This is a bedtime story for adults. Not to be read without the soul’s guidance. Soul? That is that very strange thing that you will not find in any one dimensional economic course at university level. Nor in most theological seminaries where only a captured rendition would be found in sad solitary despondency, depressively knocking against darkly tinted windows. Jailed to stay captive inside very human laid conditions. Confined to eternally stay inside captivity. We will have to come to a borderless definition of that illusive entity. We will have no choice. We don’t have a choice. In order not to remain being barbarians.
The story. Once upon a time this world did not exist. Nor the planets, nor the sun. Then, out of that black universal night, an immense blast occurred and for millions of years, a very human and recent conceptual construction, there were matter, gasses, masses, burning, bursting and bumping all that came in their way. Forming, deforming, reforming, some unceremoniously bumped out of existence, waiting for a next universe a few billions years in the future to join up with again. This universe’s winners gaining mass and chaotic momentum. There was no life yet, even the moon was but a mere puppy. We would have been a far-fetched fairy tale but there were no stories to be told for another billion years or so.
Many millions of years passed, again that meagre word verbalization by extremely late comers to the scene, and very gradually primitive life started to creep from muddy waters. No, no solipsistic human mind!, no Muddy Waters of extremely late music development. Not even, although almost as ancient, The Rolling Stones. Sorry Mick, sorry Keith. You other guys, calling yourselves Homo Sapiens, are so predictable. Give you a moment of breath and you claim human superiority, profound culture and clamped spirituality without any engrained Big Bang humbleness and thankfulness for so many ancient luck shots. Our solipsistic minds don’t want to face such an un-glorified beginning. Perhaps then, for the record, human mistake number one. We love mystery, but not too much of it.
We earthlings, we are so lucky. We had a burning giant, a soaring sun, we were bumped around by some mean meaning comets and wannabe planets, then settled just far enough orbiting the sun to become an oxygenated planet. Once upon a time we even had the audacity to declare that the sun was actually orbiting us. Now sadly, we don’t even really gather that this primordial sun is imploding, will on a day, a few million years away, have a final sunset where after deepest darkness, unimaginable, unthinkable, will be king, an extinguished queen.
Back at the ranch. We, though, from the very start had an immense family history. Our very first ancestors, being miniscule organisms, very primitive, swimming, swelling, swirling, showed absolutely no respect for competing others. They, those early guys, sensed how some of their counterparts jumped to become more advanced than before. Primitive life swam, some of them not sinking. Some did a serendipitous jump into the future. The base instinct was, rightly so, programmed to keep moving. So doing, to exceed fermenting life in stagnating pools. Stagnation, then, like now, lead to decay, to death, to oblivion. Homo Sapiens, that species that was but born yesterday, should have noted that, but they could not. They were not there yet, but even when they came around millions of years later, they did not honour their humble beginnings with holy respect and ardent reasoning. And, when you don’t honour your beginnings, you are set up by evolutionistic gods to overestimate your importance way into the future and the eventual strangling of that fading future. Instinctively, biasedly, strangling the whole spectre of the past, then the present and finally the future have dire consequences. Perhaps that was human mistake number two.
First we blinded beings behaved basely, then we developed eyes and with that some ancestors, minute little guys, became quite superior and started to overwhelm all struggling others in order to benefit, to move forward, to claim life.
I could have expected it. Someone whispering in my ear. That dictionary guy from Stratford upon Avon, he with the brooding soul and mythical practicing of human words, William Shakespeare, has just arrived from out of the blue, whispering into my ear these strange alien words, To be, or not to be. To exist, or not to exist. I was still fighting William to let my own perceptions of things, that I felt were indeed superior, to take the lead, when I experienced a second menace. They, the so called humans, called him Charles Darwin. Survival of the fittest, he screamed at me. Although he wasn’t the first person to coin those words.
Okay, okay, I played depth psychologist, I played Sigmund Freud, his secularized grandchild, Carl Rogers, so I said, I do hear the passions of your souls, your hearts, your existence. I hear your wish to be true to real life. Not to succumb to fundamentalism in its many shrewd ways.
Please you profound guys, just keep quiet. Let the story develop. Please , cynic soulful Bob, sing them a song, just get me off the hook.
As already said, all life struggled into existence. There was something very basic in the very first organism that crept out of the sea onto solid earth. Driven to survive. He, or she, a flimsy, a very early ancestor of all those guys and dolls later creamed in their hallowed perceptions, keep quiet TS, they were kind of hollow, yes, but not hollow men yet. They had a primitive drive and millions of years later, their off spring would not escape that. It would be in their bone structure, it would be in the blood that fed their flesh. It would become heaven and hell fighting each other.
Survival at all cost. To be sharp, shrewd, shallow, to tread on other living beings trying to surface, to survive too, so that you, and your kind, the phalanx of home invented defence structures, can walk into new days with culture captured sunlight. Not to mind in any real way the consequential detriment, and suffering, of all the others. Mistake number three.
From day one about 500 000 years ago when the first humans waved the Neanderthal cousins, others, goodbye, they applied their advanced brains in a new, different and dangerous way. Now equipped to out think all the rest, to manipulate them, kill them, to discard them in a thousand ways, they did just that. And then one more time. In one more way. For ever after. With the development of our brains we carried one main theme from the past into the future. Survival of the fittest. That means we, it means Me. With time, we did it with such acumen and subtlety that the losers only realized their dumping when it was absolutely too late.
