Conscious Evolution and Survival
Welcome to the “wake-up!” stren, #86. Familiarity with prior strens permits us to create a unified understanding of mental freedom. We have assumed responsibility to make our life joyous and meaningful. Success requires that we first recognize the self-deception that we are already wisely mastering our destiny when our intellect remains dominated by the prewired rules of fate and circumstance.
When Abe Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), he used his martial war power to suspend civil law to accomplish two important principles. First, the proclamation freed the muscles of over 3 million black slaves from the control of white masters. Second, Lincoln’s courageous act changed the consciousness of the world population. His edict popularized the moral judgment that the abolition of slavery of a person of any color to a self-serving master was, and remains, a correct moral action. In his Gettysburg Address (November, 1963), Lincoln referred to the war’s goal as “a new birth of freedom.”
While the law established the right of black slaves to direct their own muscle power, their opportunity to free their intelligence from fate and circumstance was initially little improved. Some were even worse off than before because of their lack of education and inexperience with self-mastery. They were suddenly without the support of a “master” whose interest was to protect his “property.” Courageous edicts and laws cannot of themselves emancipate the intellectual power of people whose minds remain slaves to instinct, tradition, and human dictators, what we also call fate and circumstance. True self-mastery must include the opportunity to discover and share knowledge, and then use it wisely. Freeing our muscle power to do our own bidding is of limited benefit when our intellectual power remains dominated by self-serving masters who initially prescribe who we are and what we are to become.
Physical freedom is the opportunity to direct our own muscle power.
Mental freedom is the opportunity to direct the power of our intelligence.
The reward of freeing our intellect from domination by our animal brain is the opportunity to create a joyous, meaningful life experience. By teaching ourselves to replace the hardwired prescriptions of dictators with common sense problem-solving, including collaboration and cooperation for mutual gain, we elevate ourselves to the humanity to which we aspire. If we allow ourselves to remain servant to our animal brain we can predict continued destructive confrontations, human catastrophe, and possibly self annihilation from use of our new weapons with ultimate destructive power. The intent of this stren is to create awareness that it is our time to free the enslaved intellectual power of all persons from fate and circumstance. More than ever, we are positioned to claim mental freedom from self-serving dictators who would have us uncritically obey their authority and ignore common sense wisdom.
In prior strens, we have learned that all earth creatures are born into mental slavery and remain so. Humankind is the exception. We begin life as a servant to instinct and thereafter are taught to obey the prescribed rules modeled by our nurturers. The way all people think, and because of that the way we feel and act, does not need to remain servant to Masters Fate and Circumstance. Nature has gifted us with a specialized “freedom organ,” our sophisticated cerebral cortex. We are capable of educating ourselves to assume personal responsibility for who we are and what we choose to become. The force that has created all life has selected us to become its partner in determining our fate and all that is about us. However, years must pass before our freedom organ is sufficiently mature and we can educate our self to attain self-mastery, what we also call mental freedom, becoming our own person, thought control, and super-maturity.
Our freedom organ provides us the power of imagination and interpretation through the use of symbols. It enables us to discover, store, share, and pass knowledge of nature’s secrets forward to successive generations. Our generation has acquired sufficient knowledge of cause-and-effect that we have made ourselves godlike rulers on earth. Knowledge empowers us to alter what nature and our nurturers first make of us. This ability to selectively choose the extent to which we accept those prewired behaviors demanded by our animal brain and the tradition prescribed by our nurturers is mental freedom. It grants us the ability to introduce original common sense solutions that we ourselves create instead of remaining blindly obedient to authority. Mental freedom is never absolute; it is measured by the degree to which we create original actions and direct our will power to selectively choose from alternate possibilities. In short, although we all spend the better part of our first decades as a servant to instinct and tradition, with appropriate education we can free our will from fate and circumstance to assume self-mastery and personal responsibility for our life’s experience. Our freed will, equipped with the power of knowledge, may make life wonderful, create self-annihilation, or anything in between, depending on what combination of instinct, tradition, and common sense governs our will.
Let’s not confuse mental freedom with wisdom. A freed will tends to act stupidly until educated to think using common sense. Stupidity is using yesterday’s solutions to yesterday’s problems to solve today’s problems when we have new knowledge and the common sense needed to address current issues.
There are both similarities and differences between the subjection of the physical power of our muscles and the subjection of the creative power of our mind to “other” masters. One difference is critical to our survival – the degree to which we deceive ourselves into believing that we are in control of our power of knowledge!
