As her feet clutch the bobbing, stalwart branch, wings fluttering gently to stabilize her perch against the surging gust; an underlying purpose stood revealed. As its traumatized roots awakened from the shock of being severed, vigorously drawing moisture and nutrients from the acquiescent earth; its passion could no longer be concealed. As the palpable scent entered his roving awareness, turning peaceful into frantic, focused action; the truth about existence then congealed.
When truthfully considering the origins of our thoughts, words, and actions; with the exception of purely spiritual things; we may be surprised to find that layer after complicated layer of our human world reduces down to the simplicity of survival. Take the social rituals, cultural traditions, and business practices built around food, clothing, shelter, and sex for example. Digestible edibles are an inescapable basic human need. Clothing aids survival in some climates, and drives the mating rituals of “developed” countries. Shelter protects us from the elements and our enemies, supporting the preservation of our species. Procreation is the origin of the human life cycle. Now consider how the human mind, emotions, and sense perceptions have together created vast arrays of highly complex structures and systems, all built around a few basic survival needs. Think about the empires constructed around what we eat, what we wear, where we live, and how, when, where, and with whom we make love. If we channeled such energy, resources, and focused attention into our spiritual development, then imagine where our race would be today. We seem to be winning the race of ego illusion, and losing the race of spiritual truth.
Sex and Spirituality
Sharing the safety, trust, and abiding love of an intimate partner relationship; including those steamy, mesmerizing moments of ecstasy crescendoing into peaks of orgasmic bliss; is intended to be the physical parallel of our divine spiritual connection. Beyond its role in procreation, sex was created to heighten our awareness of our relationship with the divine, and focus us inward toward its realization. It was not intended to be an end in itself. The establishment of a spiritual connection is not based upon a prior sexual relationship, but for many its bliss and beauty can help awaken them to the divine. It can also be the greatest distraction from it, and for some an addiction.
How Thought, Emotion, and Sensory Perceptions Complicate Biological Simplicity
Genetic programming, thoughts, and emotions are primarily focused on survival. Biology is the driver, while cognitions and feelings are the passengers; all circuitously racing around in a cycle of delusion. Sense perceptions are the engine, fuel, and GPS navigation system. Think about how many of our habits, rituals, traditions, and businesses revolve around things that reduce down to our eating habits, clothing choices, living arrangements, or biological drives to procreate.
External Complication of Biology’s Basic Needs
When we consider clothing, jewelry, fragrance, and makeup; what, could we say, is their intrinsic purpose? We could say that it is many things, but does it not reduce down to making someone look, feel, taste, sound, and smell more attractive or sexy; and does this not reduce down to being a mating ritual? Why would a woman wear tight, revealing, or otherwise eye-catching clothing, slather on alluring fragrances, and paint her face angelic if she were not trying to draw attention to herself? If she is doing this, then is this not a mating ritual? Biology has assigned the role of attention-getting to the woman, while the man’s role is to pursue her if he is interested. I am not suggesting that such practices are wrong or bad, but that we can benefit from the truthful awareness of what is occurring. Through such awareness we can deal more simply and directly with it; rather than spinning layer after layer of delusion to deny, avoid, or disguise such truth. Our biological drive to survive is our strongest overall focus, and sex, or the human drive to procreate, is the most fundamental of its constituents (unless we are starving or injured). If we are continuously performing a mating ritual without realizing it, then would we not want to increase our awareness of this fact in order to intentionally and strategically choose when, where, how, and with whom we were performing it? And what about the other basic survival needs? Don’t we want to know when we are doing what and why?
Internal Distractions from Biology’s Simple Truth
So let’s take a look at how our thoughts and emotions interact with these basic biological drives. If we focus on, or worry about, how we look, sound, or seem to others; whether or not they like or approve of what we say or do; whether or not they think we made a mistake; or whether or not they accept us and want to be our friend; then we are enlisting the aid of our egoic mind and emotions in the pursuit of securing the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and sex through the use of social, familial, and community systems. In other words, if we are preoccupied with knowing whether or not someone likes us, then we are engaging our mind in a process that reduces down to the fulfillment of our basic survival needs. If someone likes us, then they will be more likely to provide, or help us find food, clothing, and shelter; and when the opposite sex, procreation. It is these basic survival needs that are actually underlying the egoic constructs related to roles, identity, self worth, the acceptance or approval of others, a sense of fairness, etc.; along with the issues and defenses that may develop when such egoic extensions of basic needs go unfulfilled (e.g. if we are rejected, abandoned, excessively criticized, or abused). Emotions are physiological indicators of two basic things: whether we are safe or not. Negative emotions shift the brain into Survival Mode (stress response), narrowing our thoughts, limiting our perceived possibilities, and focusing our actions on staying alive in the face of mortal danger. Positive emotions shift the brain into Safe Mode (relaxation response), convincing our neural network that we are safe and well. If we feel anxiety, fear, anger, or depression; then our brain believes that we are under threat. When we feel happy, hopeful, peaceful, or joyful; then our brain believes we are safe. It is all about survival.
The Compelling Disguise of Sensory Perceptions
The sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch perceived by our sense organs grabs our attention in stimulating, electrifying, and breathtaking ways. Our brain processes this information, our egoic mind interprets it pursuant to relevant constructs, and various emotions may be generated based upon the presence or absence of danger in that which was perceived. When we see, hear, taste, smell, or feel things related to food, clothing, shelter, or sex; regardless of our conscious thought, emotion, and attributions; the underlying impetus is survival.
So what is the benefit of breaking everything down in this way? Doesn’t it take away from the romance, mystery, and magic of our existence? Doesn’t it reduce us down to being just another animal on the planet? I believe that, if we realize how much of our time, energy, and resources we invest in things like our appearance, desirability, popularity,, etc.; and if we clearly understand what this reduces down to; then we can free ourselves from the distractions and delusions of the mind, emotions, and sense perceptions. We can consciously choose when we will focus on pursuing the satisfaction of our basic needs, and whether or not this pursuit is needed at any given time (rather than having it occur perpetually, disguised as something else, under the influence of our egoic mind, emotions, and sense perceptions without our conscious awareness of it). The purpose of our intellect is to help us distinguish the true and real from the untrue and unreal. It was not intended to serve the ego, its mind-based emotions, or sensory perceptions. The natural awarenesses of love, joy, and peace occur in spirit. They are not based on the mind. They have no negative emotional counterpart, and exist beyond thoughts and senses in the true nature of our spirit. When we develop sufficient awareness of the reality of our survival-based pursuits, when we choose to seek their satisfaction as needed, and when we utilize the newly created time, energy, and resources in the evolution of spiritual things; our existence will miraculously transform.
The lowest common denominator of human things is survival. The lowest common denominator of spiritual things is truth. I believe that we will heal and grow more quickly and naturally if we live within the truth of our humanity.
What are your thoughts on this matter? How has your relative awareness of the underlying role of survival impacted your life? Could you benefit from having more time, energy, and resources available to help you heal and grow?
Photo Credit: Buchanan Bill, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service