, even in the slightest, how our species functions. The wisdom required of each individual to behave as is necessary for our species to flourish is so immense it could well fill a library with documentation, were it ever decoded and put into words. But, since our innately based intelligence is revealed to us through feelings, it can never be put into words. Would you, for instance, like to describe in detail every imaginable natural situation in which one should react with anger in order to serve our species?
That the basis for feelings cannot be put in words leaves us with no objective way to comprehend innate wisdom’s extent. Nevertheless, through this enormous orchestration of circumstantial awareness we are able to know love, anger, loneliness, romance, empathy, joy, sorrow, to share, to be loyal, to sacrifice, or to kill. Through such feelings each individual is cued to react to any natural situation imaginable in a way that serves our species. The genetic code by which we are each capable of experiencing those feelings, presuming a functional brain, did not materialize out of thin air. It was forged over millennia in the crucibles of life. The evolution of our behavioral and physical natures has always been grounded in our success and failures at being true to life. The species has thus gathered a composite wisdom that encompasses the triumphs and tragedies of all the individuals—human and pre-human—in our lineage who have preceded us. This hard-earned intelligence whose roots extend to the very first stirrings of life on Earth, this evolutionary wisdom, owes its essence to a single requirement—that our species be able to flourish. This knowledge, a prize of matchless value, is ours for the taking through the simple act of being true to our Nature-given feelings.
Instead of being true to our real selves, we have discarded our innate feelings, not merely as something animalistic or unnecessary, like trash, but have actively shunned them as we would an alien force with which we could never hope to establish trust or understanding. And why do we denigrate this innate intelligence as the source of sin? Because the wisdom that enables us to be true to life places us in a state of conflict at virtually every turn, with the legally-authorized plans by which we intend to realize the futures we have in mind. In other words, in a world ruled by money and law we deny who we really are, and thus also the processes of Nature that gifted us with life, for the sake of our physical survival. And since this denial is culturally imposed, it is a show of disrespect towards Nature for which not one of us can ever be blamed. No one ever asked for this; it is simply something that happened to our kind.
The justifications we have created for denying life by placing ourselves on reservations are immense. They are contained in the legal documents and books that strain the library shelves of the world. In counterpoint to all of that, I have one key concern: How can our species, whose massively-informed spiritual nature evolved for the sole purpose of surviving the natural world, possibly carry on over evolutionary time with its members penned up on reservations?
In our natural state, we lived in a state of relational intimacy, not because it was institutionally imposed or because anyone thought it was a good idea. Intimacy was inherent to our existence because we were dependent on one another for identity, sense of purpose, material resources and safety. Because we now depend on money and law for these things, the very things we once depended on one another for, we are now largely spiritually estranged. Even so, intimacy remains the basic requirement for our happiness. As such, even we modern humans place great emphasis on relationships. Indeed, we think we pretty much know what we want regarding them. When asked, most people will tell you, not only that they want a soulmate, but will spiel off the imagined person’s desired characteristics, as if accessing them from a menu. The problem: What we think we want is based on cultural conditioning, not on our real social needs.
Could the fact that modern relationships are not based on our real needs explain why they so-often fail to offer the emotional fulfillment for which we had hoped? What is the sociological pressure that confuses us, regarding relationships? Again, it is our subjugation to money and law. In our natural state, our relationships served congruent purposes: They were the basis for our personal survival, as well as for our species’ survival. But, having subjugated ourselves to the tyranny of the future, we can now survive only by being true to the institutions that authorize our contracts. As a consequence, our survival is virtually independent of our relationships, and thus also of the needs of our species! We have come to the monstrous conclusion that relationships, like the planet itself, are things we can use to our own ends.
If, as a man, you feel you need a trophy wife in order to be properly presented, then you can use a woman to that end. If, as a woman, you have been culturally conditioned to believe you must contract with a man to establish a home and family, then you can use a man to that end. But there is a consequence: Whatever relational intimacy you share in either case will, all too often, be imagined. This isn’t because neither of you is capable of sharing lasting intimacy. It is because Nature, as expressed through the life of our species, cannot possibly bestow life’s precious gift of relational intimacy, if our relationships are not serving our species.