Similarities: Physical slavery of our muscle power and mental slavery of our intellectual power both subject us to the self-serving demands of an “other” master. Each is created by the authority of powerful forces which we are initially helpless to resist. The master may be benevolent or tyrannical but usually is some combination of both. Fairness and justice, however, are hardly conceivable in a master-slave relationship. Masters usually resist emancipating their slaves. When our freedom organ is mature and educated in common sense thinking, we may propose self-mastery but our animal brain and established tradition oppose giving up control; they call forth the authority of emotion and assert their will to trump intellect. On the other side, the slave’s perception of his master’s treatment, whether cruel or kind, usually fades in importance next to preservation of life’s needs – food and shelter. To seek physical and mental independence from authority risks giving up the protection and support that has sustained life for unproven venture and danger.
Much like physical slave owners, instinct and tradition assert authority as their measure of propriety and declare alternative beliefs to be rebellion or heresy. They punish originality when it opposes their perspective, no matter how much it is supported by common sense. Hardwired to believe their own assumptions, they are impersonal bystanders disinterested in knowledge and wisdom – especially when innovation is contradictory.
The Critical Difference: When physical freedom is compromised by an “other” master, slaves are clearly consciously aware of their restraints; not so with mental slavery!
Nature provides us multiple senses to make us aware when our muscles are constrained by another; however, we lack senses to inform us that we are all born into mental slavery, and that our creative power remains so enslaved until we educate ourselves in the newer way of thinking that recognizes self-mastery. Nature physically pre-wires us to detect and avoid physical danger. Mental freedom, like spirituality, wisdom, and the values that create morality are concepts; they are invisible to our physical senses. We only know the qualities of self-mastery through our intellect.
We lack the power of imagination and interpretation until our freedom organ is sufficiently mature and properly educated to appreciate the degree our mental power is controlled by other masters. The emotion that motivates our behavior resides within our animal brain and is active from birth, while common sense and wisdom emerge years later as our cerebral cortex attains maturity, and even then only when equipped with proper language.
Mental slavery is easily made invisible by the teachings of instinct, tradition, and the human dictators who “educate” us in our first way of thinking. We learn that the master’s way is “the right way and the only way”. Continued self-deception is expected when guilt and physical punishment demand obedience to the will of the master and restrict rational engagement with tribes and ideas labeled as unworthy of trust and dangerous.
The Russian philosopher, Peter Ouspensky, attributes to his teacher, G. I. Gurdjieff, an interesting parable to describe man’s predicament:
A powerful but mean magician raised sheep for his dinner table. He didn’t want to pay to hire a shepherd or erect a fence to keep the sheep from running away so he hypnotized them. First he had them believe they were immortal and when they were being skinned, it would be good for them, even pleasant; second, that he was a good loving master; and third, that if anything bad would happen to them, it would not be that day so they had no need to think about it. Thereafter, the sheep never ran away and quietly awaited their time when the magician would require their flesh and skins.
Should the sheep be awakened from their hypnotic state? Are they better off knowing their fate if their animal brain is incapable of altering it? What if their brain was sufficiently developed that knowledge of their predicament could inspire them to alter their fate? Ouspensky concludes that in order to act consciously with intention, it is necessary to know the nature of the forces which keep man in a state of sleep. Hypnotic sleep is not normal but may be maintained and strengthened to prevent self-understanding.
A more contemporary explanation of the hypnotic sleep described by Ouspensky is called the helplessness/hopelessness response. The helplessness/hopelessness (H/H) response is the false belief, usually learned early, that any effort to solve a problem will be futile so we “give up” trying. The H/H response shuts down our energy factory. Rodents placed in a tub of water will swim to safety while rodents that are restrained early in life fail to do so and drown. A baby elephant tethered to a stake will reach adult size with enough strength to easily uproot the stake, but doesn’t. The pervasiveness of the H/H response has been widely documented in humankind. In several hundred interviews I have conducted, respondents overwhelming stated they wished or prayed for world peace but took no action because they felt powerless to make a difference. During our immature, helpless years, we all learn that approval must come from others. We not only lack the ability to endorse ourselves during our formative youth, we are often taught is it vain and egotistical to do so; thus, the pervasiveness of H/H. We continue to depend on others for what more appropriately we could assume personal responsibility.
