Evolutionary Unique Self, Outrageous Love & the Unique Self Symphony (Part 5)

Evolutionary Unique Self, Outrageous Love & the Unique Self Symphony (Part 5) November 1, 2015

Continued from part 4.

Global Paralysis

Instead, for the most part we close our hearts. We feel the pain. It hurts too much. We do not know how to heal the pain. The gap between the ability to feel and the ability to heal is too great. In closing our hearts we wind up doing nothing. We cannot find our way. The result is what might be accurately named a global action paralysis. The result of this paralysis is a narrative in which it is somehow okay that there are tens of millions of starving children. Feel into the most extreme cold, pain and hunger that you have ever experienced. Imagine your hunger exponentially multiplied. Can you feel the infinite pain? Is there any part of you that feels it is okay to have the world go on in the fleshpots of dulled senses–business as usual–while you starve?

Paradoxically, the global paralysis goes beyond dulled senses. Rather, the paralysis is created by the realization of the end. We recognize the whole story is not sustainable; the world as we know it is on the brink of almost certain death. We have given our best answers to the great challenges of our age. And, we have not succeeded. Starvation is still rampant. Premature demise lurks at the door for hundreds of millions of people. And the death of civilization haunts us.

This is not the first time death has come knocking on the door. Death came before in what might appropriately be called the first shock of existence. Cultural anthropologists have written extensively about the first shock and their conclusions are best summarized by Ernest Becker’s classic work, The Denial of Death. Becker reminds us that in some real sense the entire cultural project of human history is an attempt to come to grips with the first shock of existence. Dawn man, the early hunter-gatherer was indistinct from his larger environment. Death happened for dawn man as it does in the animal world. Death was not an existential issue causing dread. For dawn man, like the animal, death was not a force which drives a vast complex evolutionary cultural project, a project which has gone through many distinct levels of cultural consciousness. Death became the driving cultural force for man only in response to the first shock of existence when early farmer emerged as a separate self. The new sense of self engenders the first shock of existence. Dawn man emerged from his enmeshment with his environment, became aware of time and his own mortality. He was terrified at the realization of his own demise and death grins at the banquet.

Every great, ancient literature memorializes this first shock of existence in its mythical prose. In the West, the foundation story is the exile from Eden. Man eats from the tree of life and knows death for the first time. The consciousness of death enters his heart and now becomes the core driver of his survival. The desire to erect edifices of thought, heart and body that stand as a bulwark against death is a major motive force of cultural evolution. One of the key emergent responses to this first shock is a series of evolutionary refinements of man’s conception of self and his relationship to the larger community. The first shock of existence ultimately produced the separate, self-consciousness of human beings, which eventually fostered all of the human dignities and rights that define modernity. Death could not be defeated, but life was invested with infinite adequacy and dignity. This is the response to the first shock: the notice of impending death of the separate self, ego, individual.

To be continued…

Taken from a first draft text from the forthcoming book The Path and Practice of Outrageous Love by Marc Gafni and Kristina Kincaid, this series elaborates on a critical advancement of the Unique Self Dharma that Dr. Marc has developed after Your Unique Self was published.

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