Why do Universal Paradoxes exist?
WHY DO UNIVERSAL PARADOXES EXIST? HOW CAN EVERYTHING BE EXACTLY, DELICIOUSLY AS IT SHOULD BE AND SOMETHING INSIDE US TO BE SO WRONG, TO CAUSE SUFFERING AND DISCORD IN EVERY HUMAN BEING? WHY HAS EVERY SINGLE CULTURE, EVERY CIVILIZATION, EVERY RELIGION IN HISTORY CREATED THE SAME PARADOXICAL BELIEF SYSTEMS? WHY DO WE MAKE OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER SUFFER SO MUCH?
It doesn’t seem to make any sense; why would be so negative and accusatory towards ourselves, humanity as a whole and the spectacular advances of our species and our civilization? And how come all human cultures, many totally without contact with others develop belief systems ridden with contradiction?he answers lie in survival and evolution, just like every other answer, way before recorded history, when the first pebbles of our future civilization started emerging…
Imagine a primitive Neolithic family, tens of thousands of years ago, growing big enough to constitute a tribe, maybe 20 to 30 people. It is governed rightly (for survival under the prevailing conditions) by the Alpha males, the fiercest and the strongest, the best hunter scavengers to bring food, and the best warriors for protection and survival. They eat first, they are the first to choose their women, and their women and children are protected and respected. Then, in the order of their physical power, ferocity and capability the rest of the males share the rest. By the time a tribe grows to this size, there are weak children to be protected and fed, and marginally, as an exception, a beloved infirm parent or an entertainer might be fed and tolerated for a while. Supporting the unfit for survival. Something very rare in any other being. Intelligent, creative but physically weak people are naturally left to die, unless they can become valuable by contributing, for example by using their wits in battle or the hunt. But this is rare, and no guarantee for survival exists in such a hostile predatory world where violence is the order of the day. As the tribe grows in size and prosperity, it is collectively able to afford to protect more weak people, and who would those lucky survivors be? Obviously, the ones that the powerful for whatever personal reason choose to protect, the ones that are liked by or useful to the Alpha males and their women. It is natural that the ones that chose to antagonize the big Alphas, that competed with them for power or women were out. Who had a survival chance? Those that would collect food and offer it, those that were altruistic and selfless, who would delouse the warriors, bring them water from the pond, find choice bananas for them; the ones with no perceived arrogance; the downtrodden who produced sympathy, and the miserable. Those offering and not competing for anything.
If you were not a strong, powerful Alpha male or a desirable female, your best chance of survival was to desist to compete for sex, possessions or privileges. To be eligible, your actions, your words and your persona needed to ensure the powerful that you were not a competitor or a threat. To proclaim that we would not compete for sex or material goods we invented the symbolism of the priest; to not compete openly for power, we invented the politician, the server of the people. As societies grew to villages, then city-states and later fiefdoms, kingdoms, countries and empires, the most likely survivors and procreators were not the physically strong who naturally competed for glory and women. They almost invariably got killed young, like Alexander the Great and Hannibal of Carthage. The survivors were the invalids, the weak who stayed behind the fortress walls, who competed with nobody and invoked sympathy for their misery and good will for their lives of sacrifice and offering. Selfless sacrifice, misery, celibacy, humbleness, self-deprecation and self-disdain became humanity´s primary survival tools as symbolisms of non-competition in a civilization that flourished through oneness and synergy. The larger and more evolved the civilization, the more we suppressed and eventually substituted our beliefs based on our natural instincts for new beliefs, diametrically opposite to our nature. We started disliking ourselves and our lives, in order to survive.
We began by substituting our primary instruction for physical survival with the instruction for social survival. We learned to hold social survival and acceptance to a much higher regard than physical survival. We go to war, not always because we are attacked, but also because it is the honorable thing to do. We sacrifice ourselves for duty; we invent suicide bombers, kamikazes, ritual suicide, honor in death, and honor in non-betrayal of values. We die on the stake for our beliefs, our countries, sometimes even our football club.
Consequently, we were shown and taught, and in turn displayed and taught to our offspring this successful survival skill; to hate ourselves and our egos, to be ashamed of our sexuality and deem it “dirty”, to become proud of our suffering and our unhappiness, all for the ultimate carrot: social acceptance. To be happy, our natural state, we had to invent a belief system that relinquishing our self, our desires, instincts and proclivities was our choice, a good thing, a correction of our nature, because that is what it took the physically weaker and most vulnerable to survive!
