Human Nature and the Nature of Humans
by Asa Hersh
What is our nature, really? Before we can answer that question, we need to ask another: “Is human nature knowable?” There are those who will suggest, and others will insist, that this is part of the great unknowable. It will remain part of the magnum mysterium, the great mystery of life. Certainly religions, philosophers, and pundits have filled the world’s libraries, splitting hairs about what we can know, what we should know, and what we don’t know. But we can dispense with these dusty tomes, and be practical. If we cant know and are just gong to be lame and blind no matter what, we can stop right here. But there can be no argument that those we think we can’t know, simple have no answers. By their own admission. And if someone thinks their understanding is small and limited, partial and incomplete, clearly that is also accurate. But if one does indeed have an answer, one that is comprehensive, and can be implemented and verified—then obviously we can know and do know. One we have answers, the theoretics of wether we can or can’t know become obsolete.
The next problem is that there are a LOT of answers. A lot of really bad answers. There are so many flawed, aberrant and even quite mad ways of viewing who we are, what we are about, and what makes us tick, that any flicker of truth is drowned out in this cacophony of false voices, strident cries and mixed up messages.
So how can we possibly know the truth? Who can we trust to tell us, or how can we discover it ourselves in one single short lifetime? Do we rely on religions leaders, on saints, on pundits? Are celebrities and news personalities the voices of truth and reason? Are the scientists and doctors, the TV show psychologists and massively popular daytime TV hosts where we must find out the truth? Is it in old leather books from the Gnostics, in wrapped folios of old Tibetan texts, in alchemical riddles in dried parchments, or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics? It is in the hands of neuroscientists who measure base brain chemicals and plot the electric activity of the neocortex? Is it on the street corner, in a needle of heroin, or in the ivory towers of ivy league schools. Are the pharmacological laboratories the carriers of the truth, or is it the Jungian psychologists dabbling in metaphysics, metaphors and archetypes? Are astrologers on to something, or is someone or other the representative of god on earth, of Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Shiva, and a thousand other religions known and vanished with the civilizations that bore them. Are the atheists, pessimists or nihilists on target (or non-target), or are the monotheist, polytheists, or non-theistic initiates the stumbling way towards truth.
Lets dispense with this conundrum as well. For all these systems, philosophies, beliefs, and models, all boil down to three basic paradigms:
1. We are blank slates on which anything, within biological and genetic limits, can be written.
2. We are inherently animals, crude and brutish, with the veneer of civilization painted upon us (Freudian), or a veneer of holiness holding us together ( a majority of religions), the two sides forever at war.
3. We are inherently powerful, brilliant and dynamic creative beings, who have somehow lost our way, lost the connection, and function far below our real potential, or our real purpose.
Here we are not debating the ultimate nature of reality, but the nature of Human Nature. It is not relevant to the discussion whether a benevolent, or a cranky God or ultimate being presides over us. Or that we are pure consciousness, living in maya, samsara, a projected existence on which we create the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, various New Ageisms and narcissisms).
….. to be continued.. tomorrow…
If we find a system that answers all our questions in a way that makes sense, and rings true, and works in every situation we apply it to, we have a starting point. But in this case, we law down some other rules of the game. Wether one thinks this is arbitrary or unfair is besides the point. It is a point of view, and about truths that are self-evident.