Understanding the Nature of the Task Before Us
Long ago the human mind underwent a profound evolutionary transformation. It became empowered with the ability to reason, cogitate, and judge between good and evil—all capabilities that the Bible associates with being like God (Genesis 3:22). It was as if a great light was switched on in the human mental arena, and not surprisingly, this emerging intellectual prowess had a powerful impact upon human society. In fact, from that time forward human civilization was off and running in an entirely new direction—one that has never abated since and has come to define this present age of man. Thus it might be said that this present age of man has been the age of mental power.
Mental power is a prodigious builder of structures and conditions, and immediately following this great transformation a new world order emerged and has been progressively taking shape. Many challenges have confronted human beings in this pursuit—challenges that we have sought to overcome through our mental problem-solving initiatives. And for the most part we have succeeded.
One of the foremost challenges that faced our species was how to lend a sense of continuity and endurance to our creative building enterprises. What made this particular challenge so daunting was the inescapable reality of the cessation of individual human life—that which we call death. For a long time we undertook the solving of this problematic challenge from the angle of trying to overcome death. We vainly imagined that our intellectual prowess in the fields of science and medicine, which had solved so many other human existential problems, could somehow find a cure for death. But in this endeavor success has consistently eluded us. Even to this day we have not been able to solve the riddle of death. What we have been able to do, however, is to conceive of other ways of projecting the ever-expanding culture of man into the future, so that it is retained and given continuance by each successive generation. In this way, though we have failed to remove the scourge of death from the human landscape, we have succeeded at the challenge of continuance and cultural retention. We have not banished death but have instead learned to circumvent it.
Our methods of cross-generational cultural retention have, over time, become more and more sophisticated and efficient. Thus we have gradually brought improvement to the human condition and lifestyle. In the beginning of the age the only known method for passing on this improved lifestyle to a new generation was through verbal transmission. In other words, the elders of the old generation would instruct the youths of a new generation in all matters of vital cultural retention. This necessitated that a common value system be developed—a system that would help to define precisely which aspects of human culture needed to be carried over and saved. Accordingly, with the passing of each new generation this value system became better defined and developed. For instance, take the concept of each individual’s right to and pursuit of having their own home and family. In our mentally built world these aspects of human lifestyle quickly became highly valued. And so before passing on, the elders of the old generation would instruct the young generation in matters of family alignment and civility (such as the institution of marriage), as well as in such strictly practical matters as the most advanced methods for home building. This, in turn, led to the redistribution of societal population centers--away from the tribal tendencies of our ancient ancestors and towards urbanization and the formation of nation-states. Through verbal generational transmission such values as these were passed on, and little by little our world took on a whole new look. Great cities sprang up, with familial homesteads built to last for centuries.
Another area in which humans sought cross-generational cultural continuance was in the realm of philosophy and wisdom. All men were mentally capable, but it soon became clear that some men were more gifted in this arena than others. These gifted ones began to delve into some of the more intangible aspects of the human condition—aspects such as the pursuit of happiness, fulfillment, and meaningful purpose. Then as these aspects became widely valued, they too were put forth as being worthy of cross-generational transmission.
While the passing on of progressive mental advancements, whether of the technical or abstract variety, had become a defining characteristic of human society, the methodology of verbal generational transmission soon became antiquated. Its limitations became a source of frustration and inertia. Many important impartations were lost, and progress often sputtered. A more exact and time-tested method had to be developed. And this method was the written word. Though this method began in an archaic form with scrolls and parchment, men knew that it was the written word that would ultimately insure man’s cross-generational progress. For, the written word would not as readily be lost or mishandled. It stood on its own merit as a factual testimony of man’s latest inventions and advancements. Then with the advent of the printing press, the archaic limitations of scrolls and parchment gave way to books. And when this happened, human civilization began to advance literally in leaps and bounds. The culture of man became richer and more substantial. Previously unknown sciences were discovered, and the knowledge that these inspired was not only retained across generational lines; it was built upon and expanded. New inventions and technologies burst upon the human cultural scene. And presto! Our present world order came into being.
Thusly, did the human species emerge out from the dark shadows of ignorance, superstition, and toilsome hardship. And though we still have yet to conquer death we have become so proficient at cross-generational transmission that it can only be assumed that our great learning will continue to expand. In other words, human progress seems to have become indomitable.
