This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, I-Tunes in some countries, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Diesel.

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 282 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. I-Tunes.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 18

“Born Again” “Pseudo-Idealism”

Let’s first look at the limited situation in which there is some truth to Griffith’s concept of “born again" “pseudo-idealism”.

What he is saying is that we have a genetic orientation to selflessness, but our developing mind has to defy its oppression and seek self-understanding which leads to anger, egocentricity and alienation. But if we become too corrupted by these qualities we transcend them (except alienation since to transcend alienation is to become more alienated) and adopt some form of “good” behaviour and convince ourselves that we are now an uncorrupted individual.

We have to look at this in terms of armouring. Many people whose initial form of character armour involves trying to compensate for their compromised self-acceptance by “proving” themselves in an aggressive, materialistic or combative way will eventually find that they can’t maintain it in the face of idealistic criticism, both from others and from the conscience they learned in childhood. So they will either shift their “proving myself” strategy to one of demonstrating their worth with good deeds or verbal support for a good cause. This may be a very dramatic change in which the whole basis of someone’s life reverses, or it may be only a superficial coating which coexists with much of the same aggressive, materialistic or combative characteristics which were there before. To really be healed and returned to our capacity for unconditional love we would have to abandon the battle to prove ourselves altogether in favour of unconditional-self acceptance. This is what Jesus meant when he talked about the need to be “born again”, but this is not what is happening in the situations Griffith is referring to.

In Griffith’s view of the world pretty much all of us are a bottomless pit of rage and corruption and therefore any attempts we make to do something positive about the problems we see around us are just signs of how “false/dishonest/‘phoney’/‘fake’/deluded” we are. Now there is some truth that doing what we feel to be right sometimes involves transcending selfish impulses or feelings of anger for a while. This is after all what Griffith himself has to do when he transcends his angry feelings about our non-ideal behaviour and expresses sympathy for our position.

But since I see no reason to believe we have a genetic orientation to selflessness, I see no reason to believe we have 2 million years of accumulated rage to transcend. We do accumulate rage to the extent that we have to repress it within our character armour, but anyone who does not undermine their self-acceptance by exposing themselves to too much corrupting idealism and provides themselves with plenty of outlets for their frustration, will find they don’t have all that much to transcend. Certainly not as much as Griffith himself who has been both exposing himself to extreme levels of corrupting idealism but also avoiding many of the normal healthy outlets for the frustration that must engender.

The most dramatic evidence of projection in Griffith’s writings is his views on the “pseudo-idealistic” movements.

First of all it is important to consider what we mean by “idealism”. Griffith emphasises the ideal of “selflessness”, but an ideal is any human concept of perfection. For the Nazis racial purity was an ideal. The Nazis were extremely idealistic especially in their worshipping of the beautiful body. Machismo is an ideal - the ideal of the perfect patriarchal male. And the conflict between the left wing and the right wing is not one between idealism and the need for freedom from the oppression of idealism. It is a conflict between two kinds of idealism which can be equally oppressive - the communal ideals of the left and the individualistic ideals of the right.

To really understand the social phenomena Griffith identifies as “pseudo-idealism” we need to recognise that the opposite of idealism is pragmatism. Pragmatism is an approach which puts aside all idealistic expectations in favour of a “whatever works” attitude.

Within each of these social phenomena - religion, socialism, feminism, the New Age movement, environmentalism, etc. - there are differing degrees and varieties of idealism and dogmatism, often conflicting with each other, existing alongside pragmatic approaches.

That Griffith can look at this complex chaotic diversity and see in it simply a dogmatic insistence on ideal behaviour and oppression of expression of contrary feelings or ideas, shows how he is seeing himself reflected in the mirror of the world. He is the dogmatist. He is the one insisting on us deferring to his personal conception of ideal behaviour (now that he has provided a bullshit “defence” for our having departed from it in the first place). His is the boot that would crush the human face forever if we were, en masse, to adopt his “Transformed Lifeforce Way of Living” rather than liberating ourselves by learning to cultivate unconditional self-acceptance.

It is true that all of these social movements have been missing a key ingredient for their success, but that key ingredient is not Griffith’s extreme idealism and bullshit “defence”, it is the cultivation of unconditional self-acceptance so that we can melt away our particular armours and thus be reconciled with those against whom our particular armours dictated that we be in conflict.

Keeping in mind that Griffith’s “defence for humanity” is bullshit that allows him, in his mind, to justify expressing his extremely idealistic criticism or all aspects of human behaviour, doesn’t it sound like he is really talking about himself when he says : “And since the lie they were maintaining was so great, they had to work very hard at convincing both themselves and others of it, which meant they were typically a strident, extremely intolerant, belligerent even fanatical advocate of their position.” You never know, they might even be intolerant of women wearing tights!

Selfishness is the natural self-directedness of the suffering individual. Griffith is probably the most selfish person in the world. While there are problems and insufficiencies in the way in which we are trying to address social and environmental problems, Griffth has come to see all of this as despicable because we are addressing ourselves to the world as a whole and not to his personal psychotic problem, which he feels should come first. (Of course that is not how he sees it because he is trapped within that psychosis.) But once we see the way that he is projecting his own situation onto the world, we can see that he is like Oscar Wilde’s selfish giant, not wanting the children to play in his personal garden. Essentially he is saying : “You can’t come into Paradise unless you are selfless.” He wants it all for himself. And that is a sign of how much he must be suffering. No wonder he has been through ten years of chronic fatigue syndrome! By clinging onto the poison of idealism he must have turned himself from William Blake’s Albion Rose to Crouched in Fear. To really understand his world view you have to recognise that he thinks we are all even more fucked up than he is, whereas, in truth, than can be no more fucked up person on the face of the planet than him.


Griffith's second book illustrated with William Blake's paintings - Crouched in Fear and Albion Rose

Burning in Hell

Griffith says : “Moses himself described how ‘The Lord spoke to you [the Israelite nation] face to face out of the fire […fire is a metaphor for the searing truth of Integrative Meaning] on the mountain. [This was only possible because] At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire.’”

And in Genesis 3:24 : “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Doesn’t this fit with my interpretation of Satan as being a personification of idealism? God (the personification of love and forgiveness) would not be represented by something which burns and destroys, like fire. The fires of Hell belong to the devil.

It would take someone fairly secure in self - fairly self-accepting - to confront the condemning ideals and thus be Satan’s mouthpiece as Moses was. But idealism is both the source of corruption and the flame in which we burn for the “sin” of having been corrupted by it. It is the ultimate negative feedback loop.

Jesus on the other hand was not a worshipper of the Devil like Moses. He was not an idealist. When the idealists tried to stone the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stopped them. He said, “Judge not that thou be no judged.” To judge others is to be an idealist - to hold them up to an ideal standard and find them wanting. Jesus message was a Godly one of love and forgiveness. Love is the opposite of idealism. It is all-accepting. It is the water that puts out Satan’s fire and rescues us from the Hell of idealistic condemnation. Unfortunately, after his death Jesus’ followers turned his healing philosophy into the largely Satanic church known as “Christianity”.