IF we choose to continue to survive and thrive, awareness of this one difference is critical! The current proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power has created an urgent need to awaken ourselves. The power of intelligence controlled by the emotion of our animal brain will lead to the imminent human catastrophe predicted by our most knowledgeable citizens. We require conscious awareness of a problem before we can initiate the urgent united action we now require to save us from ourselves. Surviving and thriving requires that we “outlaw” the mental slavery of people of all colors to self-serving dictators as we have outlawed control of the muscles of black people from slavery to white masters.
Here is a second important feature that distinguishes the power of intellect from muscle power. Our animal brain is driven by emotion; our cerebral cortex is motivated by intellect. Hardwired throughout history to learn by making mistakes through trial-and-error, our animal brain lacks the cerebral cortex’s ability to consciously apply common sense and promote change by intention. The knowledge we acquire through intellect enables us to recognize what our senses don’t automatically bring to our conscious awareness. Logic and common sense lack the power of emotion; however, unlike the animal portion of our brain, our cerebral cortex can assign meaning to symbols and thereby link the power of emotion to common sense. Our specialized freedom organ is like an unwritten tablet, a clean slate. It provides us the opportunity to self-program a newer way of thinking that empowers us with intentionality – it has the ability to learn how to learn. Consciousness allows us to alter what nature and our nurturers make of us. The greater the knowledge we discover, the more we make ourselves powerful influencers of our destiny.
So, how can a force this powerful become enslaved to an “other” master? Once our animal brain experiences how the power of knowledge multiplies the power of muscle, it becomes an addiction. The conscious efforts of our freedom organ are enslaved to our animal brain and “educated” in the traditions prescribed by our nurturers when our cortex is too immature and helpless to resist, and we initially lack the self-consciousness to know anything else. From birth, the conscious power of our cortical brain is forced to serve the mindless authority of master instinct and then our nurturers, master tradition. Until we consciously choose to educate ourselves in self-consciousness and assume a leadership position, we remain passive servants to fate and circumstance.
The demands of instinct and our nurturers are often in conflict; their competition for dominance is a common source of anxiety which when exaggerated, leads to irrational behavior or what we call “neurosis.” One of the benefits of common sense wisdom is creating an end to the civil war fought between our two early masters, i.e. instinct and our nurturer’s traditions. Creating peace of mind will lead us to world peace. Logic by itself lacks the strength to resist the authority of emotion. This is why educating our cerebral cortex in the skills of emotional self-endorsement and linking them to common sense is our means to a newer way of thinking (ANWOT), mental freedom, patience, peace of mind, and peace in the world.
It is time to recognize that mental slavery is far more pervasive than the subjugation of one’s muscle power to an “other” master. Recognition is a prerequisite to abolishing mental slavery. The action that ended physical slavery was not easy. It required great courage to challenge tradition and issue the Emancipation Proclamation, along with a united effort by abolitionists, America’s bloodiest war, and three years to obtain the consensus to pass the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution. Mental freedom from nature and our nurturers cannot be created by edict. It is the reward of our personal conscious effort to educate our self in a newer way of thinking. The world peace we wish or pray for requires the effort of minds freed from the destructive aggression of our animal brain so we can recognize the value of cooperation and collaboration for mutual gain.
Consciousness and Self-consciousness:
The opportunity and now the urgent need to popularize mental freedom can be attributed to four phenomena related to the evolution of mental awareness. For billions of years, life on earth lacked conscious awareness. Although we don’t know how many years ago the evolution of our central nervous system attained primitive consciousness, it is apparent that mental awareness has been expanding since small-brained dinosaurs roamed earth some 600 million years past. Consciousness has a long history of slavery to instinct and tradition, to fate and circumstance. It has served the animal brain to improve trial-and-error learning. Mental power added to muscle power enables our predator instinct to become far more effective in preserving the life cycle.
Our ancestors created the second important phenomenon when they introduced complex language 50,000 years ago. Language was a quantum leap in the development of self-mastery by empowering reflective thinking, what we also call “self-consciousness.” Self-consciousness is the special human quality of our advanced cerebral cortex to become conscious of our consciousness. The label for our species is Homo sapiens sapiens; it means “the one who is aware of being aware.” Self-mastery is the skill that enables us to join fate and circumstance in determining our destiny. Reflective thinking is our means to think objectively about what we think, and to initiate directions that go beyond the pre-determined limits of instinct and tradition. Our unique freedom organ, when mature and educated with common sense wisdom, is our means to create out-of-the-box solutions to new problems using current knowledge, and to become our own person and assume personal responsibility for our destiny.
