Who are you? What are you? Why are you?
Humanity has pondered these questions ever since they could “think about their thinking”. That is, whenever we crossed some threshold in our evolution where we became something called “self-aware”. To be “self-aware” is to realize that you exist, that you are this thing called you living and interacting as this separate individual in the larger world “out there”.
What Do You Think?
You have thought about these questions. What were your answers?
Are you a material object….a physical animal? With that, are you…..a human who as a member of that species evolved from “lower species” to a point that you (and all those of us who are like you) have a large enough brain that we can “think about thinking”, learn and pass along our learning to others? Are you and I, as these humans, simply born into a world with the goal of survival and to pass along our genes to our offspring? Are we animal widgets in a world where the goal and purpose is to make sure our widget gathers up the world for our personal use even if at the expense of other widgets? You get the picture….
Or are we something more? Are we spiritual beings who were originally birthed out of a non-physical world yet allowed to be born into this material world to grow, learn and evolve? Is our true reality existing beyond the material world in the spiritual realm? Is our goal and purpose really something coming from beyond here? For some that could be to “please an external God” that judges us upon our release from the physical realm so as to determine if we might exist in eternity in some better place. For others, that could be to be the best person we can be here in this physical world, to learn and grow, to evolve in our awareness that our “real reality” is our source in the interlocked Oneness of the Universe.
So what is it? Are you really a material being or a spiritual being?
Living in 2 Worlds
Why must we choose? Why are we not both?
“Freud asserted, ‘Neurosis is the inability to cope with ambiguity’, but the research is so bloody inconclusive.” ~Gregg Eisenberg
Those who have read my writings or attended my talks always here me loosely quoting Teilhard de Chardin….”we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. I like to say that we “live with one foot in the material world and one foot in the spiritual world” and that sometimes we are putting more weight on one foot or the other.
In my opinion, humanity is currently moving through an evolutionary threshold. We have evolved through the world of form…growing and evolving as these “physical animals”….but we became self-aware and started searching for “meaning”. Much of our search for meaning has come from looking out there in the world of form. The answers we got were not always very fulfilling. Where they gave us truth, they also seemed incomplete. Hence, many have started looking in other places….inside ourselves and in the spiritual (non-material) realm. This search is taking us beyond the physical but not to those old places of worldly religions (created by humans) whose answers were incomplete. This new search incorporates the truths of science but seeks to add another dimension to them, to make them more “complete”.
This evolutionary threshold we are moving through includes the material world but also transcends it. It lives in the holistic ambiguity of being both physical and spiritual.
You Are Not Who You Think You Are
One of my favorite opinion columnists is David Brooks in the New York Times. He recently wrote a piece that briefly looks at some areas of human research and how they are in the midst of some revolutionary findings. Here is the link to the full article.
Briefly though, here are some key points:
- The line between “imagining” something and “seeing” something is not as clear cut as we used to believe.
- Our ability to “reason” versus what we feel as our “emotions” are not as clear cut as we used to believe.
- Our “memory” influences our “observations” of the world out there such that they are not quite as distinct of things as we thought.
- We tend to see our “understanding” as being something mental and “experience” as being sensory/reality based, but this is not quite the case.
- We tend to believe that we can exhibit “self-control” over our self and our choices, but there are many forces at play that make “self-control” to be not always “self-controlled”.
“I love how holistic the drift of research is,” writes Brooks. “Now there is much more emphasis on how people and groups creatively construct their own realities, and live within those constructions.”
I couldn’t agree more. To me, this shift in our research and these new findings are part of our evolutionary threshold. We are letting go of the old limiting belief that we are these widgets who are separate and apart from the world. This old viewpoint liked to parse things apart that were really interconnected.
For example, we had to divide our ability to “reason” from our experience of “emotions” to learn more about each individually. Now our research is showing that in truth they are intertwined. The same is true for all of the areas that Brooks cites.
The division we created was a journey we had to go on so as to come back and understand the things to a greater degree than if we had not gone on the trip. This scientific method of “parsing the material world to study it” was a necessary evolutionary step towards the wisdom that comes with our reconnecting the parts and realizing the whole.
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~T.S. Elliot
So I return to the questions I posed at the beginning….. Who are you? What are you? Why are you?
Let me be crystal clear. You are free to believe what you want. Our free will choice is one of the gifts of our lives.
However, I believe that our material experience is something that we were called to move through….to learn, to grow, to evolve…..to evolve not only physically but in our consciousness as well. We have moved through a sense of separation in the physical world (and in our scientific findings) but we are evolving back to a more holistic understanding of our truth. The worldly experiences (including all that stuff out there that challenges us) is simply a stepping stone in our growth back to an awareness of our unity.
We have been putting a lot of weight on our foot in the physical world but we are now shifting to the other foot.
“So let us consider this: Spirit or Ultimate Consciousness divided itself up in awareness and embedded itself in all of life so that we could experience individuality and free-will choice as we simultaneously moved upward, following the laws of evolution. This evolutionary track involved smaller pockets of consciousness coming together in greater pockets of consciousness, until in humanity here on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere) such consciousness crossed a threshold into self-awareness. Our personal, individual pocket of consciousness is now being pulled by the process of evolution to combine with others at an even higher level of awareness that we can only imagine.” ~Mark Gilbert