There is controversy now about the Bible’s attitude to homosexuality. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality positive or negative. Condemnation of homosexuality comes from the Satanic (i.e. idealistic) parts of the Bible - Leviticus and the letters of the Apostles. These parts of the Bible preach repression rather than love. Since God is love, those parts of the Bible are anti-God.

Abandoning the Battle to Find Understanding

Griffith says : “Yes, the born-again, pseudo idealistic strategy was both treacherous and extremely dishonest — traits that totally undermined humanity’s search for knowledge — because in campaigning against the battle to find knowledge you were leading humanity towards an extreme state of denial/alienation/separation from the truth/knowledge, when, in fact, humanity had to continue the battle to try to get closer to and ultimately reach the ultimate truth/knowledge/understanding of the human condition.”

Keeping in mind the principle of projection, we can see here that, on some deeper level, Griffith is aware that his theory is not the full truth needed to liberate him from his condition, but that, by dogmatically clinging to it anyway, and shutting down his search for a more accountable understanding, he is taking himself into an ever deeper state of alienation, both from truthfulness and from the world the rest of us inhabit.

Jesus

Griffith says : That Jesus “realise[d] that he had to create a religion around his soundness; he had to suggest to people that through supporting and living through his soundness they could be ‘resurrected[ed]’ ‘from death to life.’”

This is the lie created and  perpetuated by the so-called Christian church. Jesus did not want to create a religion. He wanted to liberate the world from the obscene lie that was religion, i.e. deference to idealism, i.e. deference to Satan. His God was not the Satanic “God” of the old testament. Idealism is hatred. The God he preached was love. But the idealists of his day crucified him. He didn’t love the “ideals”. He loved those whom the idealists oppressed and called “sinners”. “Sin” is just another word for “selfishness” and selfishness is just the self-directedness of the suffering individual. It was the condemnation of idealism which made us sinners. So he recognised that the way to help us was to show that God is love, which forgives all, and thus expose the religion of his day as nothing but Satanism. The Satanists couldn’t stand to have their hypocrisy exposed, so they killed Jesus and, eventually, began preaching a new brand of Satanism in his name.

Of course, Jesus words were passed down, so a few rare individuals, such as William Blake, were able to see his true meaning.

Mental Illness

Griffith talks about the increase in mental illnesses in the world, e.g. depression, ADHD, autism… These are a product of a shortage of love, love from parents and self-love, etc. Love is acceptance. What we need is the unconditional acceptance of others, such as our parents if we are children, and unconditional acceptance of ourselves. What has always undermined our capacity for this kind of love, however, has been the conditions imposed by the kind of idealism that Griffith is dishonestly promoting. While we can’t blame our situation entirely on him, he has, for over 25 years, been pumping out his toxic sludge, and now he is looking around and crying about the fact that children are increasingly suffering from a sickness that comes from exposure to just that sludge. Children are not getting the love they deserve from their parents because their parents are not unconditionally self-accepting. And why are they not unconditionally self-accepting? Because they are weighed down with all this guilt about not being perfect parents. Griffith, with his obscene lie that children are born expecting an ideal world and a mother who is as close to the Virgin Mary as possible, is robbing children of love.

On some level does Griffith resent the innocence of children? It is as if he worshipped “innocence”. But when we worship something we split ourselves in two. The conscious part of us clings to that which is worshipped, but to maintain this state we have to push all contrary feelings about what we worship into our subconscious. The subconscious then grows more and more resentful of that which is consciously worshipped. The Catholic Church worships innocence in the form of the “virgin” Mary and the infant Jesus. So is it any wonder that it has generated so much sexual abuse of children?

The Return of the Repressed

So much that Griffth sees as signs that we are headed toward “terminal alienation” are things I see as positives - tattoos, violent video games, pornography, etc.

We have been repressing so much within our armouring. All of these cultural phenomena are healthy ways of letting it out, of opening up to honest free expression. Sure they can have their negatives, like anything. But those who are most frightened by them are those who are most armoured/repressed. They don’t want to admit that they have even more sickness inside them than is on display in these forms of expression.

But what is buried beneath all of this sickness, the seed of which was sowed in us by idealism’s attack on love, is our capacity for unconditional self-acceptance, i.e. love of ourselves, and thus love for all others.

Theatrical improvisation teacher Keith Johnstone says : Grotesque and frightening things are released as soon as people begin to work with spontaneity. Even if a class works on improvisation every day for only a week or so, then they start producing very ‘sick' scenes : they become cannibals pretending to eat each other, and so on. But when you give the student permission to explore this material he very soon uncovers layers of unsuspected gentleness and tenderness. It is no longer sexual feelings and violence that are deeply repressed in this culture now, whatever it may have been like in fin-de-siecle Vienna. We repress our benevolence and tenderness.

I talk about this subject in more detail in my post Sucked Into Paradise.

It is the censorious spirit of the idealist which would ask us to be dishonest about expressing the non-ideal side of our nature and thus remain forever alienated from our capacity for love.

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 17

The Sex Object

I think Griffith is right about our species becoming neotenous - having childlike features - because of a selection for such features by males based on our association of those features with the neurosis-free loving child. But I disagree with his idea that this mutated into a selection of women with such features based on their appeal to some desire in us to destroy innocence.

He believes that men now use sex to attack innocence. A youthful appearance in a woman gives the appearance of innocence, so this attracts us to want to “fuck” her, i.e. destroy her innocence. But women are not really innocent. It is only the appearance of innocence which attracts us. And women, being in need of ego-reinforcement, cultivate this appearance of innocence - the sex object - in order to be able to feel good about their ability to attract such attention. And they come to believe the illusion and think they actually are innocent. And the more alienated we become the younger the sex object has to look, hence the skinny adolescent look in fashion-models which young women then try to emulate and become anorexic or bulimic.

I don’t think it works like that.

Armouring is the key to understanding the sex object. While some men become so insecure that they become violently misogynistic and rape women (and I don’t know that this has anything to with whether they look innocent or not), I don’t think that most men are attracted to women by a desire to destroy something in them. What we want is love. The neotenous features may be one thing which triggers in us a primal sense that a woman is unusually loving. This is a pre-rational response. I’m sure that most of us, if we thought about it, would admit that there is no guarantee that a pretty woman will be more loving, in fact some of them are egotistical because of their beauty. The aim though is to be loved. The problem is that armoured individuals have a strong need of love but an inability to return it because of the inflexibility of their armouring. Since men are often more armoured than women, the situation of men leaving a string of broken hearts behind them, is perhaps more common, though there are plenty of promiscuous women as well.

And the armouring is essentially conditions for feeling good about ourselves, so for some men the way of proving themselves is to sleep with lots of women, and the more beautiful they are the more impressed they can feel with themselves and the more impressed other men will be with them. So “conquest” can be a factor in armoured sexual behaviour, either in men or in women. And the cultivated sex object self can be a major part of the armouring of women for the same reason.

But, since there is no innocent genetic orientation to selflessness to be attacked, nothing very terrible is happening in human sexual behaviour except that we are experiencing great distress at times because of our inability to drop the armouring and love each other.