The third phenomenon boosting our mental freedom opportunity was the discovery of the scientific method. It initiated the asymptotic growth of our knowledge to its current explosive speed. Knowledge of the universal laws of cause-and-effect provides us the raw power to change ourselves and all that is about us. Knowledge by itself does not provide wisdom to apply power constructively; wisdom requires applying common sense to knowledge.
The forth phenomenon propelling us to mental freedom is current and linked to our survival. Due to the explosive power of knowledge we are now proliferating biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons so devastating that they offer no second chance, and making them available to multiple tribes. We have set ourselves apart from all life on earth by changing the rules for survival, and so we have made ourselves responsible to step up the evolution of mental freedom to a revolution. The prediction of our most knowledgeable citizens that our newest weapons will be used in our lifetime or that of our children is our wake-up call! We can’t afford to sleep through the blaring alarms warning us of imminent catastrophe; they can no longer be ignored. Surviving and thriving requires that we rapidly educate our freedom organ in the skills of a newer way of thinking (Einstein’s solution) that emphasizes prevention more than trial-and-error learning. We must consciously push evolution forward. We need to make our cerebral cortex the dominant director of our thinking, feelings, and actions rather than the animal portion of our brain. We must teach ourselves to selectively replace trial-and-error learning and the mindless mimicking of our nurturers with wise, common sense problem solving.
To proceed to succeed, we must understand that emotion is our “Goliath” while reason, embodied in “David,” is the underdog. Our freedom organ must attain a high degree of maturity and be educated in common sense wisdom before we can expect a reasonable contest between brain and brawn, before cooperation and collaboration for mutual gain can overcome the traditional destructive competition to assert dominance of one’s own tribe that marks our history. Our future requires that we make wisdom our dominant leader in cooperation with physical might. We must strengthen the common sense problem solving ability of our cerebral cortex to redirect the self-serving destructive aggression preprogrammed in our animal brain. Until we teach ourselves a newer way of thinking, brawn and what we call fate and circumstance, or instinct and tradition, will remain our masters, as it is with all other species.
The secret to self-mastery has been revealed in earlier strens. Education for self-mastery begins with emotional self-endorsement as described in strens #2, 4-8, and especially 16-24. We must teach our intelligent cerebral cortex to link sufficient emotion to common sense to assume mastery of our life’s experience. Education in self-endorsement is quite easy IF we first get over our learned helplessness/hopelessness behavior. The mental wisdom of “David” will collaborate with the muscular “Goliath” of our animal brain for mutual benefit when we teach ourselves sufficient emotional self-endorsement. We do so by assigning meaning to symbols that transform ideas into physical phenomena, a task that is quite attainable through our properly equipped freedom organ.
What are the implications of remaining a mental slave to instinct and tradition?
Again, familiarity with what has been described in prior strens (for example: strens #33-35, 39-40, 70-72, 77-79, 82-86) allows a concise answer. The human brain has evolved from a single undifferentiated mass to greater size and complexity, presently culminating in its seventh specialized segment, the cerebral cortex. The control of behavior gradually shifts to the highest centers. If time were not of the essence, we could predict that our intelligent cerebral cortex will come to dominate the way we think, feel, and act. The humane values we preach such as love, forgiveness, cooperation, tolerance, compassion, wisdom, mental wealth, global citizenship, and world peace would eventually prevail over the behaviors that are characteristic of the animal portion of our brain. Currently we strive to dominate and win by harmful confrontation, advocate “my way, the only way,” and promote local priorities such as our flag, team, religion, ethnicity, etc. with little regard for who or what is not identified with “our side.” Our language emphasizes dependency, prescriptive, and dichotomous words that divide the world in two opposing “either/or” categories. Emotion drives our behavior more than common sense. In short, we remain “animal brain” dominant.
The greatest imminent threat to our surviving and thriving is that powerful weapons that offer no second chance will be unleashed. The hardwired adaptive behaviors that were established by millions of years of trial-and-error learning that were effective for yesterdays problems will no longer solve today’s dangers. Surviving and thriving now require that we consciously evolve to greater civilization by emphasizing prevention rather than making and correcting mistakes that offer no second chance.
The critical question is “How can we empower our freedom organ?” The answer is quite simple. We need only awaken ourselves to realize that we are fully equipped to consciously push evolution forward. We must teach ourselves Einstein’s solution – a newer way of thinking based on common sense – and we must act urgently. We can no longer passively wait for evolution to follow its natural course. The wisdoms that strengthen our freedom organ are readily available and easily self-taught. A limited number of peace leaders are needed, whose united effort will initiate an unstoppable domino effect.
