I’ve been backing into a terminology and a set of distinctions lately. They revolve around the concept of looking at our selves as organisms with the specifics of our conditioning acting through it. This does two things. It describes an underlying Being, our organism seen not as a sum of dis-articulated parts; body, mind, emotions; but as a biological entity. It also distinguishes between the properties intrinsic to us as organisms and those particular habits that make up our conditioning as we find it. For instance, we are organisms that operate through conditioning. That never changes, but the specifics of our conditioning are incremental and even accidental accumulations of habits that can be altered and even replaced more of less.
One interesting example is that there are two sorts of selfishness at work within us. We have the selfishness of the organism which simply is the way any organism meets the challenges of its environment; and we have Egotistical selfishness, which is a product of our conditioning within an atomized culture that draws us into neurotic behaviors. Ego will try to convince us that it’s all “human nature,” and thus immutable. Or that we should be ashamed of our organism’s selfishness so that Ego can take advantage of that disequilibrium to keep us in some form of addiction.
So much of what we confront today comes down to a crisis of trust. This starts “at home.” we find it hard to trust that our organism has capacities beyond our immediate understanding. We are habituated to a false necessity to dominate and control our selves. This Ego control, the “I” we insist is driving, has its own agendas, as can be brutally clear when it chooses to take us to our deaths or abject misery in pursuit of an ideal or an addiction. We have lost so much of our ability to simply trust our organism.
Practices that help us develop mastery, practices of art and craft, creativity and dialogue – think of dialogue as relationship that is not based on negotiation but on a fellow exploration of what it is to be alive. These all lead us towards gaining trust in our organism.
As with any trust dynamic this involves both gaining belief in something without the need for constant verification and also a series of inspirations and deeply felt connections among the parties involved that strengthens belief and strengthens the capacities through which that trust operates to bring benefit to both sides. Dealing with trust in our own organism works in this way too. We can think of one party being our organism and the other our Ego inflected sense of self. As the latter gains trust in the organism it loosens its manic grip.
It might be that we can live totally within the sphere of the organism. This might be theoretically possible, it may have been true before civilization…. At this point these don’t really matter. We are laboring under a set of conditions in which the balance is skewed very far towards the illusions of Egotistical control. Any movement towards an increase in trust with our organism puts us in a less delusional relationship with our situation.
A quick delineation of terms. We must have illusions, they are our “User Interface” with the World. Our illusions can be more or less delusional. The two terms are not interchangeable. The way I see our work in front of us is to find ways to fashion a different set of illusions that are not as hopelessly delusional as the ones we operate under now.
Our organism and its abilities to navigate our reality are greater than those of this veneer of Ego control we’ve given ourselves over to. Our organism has half a billion years of evolution to draw on and every cell in our bodies, besides whatever other forces elude our current understanding. Our Egos are stuck within a fixed set of programming that has attempted to hijack a certain amount of our brains and limbic systems in a deluded insistence that it can control and direct us from there.
Who would you trust?
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