In an armour free world there would be nothing wrong with living the free love philosophy advocated by the hippies, because it is not the sharing of tender erotic pleasure which is damaging (quite the opposite, it is powerfully healing). What has always been the problem with our sexual lives is that we couldn’t come together without being bruised and battered by collision with each other’s armour.

It should also be said that an intense fixation on a particular standard of beauty is a symptom of neurosis. The less neurotic we are the more we open up to seeing beauty and erotic appeal in other body types. Fashion models may mostly be very skinny and neotenous, but the world of fashion is dominated by uptight neurotic individuals. In real life most of us have a far wider range of body-types and ages which we can find attractive. I think that, as we become less neurotically armoured, the range of individuals to whom we might feel sexually attracted opens up. What focuses and restricts our sexuality is our fixations and inhibitions. For instance I consider that the only reason I’m heterosexual rather than bisexual is that I retain an inhibition against sexual desire for another man. It is not because heterosexuality is a natural state.

As for eating disorders, I have a theory about how they may sometimes come about. A young girl is growing up. Her father’s mode of interaction with her has been fairly steady. But then she begins to develop sexually. This is liable to make her sexually desirable to her father. This makes him uncomfortable, so he avoids looking at her body. The girl, not understanding why her father now seems repulsed by her body, thinks there is something wrong with it - that she is getting fat. She starves herself. She desperately wants to feel good about herself. But the more she starves herself, the more everyone is repulsed by her, the more she thinks she is fat. It’s a negative feedback loop. I think this would be greatly helped by a more sex positive attitude. Encouraging masturbation as a way of showing direct appreciation for the body itself might take the emphasis away from an obsession with its appearance.

Homosexuality

It is in his ideas on homosexuality that Griffith really goes off the deep end. First he has to explain why young women are less innocent than young boys. “Incidentally, since women are now highly adapted to sex it mean a virgin is not truly a virgin, she is not truly an innocent girl and thus completely ‘attractive’, because all women are now instinctively aware of ‘sex’.” So I suppose that is why women like sex, because they are born corrupted, after 2 million years of their ancestors having to put up with being fucked until they liked it! Then he says : “…if a man is extremely hurt and corrupted in his infancy and childhood, when he becomes sexually mature he will not be naive enough to believe that women are still innocent and will not, therefore, find them sexually attractive. The last bastion of ‘attractive’ innocence for such men is younger men, because they are not as exposed to sexual destruction as women have historically been. To explain the effeminate mannerisms particular to male homosexuality, if you have had your soul, which is your core strength, destroyed in childhood, then taking on the extremely difficult male role of having to fight against the ignorance of the soulful, idealistic world would be an untenable position that would make the female position of not having to fight a much more preferential option.”

First of all, what is this about women not being sexually attractive to us if we know they aren’t innocent? Why do so many of us guys like jacking off while watching women act like total whores, if a belief in their innocence is necessary for us to be sexually attracted to them?

Secondly, who says that homosexual desire acts only in the direction of youth? Many older homosexuals have plenty of lust for each other.

Many homosexuals are effeminate (as are some heterosexuals), but is being effeminate really an easier path? Quentin Crisp was a very effeminate homosexual who was repeatedly bashed for this behaviour, yet he proudly continued with it. And Francis Bacon had to take the horse whip. Often, far from being a cowardly behaviour, effeminacy has been a brave defiance of the pressure to play the macho patriarchal game. The cowardice (insecurity) lies with the armoured males who are so threatened by this behaviour that they feel the need to violently punish it.

My view is that we have an inborn potential for bisexuality. The bonobos practice bisexuality. It makes sense. We are motivated by the pleasure principle. Rubbing genitals with either gender can produce such pleasurable feelings. Some of us do grow up to be bisexual. Others adapt to the social expectation to be heterosexual. And others fixate on homosexuality because of an encounter with homophobia in our society. Because our society is less tolerant of same-sex desires, someone who feels such desires, perhaps, initially, as well as heterosexual desires, may fixate on those desires because they are something about which they are in need of finding acceptance. In the same way, a little boy who is punished for dressing up in his sister’s dress may grow up to be a transvestite, because his psyche has fixated on an instance of withheld acceptance.

I may be heterosexual myself, but I love homosexuality. I love homosexual culture and even homosexual pornography. Seeing people sharing their own particular kind of pleasure and expressing themselves freely in their own unique way fills me with joy.

Snuff Movies

He says : “However, because there has been no honesty about the existence of the different levels of upset and alienation amongst humans, they [relatively innocent girls] can be deceived by men who are much more upset and, therefore, much more sexually advanced down ‘the rungs of the perversion ladder’ (where one is holding hands, two is kissing, three is touching her breast, etc, etc, etc, to the extent that some people became so horribly psychologically sick and perverted that they derived excitement from watching ‘snuff movies’ of people being killed — yes, sexual depravity is an accurate measure of alienation).”

Oh, dear. Better not hold hands with anyone or the next thing you know the pair of you will be watching snuff movies together!

By the way, nobody has ever actually found a real snuff movie. It was a myth created by reactionary anti-pornography campaigners.

Remember Titus 1:15 :

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

How corrupted must somebody be if even holding hands is not pure to them?

Women in Tights

He says : “…it’s not commonly acknowledged that suits were invented for men so they could hide their big guts, while dresses were invented for women so they could accentuate their waists and breasts and conceal their big bottoms and thighs, but, while men still wear coats, everywhere in Western society now women have forsaken skirts for trousers, and even tights, as if their role of inspiring men with their beauty no longer matters. This is, in truth, yet another illustration of women’s lack of awareness of the nature of the struggle that the human race has been involved in — and of the irresponsibility of feminism, which encouraged women not to ‘march with her regiment.’ Women’s role has understandably become unbearable for them but the battle to find understanding still had to be won.”

Well, I don’t know. I get a lot of inspiration out of the sight of a nice juicy female bottom clad in tights. Thank you feminists!

The Ultimate Thought

He quotes George Seaver : “The ultimate thought, the thought which holds the clue to the riddle of life’s meaning and mystery, must be the simplest thought conceivable, the most natural, the most elemental, and therefore also the most profound.”

He says of himself : “Basically, I learnt to trust in and take guidance from my truthful instinctive self or soul. I learnt to think honestly, free of alienated, intellectual bullshit, and all the answers, all the insights that I have found, and there are many hundreds of them, a breakthrough insight in almost every paragraph, were found this way. I have so perfected the art of thinking truthfully and thus effectively that you can put any problem or question in front of me to do with human behaviour and I can get to the bottom of it, answer and solve it.”

If this is true, why is his writing so convoluted and his “explanations” of human behaviour so reliant on crude stereotypes, which just happen to conform to the norms of the society in which he grew up? I think he is too afraid to really look at modern social culture in detail for fear that his precious “innocence” will be contaminated. That isn’t strength. That is weakness. That isn’t security. That is insecurity.

I’m not a biologist, but is not my writing about psychology simpler and more illuminating of the world than his?

If I were going to take the challenge set by Seaver I would express the simplest thought this way - Criticism makes us worse. Acceptance makes us better.

