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..:: Questions I ::..


Alan Schneider


             Probably the single most important question facing humanity today is “What is the optimal condition for individual human beings to exist in?” What are the defining circumstances of this state of being? How can they (or can they at all, or even should they) be created in real time? This article will address these questions, and attempt to answer them. 

            We must begin with a realistic view of what we are given by the biological and evolutionary creative mechanism to work with in what we experience as life. The common edifice of living experience is the human body for us all. Whether we like it or not, this body imposes a set of limitations on our awareness and existence. These limitations include: 1) an apparently time-bounded conscious waking perception that has a beginning with the first infantile differentiation of the ego (I am not my environment), a fundamentally transitory sensory manifestation (my experience emerges from chaos, is momentary, and passes into memory following manifestation), and an ending at that physical failure of the organism to sustain our ongoing streams of momentary conscious impressions known as physical death. 2) The effects generated by the Psyche on our conscious experience – perception of socio-biological need states (hunger, thirst, sleep, shelter, sex, companionship) – perception of existential need states (meaning, purpose, love, security, morality, karma, causality, philosophy) – and emergent perception of largely unconscious need states (traumas, archetypal symbols, dreams, creativity impulses). What we accept with a fair degree of certainty is 3) All of these circumstances are fundamentally temporary and will, at the very least, be subject to either termination or gross modification at death. Those as yet relatively few individuals among us who have extensively investigated the psychology of perception may have evidence to contribute to the world regarding the possibility of post-mortal ongoing states of perception, but this evidence still occurs among the living, and is reported by the living to the living. Even the extended perceptions of the Presence of the Logos at the center of all manifestation are nonetheless subject to communication as the medium of cultural transmission of those perceptions, and culture is demonstrated among the living. The body, the central nervous system, the physical senses, and the acculturated ego determine all that we experience in life, and the formation of the value systems that we will use to screen our ongoing experience as well. 

            So, the first priorities of optimization must concern the well-being of the physical organism, and the physical plane of experience – the only one that we can be sure of through the senses we all hold in common. These two phenomena are interactive – the body and the physical environment in which it exists heavily influence each other, and must be considered together in our discussion.  The physical organism arises from,  returns to, and is inseparable from, the physical environment.  

            The key factor in human optimization is seen in the concept of homeostasis – the process by which the total organism (i.e. both physical and psychological) naturally seeks a balance of the complex array of need state gratifications present in human perception. The type of needs and level of gratification required to achieve homeostasis are determined by Karma, or destiny, or fate, as designated by whatever verbal representation one prefers to use, and this condition is also subject to evolution – as we pass through life, our interaction with the environment can change our perception and our destiny, hopefully in directions that tend to augment improved homeostasis, but not always. Many people remain ignorant as the requirement of their Karma in life – this is their fate for this incarnation, and this fate cannot be significantly altered by any amount of communication. A symptom of this ignorance can be considered to be the determined belief that this life is the only life, and that no other mode of existence can or will ever be manifest. Even if this is the case, and perhaps especially if this is the case, we must still focus on the goal of optimal homeostasis for the best possible outcome of the human condition.  

            What constitutes the set of circumstances that tends to optimize homeostasis? Probably the first requirement is optimal personal security for the individual organism. This is not a condition of total security, however – total security is unattainable to human beings, and is unhealthy in any case because we need the ongoing challenge of a certain extent of instability to provoke psychological and spiritual growth.  In a word, we need a certain amount of prodding to sustain a healthy state of mind! Optimal personal security is a dicey matter to characterize – what is optimal for one person is often harmful for another, and optimal homeostasis also changes with personal psychological and environmental conditions at the individual level. But there are some general considerations that can be stated on the matter. A sustained level of physical threat to the body from whatever source is something that, at the very least, should be viewed with suspicion as being anti-homeostatic. A condition of manifest physical harm to the body is even more suspect – the circumstances under which such harm can be constructive are very rare indeed, although they tend to be gloried in the popular narratives of many modern cultures. Such glorification is misguided and manipulative – this activity frequently benefits the interests of a largely occult sector of society that I have identified in previous articles as the Culture of Conflict – world military organizations and the manufacturing entities that support them. 

