The control of the Psyche
Things of the other world
In 1853 French playwright, novelist and publicist Eugène Nus (1816-1894) and some of his friends – like him young and intellectually brilliant – disappointed by the turn that political events in France had taken following the repression of 1848 revolution, decided to devote themselves to a pastime, recently imported from America, that was then very popular in Paris lounges: that of turning tables. The group of which Nus was a part met in Paris in an apartment in Rue de Beaune, headquarters of the republican newspaper Démocratie pacifique of which Nus had been editor, suppressed by the new regime. The spirit with which these friends wanted to try to make the table dance was anything but serious and engaged: instead of playing backgammon, as they used to do, they wanted to have fun with something different and more exotic. The fact is that since the first sitting the table used for the test, described by Nus as heavy and massive, began to swing under their fingers, remaining then steady on two legs and showing resistance to the attempts made to bring it back to its normal position. It then began to move around the room, in various directions, following the will of one or the other member of the group who, in turn, decided where it should move.
Those who read French can find the chronicle of these séances in the pleasant and lively book by Nus Choses de l'Autre Monde (1880), downloadable from the Library. Although the friends were amazed and surprised by the outcome of what they considered little more than a trendy game, they were not at all impressed from an intellectual point of view: at that time, in fact, the frequent new scientific discoveries revealed and explained aspects of nature that until a few decades earlier were still shrouded in mystery. Nus and his friends, intelligent people, with a – sometimes quite caustic – critical spirit, attributed the phenomenon to some electrical force of a still unknown nature that emanated from their bodies: «This force is within us and evidently emanates from us, since our contact is necessary to animate this inert wood. Animate is the proper word, because once our hands have been laid on the table, it is no longer a thing, it is a being». However, as the game seemed fun and interesting to them, they decided to go on: they got a round three-footed card table (French: guéridon), which moved faster and seemed to dance to the beat if some music was played. Nus also observed that the table seemed to have some form of intelligence, because its movements carried out – as if it were a well-trained doggie – the orders given to it, even if only mentally.
One day a friend of Nus, Arthur de Bonnard, informed the group that even at his home they spent time with the table, and in particular his children had a lot of fun with a spirit named Jopidiès. In fact, as Bonnard told his incredulous friends, not only could the table move, but it also knew how to speak, and it answered the questions that were put to it, using the alphabet method: one blow for a, two for b, and so on (the most complicated and less practical method you can use). Nus and his friends just had to try, and in fact they immediately asked the table what was its name, and they got the answer: Pythagoras... At this point, more and more intrigued and also fascinated by this phenomenon, Nus began to take notes of all the questions that were addressed to the table and the relative answers. Of course, the questions were verbally asked aloud by some of the sitters, and could also be agreed upon and written down in advance, while it was easy to record the answers, as they could be written letter by letter. Nus's group recognized an intelligent personality in the table, which manifested itself autonomously in the answers given to the questions, answers that were critically evaluated – and sometimes briskly contested – by the sitters, who did not show any fideistic or reverential attitude towards a presumed communicating entity of a spiritual nature.
A curious fact is that, when definitions of a term or a concept were asked, the table – at the request of Nus's group – had to answer with a complete sentence consisting of 12 words. Then began what Nus called «the twelve words dictionary»: the friends asked the table to define words such as consciousness, infinity, physics, geology, love, and a lot of other terms reported in chapter 4 of Nus's book, and the table immediately answered by dictating, letter by letter, a twelve words definition that made sense. Sometimes the sitters were disappointed by the definition of a term, and thus they lively expressed their disapproval and forced, so to speak, the table to give a better definition; but they were often struck by the originality and depth of certain definitions, even if these could leave to be desired in terms of accuracy. In any case they had to recognize that the answers were given immediately and without any preparation, albeit with the slowness imposed by the alphabet method. Thus they began to ask themselves some questions about the personality of the mysterious interlocutor who spoke through the table, to whose statements they were no longer so indifferent.