Griffth takes a whole unwieldy book to provide his solution to the problem of the human condition. Mine only takes 8 words. Who has the better ability to think simply, clearly and insightfully?

I have no genetic program for selflessness in me. I don’t feel the suffering of the people of the world. I don’t feel the suffering of the animals. I don’t feel any of that. My interest is entirely in my own well-being. But my well-being, my capacity to experience all of life’s pleasures, is dependent on the psychological healing of the world. I don’t feel others suffering, but it would make me very happy to see that suffering healed. To see the depressed smile again. To see the lonely find love. To see the animals and plants coming back. To see the sickness of shame lifted from the bliss of the erotic. I want to live in a world free from from all condemning idealism. A world where everyone is free to be as they want to be.

Am I being honest? I leave it for you to decide. Do I hide my shortcomings? Do I hide those things about myself that another person might criticise?

Things become very complicated when you begin to use words to hide behind instead of to reveal yourself.

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 16

Mistaking Satan for God

God and Satan are two mythological figures. God is our personification of the creative principle of the universe, which in our own species is manifested as love. Satan is seen as the originator of evil behaviour, and yet he is recognised as having come from God, as having been one of God’s “fallen angels”.

Our capacity for reason is clearly a product of the creative principle of the universe (God), but it brought with it the distinction between “good” and “evil” which led to the destructive mind virus we call “idealism”. Love requires unconditional acceptance, but idealism made our acceptance conditional and thus gradually eroded our capacity for love and sowed the seeds of conflict.

If idealism is what brought evil into the world, then Satan is a mythological way of referring to idealism.

In our increasingly insecure state we recognised that we were out of harmony with the theme of life - i.e. love, but by feeling guilty about that, by giving in to Satan’s whispered suggestion that embracing idealism was the way back to harmony with God, rather than recognising that God works precisely by refusing to judge or to expect perfection, we went down a dark path, one in which we would quickly come to adopt Satan as our God.

People often wonder why there is such a difference between the judgemental, jealous, condemning God of the Old Testament, and the forgiving God spoken of by Jesus and of which it is said : “God is love.”

This is because the God which cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, who drowned the world in a flood, etc., was really Satan. Of course these are mythological events, but the point is that they are stories about a harsh judger of humanity, and that judger of humanity has been what William Blake referred to as “the accuser”, i.e. the originator of destructive behaviour, the enemy of the real God (love). And to the degree that we have worshipped that God we have been Satan worshippers.

Blake expressed this in the Epilogue to his poem Gates of Paradise :

"To The Accuser Who is The God of This World
Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan
Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine 
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill."

If we can throw off idealism (the habit of standing in judgement of ourselves or others) then there is no need to worship God. We can be God, we can be love personified.

Patriarchy

Griffith’s view that we have a genetic instinct towards selflessness which criticised our attempts to self-manage, means that he sees the attempt to find understanding of the world and ourselves as “a battle against the ignorance of our instinctive self”. Because this was “a battle” he feels that it naturally fell to men, and because women are biologically nurturers, and thus aligned with “our instinctive self”, it brought about a rift between the sexes which required the institution of patriarchy, so that the men could pursue the battle to find understanding with support rather than interference by the women.

I don’t think this is at all what happened. I see no evidence that we have a genetic instinct for selflessness which criticises us. However, as I’ve outlined previously, conflict arising from the requirements of the nurturing role provided by the women and the group protector role provided by the men, would have led to the distinction being made between “good” and “bad” behaviour - aggressive vs. nurturing - and thus the thought virus of idealism came into being.

Armouring is our defence against criticism. Since the men would have been more vulnerable to criticism because theirs was the aggressive role, they had to become more armoured. And it was a negative feedback loop. The more armoured they became the more criticism they were subjected to because of their relative lack of responsiveness and generosity to others.

This situation progressed until society became patriarchal. The armour is a form of control - it protects us against threats from without and within. A lot of repression is involved. A lot is bottled up within the armour. And since we project our inner battles onto the outside world, the more desperately embattled an individual is in their armour, and thus the more self-control they need to keep it from breaking down, the more they also feel the need to control the behaviour of those around them which resonates with that internal threat. And so the most armoured individuals came to exercise control over society. The more embattled the men in charge of a society the more oppressed the women in that society will be. It takes a secure, i.e. relatively armour-free, man to not feel threatened by a woman’s freedom.

I don’t think the need to find understanding, in general, comes into it. Clearly an understanding of our psychology, particularly the relationship between idealistic criticism and armouring, was needed. But I don’t know that men were necessarily in any better position to find that understanding then women. And the search for general understanding is something which can be pursued by anyone with a functioning brain irrespective of their gender.

So I see patriarchy not as a retrospectively justified strategy in the journey toward self-knowledge, rather I see it as a symptom of an unavoidable mental illness which occurred along the way.

Feminism’s critique of patriarchy and defence of a woman’s right to perform any role in society is fundamentally sound. The only problem is that, since the role of patriarchy was as a form of armouring, and armouring is a defence against criticism, feminism didn’t exactly make it easier for men to become less patriarchal. It is the practice of unconditional acceptance (except of destructive behaviour towards others) that makes a world of equality possible.

By contrast, Griffith’s approach to healing is to try to demonstrate that the patriarchal role has been a heroic one, necessary to the salvation of the human race from the human condition, but one which can now disappear because understanding of the human condition has been achieved. But to tell someone they are a hero is surely a reinforcement of their armouring. What heals is to be made to know that one is simply acceptable. It is the difference between trying to repair someone’s self-esteem, which needs always to be maintained, and encouraging them to leave the self-esteem economy altogether.

Sex

According to Griffith : “Unable to explain their behaviour to women, men were left in an untenable situation: they couldn’t just stand there and accept women’s unjust criticism of their behaviour — they had to do something to defend themselves — but because women reproduced the species, men couldn’t kill women the way they destroyed animals, and so instead men violated women’s innocence or ‘honour’  through rape. Men perverted sex, as in ‘fucking’ or destroying, making it discrete from the act of procreation. What was being fucked, violated, destroyed, ruined, degraded or sullied was women’s innocence. The feminist Andrea Dworkin recognised this underlying truth when she wrote that ‘All sex is abuse’.”

Here we see the real irrationality coming out in Griffith’s thinking. Because his own sexual desires are a threat to his “innocent good little boy” persona, he views sex as essentially an “attack on innocence.” Now it is true that women don’t like to have sex, or anything else, forced upon them. That is an attack. But he is assuming here that recreational sex could only occur if it were forced onto women. He is saying that an innocent woman has no desire for erotic pleasure. He talks about ‘honour”, but surely the concept of sexual honour is a product of a sexually repressive society. “A good and proper woman doesn’t want to do those beastly things. She just lays back and thinks of England.” I can imagine that many women will find this attitude insulting. And when he quotes from Andrea Dworkin he fails to point out that she was a lesbian who was molested by a man in a movie theatre at the age of nine.

