BELIEFS AND THEIR CONFIRMATION
THE MODERN HUMAN ANIMAL
Modern day humans feel and see their body and the world around them quite differently to other animals. We have changed animal behaviour and their way of being in the world, with our new understanding of life. Our modern training of focussed selective attention, with its brilliant ability to handle abstract thinking, has completely overwhelmed our original feeling for life, we have to fight for survival in a completely different way.
We'd have imagined by adding abstract thought to our basic sensory abilities, we would be far more successful than other animals. For a short three million years it seemed to be working out well. But recently, suddenly, we have developed enough nuclear bombs to destroy all life on the planet, and with an ever-increasing variety of methods, we are destroying animal species, our environment and ourselves.
And simultaneously we have lost the basic animal talent, for the balanced use of our sensory abilities.
ONE SIDED LEARNING
In the modern world, we teach children to connect words and symbols and to develop their focussing abilities: - concentration, memory, and abstract thought, at an increasingly early age. But at the same time we are learning to neglect our broadband abilities at an increasingly early age. We are actively and directly undermining and overwhelming our broadband abilities before they have even started to develop.
Modern man has lost and we are ignoring, part of how we always sensed the world around us, part of how we managed to survive for millions of years.
Animal identity is based on their inner body feeling. Their relationship with the world is experienced and understood by both the broadband and focussed use of their senses. In addition, they identify with their territory, and have and give mutual confirmation within their social group.
Humans had all that animals have, and then, as described in detail in The Amazing Development of Focussing, we started developing our focussing abilities with our talent for abstract thought.
Humans were successful as a species, because we learnt to focus with our senses, and with our minds. We developed memory systems with abstract words and symbols. Humans processed, collected, and communicated ideas quickly, and we soon learnt to repeat an amazing amount of tricks. From fashioning stone-axes and aiming arrows, - to reading and writing.
We focussed on the things we enjoyed, we wanted to repeat them. And what amazing fun fire must have been for thousands of years - and humans still love playing with wheels. We learnt, repeated and developed what was pleasurable ... we developed comfortable cultural habitual ruts.
It is a multi-efficient system. Learnt habitual repetitive ruts, the lessons of the past, are essential, - and basically they are enjoyable and successful.
We secured our survival and overcame our angst and insecurity with our ability to focus on abstract ideas, remember the things we learnt (focus on a memory), associate thoughts, and be clever and creative, ... quite different habitual ruts to those of animals.
BELIEFS and THEIR CONFIRMATION
Over time, we started focussing more and more on ideas. - And from the first ruminations on the meaning of the moon, or a flash of lightning, till ''what is death?'' and ''why am I?'', we developed beliefs. This was a new level of understanding, and being in the world. A level of understanding the connections between abstract ideas.
When we found gods to believe in, the relationship between individuals, groups, and the whole universe became secure or at least negotiable. This was an enormous step away from our animal heritage. Since humans developed beliefs, they became the central priority for our sense of reality, identity and security in the world.
Human cultures passed ideas and customs down through thousands of generations. And up to a hundred years ago, - even though humans were often hungry and cold - we lived with a social consensus of ideas, customs, beliefs and opinions.
Our sense of belonging and identity was found within our social group. The communal identity within our group, with each other and in relation to a big picture of the world, was confirmed by each other. We knew who we were, and we believed in ourselves. Confirmation is literally with belief.
In ancient cultures, the beliefs united a tribe. And it didn't really matter much if we all believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, that the stars were the children of the sun and the moon; - because for our sense of identity and security, the confirmation of the tribe was far more important than the truth.
But slowly, over the last few centuries, any trace of the original animal social sense of belonging disappeared; and now we have even lost mutual confirmation in our social group. Our beliefs are insecure in a way no humans in any previous culture have ever experienced, or even imagined, and so regardless of our modern material security, we all still feel insecure.
In modern times, with the cultural meltdown, the beliefs which were central to our understanding of life, the ones which gave our tribe identity and security, the ones which over time, in free thinking countries, developed into a multiplicity of new creative ideas and opinions ... ... Nowadays it is exactly these beliefs, ideas and opinions which lead socially to division and individually to insecurity. Our present day feelings of angst and insecurity operate on an entirely different level to animals.
And our abstract memory system is stuck in its own habitual self repeating ruts, trying desperately to confirm our own beliefs, ideas, and opinions, by their constant repetition.
In our modern diverse culture, the endless need for confirmation, on an individual and cultural level, causes worry, pain and suffering in a way that no animal or early human could ever imagine.
THE LACK OF MUTUAL CONFIRMATION
We have to fight for survival in the abstract dimension of ideas, beliefs and opinions. The mutual confirmation of our tribe has disintegrated, and with the modern multiplicity of beliefs, there simply isn't enough mutual confirmation to go around, and there never can be.
Our modern liberal thinking to socially integrate and contain the diversity of beliefs, - rather than infallible rulers forcing a consensus of ideas, - is a great step for civilisation. But, respect for someone else's beliefs is only a shadow of the mutual confirmation of the group.
A few lucky individuals find a degree of stability and satisfaction in their lives. Some have public respect and feel confirmed (or appear so) in their popular image, but even this is usually dependent on having even more 'success'. The general search for confirmation in modern culture, is relentless and self-perpetuating. It is a recent, extremely uncomfortable, cultural habitual rut.
