Nature of the Psyche, Session 799
A dissertation on the nature of man, for your edification.
You realize that a tiger, following its nature, is not evil. Looking at your own species you are often less kindly, less compassionate, less understanding. It is easy to condemn your own kind.
It may be difficult for you to understand, but your species means well. You understand that the tiger exists in a certain environment, and reacts according to his nature. So does man. Even his atrocities are committed in a distorted attempt to reach what he considers good goals. He fails often to achieve the goals, or even to understand how his very methods prevent their attainment.
He is indeed as blessed as the animals, however, and his failures are the results of his lack of understanding. He is directly faced with a far more complex conscious world than the other animals are, dealing particularly with symbols and ideas that are then projected outward into reality, where they are to be tested. If they could be tested mentally in your context, there would be no need for physical human existence.
Too many complicated issues are connected here, so that I must at best simplify. It is as if man said: “Now what about this idea? What can we do with it? What will happen if we toss it out into reality, physically? How far can we go with any of the great social, scientific, religious ideas that are so peculiarly the offshoots of man’s mind?”
If such issues could all be mentally worked out on some nonphysical drawing board, again, the great challenge of physical existence would be neither necessary nor meaningful. How far, say, can nationalism be carried? To what extent can the world be treated as if it were external to man, as an object? What can man learn by treating the body as if it were a machine? As if it were a mirage? As if it were driven by blind instinct? As if it were possessed by a soul?
To some extent, these are all unique and creative ponderings that on the part of the animals alone would be considered the most curious and enlightening intellectual achievements. The animals must relate to the earth, and so must man. As the animal must play, mate, hunt his prey or eat his berries within the physical context of sun, ground, trees, snow, hail and wind, so in a different way man must pursue his ideas by clothing them in the elemental realities of earth, by perceiving them as events.
When he is destructive, man does not seek to be destructive per se; but in a desire to achieve that which he thinks of as a particular goal that to him is good, he forgets to examine the goodness of his methods.
One animal chasing and killing its prey serves the greater purpose of preserving the balance of nature, whether or not the animal is aware of this – and again, the animal’s intent is not evil. Man consumes ideas. In so doing he contributes to a different kind of balance, of which he is usually unaware. But no man truly acts out of the pure intent to do wrong, or to be vicious. Storms rend the summer sky, sending forth thunder and lightning. Earthquakes may ravage the countryside. You may deeply regret the havoc worked, knowing that neither the storm nor the earthquake is evil. Not only did you have no wrong intent, but the overall condition corrected the earth’s balance.
This requires some unique understanding. I am aware of that – and yet the destructive storms worked by mankind ultimately cannot be said to be any more evil than the earthquake. While man’s works may often certainly appear destructive, you must not blame man’s intent, nor must you ever make the error of confusing man with his works. For many well-intentioned artists, with the best of intentions, produce at times shoddy works of art, all the more disappointing and deplorable to them because of the initial goodness of their intent.
Their lack of knowledge and techniques and methods then become quite plain. By concentrating too deeply upon the world of newspapers and the negative reports of man’s actions, it is truly easy to lose sight of what I tell you is each man’s and woman’s basic good intent.
That intent may be confused, poorly executed, tangled amid conflicts of beliefs, strangled by the bloody hands of murders and wars – and yet no man or woman ever loses it. That represents the hope of the species, and it has ever remained lit, like a bright light within each member of the species; and that good intent is handed down through the generations. It is far more potent, that illumination, than any hates or national grudges that may be passed along.
It is imperative, for any peace of mind, that you believe in that existence of man’s innate good intent.
It is shared by all of the other animals. Each animal knows that under certain conditions the other may fight or posture aggressively, or defend its nest. Each animal knows that in time of hunger it might be hunted by another. Except for those situations, however, the animals are not afraid of each other. They know that each other animal is of good intent.
Grant your own species the same.
Make a distinction in your mind between man and man’s works. Argue all you want against his works, as you read in your newspapers of errors, stupidities, treachery or war. Collect pages and reams of such material if it suits your fancy – and I am speaking not only to you, or to Ruburt, but to anyone who hopes to find a hint of truth, peace of mind, or creativity.