He says : “Well, sex as humans have been practising it has similarly been extremely offensive to our instinctive self or soul, and has caused the same ‘emotion-induced’ shock to our soul and thus temporary ‘blackout’ in our mind, as this study found : ‘Research suggests that when shown erotic or gory images, the brain fails to process images seen immediately afterward. This phenomenon is known as “emotion-induced blindness.’”

That doesn’t seem terribly significant to me. If we see something which induces a strong emotional reaction in us then our mind remains focussed on that for a while before being able to focus on something else. I’m sure that the degree of this response would be lessened in individuals like myself who are very desensitised to erotic and gory imagery. I don’t think it has anything to do with some sensitive innocent instinctive self. I’m sure that, if you met up with an old friend in the street, it would take you a while, as you walked away after talking to them, to really open up to concentrating on the world around you, because your emotion had drawn your attention away from your environment.

And the degree of disturbance which erotic or gory imagery has on the individual is generally based on how repressed that individual is. If we are repressing a lot of sexual desires within us, then erotic images are liable to be disturbing to us as they resonate with what we are repressing. On the other hand, a child watching the same image would probably view it with untroubled curiosity or amusement, because he or she does not yet have the desires required to resonate with what is seen. And gory footage will be most disturbing to someone who is repressing a lot of anger, as the violence resonates with their repressed feelings of hostility.

He says : Humans don’t remember sexual episodes very well and the reason we don’t is because sex, as currently practised, is a violation of our soul and we don’t want to remember such violation.

I don’t know what evidence he is basing this on. I haven’t had much sex in my life, but I think I remember those episodes better than a lot of other things. My view of the soul and Griffith’s seem quite opposed. I feel that masturbating to pornography is one of the things which nurtures my soul, providing some healing from the soul-crushing repression of the erotic which is the norm in our society.

He goes on : “The main point being made here, however, is that sex became a way of attacking the innocence of women, the result of which was that women’s innocence was oppressed and, to a degree, they tragically came to share men’s upset.”

I think that it is true that women became armoured as a result of macho retaliations to their criticism of men, but I don’t think sex was a driving force in this. As we become armoured, free erotic sex becomes channelled, egotistical and sometimes aggressive sex, but the development of the armouring as a response to criticism is the driving factor, not the sex. In fact, orgasms have a tendency to temporarily release us from our armouring, hence the expression “the little death”, i.e. death of the ego.

Griffith’s attempts to describe and explain human sexual behaviour and psychology are spectacularly off-base, but unfortunately they have the ability to seem credible to some people because they fit with the sexually repressive ideas, often religiously based, which have historically warped our society.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 15

His Psychosis

Presumably being well-nurtured would make it easier for values of cooperativeness to be imprinted on the blank slate of a child’s uncritical acceptance, because frustration would not have yet built up in such a way as to lead to rebelliousness against this programming.

But eventually life does provide frustrations to the growing individual. If Griffith tried to hang on to his “good innocent little boy” persona, then the source of frustration would be two-fold - that others didn’t behave according to these principles, and that his own frustrations, including anger at others for not behaving cooperatively, threatened to undermine his own ability to be cooperative himself.

These kinds of insecurities would require the adoption of a form of character armour, so the “good innocent little boy” became his increasingly rigid embattled perception of himself. It was how he would prove himself.

This persona needed to be maintained by self-nurturing - remaining close to nature, for instance. If it were really the genetic basis of the human individual, as he would come to believe, it would be far less fragile than that. You might block out your genetic orientation mentally, but it would be much stronger, and any time the mind lost its strength it would return to that orientation.

When our psyche becomes split - when we hang onto one aspect of ourselves in such a way that it requires us to repress all that is contrary to that aspect, e.g. cling to cooperativeness by repressing feelings of anger, those contrary feelings will only tend to build up more strongly in the subconscious.

So “good little innocent boy” Griffith gradually became more troubled by the aggressive and uncooperative behaviour of those around him, because their aggressiveness and lack of cooperation resonated with his own repressed aggressive feelings and resentment towards his cooperativeness-demanding character armour.

And the “good little innocent boy” isn’t sexual, so Griffith became increasingly troubled by other people’s sexual behaviour and felt the need to repress his own sexual feelings in order to hang onto that persona. Thus he came to view sex as essentially an “attack on innocence”, because other people’s sexual behaviour resonated with his repressed sexual desires which threatened to undermine his “good little innocent boy” persona.

Eventually, if he were to live in the world, and not hide himself away in a monastery somewhere, he had to seek some kind of reconciliation between the extreme idealism of his character armour and the contrary tendencies which he saw all around him and felt within him.

He built a theory, but it was a biased theory intended to normalise his position. He took his own position as the normal inborn condition of all humans and tried to work out why everyone else had diverged from that.

His battle to transcend selfish tendencies is evident throughout his theory. “Love-indoctrination” overcame the horribly competitive nature of other animals. What is “indoctrination” but learned alienation? In just such a way, the “good little innocent boy” persona Griffith has nurtured in himself alienates him from acknowledging the selfish impulses which lie beneath it.

Of course going down this path has made Griffith angry, egocentric and alienated, so when he looks into the mirror of the world he sees his own face staring back at him. And he rails against what he terms “pseudo-idealism” because his own idealism is “pseudo”, i.e a cultivated form of egotism. He also identifies now strongly with the right wing, because their embattled state, in a world in which their selfishness is causing great suffering and endangering the planet, resonates with his own.

In his first book Free : The End of the Human Condition, 1988, Griffith predicted, about its reception : “We will suspect it to be an expression of some form of disguised psychosis and will see its authority, its sense of conviction, as offensive arrogance.” Now we can see that that is what it was. The truth does carry its own authority, but that authority is intrinsic and does not need to be accompanied by big claims and promises.

The “Human Condition” Personified

Griffith says we set out seeking understanding of the human condition. In adolescence we resign ourselves to the fact that we are not going to achieve it. We adopt a false front and become angry, egocentric, selfish and alienated. Alienated in that we block out and angrily deny any truth which criticises us.

Griffith set off to find understanding of the human condition. He was unable to, because to do so he would have had to be able to confront the fact that the social phenomenon of idealism, which has no basis in our genes, was at the heart of the problem. He would have had to confront the fact that the idealism expressed by those he admired and the idealism he had been in the habit of expressing, was the source of all the manifestations of brutality and cruelty which troubled him. This is the central insight of any holistic systems view of the problem of good and evil, as Oscar Wilde acknowledged when he said : “It is well for our vanity that we slay the criminal, for if we suffered him to live he might show us what we had gained by his crime. It is well for his peace that the saint goes to his martyrdom. He is spared the sight of the horror of his harvest.”

Trying to reconcile his “extreme idealism” with “reality” he came up with an evasive explanation for the human condition, one which tried to reconcile the two by providing an appeasing excuse for the “non-ideal”, a “defence for humanity”.

This theory became central to his character armour. In his state of increasing insecurity about his own worth it became his way to prove himself. He became increasingly aggressive and egotistical about the way that he tried to push it on the world. And became more and more alienated, placing more and more effort into collecting bits of quotes from famous thinkers to reinforce the blocks that prevented him from truthful thinking.