Let me go back three paragraphs of my story.
A scientist in evolutionary biology, Bill Hamilton wrote a book wherein he stated that we humans think ourselves kind and loving but ‘we are actually working on a carefully calibrated scale of self-interest’. Then that most existential protesting worrier, George Price translated this into a mathematic equation. Real selfless empathy, these guys showed wasn’t true .They held history up for scrutinizing. So, they showed, we gathered a very early capacity to stand together in order to survive, but it was a pragmatic attitude to gather more substantial strength to survive. We had to have some guys and dolls watching our backs from the very beginning. So doing, we reduced the chances to be killed. Watch my back and I will watch yours. But you better be watching mine better brother, little sister…It was a kind of empathy developing, but walled in to the like of every competing group.
Primitive man, the women did not, still do not rreally count, said in sorrow, phased into a higher level of evolutionistic being. They, those guys that did not yet have 4×4 vehicled penises, gathered like-minded, likely formed, likely faced, likely coloured partners to outrun, out think, out-perform, those strangely similar but still strangely different other beings. They allowed only for the home fires to burn into the dark of night. In any which way. The birth of naked capitalism. Nationalism. Solipsism. Humans realized early on that those strangely others did not, in any significant way, count. Indoctrinated to the core of survivalism, (no editor, it is not a spelling mistake, it is a new word). To survive without a consideration of morals, ethics, that was the manipulating intelligence coming about.
Survival turned into obsessive greed, the using of others to gain superiority and the tarring of a solid road into the future. The future being my future, secondarily our future and in order to cement this, all others of a different kind had to be manipulated, or subdued, or killed, or whatever.
Something though stirred, followed. A gradual sense of realizing that those strange barbarians also have feelings, also have a capacity to cry when their offspring died, when they, their people suffered, came historically about.
This moral sense of real altruism came about 2500 years ago. In China. In Palestina. In India. In Arabia. That is about 497 500 years after the human start up. We, we humans came to realize the essence of others. At first, the others of a similar kind, handing them our kindness. Before that we had already implemented the in-group’s contribution to proceed as a whole so to have a fighting chance of surviving. 2500 years ago something very special turned a clear corner in our hearts and in our souls. We developed a capacity to become undulated spiritual. Before then we did a kind of spiritual thing. Honouring the skies, the sea, the sun, in order to pacify the great unknown. In order to personally survive. So that perhaps the onslaught of life could bypass our doors. We now, about 2500 years ago together developed a real capacity to outrun egotism, to shrewdly or brutally survive, to discard soulless being. We humans encountered spiritual masters from different continents, different contexts, different cultural figurations that claimed kindness, righteousness, soulfulness, to be of utmost importance to proceed as a developing mankind. Darwin would wryly remark on the side, jip, still in order to survive, to proceed in living life.
But that would be Darwin in his allotted time. In his historical epoch. All epochs tend to blind the unthinkable. To survive, still an evolutionary thing, was not anymore tied up to own gratification. The others became substantially important too.
There is this song by Leonard Cohen with lyrics about Jesus from the Hebrew Christian tradition, who looked from a lonely wooden tower watching life for a long time, and when he knew for certain that only drowning men could see him…, I heard it incorrectly, blame it on tinnitus, only drowning men could save him. I prefer my version. When a human, humans get to a point where they cannot be pacified, dulled by their own survival, existence, and can only walk out of front doors in any and every morning to care for other people, their souls could be, would be saved from the hell of selfishness, egotism. Then, humanity could have a beginning.
This very morning I walked into a supermarket to buy something. In front of me at the till was a ragged young man, counting fucking non silver coins to buy a smallish banana for a kind of breakfast. No Mr. Extreme Capitalist, I will not ever be on your side. Your ways nauseate me. I vomit. No Mr. Cleric, if you perceive your dogmas to be superior and spend time cementing that whilst neglecting the masses of suffering people every day of their lives, I will find no solace in your certitude. I will vomit.
The pre-requisite to understand the essence of the word soul would be to show respect to the universal core of all religious belief systems namely compassion as expressed by the Greek word, εμπάθεια. It means to wave the shallow interpretation of the word sympathy good bye and plunge heart and soul into compassion that is borderless, race-less, greed-less. Only by waving simplistic, simplified interpretations of gagged nationalistic theologies good bye, purifying authentic soul could emerge. If not, dukkha, the immense hardness of real life, century for century, will grimly, mercilessly continue.
We, bedtime story participants, are killing all that is precious. We kill people in our passivity, we kill the vulnerable by keeping to our either middle class or upper class orgasms. We are killing the future. We are killing people. Hear me clearly kind sir, kind lady, we are not human yet. We simmer in greed and selfishness.
It is so sad. When that very first guy, doll, advanced from ancient slime, the future was a possibility. When the prophets from ancient times stood up to protest human cruelness, we had a chance. Now, we are just gurgling refined selfishness back at them. It is so eternally sad.
Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. See you tomorrow. We will have a ball.
Wim van der Walt – Bellville