Why do I believe using relationships to our own ends is contrary to life? First of all, the practice disproves itself: If it were viable, our divorce rate and domestic disappointments, including violence, would be hovering around zero. But, more importantly, if people in their natural state had not served our species through their relationships, our species could not have survived, in which case you and I would never have existed.
There is no big mystery, here. For any species to flourish over evolutionary time requires that its members behave in ways that serve the species. In other words, our species’ wellbeing requires that we be true to ourselves, not to the artificial personae we have taken on to survive a culture ruled by money and law. Indeed, by our unnatural dependence on money and law, we are so disconnected from our innate sensibilities that we know ourselves only by our personae. Despite being thus possessed, we remain spiritual beings forever subject to the laws of Nature. The Proof? In every instance of having to deny our Nature-given wisdom to protect the rights and privileges that define our personae, there is an emotional price to pay.
Denying our spirits their free expression represents the ultimate denial of life, which is why the pain of spiritual alienation burdens us so. Yet, denial of what Nature made us is so elemental to our way of life that we have no perspective from which to assess the full measure of the burden. We have, to the extent possible, adapted to the emotional insult of spiritual alienation. But in the pain that remains—which adapting cannot repress—lies a seed of hope, because that pain continually reminds us that something is fundamentally wrong. It demonstrates that, even after thousands of years of being forced to deny our reason for being, in favor of wealth and privilege, the sensibilities for being true to life yet abide deep within us, the seat of our eternal natural bias in favor of life.
In contrast to our natural identities, which are based on relationships, our personae are based on documents that specify our legal rights and privileges. Citizenship is an example. Without that paper identity, we would not have the right to own anything, not even a place to live. Our persona, therefore, is far more important to us than our existence, because our existence would be miserable without a paper identity. In truth, when engaged in international conflicts, we are defending the institutions that authorize our paper identities, without realizing that these identities have nothing whatever to do with the emotional and flesh-and-blood reality of our selves or those around us. Similarly, to pledge allegiance to the flag, any flag, is to celebrate our devotion to our artificial identities. We committed a grave error when we began valuing paper identities more than actual existence. Thus, to continue as subjects of money and law virtually seals the fate of our kind.
The ongoing struggle between our spirits—which want us to be true to life—and our personae—whose very existence requires that we be true to our legal identities, is the source of many of the neuroses and emotional burdens that often cause us to seek relationship counseling. The most excruciating example of the type of the conflicts that can arise between our two selves, occurs when our legal obligations to a spouse prevents us from embracing a romantic involvement. When romance calls, it is our innate wisdom insisting, in no uncertain terms, that we be true to life. But our personae, who are subject to legal arrangements, must say no. In such moments, we experience the full impact of our spiritual imprisonment. It is a no-win situation that all-too-often costs our species dearly. After all, romance represents our species’ sensibilities for genetic selection. As such, it exists to govern the behavioral and physical makeup of future generations, a function it cannot possibly serve when we are true to our personae, instead of to ourselves.
Forced to presume control of our future, our personae have little choice but to believe we can use Nature to our own ends. But this presumption is not true. It is an artifact of the moment we expelled ourselves from Eden, and its consequence is our grandiose idea that we have dominion over the forces of Nature. Consider this quote from the Old Testament:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26
This idea, that we have dominion over the forces of Nature that created us, is a paradox of inexplicable proportions! It also represents the perceptual trap that is costing us our spiritual lives every day we exist, and will ultimately cost our species its existence, as our error in perception has already cost many other species theirs.
Our personae’s idea that we must control our destiny isn’t the only reason we become fixated on the distant future, a domain of no concern whatever to the human spirit. The other reason is to avoid the immediate pain of spiritual alienation. And how do our personae escape the pain of the moment? They create hopes and dreams, which are simpleminded constructs used to provide the leverage needed to transfer life’s significance from the moment into the future.
These constructs are simpleminded in two ways. First, realizing hopes and dreams regarding relationships, or anything else, seldom offer the emotional fulfillment we had anticipated, other than momentarily. That the fulfillment does not last explains why, once a dream is realized, another one must be established to take its place. Second, though many people are counting on heaven to satisfy the needs of their souls, their replies are superficial and inconsistent when asked, “of what does Heaven actually consist?” Others proclaim technology as our savior, but when asked to explain how it will save us, their observations are as scanty as those regarding Heaven. Were our lives anchored in relationships, instead of money and law, we would have something authentic in which to invest our lives—the life of our species. We would no longer have to be getting spaced out on the drug of imagined futures, be they represented by Heaven, or by the notion humans will someday inhabit the universe.