A hard debate took place as a reaction to the table's definition of death: «Cessation of individuality, disaggregation of its elements, return to universal life». «Cessation of the individuality of this life, disaggregation of its elements, that is, of what constitutes the form that manifests it, may be! – Nus and his friends commented – But what sense does it make: "return to universal life?" Does it mean that the moral personality dissolves, that death is the complete dissolution of our being? So what is that God you talk to us about all the time, and what does he want from us? May he go to hell with you, and, both of you, leave us in peace! For what purpose do we need to evolve? The higher we go, the deeper the fall will be; the more we acquire, the more we lose. So learning, improving, growing internally is a stupid thing. For what purpose? For the other ephemeral entities that will appear for a few years on this Earth, destined to vanish like us? It is absolutely not worth it, and all those who seek the good and strive to perfect these soap bubbles which are called spirits and conscious beings, are stupid indeed if they agitate in this void and toil for nothing».
The table did not respond to these reasonable criticisms, neither that day nor the following days. But as the members of the group continued to press it with questions on the subject, a few days later it so dictated: «I recommend patience and submission to all of you right now. Too often you go back to what I have already defined; this means stupidly doubting my power». «It's not about your power – replied the friends –. It is that what you say is beyond common sense. At least we do not doubt your intellectual power, whatever it comes from, since, despite the resistances of our reason, your statements worry and upset us. You have stated something about death that we absolutely reject. We cannot admit that the soul is dispersed and that consciousness is annihilated, that life is an illusion, morality a nonsense, and justice a fiction... If we did misunderstand you... explain yourself more clearly; if you don't want to explain yourself now, tell us at least one word that satisfies and reassures us». After a break full of tension, with a slowness and a majesty impossible to describe – according to what Nus wrote – the table uttered the following letters, with long and solemn pauses between one and the other: A–D–S–U–M–D–E–U–S... (Adsum Deus, God is here). At which one of Nus's friends, Brunier, got up and said: «Well, I've had enough for today: all nonsense. Let's play backgammon!».
Even later, when the argument was resumed, the contrast between the Nus group – which tried to logically and rationally defend their position of refusal of the reabsorption of individual consciousness in an indistinct and not better defined cosmic entity – and the table – which insisted on the need for a fideistic attitude based on the recognition of the unquestionable power of God – was only partially attenuated by the concession, by the table, that the conscious individuality of those human beings who had worked for the good would be preserved even after their death. And while Nus pointed out all the variables of human condition, which influence and determine the choices of each person and prevent us from evaluating the result of the life of each of us as if we all started from the same initial conditions, the table insisted on the value of free will, attributing exclusively to the human being the responsibility for their choices: a position that Nus did not hesitate to rightly define as spiritual Darwinism! In fact, just as in the natural world the organisms genetically best suited to deal with the environmental variables survive and reproduce, something similar would happen – according to what the table said – in the spirit (or souls) world: the good ones keep their individuality, the others are recycled!
Where do psychic statements come from?
This interesting episode offers the opportunity to ask ourselves a question to which Nus too tried to give an answer: where did those psychic statements, in any case intelligent – regardless of whether they were reliable or not – originate from, since they did not coincide, as we have seen, with the conscious beliefs of the sitters? First of all, it should be noted that, while recognizing the psychic character of our own thoughts and reasonings, our conscious Ego is able to aknowledge them as its own when they are the result of a process of mental elaboration – carried out through the brain functioning – in which it has been actively involved, especially if the consciousness with which it is endowed has expanded and evolved to an enough high degree in the course of life. In one way or another, every human being is a tuner and an elaborator – more or less gifted and efficient – of matter coming from the psyche. But in the case of the statements communicated by the table, by which psychic system had they been elaborated?
Nus hypothesized that a group of interconnected brains, such as those of the five friends who regularly took part in the sittings, constituted a sort of autonomous receiver – independent of what each of them could consciously elaborate through their mental activity – through which the statements enunciated by the table were picked up. This hypothesis is interesting, under various aspects, above all because it can account for the psyche's elements present in mediumistic communications. When we consciously process the psyche's contents tuned by our mental activity, accepting some of them, or rejecting and transforming others, we still submit the psychic material to an evaluation, stating its existence, even when we discard it as unreasonable or not in accordance with reality. On the other hand, it is a well known and evident fact that, for what concerns the psyche, what I discard or reject – despite the fact that it has anyway reached my consciousness – may very well be accepted and valued by someone else. Thus, Nus's table could enunciate psychic material tuned by the brain network of the sitters, even if in contrast with what each of themselves considered reasonable and right.