Collect books of man’s failures. I do not personally know why anyone would collect the worst works of any artist, and get pleasure in ripping them apart. Man has produced some fine works: The high level of verbal communication, the multitudinous varieties of emotional interactions and of cultural exchange, the facility with exteriorization of ideas and concepts, the reaches of the imagination – all of these, and many others, are unique in the universe.
To identify man with his poorest works is to purposefully seek out the mars, the mistakes, of a fine artist, and then to condemn him. To do this is to condemn yourselves personally. If a scientist says consciousness is the result of chance, or Darwin’s theories say that basically man is a triumphant son of murders, many people object. If you say, however, that men are idiots, or that they are not worth the ground they walk upon, you are saying the same thing. For you must be concerned with this reality as you know it; in those terms, to condemn man is to condemn the species as you know it, and the practical terms of your world.
To say that people can escape to another probability is pragmatically a cop-out – this is apart from the reality of probabilities, for I am speaking from your emotional viewpoint.
Physically your body has a stance in space and time. I will speak of primary and secondary experience. Let us call primary experience that which exists immediately in sense terms in your moment of time – the contact of body with environment. I am creating certain divisions here to make our discussion – or monologue – easier. Therefore, I will call secondary experience that information that comes to you through, say, reading, television, discussion with others, letters, and so forth.
The secondary kind of experience is largely symbolic. This should be clear. Reading about a war in the middle of a quiet, sunny afternoon is not the same thing as being in the war, however vivid the description. Reading about the energy shortage is not the same as sitting in a cold house. Reading about the possible annihilation of mankind through nuclear destruction or other stupidities, while you are sitting calmly enough in your living room, is obviously far divorced from the actuality described in an article.
At the levels with which you are concerned, the body must primarily react to present, immediate, primary existence in space and time. At other levels it is equipped to handle many kinds of data, in that I have mentioned before the precognition of cells. But the body depends on the conscious mind to give it a clear assessment of precise conditions of the space and time it occupies. It depends upon that knowledge.
If you are safely ensconced in a comfortable room, in no present danger, your senses should accurately convey that information. Your conscious mind should assimilate it. It should be an easy enough accomplishment to look around you and see that you are in no danger.
Your conscious mind is meant to give your body an assessment of what I will call cultural conditions, for there are sophistications and specifications that in your terms consciousness alone can assess. If, under conditions naturally safe in the terms of primary experience, you become overwhelmed by unsafe signals from secondary experience – that is, from your reading or whatever – you show a lack of discrimination. You are not able to differentiate between the physically safe present situation, and the imagined, which is perhaps unsafe, calling forth the alarms of danger.
The body mechanisms become highly disoriented. The signals to the body are very contradictory, so that after a while, if such conditions continue, you can no longer tell whether you are in actual danger or imagined danger. Your mind then forces your body to be in a state of constant alert – but more unfortunately, you train yourself to ignore your direct, sensual feedback in the present moment.
Your body then might say you are safe, and your senses show you that no danger is present – yet you have begun to rely so upon the secondary experience that you do not trust your creature reactions.
Because of man’s great gift of imagination, however, the alarm signals not only invade a safe present moment, but go jangling into the next one and the one following, and are endlessly projected into the future. To whatever extent, and in whatever fashion, each individual is therefore robbed of his or her belief in the personal ability to act meaningfully or with purpose in the present.
The body cannot act tomorrow, today. Its sense data must be clear. This resulting feeling of powerlessness to act leads to a state of hopelessness of varying degrees – and that mood does not tie itself to specific details, but pervades emotional life if it is allowed to. To whatever degree, the condemning, critical material too often becomes self-prophesying – for those who put merit on it allow it to cloud their reactions.
In your terms, while you live, and in the most pertinent terms of intimate sensation, your reality must be what you perceive in the framework of your time, and what you create within that framework as it is experienced. Therefore, I entreat you not to behave as if man will destroy himself in some future – not to behave as if man is an imbecile, doomed to extinction, a dimwitted, half-crazy animal with a brain gone amuck.
None of the prophesied destruction man so fears is a reality in your time; nor, for all of the critical prophets through the ages, and the forerunners of doom, has the creativity of man destroyed itself in those terms.