While in our natural state we were not subject to the tyranny of the future for two reasons. First, having found spiritual fulfillment in the intimacy of interdependent relationships, our forbearers had no reason to seek comfort elsewhere, particularly not in imagined futures. Second, without legal or monetary systems, no mechanisms were available for trying to control the distant future. Therefore, people had no reason to concern themselves with it.
This is not to say the human spirit does not attend to the future. Like all social beings, we are hardwired to feel relational intimacy and its opposite, loneliness. It was the need to resolve feelings of loneliness that compelled humans to form emotional bonds, when they lived in Eden. And love is the natural reward they received for trusting their lives to, and taking care of, one another. Instead of trying to control the future, which is our present technique for managing future uncertainties, innate wisdom inspires us to bond, as bodies of people—the only realistic way to manage the uncertainties of the future. In no way other than inspiring us to socially bond, do our instincts project significance into the future that extends beyond the natural rhythms and seasons of life.
As subjects of laws that make each of us separately responsible for our own future wellbeing, our concerns are focused, not on the moment where our spirits live, but into the future, rendering our plans more important to us than life. Clearly, law and order is not a product of soul-felt reality, but of our personae’s perceived need to realize imagined futures. That civilizations are grounded in our imaginations, rather than in reality, offers one reason for the many ways they fail humanity, even long before they collapse.
In light of the evidence, both historical and immediate, that civilizations indeed eventually fail completely, why do we continue to believe? What we believe is not based on facts, historical or otherwise, but on our dependencies and our fears. We love our institutions because we are depending on them for identity, to define our family relationships, and to survive. We are thus blind to their failures, both immediate and historical, for the same reason a dog is blind to the mistreatment by an inconsiderate master. We, like the dog, love what we depend on for identity and sustenance, even if our unnatural dependency results in ill-treatment. This was exemplified years ago by a newspaper photo of a homeless veteran living on a dry river bed. From a broken tree limb planted beside his tent waved the flag of his nation. The monetary system authorized by the state—the very entity for which he had placed his life on the line—had relegated him to living in a dry river bed. Yet, because of his unnatural dependence on the state for a sense of identity, he loved his nation. This is not to denigrate the veteran. Despite our almost universal presumption that we have free will, we, like the veteran, continually demonstrate an almost robotic inclination to love “the system” on which we depend to survive. To blind ourselves to the mistreatment we suffer at the hands of monetary and legal systems, we blame self and others (mostly political, religious, financial, and industrial leaders), instead of our institutions. In the case of marriage, we regularly blame our spouses, ourselves, or both, for the disappointments we suffer as a result of our dependence on that institution.
Though clearly in error, this misplacement of blame that spares our institutions is really normal behavior. Based on our perceived self-interest, we have no choice but to overlook the failures of our institutions, in order to continue to believe. The problem isn’t in us. We are behaving normally. The problem is our subjugation to money and law.
After thousands of years of scapegoating one another in order to whitewash our institutions, how can we ever again place our trust in the human spirit? We can’t, until we understand why we have an emotional nature. Feelings are expressions of Nature as much as is a tree. Once we recognize how essential the role of feelings is to life, we will realize why the life of any species, ours included, must be allowed to feel its way into the future, as does the flow of water in a streambed. The flow of water is governed by its reaction to its immediate circumstances, according to the laws of gravity and fluid dynamics. Water does not react to what its circumstances might be ten miles downstream. That would destroy the flow. A species’ life is likewise governed, not by basic physical laws, but by innate wisdom whose expression reveals the presence of the human spirit. For the species to maintain the order required to sustain life’s flow, each individual must be free to react to his or her immediate circumstances according to the laws of Nature, as revealed by innate feelings.