The fear of disappointment, disapproval, failure and consequently rejection became more complicated, more abstract and was increasing exponentially the more societies increased their complexity, and therefore the complexity of the requirements of compliance for social acceptance. The more intricate the rules of acceptance, the more difficult it became to follow them without missing a single step that could endanger our social status, aka our survival probabilities. The more inflated the fear of ostracism and consequently aloneness, the more we felt that WE are not as we should be, and THEY are not as they should be, and the more conclusively the rules governing us and the Universe appeared to us to be wrong, twisted and unjust. Because if nature was not wrong, how could we condemn it and refute it and not face a huge paradox and thus misery?
Our own successful evolution as a communal species, a herd animal, created our primary paradox: If happiness happens when we trust that everything is as it should be, and at the same time it happens when we are safe and feel love, when we feel that we are one with something or somebody else, not alone, in that case, if we inherently wish to be happy, how could we possibly be happy alone, shunned and unaccepted?
And what is the price of not being alone? To be happy we need first to be safe and thus to not be alone, yet society requests that we be unhappy, selfless and non-sexual to avoid rejection and ostracism which would leave us alone. Are you following this? Caught between a rock and a hard place! How can we choose between our natural propensity to survive, adapt, have sex and be happy, and the social requirement of misery to avoid antagonizing and competing with others?
Our society started by twisting in such intricate, convoluted and unimaginable ways so as to accommodate these essential paradoxes that it became increasingly impossible to avoid social castigation (and even before that, our own self-rejection and judgment). If everyone else believes that we, and they themselves, and the whole world, is not as it should be, then who is right? If we disagree and are right, we are alone, so cannot be happy, if everybody is right and we are wrong, if we resign to agreeing and accepting the communal worldview, at least we are not alone and we have hope of being happy. We avoid seeing that we are actually paradoxically agreeing that everything is NOT as it should be, so therefore we are all, collectively and individually, suffering, judgmental of ourselves and humanity as a whole, and as a natural consequence, UNHAPPY.
So, we ended up agreeing that what we are is despicable, shameful, a sin, and that everything around us is wrong, all of creation is wrong. We tacitly and secretly agreed to not be happy, to be perpetually ashamed and guilty and dissatisfied with ourselves as well as the world we create and that we live in, and at everything that just IS, in order to not risk being left alone, unprotected and unwanted. However, like secret insurgents and idealistic terrorists we meticulously hide our nature inside, scared shitless of being found out, risking being found frauds, guilty for being humans, shunned for the very functions that are necessary for our existence, and then, once more, in constant danger of being found out and be subjected to self-hatred and the social death we so rightfully dread.
A paradox exists when we are trying to believe two contradictory and mutually exclusive beliefs at the same time. Paradoxes bring misery, frustration, insecurity and unhappiness like in the example of a soldier who needs to choose to betray his home town and his loved ones, in order to not be considered a traitor in his responsibility to the country and his superiors. Like the misery of a mother that needs to decide on which one of her children should be sacrificed for the others to survive. The Guaraní, an indigenous people from South America’s interior (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia), were persecuted and enslaved by the Catholic conquistadores with the excuse that they are animals, not humans at all. One of the arguments presented was that they sometimes they killed their own children at birth. The Guaraní killed any child after the first two, because in their world full of dangers, if they needed to run to escape death or enslavement, the parents could only run holding one child each. They killed the excess children at birth to avoid the pain in having to make a choice later, when they would have grown to know them and love them, of who to leave behind. Nature´s wisdom. The penguins in Antarctica neither suffer nor try to protect their chicks when they hatch; the baby penguins have to run towards the water on their newly born, unseasoned feet as fast as they can, before the seagulls and the albatrosses hungrily circling above grab them. The penguins know well enough that only the strongest chicks will survive the winter, and the death of the slow and infirm is exactly as it should be. No paradox, no misery.
We could not live openly with the paradoxes; we had to find alternative beliefs, ignore the paradox or camouflage it thoroughly, so as to never again be able to see it. We, human beings, chose all four primary paradoxes: to replace happiness, primary code of life number two, with another, manmade code of noble misery; to ignore our pain and disappointment that stems from the unfulfilled hardwired instruction for trust in what made us and everything else and to disguise it through organized religion, philosophies and ever more complex belief systems. We replaced the hardwired instruction to trust and be happy, to feel at home in our environment and thus well adapted to it with the instruction to be safe as a survival mechanism against our debilitating paradoxes. Our contradictory beliefs. Since it was obvious that the other three primary codes of the existence of life were incompatible, we had to distort these as well. We distorted and confused them enough to allow us to survive in a social structure that becomes increasingly more the judge and executioner of our very nature. We couldn’t stop ourselves from having a sexual drive and reproducing, because we would not be able to survive as a species, and we couldn’t really kill our egos, because they are actually us, our inherent and essential sense of self that we are trying to extinguish. Faced with this conundrum, we learned to disguise both our ego and our sexual drive, to hide them and deny them, to create intricate social rules of acceptance so that we could justify and partly fulfil our nature in order to achieve a wishy-washy feeling of happiness, in small enough doses for it to be socially acceptable. We created priests and spiritual people of all possible denominations that would successfully achieve to survive, accumulate power, social acceptance and wealth by seemingly not antagonizing anybody for sex, money or power.