However, there are other elements that need to be taken into account, which do not allow us to confirm the validity of Nus's hypothesis, or at least prevent us from considering it as sufficient to explain all the aspects of mediumistic phenomena. First of all, Nus himself, in chapter 9 of his book, pointed out the bizarre aspects – which we could define humoral and even whimsical – of the table's behavior, far from being constant and reliable: while in some sittings it did not move an inch, refusing to answer any questions, in others it shifted here and there in an unpredictable and chaotic way, even escaping the contact of the sitters' hands, as if it were truly possessed by some restless spirit. Even in knocking the alphabet letters, its behavior was variable: sometimes the knocks were beaten in a regular and well intelligible way, with sufficiently long pauses between one letter and another, while at other times their frequency varied, the letters were not well understood and had to be repeated, with random results. Nus never noticed any relationship between the table's performances and the mood of the sitters, so he came to the conclusion that the table's behavior was unpredictable and arbitrary, as if it were influenced by an autonomous personality. Over time, the communications from the table became less and less frequent and more and more uncertain and unreliable, and consequently Nus and his friends decided to put an end to séances.
Probably one or more persons in Nus's group were endowed with mediumistic power, even if not well developed, and this made the phenomena possible, at least for a certain time. In fact, in the absence of a medium, a group, even if well harmonized, is not enough to produce the phenomena in question and the related communications, even if Nus affirmed that at that time turning and talking tables were the most popular pastime in Paris, where there was practically not a single house in which, in the evening, people did not play with the table or the planchette. It may be that just the confidence in the phenomenon and the certainty that it could occur helped its spread, otherwise it is not clear how so many people could indulge, for their own amusement, in an activity whose results were evidently exposed to the suspicion of being produced in a more or less unconscious fraudulent way. We are led, once again, to the way in which the psyche manifests its effects in human cultural systems and in the people who are part of them: in addition to the psychic attunements that involve the conscious Ego, and that can enter into circulation in a network of brains, there are others that manifest themselves in unusual forms, and that give the impression of coming from an alien source.
As in the case of Nus's table, also in other mediumistic communications there is an advice – more or less peremptory – addressed to human beings to adopt a fideistic and not reasonably critical attitude towards a divinity considered as the holder not only of an absolute power, but also of a form of supreme wisdom which, however, cannot be understood by humans due to their mental limitations. This position, which was adopted in the past by some religious institutions, including Catholic Church, has a very ancient origin, and is determined by those psychic attunements that are activated not only by the weakness of the human being towards the forces of nature, but also by the precarious condition in which people can find themselves facing the power generated by social organizations and conferred on one or more individuals, sometimes under the ancient formula «by God's grace» (replaced by the more recent one «by the nation's will») or, more pragmatically, by an interior drive towards the conquest of power: as Napoleon said of his crown, «God gave it to me, woe to those who touch it». In any case, it is a matter of psychic dynamics that act collectively, relying on the weakness of the Ego and its subordination to basic fears (also of psychic origin): fear of death and of suffering.
It must be recognized that other mediumistic communications are much more articulated and nuanced in this regard: not only they avoid referring to the contrast between an omnipotent and omniscient divine entity – moreover defined as infinitely good and just – and a fragile, vulnerable, almost insignificant human condition, often inclined to evil precisely because of its weakness, but they recognize the dignity of human experience as a useful path of spiritual evolution. The psychic character of these communications is therefore substantially different from those which force humans into a condition of impotence, of uncritical obedience and of faith-based complaisance towards a divine being so superior to them. The changes that have occurred in the last three centuries in the psyche's dynamics of our culture have enhanced the role of the individual person in the context of organized social structures, however promoting functioning as a human automaton for each individual. But human psyche, as a whole, continues to manifest itself in a conflictual and discordant way, accentuating the contrasts between one person and another even within the same social group: today hardly anyone is so naïve as to believe that the others see the world as he or she does. These differences in the psychic attunements make human life undoubtedly varied and interesting when they match with each other in an harmonic continuity, but lead to a conflicting chaos when they are in open contrast, to the point that, within a society, a person can see another as an adversary to be fought or, even more, as an enemy to be eliminated: the millennial conflict between what one person considers good and another as evil is now manifesting itself openly, as a kind of civil war within the human psyche.