For thousands of years our present value system has been developing as an outgrowth of our intellectual prowess and ingenuity, as well as our attained mastery of cross-generational transmission. It has become so highly advanced and sophisticated that few doubt its content or legitimacy anymore. It used to be that with each new generation human beings felt compelled to experiment and search for answers for themselves, at least to some degree. But those days are long gone. In our time each new generation inherits such a wealth of enlightened cultural inundation that it has become pointless to try to find new answers. What began so long ago as a basic codification of our most defining values has now become a thoroughly complex system of cultural thought and nuance. Meanwhile, cross-generational transmission has become so automatic that it is no longer considered an obstacle to progress. All this has led many to deduce that the human race has at long last arrived. We may still be progressing, but somewhere along the way we crossed over the great divide from archaism and established ourselves as fully evolved and beyond accountability to any power greater than ourselves.
It is this highly sophisticated justification of modern human life that each one of us was born into. From the moment we came out of the womb we were inundated with this already well-established human reality view. Every word spoken to us, every action brought before our perception, every tonal inference that we picked up through our subtler, psychic faculties was of this nature. We were literally overpowered—so much so that by our second or third birthday a behavioral scientist might well have said of us: “Generational transmission completed.” In other words, the generational transmission we routinely received in infancy was so thorough and effective and our state of receptivity so raw and vulnerable that it was virtually guaranteed to succeed. We were all so thoroughly indoctrinated that there was never, not even for a moment, an aspect of choice on our part. Rather the collective consciousness became our individual consciousness before we ever knew what hit us. This race consciousness was replete with a well-defined value system and code of morality. It was purported to be more than just a workable reality view developed and handed down to us by our ancient ancestors. It was purported to be the one true reality view. Through it the question of what it meant to be a human being was put to rest. Therefore challenging this deeply ingrained reality view at some later stage in life would prove to be next to impossible.
And so these questions arise: Have we human beings gone too far in our quest for progress? In our attempt to pass on our accrued knowledge and retain lifestyle advances, have we crossed over a line of moral accountability? Has human society just been doing what it needed to do to survive, or has it become a monster—a controlling menace that now robs its young of their innate impulse for freedom and individual self-expression? How one is inclined to answer these questions is what now determines the life experience of each and every individual born into our world. The existing order clings to its age-old justification. It insists that these time-tested methods and practices are and always have been for the overall good of the collective entity. But increasingly, individuals born in our times are coming to lament the oppressive quality of this infantile reality view indoctrination. They resent being robbed of the ability to think for themselves and decide their own individual destinies. They rebel against their imposed loss of freedom.
If you are one of those who has, somewhere along the road, come to question the status quo justification for the perpetuation of the present reality view of man and are now undertaking the ultimate pursuit of inward liberation, you are, in all likelihood, finding the going slow and difficult. What makes it so difficult for us is not only what we allow entrance into our psyche as adults; rather most especially it is the conditioned imprint already forged in our subconscious mind from infancy—an imprint that is buried so deeply within us that we are at a loss to even recognize it, let alone change it. Thus we have become slaves to our own inner workings. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud of modern human existence.
Because, as adults, our oppression is not from outer but rather inner constraints, our liberation is totally up to us. It is only a matter of going inward and doing the work needed to change and abolish our infantile programming. What this means is that once we become serious about doing this and learn the right way of going about it, nothing can stop us. This is because what we do in the privacy of our inner world is our business only. No one else need even know about it.
So our task is doable, and our liberation is a realistic goal. But be forewarned: it is far from easy. In fact, for most of those who decide to tackle this undertaking, it becomes a life-long pursuit—one often marred with painful setbacks and detours. It is therefore a task that requires great persistence and dedication. “Seek and you shall find,” is a true adage. But many people seek for a while and then give up.
Spiritual liberation—that is, the freeing of our own individual psyche from the oppressive constraints of infantile conditioning—is well worth the effort, however. For, what it accomplishes is not merely the ability to think for oneself; through it we learn the truth concerning all aspects of life and human endeavor. And with this learning of the truth comes fulfillment and peace—the fullness of all that we were created to be.
Having once been inwardly liberated, never again can we be enslaved by any force, whether arising from inside or outside ourselves. We may still encounter opposition, but never again will that opposition cling to us or make us afraid. As Isaiah the biblical prophet wrote: “Tyranny will be far from you. . . . Terror will be far removed. . . . No weapon formed against you will prevail. . . . This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me [God].” (Isaiah 54:14,17).