Our mutually agreed belief systems that form the backbone of our automatic conditioning and programming for our social survival have replaced our primary survival instincts, and have killed our happiness; our trust in what is and our oneness with it. This is why when we travel in what is called “backward” and “underdeveloped” countries we are left wondering why the people in our rich societies that have minimal survival issues and are generally well protected from hunger, extreme weather and predatory animals, seem much more unhappy than those poor people in those “wretched” primitive societies. Poor, backward people who struggle for everyday survival laugh, play, dance and seem very happy under dangerous and adverse conditions that would horrify and disgust us. How can these children laugh, without a thought in the world, while playing barefoot in the mud with a stick, not knowing where their next meal will come from? How, when our children complain and suffer so much because they don’t have the latest version of a trendy videogame? Very few people can resist noticing…for a while. If we notice too much, it becomes impossible for us to not feel, that despite our technological, political, cultural and social advances, we definitely must be doing something wrong.
It seems that we have created a huge spider web of truths that not only do they not serve our happiness, but actually totally and successfully sabotage it. We have so thoroughly believed and embraced them, and we so diligently and constantly remind them to ourselves and everybody else that we are condemning our whole species to misery in exchange for a hope for our social, rather than our physical survival. As we established before, World Health Organization´s statistics indicate that depression will overcome heart problems as the number one killer disease in the developed world as early as 2025. Depression is predominantly an illness of developed and complex societies, so apparently our own social evolution is killing our natural inclinations and making us clinically and universally unhappy. The least worries of physical survival we have the more miserable we become over issues that any being struggling for its physical survival would consider trivial; if we do not have a real physical threat we have an implied social threat, we can never be in peace for long. Many times we surprise ourselves at how miserable we and the people surrounding us can be, for no apparent serious or logical reason. And then we suffer more, because we accuse ourselves of being ungrateful: “Think of the starving children in Biafra, we say, think of the lepers, think of the homeless, think of the enslaved”. We even need to be guilty and ashamed of our own misery!
On top of the dread of social rejection, we also create physical survival fears and anxieties such as the hole in the ozone layer, attack by a comet, aids and other exotic diseases, ecological disaster, economic destruction, terrorists, fundamentalism, conspiracies, nuclear war, biological warfare, genetic manipulation and mutation, killer viruses and extraterrestrials, killer sharks, killer bees, radiation etc. All of it just to try to defeat the paradox by creating for ourselves reasons for feeling miserable and afraid. Totalitarian regimes often use this method, creating fear and sensation do divert public attention from the real issues. They do it the people because it sort of works and we do it to ourselves for the very same reason. If you watch a documentary about the African savannah, for example, you will notice that when antelopes peacefully grazing are savagely attacked by a predator, say a lion or a cheetah, they scatter frantically instantly, becoming fully alert with their whole being for maybe 30 seconds or so, until the whole herd escapes or an antelope is taken down and devoured. Either way, they then proceed to automatically, instantly relax and continue grazing in happiness, without any apparent anxiety caused by the bloody incident that disrupted their serenity, as if nothing had happened, as if they had not just escaped being brutally devoured. I, being human, find it interesting and incomprehensible, because I as a human have learned that the world is a horrible place of constant danger rather than “exactly as it should be”. But they, like any other animal, are fully adapted to their environment, including the dangers, and are thus happy. Their natural instinct is to feel that everything is as it should be, the danger is past and they need have no worry until it reappears. We, in contrast, became afraid of every change, every death, seeking swamped, muddy and stagnant “safe” realities, terrified of everything that would disrupt them, denying life in exchange for safe facsimiles. We humans can never relax, never be out of anxiety, because all these real, theoretical or imaginary dangers seem to be lurking all the time, and if it is not them, then it is the taxman, an undefined illness, or social stigma the predators ready to pounce on us and devour us. Phobias upon phobias designed to disguise the essential paradoxes. How can everything be as it should be in a world that is thus, we ask ourselves, how can we be happy in such a dangerous and unfair world? We would have to be crazy, insensitive or idiots to be happy. It makes no sense.