Once we understand the significance of instincts, and recognize that life must be allowed to feel its way into the future, the next issue is: How do we divest ourselves of our personae so we can again know our real selves? The answer is deceptively simple: We must anchor our lives in relationships, not in money and law. When we trust our lives to our brothers and sisters, we are trusting, not just a few individuals. We are actually placing our trust in that massive body of situational awareness our species has accumulated through sustaining itself over evolutionary time. And what will inspire us to again trust our lives to one another’s feelings? We must first recognize the emotional price we pay for being true to our personae, not to ourselves. The cost of denying the moment transforms our existence from a real experience—where we are at one with our environment, with one another, and with all time—into an act where we are repeatedly forced to pretend how we feel, or suffer the consequences resulting, all too often, in lives of quiet desperation. Stepped as we are in such a context, we are, in effect, acting out a largely meaningless existence on a meaningless stage. Eventually, the time will come when denying our instincts will threaten our very existence. Then the central importance of living in the moment will be revealed along with its onerous toll of moments lost and lives not lived. Only then will we perceive that it is in our self-interests to anchor our lives in relationships, instead of money and law.
Saving our species and the planet will never result from good intentions. It will require that we form natural social bonds through which we can be true to ourselves in our relationships with one another. The idea that we can save the planet by intent represents another of the simpleminded constructs our personae use to transfer significance into the future. Should sufficient numbers of us start attending to our real needs, thus to the real needs of our brothers and sisters, our species and the planet will take care of themselves.
Spiritual freedom, meaning the freedom to participate in the life of our species, will be initiated by ordinary folks from the ground up. It will never be imposed top down by governments or institutions. All the children yet to be born have only us to count on, to save the species. Governments offer rights and privileges to people and to themselves. In no jurisdiction is the species even a stakeholder. This is not by accident. Governments do not occupy the same existential plane as the human spirit. Only the human spirit possesses the sensibilities required to serve life. Because of our current institutional dependency, we yield to governments the authority to preside over the “game of life.” But, because they do not recognize life’s fundamental issue is species survival, governments don’t even know where the ballpark is. And, because they do not realize that intimacy/happiness is the reward we receive for being true to life, governments are unaware of the most fundamental feature of life’s real game. To save our species we must regain our natural state of Eden where the two issues of intimacy and our species’ wellbeing are again paramount. This will require that we take leave of the presumption that our salvation lies in the promise of institutional or supernatural authorities. Life, and the future children of our species are depending on us to be true to ourselves. The onus is on us, which, as I see it, was Jesus’ message when he implied that the divinity we seek resides within.
To again participate in life’s process will require, of course, that we relearn many skills. But one thing we will not have to learn is about relationships. Everything it is possible to know about relationships is contained in our innate wisdom. But, again, to be true to what we intuitively know about one another’s real needs, we must trust our lives to a body of people, not to money and law. Jesus told us this when he said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven—Matthew 19:24.” I will take it a step further: Whether rich or poor, as long as we depend on money, instead of people, to secure material needs, we will never know enduring spiritual fulfillment. To know spiritual fulfillment is what I believe Jesus had in mind when he referred to the kingdom of heaven.
To again trust our lives to the human spirit, after centuries of indoctrination in spiritual distrust, will require, not only surrendering our paper identities, but also a leap of faith that humans have never previously managed, nor even considered. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Not realizing it is through the human spirit that Nature takes care of life, we are of little faith when it comes to being true to life. This is why we insist on clear pictures of the future consequences before any step we take. There are three reasons why that clear picture, on which we are basing our judgments, is really a collection of illusions: 1) Any image of the future that extends beyond the normal rhythms and seasons of life is not an expression of soul-felt reality, but imagined; 2) Other than momentarily, no image of the distant future can long satisfy our real emotional needs, even when realized; 3) Our species cannot possibly survive indefinitely, with its members ignoring one another in pursuit of various imagined futures of their own creation. Possessed, as we are, by our personae’s compulsion to pursue future plans, our greatest hurdle in returning to Eden will be to surrender those plans. Future plans, and trust in Nature as manifested through the human spirit, cannot possibly coexist. Because our identities are presently referenced largely in our plans, surrendering them won’t be easy. The authors of Genesis were aware of the difficulty as revealed with the following passage:
After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden a cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life—Genesis 3:24.
Regaining our spiritual freedom, you see, is the equivalent of figuring out how to get back past that angel wielding the flamethrowing sword.