All of this is evident in his projections. It is humanity which suffers from a “psychosis”. It is humanity which is “evasive”. He thinks that simply thinking about how the conscious mind works would be enough to quickly lead us to think : “‘Well, if I’m so cleverly insightful why can’t I manage my life in a way that is not so mean and indifferent to others; indeed, why, if I am such a brilliantly intelligent person, am I such a destructively selfish, angry, egocentric, competitive and aggressive monster?’” But is it not possible that this is what his subconscious mind is saying about himself? “What if my theory is wrong? What if my behaviour in support of that false theory has, in truth, been destructively, selfishly, angrily, egocentrically, competitive, aggressive and monstrous behaviour”?

He says that our attitude to the truth is : “‘I don’t believe the criticism is deserved, and in any case it’s too unbearable to accept, so I will never tolerate any insinuation that I am a bad person.’” But hasn’t that been his embattled response to criticism of his work or behaviour?

Griffith is not a bad person. He lacks insight into his own madness. The road to his Hell has been paved with good intensions.

An holistic systems view of the universe sees that everything unfolds in the only way that it can. Thus any judgement of individuals as “good” or “evil” is inappropriate. Griffith has done something which had to be done. Just as Jesus is reputed to have taken the sins of the world onto himself, Griffith has absorbed all of the destructive poison of idealism into himself, so that, by his downfall, he can forever end humanity’s contamination by that poison. In William Blake’s philosophy Satan was the Accuser (the accuser of sin), i.e. idealism. So Griffith, in this metaphorical sense, is possessed by “Satan”. And his battle to have his ideas accepted is “Satan’s” last stand.

But, as I say, nobody is evil. Evil resides in destructive ideas which “possess” us. In time, Griffith’s “demons” will be cast out, both to his relief and the relief of us all.

We can see that the mythological figure Satan represents idealism, i.e. the accusation of sin. “He” is known as “the father of lies”, and it is because of idealism (that original distinction between “good” and “evil”) that we first began lying. When the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis says that we became ashamed of our nakedness and began wearing clothes, I think this a metaphorical way of saying that we became dishonest, we began telling lies as a way of trying to protect ourselves from the criticism which idealism brought with it. Nakedness is a powerful symbol for honesty. Dishonesty to protect ourselves from criticism was the first kind of character armour. And today, still, what keeps us in our various “closets” is the fear that aspects of our thinking, emotions or behaviour will be exposed to criticism. (Of course idealism would eventually cause us to become afraid of our erotic feelings and part of the process of repression that led to would be the literal wearing of clothes because idealism’s intolerance of our natural bodies and natural sexuality eventually made us ashamed of them.)

We can see in religions that they contain intertwining threads of the “Satanic” (the accusation of sin) and the “Godly” (love and forgiveness). This has been religions great flaw, the reason that it has failed to heal or liberate humanity. The disease has generally been a part of what was offered as a cure.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 14

Love Indoctrination or Love Liberation

Sometimes when Griffith talks about his concept of “love indoctrination” it seems like something almost aggressive. “…all the other relatively developed/integrated/social mammals are still battling to develop and maintain love-indoctrination to the point where it has overcome selfish competition amongst males to reproduce their genes.” This concept of love as something you have to be “indoctrinated” into, that has to be controlled by dictatorial instincts, feels so wrong to me.

A mother loving her child is not “indoctrinating” it. She is accepting it unconditionally and responding to its needs. She is not trying to control it. Indoctrination is an attempt at control. I know Griffith isn’t trying to say that she is, but he is presenting this process as one controlled by the genes.

To me love is something which is liberated when the obstacles which impede it are removed. I can see where the need to compete in harsh environments or for breeding opportunities would act as an impediment to love. But surely social animals are not competing all the time. Are there not signs of love - of affection and cooperation between them - in those times when they are not? I don’t watch a lot of nature programs, so I can’t really speak from experience.

And if a food rich, relatively predator free, environment provided the opportunity for our proto-human ancestors to increase their nurturing time, would there have been a need for “indoctrination” in love, would love not have been liberated by the removal of its impediments. With the need to compete for food removed, and the mind - freed up by the longer nurturing period to no longer be rigidly focussed on survival issues and thus develop the power to self-manage - having the power to transcend the dictatorship of the genes’ insistence on competition for breeding opportunities, surely the potential for love, which lies buried under all those inhibiting influences in other animals, could have a chance to flower.

Griffith says : “No, the only accountable explanation for the emergence of the fully conscious mind in humans and for what is blocking its emergence in other species is the nurturing, love-indoctrination explanation…” But doesn’t my idea that all what was needed was the space and time away from competitive imperatives make sense? Why is there the need for nurturing to be seen as a process of “indoctrination” rather than liberation?

And I think that here there is a sharp distinction between my concept of love and Griffith’s concept of love. And between how he is going about trying to help the world and the way I am trying to go about helping the world. I believe we all have a virtually limitless capacity for love which just needs the impediments to it to be removed in order that it should flow forth and heal the world. Unconditional self-acceptance is the source of this love. The impediment to its expression is our armour. Our armour is defensive. To put it aside we need to feel safe. We can increase our own feelings of safety by cultivating unconditional self-acceptance and we can spread a feeling of safety through the world by spreading a practise of acceptance of other people as we find them. Idealism and other attempts to push people to change only make such change harder for them. Let freedom and acceptance reign and love will guide us towards a healing of our society and our world.

But Griffith, with his belief that a person’s capacity for love is, to a large extent, bound by the limitations of the nurturing that they received, the saving of the world involves our accepting of his theory, without spending too much time on confronting thought about it, and passing it on to future generations, who will gradually be healed by their ability to understand the world and the fact that, with the importance of nurturing acknowledged and the need for our previous aggression, egotism and alienation explained away, they will finally get the nurturing they need. But if his theory is wrong, as I believe that it is, doesn’t this sound a bit like “indoctrination”?

Where Is the “Human Condition” In Me?

Fundamental to Griffith’s theory is that there is a conflict going on within us between our supposed genetic orientation to selflessness and our ego. Now for much of my life there was a conflict going on within me. Do I send money to starving kids in Africa or spend it on myself? Do I watch porn or do I stop supporting this “shameless objectification of women”? Do I eat pork knowing that pigs are often kept in atrocious conditions or do I not?

So Griffith’s theory seemed to have relevance to my experience.

But over time I went through a process of introspection, much of it spurred on by a need to assess Griffith’s ideas.

One key point arose when I was troubled about the pig issue. I felt so guilty I considered becoming a vegetarian. But then I thought through my response. If I did give up eating pig meat, how would I feel about the fact that pigs were still suffering? “It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest,” I honestly admitted to myself. As long as I’ve got a clean conscience why should I care about the pigs? So I realised that my feelings of guilt were entirely selfish. I was walking around wondering if I were good enough. Someone hands me a brochure about suffering pigs. I eat pig meat. This sends me the message : “You aren’t good enough.” But it is all about my ego. It goes no deeper than that. My compassion for the pigs is virtually non-existent.

So I didn’t give a shit about the starving Africans or the pigs or supposedly exploited women. All I cared about was my own happiness.