            Here we see a real split in human perception into the two groups that are present everywhere as economic mega-factors – social predators and social victims. The predators tend to compose the majority influences present in the Culture of Conflict, and constitute the determining factor in human affairs.  As long as violence and warfare appear to be profitable, we will find both glorified in popular cultural narratives. What is needed to combat(!) this trend is a massive, world-wide cultural reeducation program that deemphasizes not only the profitability of conflict, but the acceptability of conflict as a social problem solving tool.  Since conflict is a natural result of human ignorance, it will tend to be the default mode resorted to in many interactions – the obverse condition of compassion has to be learned, and should be taught to our children as a viable perceptual alternative as early on as possible. This inevitably involves the concept of personal sacrifice for the common good – admittedly a tough sell to the predators, but what are we here for if not to rise to life’s challenges?  If we fail as a group to successfully address this first condition of optimal security, we will necessarily fail to address all subsequent issues involved in optimal homeostasis. Ultimately, we must lay down our arms for the sake of human advancement.

            The companion issue to the deemphasis of violence is the world-wide institution of population control measures. Without the  effect of population attrition caused by conflict, and even with this effect present as seen today, the exploding human population poses a premier threat to optimal security and optimal homeostasis.  Again, this problem can only be successfully addressed by a world-wide reeducation campaign that glorifies birth control instead of violence, and makes intentional family planning the norm in all cultures.  If these two reeducation efforts can somehow be instituted, we may still have a chance as a race. If not, I must observe here that our days are numbered, and the number is coming up fast. My personal homeostasis involves the concept of hope for human affairs, and I prefer to believe that there is still hope for humanity.  This belief is mirrored in the gift of this article for my newsletter, my website, and my life as a good man. 

            Assuming the eventual success of the aforementioned reeducation schema (and this is a hefty assumption), and the achievement of optimal security thereby, there remains a series of subsequent considerations to be pondered for the attainment of optimal homeostasis. The advantage of conflict in human affairs is that it is inherently challenging. With this factor deemphasized, and breeding concomitantly deemphasized, a new conceptualization of challenge will be needed to prevent human stagnation. Where will this come from, and what will it be?

            Again, we must consider the body as the common arbiter of experience. If we do not glorify death through combat, and life through reproduction, what will be the result for our existence?  If we are doomed anyway, why bother to make any attempt to  achieve any kind of homeostasis at all? Simply because, as organism, we must. And as long as we must, optimization of the process is still a viable concern. What is needed is a new view of optimization that is much less oriented toward external objects as sources of gratification, and much more oriented toward internal self-investigation as a source of gratification. And this will be another tough sell – this time to prey and predator alike, because they all have egos, and the ego is naturally disposed to avoid change, while seeking stability in the process. Why? Because change is uncertain and unpredictable as a mechanism, and brings with it the specter of the final change in life – death.  All of these are understandably frightening to the ego, tasked as it is with physical survival and gratification  as its priorities. Self-investigation is the essential enabler of change, and the ego avoids this process like the plague, preferring comfortable habit formation as the alternative – even harmful habits are preferable to an uncertain future as far as the ego is concerned!  

            Internal self-investigation is difficult, even when freely chosen as the alternative, constructive habit of choice. The world encountered when we turn away from the ego and physical senses is initially dark and confusing. All of what we fear and despise has been thrust into the darkness of the unconscious, and this is where internal investigation must eventually lead us. All of this negative material must be acknowledged, accepted, and released in the process of internal exploration. As Fredrick Perls once said “To suffer ones death, and be reborn, is not easy!” This is the fundamental process at work in self-investigation – psychological death and rebirth. As someone who has spent much of his life involved with personal exploration, I can attest to the absolute validity of Perl’s remark. “Not easy” is an understatement! Yet, as responsible human beings, we must rise to this challenge as the best possible alternative available among many others that may be more comfortable, but are essentially personally and socially dishonest. 

            All this boils down to risk-taking in the face of a threatening-eventual-outcome scenario. It would appear that we have the choice of accepting an external threat or an internal threat – the prey/predator dichotomy versus the self-exploration imperative. It is perhaps a sobering comment on our mortal circumstances that this is what life can be condensed to. If we do not select the external battle (and we may not have much choice about this, as effected by our culture), we must select the internal battle for the sake of our mental health as the alternative. Either way, the meaning of life, as Jung observed, is that it is a battle. Perhaps the fundamentally turbulent and chaotic conditions that established, and still constitute, the balance of factors that make life possible on Earth also make our battles inevitable and necessary.  This is, in fact, the conclusion that I have arrived at now, at the current perceptual terminus of my life. And I have come to the realization that many of life’s enormous problems may never be solved by any scenario, not by the ones suggested in this article, nor any other. We must still live in hope.


                                                                             - With Love, Alan -

                                                                      (CR2008, Alan Schneider)


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