Of course it does not, since it is not congruent with our beliefs, and our beliefs are designed specifically to protect us, to stop us from being happy, so that we can be safe instead. To be safe, we must agree that there is something wrong with us for wanting to fulfil the primary instructions of the divine, the instincts necessary for life to exist. For us to be right, the divine and everything it has created, including ourselves and our fellow human beings, must be wrong. There is no escape; either everybody judging us is right or the universe is right. But the Universe doesn’t care if we think there is something wrong with it, the universe indifferently insists on being what it is and is always there.
Nonetheless, society needs us to concur- or else.
Practically every person that has an interest in their spirituality is very much aware of and in agreement with the concepts of love, acceptance, trust, and oneness. Millions of pages have been written about these concepts, great lectures and workshops have been given, thousands of practices that elevate us, give us eye-opening insights and allow us to feel the perfection of the universe. We feel enlightened, we feel that at last we understand, we feel close to the divine by whatever name or form we chose, we feel that everything is as it should be; we feel an elevation of the soul that, at the moment, feels eternal. Most of us, however, are left in disappointment and wonderment at why the feeling slowly fades away, why what we felt and remember so strongly becomes difficult to reproduce, why we have to struggle to remember all over again. We feel like spiritual Sisyphus, the mythical king of Corinth punished by the gods for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever and ever. Where is that feeling I had, where did it go? How did I roll back down?
The spiritual community is as adamant as the cynics or the religious fanatics that things are wrong, that our ego and our earthly desires are soiling our light, that we are twisted, that everything is the fault of our nature and at the same time somebody else´s; it must be the fault of the devil, the multinationals, the governments and the avaricious conspirators. We suffer in anger and resentment because we are simultaneously victims of the horrible nature of others and of our own inadequacies. One more paradox to ruin our peace, dressed in different clothes. The spiritual community breeds “spiritoids”, members of a new social community, equally judgmental as enthusiastic holy inquisitionists and executioners, equally powerless to truly change anything within us or without us. Endless brutal musical chairs where always somebody must be left standing; prey for the human chicken pecking party.
Why does this happen, in a community of equally minded people with the intention of trust, oneness, love, happiness and enlightenment? Simply because the universal belief system that none of us dares to question forces our own bodies, automatically conditioned and programmed for safety, symbolically synonymous with social acceptance, to slowly reject all new ideas that may endanger that safety. That is why semiotics, cognitive dissonance and our paradoxical beliefs are comparatively little explored. We have started installing since birth the minefields of our own happiness and spiritual growth, and when we struggle, we suspect once more that there is something about us that cannot be as it should be, purely because we are human.
We fake being above our nature so well, that we convince each other on many occasions. But we cannot fool ourselves. We, and only we, know all the “dark and undesirable” things that happen inside us. So, we initiate the use of an even more formidable stick, the most cruel of them all. The tireless and merciless stick of self-judgment, self-rejection, self-disapproval, and finally self-ostracism. We reject and ostracize ourselves within ourselves in an ultimate proof of the efficacy of our belief system that can overcome our natural self-love and make us turn against ourselves. You see, this makes us suffer but forestalls other people’s judgment. Then at least we are safe. Miserable but safe. Mission accomplished.
We, collectively as human beings, have efficiently programmed ourselves and our offspring to feel ashamed, inadequate, miserable and guilty of our humanity and our very sense of self in order to survive! And now, we are killing ourselves through depression, anxiety, fear and aggression for it. How can this be as it should be?
Well actually it is exactly, ingenuously and spectacularly as it should be; and this is where humanity´s genius lies; through our universal belief system we allowed artists, invalids, geniuses, innovators, every possible kind of person to survive, as long as they were willing to play the game of selflessness, misery, inability, humbleness and to hide their sexuality. The ones believing it most, transmitted it best and convinced their offspring as well, all the better to ensure the perpetuation of their genetic lineage. In an ever evolving civilization, the only one of its kind on Earth (ants, bees, wolves etc. all have intricate civilizations but they are stable and static; unchanging and non-evolving. A community breaks up when it reaches critical size and two or more separate entities are consequently formed), it was the only possible way to go. It gifted us the unending variety of choices, trends and talents that would never have passed the “survival of the fittest” test without communal support. It gave us our glory, our Art of Being as a species.
Now, like the appendix, the wisdom teeth and the coccyx our belief system has turned into a vestigial characteristic, a form of atavism; a trait or characteristic no longer useful or necessary for survival, an anachronism that has turned infectious and painful, that needs to be removed lest it bursts and kills us.