And all this is natural, and can only be expected in any culture which encourages an early education in concentrated focussing with the senses and mind on abstract symbols and ideas; ... with the human right and freedom to have any ideas, opinions, and beliefs which you want, any focal point you want, whether it's true, factual, real or not.
IT'S NOT OUR SELFISH EGO, IT'S AN INVOLUNTARY RESPONSE TO INSECURITY
Vanity, greed, and conceit have sometimes been seen as sins. Humans are recently showing extremely strong symptoms of vanity, greed, and conceit:
Vanity - Our self-image in the form of our physical appearance from the outside was always an important factor for cultural identity. Probably since the 1850s when mirrors became generally available, our individual appearance has become central to our self-identity. And now, suddenly, selfies.
Conceit - We are full of our own individual views and opinions on life, and with repetition as we age and grow more sure of ourselves, we stop listening, especially to anyone who disagrees.
Greed - In the developed world, we have all our ancestors ever wanted, or wanted for their children. The deep-freeze is full, we've got hot water bottles, peanut butter and houses of brick. But now we want insurance, two cars, sex, daily entertainment, and more money for investments and territory, - and inevitably the greed for confirmation in terms of vanity and conceit.
But it's not our selfish ego which is the cause. It's a natural reaction to stress, in the background of our 'being in the world' we feel lost and insecure, and we're over compensating with the only thing we know and feel secure doing, having a focus point, somewhere to go, something to do, - the human habitual rut: focussing.
Focussing promises security. It always worked well in the past, it always bought us more security, first on a practical level, more fun, security and free time; then on an abstract-belief level, more peace of mind. But nowadays all the focussing, - getting, doing, thinking, understanding, creating; having beliefs, ideas and opinions - has disturbed our fundamental balance in life.
I repeat, the reason modern human life is insecure, is because we have lost the mutual confirmation of a social group. We don't have a comfortable cultural rut: a group of at least 30 people, who all believe, unquestioningly, in the same things, with no-one around us who disagrees. In ancient cultures, the common understanding of life, united a tribe. In our modern diverse culture our understandings of life, have no common confirmation. Any trace of the original animal sense of belonging is long gone. Our lives are insecure in a way no humans in any previous culture, have ever experienced, or even imagined.
The continual thinking in terms of focal points, an aim, a reason to live, is all we know, we've lost the broadband balance. And the need for confirmation is self-perpetuating, and always increasing. It's become its own cause, and always generating more of itself exponentially. We can either become dull and dumb, or life is a fight in a losing battle.
We have collectively developed, what in animal psychology would be seen as a form of displacement activity. Displacement activity is when hens scratch and peck at nothing, just because they feel nervous and insecure; dogs and cats clean themselves when they actually want feeding.
Any habitual activity can be displaced. We are displacing with all our focussing abilities. And we have begun to act like birds in captivity who can't stop chattering, in a desperate search for mates and territory, - with compulsive grooming habits and (especially among Cockatoos) commonly plucking their own feathers out; - and overpopulated deer who will rub off so much musk on their territorial-marker trees, that whole rings of bark disintegrate and their territorial trees die.
THIS NEW PERSPECTIVE
It is often thought that selfish greed, is the cause of our worlds present problems. From the usual point of view, greed - this continual want for more, - is bad, to be punished or hated.
This is a new perspective. From this perspective it's a weakness and a mental illness, based on our unbalanced way of experiencing life.
People who are egoistical and self-opinionated will often admit to this, as though it's a positive attribute. The greed and vanity associated with popularity and the self-assertion it involves, are common goals; as is the self-righteousness it often conceals - wanting to be right all the time. From this perspective, it's an involuntary uncontrolled response to stress. A pitiful but perfectly understandable response to our human insecurity.
Humans slowly learnt to overcome the need for broadband sensing, and the fear which caused us to use it. But these days we could still use the side effects of sensing in the broadband way to bring life in balance and neutralise our fears.
No modern culture can afford to ignore the possibilities which broadband sensing opens up for securing our survival ... individually and as a creative modern culture ... such a valuable human resource cannot be ignored.
All the time we are only looking at life, from only one perspective: focussing. We have forgotten how all other animals and early humans, needed to use all their senses, to perceive all of the world (or as much as possible), in order to survive.
The value of focussing is paramount, of primary importance, otherwise no animal would ever have got out of the mud and slime. But the success of a species was dependent on using all of their sensory abilities.
This is not a new thing to believe in or do, it's a very old one. It must have developed previous to, and be the physiological basis of focussing. I suspect plants have 'chemoreceptors', for smelling and tasting the air. I know every amoeba has chemoreceptors and a generalised sensitivity to light and vibration. We can see that it's at the very basis of life, and all other creatures have it, but we've lost it.
My present theory (from Oct 8th) If we follow nature's normal laws for survival of the species, to have any lasting success, all forms of concentrated focussing, need to be balanced with broadband sensing.
And that any form of focussed belief is safe, as long as it is balanced, and can be balanced, by broadbanding. This means does it still make sense when coordinated with or alternated with broadband sensing, our reality checkpoint. In a sense it asks when related to and connected to the 'big picture' does it still seems valid and worth focussing on? And broadbanding is the most direct actual big picture ... the most direct way to get into that frame of mind.
Generally speaking, whether a belief is abstract Gods, nature, love, leprechauns or UFOs, I suggest that if it can be balanced by broadbanding, then it is safe and will profit the culture's survival.
The above essay and ideas are being developed in note form, in Buddhism : Its Importance Culturally Today
or first to get the whole picture : Please continue with Empathy with Animals