There are those who make careers of condemning the faults and failings of others, or of the species itself, and because of that attitude man’s great energy and good intent remain invisible. Man is in the process of becoming. His works are flawed – but they are the flawed apprentice works of a genius artist in the making, whose failures are indeed momentous and grotesque only in the light of his sensed genius, which ever leads him and directs him onward.
When you are considering the future in your terms, constructive achievements are as realistic as destructive ones. In those terms, each year of man’s existence in fact justifies a more optimistic rather than pessimistic view. You cannot place man’s good intent outside of the physical context, for outside of that context you do not have the creature that you know. You cannot say that nature is good, but spawned man, which is a cancer upon it, for nature would have better sense. You cannot say, either that “Nature” will destroy man if he offends her, or that “Nature” has little use for its own species, but only wants to promote “Life” for “Nature” is within each member of each species; and without each member of each species, “Nature” could be nonexistent.
Because you are natural creatures, within you there is a natural state of being. That state can be an ever-present reservoir of peace, vitality, and understanding.
Whatever your scientists think, your body and your consciousness and your universe spring constantly into actualization. Therefore, through cultivating the clear experience of your own consciousness and being with time and with the moment as you feel it, you can draw upon the greater vitality and power that is available.
To do this, rely upon your immediate sense data, not secondary experience as described. That primary sense data, while pinpointed in the present, providing you with the necessary stance in time, still can open up to you the timelessness from which all time emerges, can bring you intuitive intimations, hinting at the true nature of the ever-present coming-to-be of the universe.
That kind of experience will let you glimpse the larger patterns of man’s creativity, and your part in it. You have been taught to concentrate upon criticisms and faults in your society; and in your times it seems that everything will work out wrong – that left alone the world will run down, the universe will die, man will destroy himself; and these beliefs so infiltrate your behavior that they organize much of your experience and rob you of the benefits nature itself everywhere provides in direct primary experience.
Often then you ignore your senses’ reality in the world – the luxurious vitality and comfort of the daily moment – by exaggerating the importance of secondary experience as defined for this discussion.
The most negative projection or prophecy seems to be the most practical one; when you are reading of the world’s ills, you say in all honesty, and with no humor: “How can I ignore the reality, the destructive reality, of the present?” In the most practical, immediate, mundane terms, however, you and your world are in that moment naturally and physically safe, as your bodily senses immediately perceive. In the most basic of bodily terms you are not reacting to present conditions.
This would be only too clear if you were physically experiencing the conditions about which you might be reading. If the world were falling about your shoulders, you would only too clearly understand that “earlier” you were reacting to an imagined and not a real situation.
I am afraid that I think some of this will still escape you – meaning Ruburt, yourself, and others. But while disasters, imagined or encountered second-handedly, may in fact later occur, they are far different from physically encountered ones. You only add to their unfortunate nature by negatively brooding upon what might happen in the future, and you destroy your own stance. Your stance in time is highly important, for it is your practical base of operations.
You must trust your sense data in that regard. Otherwise you confuse your psychological and corporal stance, for the body cannot be in a situation of safety and danger at the same time. It wastes its resources fighting imaginary battles’
To some people wars, poverty, murder, treachery, corruption, are primary experience, and must be dealt with – as requiring immediate action. The body must react. Such persons are beaten up, or robbed. Those are immediate sense data, and in one way or another they do react. However feebly, their point of power corresponds immediately with the point of danger.
You cannot react physically in the same way to projected or imagined dangers. There seems to be no possible reaction. You are frustrated. You are meant to deal with your immediate, primary experience, and in so doing you take care of your responsibility. You are able to take action in your own experience, and therefore affect others. You do not have to be ignorant of wars in other corners of the world, or close your eyes. But if you allow those experiences to overcloud your present, valid intersection with reality, then you speak and act from a position not your own, and deny the world whatever benefits your own present version of reality might allow you to give.
The natural creature-validity of your senses must remain clear, and only then can you take full advantage of those intuitions and visions that must come through your own private intersection with space and time.
In those terms, the ever-actual integrity of nature everywhere surrounds you. It represents your direct experience. It offers comfort, creativity, and inspiration that you only impede if you allow secondary experience to supersede your daily moment-to-moment encounter with the physical earth.