Being human: what’s it all about?

Have you ever considered the bigger questions? Why are we here? What’s it all about? I’m not concerned with the mechanics of space or on the reliance on a god demanding servitude, but rather the psychological sense of being that is ‘me’.

It seems fairly obvious that you and I are the products of our culture and time. What do I mean by that? I was born in the 1960s and bred as a Welshman. I initially acquired my knowledge and understanding of myself through the culture and people who surrounded me as I grew. It is with this subjective view and a guttural, steel-town accent that I went out into the world to explore. I could only make sense of the new which surrounded me through the knowledge I had previously acquired and usually within the limits of what I considered as normal. So this was the challenge where the clash of interactions shaped, chipped away and added to the person I was evolving into, though as anyone who has managed to live to adulthood can testify, it hardly gives a sense of the fear or fun, scariness or strangeness and, at sometimes, downright debauchery of the experiences.

So now I can say that I am a person who has acquired even more knowledge based on my experiences. I can also say that everybody else is also a centre of their knowledge which they have acquired. It naturally follows that some of their knowledge will be the same as mine, especially if we have shared the same cultural knowledge such as language, dress, attitudes, beliefs. Likewise, some will be different depending on their learning and experience. Ultimately, we are all centres of knowledge, and even though some will have acquired more or less knowledge, we have all built it up in the same way.

I am not concerned with the actual knowledge itself, except to acknowledge that it is made up of part education, part training, part experience, part ability. Such knowledge and education has been used by many to advance themselves within the world. Yet, no matter how much knowledge a person acquires, it seldom transforms that person into anything more that an isolated individual, where self interest is first and foremost the major driving purpose.

So what is the purpose of acquiring knowledge? Surely it is a natural function of the mind. Knowledge should be acquired and learning is of vital importance. I wouldn’t be able to navigate the London Tube system without it. However, I differ from the ‘normal’ accepted view in that I believe knowledge should only be acquired and used objectively and sanely rather than hijacked by the self for self interest purposes. Now that is a bold statement and probably the point at which you are beginning to question my sanity. However, before you dismiss the message completely, I ask you to consider what are the benefits and deficits of the self actioning itself through self knowledge?

Self knowledge is forever adding to and subtracting from itself in order to gain advantage, position, control and power. It brings us advantages in daily life but it also brings pains. I like the advantages but dislike the disadvantages. For example, when I am aware that I am being kind, I am also aware of what my unkindness is. I don’t want to be associated with my unkindness and I’ll therefore banish it. However, does this mean that I will never do something which is unkind again? Of course it doesn’t. It is a mental trick played by myself on myself. I still know myself to be unkind and I am more than happy to deceive myself if it results in greater benefits than losses.

When I look around me, I don’t see my behaviour as much different from others. We all seem, either out of naivety or self knowing, only too willing to deceive ourselves. The simple truth of the matter is we will manipulate others to do our bidding and to maintain our control if it will bring some sort of order to the challenges of living as we see it. However, for all the good we believe we want to do, we unfurl an equal amount of negatives. Every war carried out in the name of peace is an exercise for greater resources, power or religious control, which in turn breeds oppression, loss and division between people.

So we have revealed through careful awareness that as we add and subtract to ourselves we create shoddy second-hand individuals, that what we call positive change is only a continuation of the same old process, and that we are trapped within a field of self isolation which knows nothing of love, even though we use the word constantly. So now what will I do? What will you do?

Do you dare to explore further or will you step back and close your eyes? Only you can walk through the door.