If our present way of life is indeed not working, then the lessons of history made evident by the cyclic fall of civilizations are true. Their apocalyptic ends leave no room for doubt. Though there will be ups and downs, our circumstances will eventually deteriorate to the point that increasing numbers will find no way to continue. Then we will have a choice: We can either place our lives on the line by revolting against the institutions we once worshipped, which is how humans have traditionally managed such situations, or we can take the leap of faith required to again place our trust in the human spirit.
Should sufficient numbers of us perceive it to be in our self-interest to take the leap of faith, and should the human spirit indeed prove trustworthy, then the truth will soon become self-evident through the intimacy shared by those who are trusting their lives to their brothers and sisters. Spiritual freedom may well spread quickly, far more quickly than we can now imagine. When others see what is going on, they will want to be part of it. They too will be drawn to seek out and recognize their soul brothers and sisters.
When we return to Eden, intimacy will not be an abstract thing. It will be the very core of our way of life for the simple reason that, in our natural state, living alone is not practical. Today, it is possible to live alone, or in pairs, only because monetary and legal systems provide artificial methods to attain resources, such as clothing, shelter and food, and provide security. But how well do these systems actually provision us, and how secure are we? As I write this, a significant portion of the world’s population—many of them living in the wealthiest of nations—continue to suffer from malnutrition or starvation. Indeed, in the state where I live 14% of the elderly, 20% of the general population, many of whom are hard workers, and 25% of the children do not know where their next meal is coming from. And regarding safety, some sixty years ago the world suffered a great war, during which horrors happened that we could not previously have imagined. Do you think our imaginations can encompass what might happen the next time around? Ask anyone over sixty. Virtually to a person they person they will tell you that they are glad they came along when they did. They can’t imagine what their grandchildren might have to face.
The simple fact is, the world is not a safe place, nor has it ever been. The only issue is how to manage the danger? Are we going to find safety in intimacy? Or will we find it in weapons of mass destruction we deploy to protect the institutions that authorize paper identities, the very identities that enable us, indeed force us, to live alone or in pairs? In spite of our institutions’ promises of safety and plenty, we deeply suspect that dreadful times may well be on the way. This is evident, not only in the concerns of our more mature citizens, but in the history of past failures of civilizations, the ever-greater fragility of our monetary systems, and the increasingly apocalyptic themes in movies and other forms of entertainment.
As things stand, we have few options in managing our anxiety about the future. All we can do is try to make our savings last, or make enough money to secure needed resources, so we do not end up alone, undernourished, homeless, and dispossessed. While doing all this, we must hope that the monetary system, itself, doesn’t fail, plunging us into a world without access to basic needs such as heat, water, food, and protection.
Spiritual freedom offers the only alternative. If we bond with our brothers and sisters in spiritual trust, meaning without separate bank accounts or rules on file that prescribe how we intend to serve one another, we will manage the dangers of today’s world much as our distant ancestors managed the dangers of theirs. Having secured our lives in relationships, we, like them, will be as concerned with the needs of our brothers and sisters as we are for our own.
One might ask, but hasn’t this already been tried? Not likely. Spiritual freedom requires that we know why feelings exist, inexplicably an issue humans have never previously addressed. People in Eden didn’t understand the role of feelings, but it didn’t matter. Without monetary or legal systems, they had nothing to trust other than the human spirit. For us it matters, because unless we recognize the central role of feelings regarding both intimacy and sustainability, there is no rationale for spiritual freedom. Sans belief in the human spirit, we have no option other than continue spiritually enslaving ourselves to rules in order to manage our fear of the future.
No one knows what the future holds. Whatever is to come, clearly we are aware of the danger. Taking the leap of faith, by which we would cleanse ourselves of our personae, offers the simple comfort of relational intimacy and the profound relief of knowing we will not have to face the future alone. You see, people offer something that bank accounts can’t. When we secure our lives by loving people, instead of money, people love us back.
If life is what is important to us, then we are all losers. None of us, including eventually even our species, are getting out of this alive. If love is what is important to us, then we are all winners, but only if we re-establish relationships in which the wellbeing of those around us is as important to us as our own.
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama said, “He is so anxious about the future, that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the present or the future, but lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”