Our current godlike power to influence our destiny, in the control of our animal brain, will certainly result in human catastrophe. We can educate ourselves in the common sense wisdoms that create our weapons for mass construction. Common sense, using today’s knowledge to solve today’s problems, is our means to selectively replace the hardwired solutions that worked in the past. The Educational Community’s collection of strens is offered to you forever free as one resource to help you become your own person and a powerful teacher of world peace.
How often do you do what feels good immediately when common sense would lead you to take a wiser action? Do you observe many people who relentlessly pursue physical wealth far beyond “enough” while they neglect seeking the mental wealth that creates a joyous, meaningful life experience? Have you noticed that our society, “the establishment,” is a reflection of the dominance of emotion over common sense? Our formal education excels in teaching skills that promote physical wealth while neglecting those that prepare us to create a joyous, meaningful life experience. To what degree is your own life dominated by your animal brain – greed and speed more than wise creeds and good deeds? Are you among the majority that deceive themselves into believing they are global citizens when in fact the first priority is “giving to get”?
If we imagine the collective mind that reflects our total population, we see that our animal brain has been and remains dominant over our freedom organ. Our establishment values reflect what we might expect in an individual whose majority political party in control of consciousness is the animal brain – and the party platform emphasizes accumulating material wealth and security for one’s self, tribe, flag, and belief system more than education in wisdom, nonviolent communication, and the skills that create Mental Wealth millionaires. In short, we remain “animal brain” dominant. Emotion drives our behavior more than common sense. The critical question is “How can we empower our freedom organ?” The answer is, through emotional self-endorsement and secondary endorsement.
We are the link between animals and humanity. We are adolescents in the transition stage of evolving from dependence on our animal brain to assume personal responsibility for our destiny. Mental freedom requires five ingredients abundantly available to each of us: “Yes, I can” (a spark of faith in our self), work, patience, direction, and risk-taking (a willingness to let go of established ways that no longer work). We have the means to free our will from domination by instinct and tradition, from fate and circumstance IF we awaken ourselves to the task. We have crossed a tipping point in our evolution where we can apply our knowledge to ask appropriate questions and mobilize our collective skills to answer them:
How shall we respond to the important questions we create as we acquire the godlike power of knowledge through intelligence? Shall we continue to remain ignorant and persist in directing our energy to benefit our self, our tribe, and local priorities regardless of others; or shall we recognize our new technology and the reality that makes everyone our neighbor? To what degree will we allow our growing power to remain dominated by instinct and tradition instead of educating ourselves with wisdom? Shall we continue to favor nature’s trial-and-error either/or way of thinking that has been dominant through our evolutionary history, or shall we apply nature’s special gift of a sophisticated freedom organ to strengthen the newer way of both...and thinking that applies common sense to new knowledge to create fresh solutions to new problems? Will we succumb to the easy road by passively accepting the prewired authority of authority, or progress by fiercely educating ourselves to become our own person? As the evolution of life progresses from simplicity to complexity, from mindlessness to consciousness, and now to self-consciousness, will we direct our freed will to constructive outcomes or continue to take our chances with fate and circumstance? Shall we continue on the established path of growing through destructive confrontation, or teach all tribes to “win” through collaboration and cooperation. Will we passively allow our mental power to become our weapon of ultimate destruction and self-annihilation, or make common sense wisdom our weapon for mass construction and a wonderful world?
Success in any endeavor may begin with a proclamation but it must be followed by action. Lincoln’s edict was the trigger that mobilized a united force to outlaw a tradition we now consider immoral. We don’t need to create the energy required for world peace because it is already present, imprisoned in most of our global population. We require only a few leaders, united in effort, to recruit and educate a critical number of mental freedom teachers – “Einstein’s army”. They in turn will initiate the domino effect that will circle the world to unleash an imprisoned passion for peace that will be unstoppable. Are you already a peace leader? Willing to become one?
1 In Search of the Miraculous; Peter Ouspensky, Harcourt, 1949, page 219; quote paraphrased.
2 I was fortunate during my training in psychiatry to hear lectures by Professor Curt Richter who conducted the original experiments on the H/H response.
3 The seven mind-freeing, life-changing, world-saving word-switches described in strens 7-15 may be effectively applied once we teach ourselves sufficient skill in emotional self-endorsement.
4 Asymptotic growth is accelerating the acquisition of knowledge in diminishing periods of time; it is described in stren #50.
5 The medulla, pituitary, pons, pineal body, cerebellum, thalamus, and cerebral cortex.