Another take on ‘what are human beings for’.
Should we be free to decide what we want to be for? To choose what we do with our life? To pursue our own interests?
You probably think yes.
Could be you also think ‘What are human beings for? is a weird kind of question. How can we think of ourselves in the same utilitarian, ‘usable’ way we think of everything else? As if we’re purpose designed and factory made. As if we came off a production line, and are meant to be used for something specific.
The reality is that our physical selves are purpose designed – by genetic evolution. Our bodies are factories for making new human beings. Human beings are a resource that genes use for copying and reproducing themselves.
Genes program our bodies with hormones to make sure they complete that job.
Where we go wrong is in identifying our conscious selves with our genetic body. We think of our conscious selves, and our physical selves, as being somehow the same.
We always did. So now it seems bizarre to make a distinction between them.
But as a result, consciousness and genetic programming become part of the same program. And we allow ourselves to become programmed by the hormones that program bodies to replicate and reproduce genes.
This leads us to treat other people as a resource to help us satisfy our own body’s programming.
In effect, we become the robots I talked about in my post Are you a robot?
I talk at length in my other posts about the difference between our consciousness, and physical things. About how the universe of mindless atoms that made our bodies doesn’t know our consciousness exists.
Only we know our consciousness exists, and ‘we’ are so much more real than mindless physical things made from atoms.
As consciousness, ‘we’ can only ever know about, or come into contact with, anything outside of our own consciousness (the things we call ‘physically real’, or other consciousnesses) as purely non-physical conscious experiences.
Your perceptions of yourself and the world around you – everything from the most vivid physical sensation to the subtlest mental notion – exist in your consciousness only as non-physical ideas.
Being able to experience pain, anguish, joy, frustration and other emotions exclusively as non-physical ideas – yet think they’re physical feelings – is just one of the remarkable – and inexplicable – things about consciousness.
Consciousness alone brings the vibrant colors and nuances of our physical experience of the world and everything in it – our physical selves included – into existence for us. We make the physical world real for ourselves.
Yet the equally real fact remains that we are two utterly different things in one: a mindless body, built by genes for themselves…and a conscious mind that thinks of itself as ‘me’.
So the question remains: Can this conscious ‘me’ be free to decide why it exists, when the mindless body it occupies is pre-programmed to do its own thing?
Can we be free to choose what we do with our life, while we continue to identify our conscious selves with a genetic body?
How can we possibly pursue our own interests, when mindless chemical hormones leave us little choice but to think of other people as a resource to help us satisfy our body’s programming?
The answer is no to each of those questions.
While we think of ourselves as a physical body, and dedicate our lives to the genetic program, we’re little more than biological robots.
Interfaced with biological survival hardware, the notion that we’re free is just a delusion.
In this delusion, we’re all trying desperately to live, think and behave – first and foremost – for the benefit of a few hand-me-down genes that made our body, and the bodies of anyone who shares copies of our genes.
From inside this genetic body, steeped in its hallucinatory chemicals, we can’t see narrow our vision really is; how selfish genes and their body make us.
We mistake the only truly real self in all of this – the consciousness hidden inside these physical bodies – for a mindless collection of atoms.
Our feelings, thoughts, needs, wishes, hopes, desires and beliefs…are all geared to getting what we personally want for ourselves and/or those who share our genes.
Whether we like it or not, and regardless of any pretense to the contrary, that makes us all competitors for what we can get to ensure the welfare of ourselves and those we care most about.
We compete for material security, better jobs, ever-rising paychecks, a bigger roof over our head. We compete as employees, towns, states, countries and ideologies.
Deep within us, obscured by conscious hopes, desires and aspirations, is the same instinctive determination that drives other organisms: to work for the welfare of our own personal genes.
This biological instinct creates a demand for ‘material wealth’. It creates sprawling conurbations and social structures that spread over the landscape as we exploit material resources, simultaneously trashing nature and the planet – and each other if we get in the way – to accommodate our genetic offspring and ensure their survival.
In the process, the unconscious ‘I want’ urge creates mountains of short-lived fashionable junk that threaten to turn the planet into a giant landfill site.
The desire for this short-lived junk is a psychosis controling us. The lust for profits and growth economies, for new technology, higher living standards and social expansion – all fueled by a demand for more for ourselves and our genetic offspring.
The inevitable result is imbalance, deprivation and poverty, inequality, conflict, overpopulation, climate change. Yet while most of us mightn’t consciously associate our competitiveness with creating and perpetuating all of these downsides, we’re well aware that personal acts of selfishness are the cause of our problems, but choose not to acknowledge this fact because it conflicts with our core instinct to reproduce.
But we believe this instinct gives us an automatic right to reproduce whatever the cost. This compulsion convinces us that our self-interest is acceptable.
Crazy as it is, we accept it as normal and natural, the same way we accept our psychoses and neuroses as normal and natural. Just like we’ve come to accept this bizarre, convoluted and ‘uncertain’ excuse for reality we perceive, as real.
While we insist on thinking like genetic organisms, we’ll only see things from our own narrow viewpoint. The entire universe will go on revolving around our own feelings and thoughts, our own needs and wishes, hopes, desires, opinions and beliefs. And all of those will center on looking out for the good of mindless bits of protein that exist for an eye blink and are then gone forever.
Naturally you disagree with this assessment, thinking you can’t possibly be so deluded. You know what’s real. And anyhow you’re not selfish; well ok, sometimes maybe. But you’re kind. You’re charitable. You’re generous. All of that stuff.
Except that you’re simply not able to see the real picture – of yourself or anything else. This Matrix-like delusion has been running since before human beings appeared on this planet.
The delusion created by physical matter was firmly in place before the first tenuous glimmer of consciousness saw the light of day.
You might be wondering what the hell else can you do?
Even if there were some truth to any of this, you can’t separate your conscious self from your physical self. That’s nuts.
Well, yes you can. But not in a stupidly obvious way.
You can change your mind, even while you’re inside a genetic body with its nervous system and brain. Minds are designed for change. They’re designed by change.
This is how consciousness works. It can tell a body what to do.
But most important of all, things are meant to be this way.
The genetic delusion program exists for the realest of reasons: it’s a classrom.
Is this a religious thing? Only if you want to impose your – or worse, somebody else’s – pre-cooked ideas on it.
This is the way it is whether you look at it scientifically, religiously or philosophically. We still have to decide what our purpose is.
What we want to be for. It’s our call.
I’ll tell you now, there are no pre-cooked ideas. That’s the whole point. You learn by creating and then discarding notions – about everything.
Impermanence doesn’t matter. Physical bodies are just tools. Like cars, they help us get where we’re going. Nothing more.
What does matter is recognizing that the genetic component we see, is not who or what we really are.
What are human beings for?
To learn – even if it’s by hard, protracted and frequently painful personal experience – the difference between illusion and reality. To understand the practicalities of what actually works – not for us as separate self-regarding, self-interested organisms, but for the real us, as integral parts of a single idea. As parts of the same consciousness. That’s what ‘we’ are when we’re not part of this fantasy created by our time in a mindless genetic monkey suit.