But, what I’ve found over time is that all that guilt I’d been feeling about not being good enough had been sapping my enthusiasm for doing things for other people. Once I decided to give up on worrying about whether I’m good enough I was liberated to really enjoy the things I chose to do for myself and had a whole lot more energy to be more helpful to others. Guilt-driven attempts to do the right thing by others left me depressed and were always unsustainable. But unconditional self-acceptance means that when I do feel like making a contribution to someone else’s welfare I do so with full enthusiasm and no internal conflict or resentment.

Now I do what I like. I feel no guilt. I have no war going on inside me. I do whatever feels good and right at the time.

So where, I have to ask myself, is this “human condition” in me? Where is this bottomless well of anger I’m supposed to have deep down inside. Where is this condemning genetic conscience? If these things are real, why can’t I feel them anymore? Am I wrong to assume that that conflict I experienced was nothing to do with my genes, but occurred entirely within my ego?

The Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome?

Griffith says : “Another malicious device that has been used to try to dismiss my work is claiming it puts readers in a ‘non-falsifiable situation’ where if you oppose this information you are said to be suffering from denial, leaving you no way to disprove or falsify the explanation being put forward — but the problem really exists at the superficial level because the ideas being put forward can be tested as true or otherwise. These are not untestable hypotheses that must be accepted on blind faith… In fact, since humans are the subject of this particular study, each person can experience and thus know the truth or otherwise of what is being put forward. Once the explanations are presented and applied you will discover they are able to make such sense of human behaviour that your own and everyone else’s becomes transparent.”

I’ve been living with these “insights” for about 25 years and they didn’t make my behaviour or that of others transparent. Initially I was attracted to the ideas because they resonated with a conflict which was going on inside me. But Griffith’s “explanations” of much of human behaviour, especially sexual behaviour, never rang true to me. It was the need to resolve that conflict inside, and the faith that his ideas could do that because he said they could, which led to my initial support. But later I would discover that the conflict that troubled me was within my ego - a battle between my ego’s need to maintain self-acceptance and various forms of idealism which threatened to rob me of it. Over time my need to have faith in Griffith’s ideas declined and my ability to find a grounding in my own conceptual framework increased. I stopped suffering from the depression which had plagued me off and on from the time of my adolescence, and the bipolar disorder, with which I had been diagnosed in 1995, so that now I have been happy and stable for at least eight years. And in the wake of abandoning belief in Griffith’s ideas, I feel that the world really has become transparent to me. Reader’s can judge for themselves whether my writings are insightful, but obviously they seem that way to me.

If Griffith’s ideas do represent a superficially credible but ultimately delusional belief system which has  the ability to latch on to us by virtue of our desperate need for a solution to humanity’s problems and an inability to deny them if they resonate with our internal ego-battle - if their “confronting” idealism undermines our self-acceptance and makes us need to hang onto their supposed “defence for humans” - would anyone who was on the inside of that condition be aware of it, or would it require someone who was now safely outside of it to point it out?

Read Part 15

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 13

Griffith’s Compassion for Animals

“Unfortunately, because animals’ innocence (lack of the psychological upset we humans suffer from) confronts us with our lack of innocence (our vicious angry, egocentric and alienated state), we humans so hated, despised and resented animals that we have hunted and shot them for ‘sport’ ; but one day we are going to have so much sympathy for animals because of what they have to endure trapped in a life of having to relentlessly compete with each other, often with their closest friends! (‘Friends’ in the sense of those with whom they have shared their life and developed emotional bonds.) Certainly the same extremely competitive state exists for plants and microbes, but, not having the developed nervous system that animals have, their awareness of the agony of that horrifically competitive existence could obviously not be anywhere near as great as it is for animals.”

If we tried to justify our anger and selfishness by comparison to the savagery and selfish competition we see in the animal world, why would animals (apart from gentle baby animals maybe) confront us with our “lack of innocence”? There are plenty of cases of deliberate cruelty to animals, but a lot of what we do to animals, like hunting, I think reflects indifference to their interests rather than hatred. If an animal is just an object to you, then testing your skill by seeing if you can shoot it makes sense. Hunters generally don’t look angry to me. Not like people shooting people. I think people hating other people is more common than people hating animals. But that isn’t something Griffith can so easily use to make us feel guilty.

I’ve expressed the view elsewhere that compassion is projected self-pity. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a wonderful thing, a motivation for us to respond to the suffering of others because it resonates with our own neurotic suffering, but we shouldn’t mistake it for a state of mental health.

It seems as if, historically, compassion for animals amongst humans has not been particularly strong, but it has become much stronger among many people in recent times, with the rise of animal rights and veganism. While this might lead to a reduction in suffering by animals, and there is nothing wrong with that, I see this as a byproduct of our neurotic suffering. We see in the animals a reflection of our wounded selves.

I don’t “hate” or “despise” animals, but I’m not going to lose any sleep at night over the fact that they need to compete with their “friends” for a fuck.

This tends to reinforce my view that idealism is not a natural expression of the psyche of a well-nurtured individual, but rather a characteristic which arises from severe neurosis, equivalent to obsessive compulsive disorder, in which anything which is perceived by the sufferer as “not right” causes them great discomfort. The healthy self-accepting individual is not selfish and is cooperative and generous, but is able to accept the world as it is, including any unavoidable suffering which goes on within it, with equanimity. In that way no energy, which might be used to make things better, is drained away.

Love-Indoctrination

The theory of love-indoctrination is probably the strongest element in Griffith’s work. This is his attempt to explain how a cooperative society of proto-humans could develop from out of the genetic selfishness of other animals. The idea is that mothers nurture their children for genetically selfish reasons, because the children contain their genes, but to the children it looks like selfless behaviour and so they are socialised into a culture of such behaviour.

I have no problem with that. It makes perfect sense. And it makes perfect sense that maternalism will be genetically selected as the more maternal the offspring the better the chances of their own offspring to survive.

The problem comes in the next step : “…the training of individuals in unconditional selflessness. And with this unconditionally selfless behaviour recurring over many, many generations, the unconditionally selfless behaviour will become instinctive — a moral soul will be established — because genes will inevitably follow and reinforce any development process occurring in a species; in this they are not selective.”

There are two problems with this. Griffith is saying that learned behaviour becomes instinctive if it continues long enough. I believe this is not the accepted view amongst most biologists. In this video, Richard Dawkins talks about some isolated instances where learned behaviour might develop into an inherited instinct, but note that, even in these rare cases, it only does so if what is learned confers a competitive advantage on the individual. Learned selflessness would be likely to be disadvantageous to the perpetuation of someone’s genes and so be self-eliminating :

https://richarddawkins.net/2015/04/darwin-day-2015-questions-6-how-does-learned-behavior-evolve-into-inherited-instinct/

Griffith does acknowledge the problem that selflessness would be self-eliminating if it wasn’t universal to the group. But this still doesn’t explain how it could become encoded in the genes. Natural selection is a process of the winnowing out of those less fit for their environment. If everyone is equally fit, there is no winnowing and therefore no reinforcement of any genetic traits. The only way I can see where cooperative traits would be genetically encouraged is if there were sexual selection for cooperativeness, for instance if the females refused to mate with selfish males. (Actually, Griffith says this later : “…females were not only not dominated by males, but dictated mate choice by choosing to reproduce with non-aggressive, cooperative males — hallmarks you would expect of a society highly focused on maternal nurturing of their infants.” But he mentions that only to make the point that the females were “more maternal” he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that this selective breeding is the only way a cooperative culture could become genetically reinforced.

