Humankind’s Biggest Problem

Deception occurs throughout nature.  For example, there’s the insect that evolved to look like a twig to avoid predators or the orchid that evolved to look like a particular bumblebee so as to get pollinated.  Not surprisingly, when our earliest ancestors developed spoken language, we started telling lies.  You can just imagine some caveman named Og saying, “Og no find yummy berries down by river.  Og find yummy berries up on hill.”  But actually, that lying sack of shit Og DID find the yummy berries growing down by the river but he wants to keep them all to himself.  I hate that ass hole!  Fast forward to the year 2003; there was another caveman saying, “If Cheney no find weapons of mass destruction down by Tigris River, Cheney find weapons of mass destruction up near Kirkuk.”  It seems that our species’ relationship with truth has not changed much in the last few hundred thousand years. 

But as our species began telling lies, the problem arose that lying is tricky because subtlest inflections of your speech or body language can give you away to the discerning eye.  Therefore, the most effective liars are the ones who, on some weird level, actually believe the lie themselves.  Therein lies humankind’s biggest problem: Human beings in general but politicians, bureaucrats and corporate executives in particular have the most amazing capacity for talking themselves into believing absolutely ridiculous things when doing so happens to be convenient – convenient for a career, convenient for a profit margin or convenient for an egocentric, inbred, perverse little model of reality.  So, whenever politicians, bureaucrats or corporate executives speak, the big question on my mind is: Are they lying to us or lying to themselves? 

“The wise & invisible hand of the free market is the most appropriate mechanism for regulating the production and distribution of goods and services.”

Lying to us or lying to themselves?

“We’re gonna have to kill lots of people in order to make America safe.”

Lying to us or lying to themselves?

“We may be creating some problems for future generations, but don’t worry, technology will solve them.”

Lying to us or lying to themselves?

“The United States is inherently good & right.  We are admired the world over as great champions of freedom & democracy”

Lying to us or lying to themselves?

It is a celebrated truism of the annoyingly named “New Age Spirituality Movement” that HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS MUST CHANGE for world peace and environmental sanity to prevail.  But this idea isn’t discussed in the mainstream discourse presumably because it is viewed as being vague & abstract.  But there is NOTHING vague or abstract about the ignorance, denial, delusion and psychopathic behavior exhibited by those with their hands on the levers of power in the world.

Our magnificent leaders occupy a spectrum of human behavior.  On one end of that spectrum is willful ignorance: they might not be very bright and they don’t especially care to know information that conflicts with their comfortable world view.  Next on that spectrum are self-deception, denial and delusion.  Politicians and corporate executives are particularly adept at our very human capacity for talking ourselves into believing completely ridiculous shit when doing so happens to be convenient.  This is how they can wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror, genuinely believe that their behavior is acceptable and then go about their day viscously shafting future generations.  At the other end of this spectrum is psychopathic behavior.  About one or two percent of humans qualify as psychopaths.  They are neurologically incapable of experiencing guilt or remorse.  They don’t have a conscience.  While many psychopaths are in prison, some of the higher functioning ones scurry like rats up the ladders of success in politics or corporations – places where a little treachery can serve you quite well.  When I call Dick Cheney a psychopath, I’m not trying to be shrill or provocative.  I’m trying to speak accurately.  The man is textbook diagnosable as a psychopath.  He told bald faced lies about weapons of mass destruction, turned Iraq into a sloppy goat fuck and then has the ginormous, narcissistic balls to do conservative talk shows ragging on about what a bad job Obama is doing in the Middle East.

If we had a friend who was an abusive alcoholic, we’d be saying all kinds of   things about human psychology.  We’d be saying, “Gosh, he’s in a lot of denial.  How are we going to get him into counseling?  How are we going to get him to do some soul-searching?”  Meanwhile, the people running the world are in blind, screaming shit house denial or some of them are psychopaths and all we can say is, “That politician is sleazy.  That corporate executive is greedy.”  Is this really the best we can do?  Sigmund Freud died in 1939.  Modern psychology is not a new and unheard of science.  It’s high time we brought the full weight of modern psychology to bear on the people running the world because they are running it off the edge of a cliff.

Do you ever think about your thoughts?  Do our thoughts just pop into our heads out of nowhere?  Or is it a little more likely, a little more plausible that our thoughts come percolating up from a subtler, quieter place deep inside of us?  A place of greater silence, clarity and peace?  Although most of us have little direct experience of it, it is part & parcel of sentient consciousness that we all have a vast ocean of silence, clarity and peace lying deep inside of us.  Put another way, when you take our consciousness and strip away all the words, emotions, thoughts, dreams, beliefs and feelings, there is something that remains in the absence of all those things.  It is the space between the thoughts or the field lying beneath the thoughts.  It is eternal.  It was here before we were born.  It’ll be here after we’re gone.  It is what we all share in common.  It is where we are all one.

I am convinced that the degree to which we have contact with that ocean of silence, clarity and peace is the degree to which we shall tend to believe what is true as distinct from believing what happens to be convenient.  It is the degree to which we shall think clearly – eradicating humankind’s cognitive, perceptual deficiency.

People have the misconception that in meditation, you seek to clear your mind, but if your mind was truly clear, you’d be asleep or in a coma.  In a successful meditation, you are very much aware, but your awareness is very broad and silent.  Meditation is good at helping people to cope with stress because it is like taking a few steps back and thus putting things into perspective.  Anyone owning a car would be considered foolish if they didn’t keep the engine tuned up and keep the oil changed.  Meanwhile, we all have a machine much more complicated than an internal combustion engine sitting on top of our shoulders.  What could make more sense than taking a little time every day to make sure that it’s running smoothly.

It is widely accepted that when learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument, it is better to practice for 30 minutes every day rather than 3 1/2 hours once a week – even though the overall length of time is the same.  Likewise, an important aspect of a meditation practice is regularity and consistency.  You want to meditate every day, day in and day out, for this is how you bring greater silence, peace and clarity into your everyday state of consciousness.  It is a matter of systematically grooming and conditioning your consciousness.  To make the point, I’ll apply some arbitrary numbers to something that is clearly unquantifiable.  Let’s just say you’ve started your twice daily meditation practice.  You’ve meditated for the first time.  You achieved a degree of stillness, but then you go out into your daily activity and the stillness fades.  That evening you sit to have your second meditation, but what you don’t realize is that there is .0000001 percent of the stillness from the morning’s meditation still present in you.  So, you have your second meditation, finish your evening, go to bed and then wake up in the morning to have your third meditation, but what you don’t realize is that there is still .0000002 percent of the stillness from the previous two meditations present inside of you.  And so it goes, day after day, you build up more and more silence, clarity, peace and stillness.  This is how you transform your consciousness.

I like meditation because I’ve been doing it since I was 17, but there are various ways that people find silence: singing, dancing, gardening, walking in nature, making love, etc.  But I believe that meditation is the most deliberate, direct approach, but whichever path you choose, the important thing is regularity and consistency.

I would like to submit that the development of human consciousness is the single most important thing that any of us can be doing.  We don’t need to go live in a monastery or a cave.  We can still do our activism and service, but first and foremost, human beings have got to start thinking differently.  By definition, changing human consciousness is up to each and every one of us.  There is a lot of cutting edge science to suggest that as we each individually work to change our consciousness, those who are NOT working to change their consciousness will be pulled up by their bootstraps and the overall process will become easier for all of us.  So let’s get to work.