I think Griffith is right about our extended nurturing period socialising us into being a cooperative species, and also that it was what liberated our fully conscious mind. But I don’t think we acquired a genetic programming for unconditional selflessness. I think our co-operative way of life was maintained because it felt good, and was only disrupted when we began to think about the disparity between our way of life and that of predators, and in so doing gave birth to the toxic concept of idealism.

I believe that the human mind itself liberates us from the dictatorship of the genes which affects other species. Using our mind we can see that cooperating with others is a way to achieve the things we want. It is through our ideas and imaginings, and the communication of them that leads to a confluence of our emotions, that we come together in meaningful ways. It is ideas which bring us together or tear us apart, depending on whether they make us more or less self-accepting and accepting of others.

Now you could say that, when I say that it feels good to cooperate, this is because we have a genetic orientation to it. But, even if that were true, I don’t think it is a dictatorial one. It is the learned conscience which troubles us. If I like eating chocolate more than I like eating potatoes, but for health reasons I have to eat potatoes and avoid chocolate, I may be unhappy because I’m missing out on the pleasure I crave, but I’m unlikely to feel guilty about the fact that I’m eating potatoes. I don’t see that a genetic orientation to cooperation, in a human with a fully-functioning mind, would be condemning of that mind’s experiments in not being cooperative. On the other hand, if at a vulnerable age, we are told we will go to Hell if we play with ourselves, that will tend to bring about major turmoil in the mind because we are being condemned by an authority figure for doing something natural. I don’t believe that anything inside our body is unforgiving in that way.

Bonobo Sex

Griffith says : “Indeed, it is an indication of how difficult it is to develop love-indoctrination that even bonobos, living as they do in their ideal conditions, and who ‘have developed a more cohesive social structure’ than chimpanzees, still find it necessary to employ sex as an appeasement device to help subside residual tension and aggression between individuals…sex amongst bonobos is like the ‘naked and they felt no shame’ sex that Moses described our innocent Adam and Eve/bonobo stage-equivalent ancestors as practising, not the anti-‘social’ sex that humans currently practise, where…it is used to attack/fuck innocence…”

What he seems totally unwilling to even consider is the possibility that the sharing of pleasure, sexual or otherwise, is literally the making of love, that it is through the mutuality of our pleasure that we nurture each other and open the bonds of loving communication.

Nurturing

Griffith is right that nurturing is very important to the development of the individual, but his explanation of why is bullshit. He believes that we are born expecting an ideal world and ideal behaviour from those around us. Since “selfless” nurturing behaviour is what we expect, we are hurt if we don’t get it, and we can never recover from that hurt.

Not only is there no evidence, as far as I can see, for this idea, it is an idea which is itself positively toxic to the nurturing process.

The basis for mental health is unconditional self-acceptance. Ideal nurturing then would be unconditionally accepting nurturing. This would give the child a sound grounding in self-acceptance. But to be unconditionally accepting of her child, a woman will need to be unconditionally self-accepting. If she believes that the child is born expecting her to be perfect in her behaviour, then that is liable to put pressure on her, make her feel guilty. She will therefore not be able to give her child unconditional love.

Griffith feels that an ideal mother needs to have had as little as possible exposure to sex. So any mother who reads Griffith’s work and believes him, and who has a normal enjoyable sex life, is liable to worry about the effect that this will have on her child.

To make it worse, even though Griffith knows that people have trouble understanding his “defence for humans” he still goes around promoting his nurturing-sabotaging views on nurturing to those who haven’t understood it.

He also promotes the idea that we can never fully recover from insufficient nurturing, but the problem with insufficient nurturing is that, like encounters with corrosive - and thus corrupting - idealism, it leaves us with highly conditional self-acceptance. But this can be repaired by learning the habit of unconditional self-acceptance.

In a sense, what Griffith is unwittingly doing is crippling people and then giving them wheelchairs.

Development of the Conscious Mind

Griffith believes we had to be selfless to become fully conscious because selflessness is the theme of existence and we can’t acknowledge that and think truthfully if we are not selfless. So other animals, being genetically selfish, could not develop reason.

I think it makes more sense to consider that other animal’s minds have had to be focused on the struggle for survival. A longer nurturing period provided our minds the chance to develop in a less focussed way, freeing us up to have the complex pathways needed to think more deeply about the world around us.

It is true that selfishness blocks us from thinking  holistically, because to see the whole picture we have to be relatively free of personal bias. If we are unconditionally self-accepting then we can acknowledge all aspects of the world around us without any of those aspects having to be blocked out or exaggerated to meet the needs of our self-acceptance.

No doubt our proto-human ancestors were unconditionally self-accepting before the arrival of corruption in the form of idealism. And, if we reject idealism and cultivate unconditional self-acceptance now we can once again learn to think truthfully.

Selfishly Unselfish?

If we did have a genetic orientation toward selfless behaviour which makes us feel bad when we go against it, does it not follow that we would feel better if we went with it? So doesn’t it follow that, whether we go with it or against is determined by our own good or bad feelings? In this case, if returning to selfless behaviour will make us feel good, are we not being selfless for a selfish reason?

Integrated Bonobos

Griffith’s description of the social integration of the bonobos, the way a troop seems almost like a single connected organism, is impressive. His love of the animals comes through just as strongly as does his disappointment in we humans. But Griffith is not like those bonobos. He is not integrative. His idealism makes him divisive. It forces us to put up our armour - to become more selfish than we already where.

This is the problem with idealism. What we want is to be able to accept ourselves unconditionally. Idealism and being confronted about our “non-ideal” nature in the presentation of a highly dubious theory meant to provide a defence for us and a chance at healing, is liable to undermine that self-acceptance even more. So if I were not such an accepting individual, when Griffith says how the possibility that the bonobos might end up being made extinct “is truly unbearable to think about” I might feel like taking a gun and killing every one of the cute little creatures just to make the self-righteous prick feel as bad as he makes others feel. O.K. So I’m being deliberately extreme there, but I think the point I’m making is an important one. To withhold acceptance from someone, or to make it conditional on them supporting your theory about the human condition, is liable to push them towards more aggressive and selfish behaviour, whereas unconditional acceptance soothes. If he really wants to save the bonobos, he needs to recognise that the lack of acceptance he embodies is what is pushing people towards more and more destructive acts. If they practice evasion of truths they find painful to confront that is a sensible containment. Better that than that they confront them and be made either hostile or self-destructive.

We do need to be able to know ourselves and to look at the realities of the world head on, but we can only safely do that when the psychological infrastructure is in place, when we have learned to practice unconditional self-acceptance.

Read Part 14