The condition of the conscious Ego
By becoming aware of this state of affairs, the Ego finds itself in the hard condition of having to defend its own psychic elaborations, if it seems to it that these represent a value which it does not intend to give up. At the same time it must recognize, by examining his past life and the condition in which the Egos of other humans finds themselves, that everyone is instinctively and naturally led to defend the attunements of their own psyche, whatever they may be: the power of subjugating, which was once attributed to divinity, is now recognized to the human psyche, which however, as we have highlighted, presents in itself conflicting elements that the conscious Ego – a merely individual entity – cannot resolve. In fact the psyche, in order to create the energy tension that is peculiar to it, has to fragment into billions of individual experiences, and the conscious Ego – conditioned by the gamut of the psyche's experiences it has to endure, which at times demean or torment it – certainly cannot expect to control the psyche as a whole. After all, many humans live in the hope that the psyche will become less conflictual in the future and more and more benevolent towards the conscious Ego, enhancing those aspects that are most pleasant for each of us: however, it is a future that still appears very remote, assuming that this hope can ever become real.
In this state of things, the conscious Ego can only turn its attention to an entity abstract from the real condition of this life, an entity which is able to advise and guide it in the path of progressive liberation from the contradictions, the disharmonies and the conflicts of the psyche. This entity, which I call spirit, is none other than the counterpart of the conscious Ego, existing in a dimension other than the human, with which the Ego is destined to merge once the experience of this life is over. The spirit's dimension is free both from the conflicts that characterize the human psyche, and from the natural adversities and difficulties that the human organism has to face due to its survival needs. In fact, psychic commands such as: «live, strive to survive, love life, enjoy life, seek success in life, be attached to life as much as you can», which so much power exert on the conscious Ego, are almost devoid of meaning for the spirit, which can at best be interested in some aspect of the human psychic experience. The fact is that the Ego reflects the needs imposed by nature on its living organism, which in any case cannot escape the temporal cycle of life and the risks to which life itself is subjected, while the spirit is in a totally different condition. The Ego's involvement in life carries with it the experimentation of all the stages of human life – unless it is prematurely interrupted – and the related psychic attunements, including the decline of the psychophysical faculties of old age.
Without the spirit's collaboration and help, the conscious Ego remains at the mercy of the psyche's dynamics that involve it, both of those that it manages, in some way, to control, and of those by which it is subjugated: counterbalancing the psyche's power, the spirit offers the Ego a more advantageous condition of equilibrium for its liberation. One can then ask why there are relatively few cases in which the Ego manages to establish this conscious connection with the spirit: in fact, in the majority of human beings the conscious Ego lives all life under the influence of the psyche's dynamics that involve and dominate it, without even being able to elaborate an intelligent criticism of this condition, that I have defined as a human automaton, which is acquired and accepted as natural and normal. The main reason for this state of affairs is that our current culture is essentially psychological and collective, and therefore is oriented towards considering the conscious Ego as a faithful subject that must adapt to the dominant dynamics of the psyche – whatever they are – and that in any case must live according to the psychic needs that are tuned by its mind. Concepts such as the Ego's liberation and the existence of the spirit are not even taken into consideration by our culture, which on the contrary stigmatizes them as sterile fantasies.
The same religion is today considered by our culture as a psychological need, to be supported and controlled as necessary for the proper functioning of the collective system in which the energies of each person are channeled in order to be used. A person can very well live without being religious, behaving honestly, in accordance with what the psyche's attunements in which she/he is involved suggest: indeed, sometimes they can also be regarded as model citizens, whose behavior is more harmonious than that of many religious people. However, for every individual who manifests a certain psychic orientation, there is another who shows an opposite one, due to the complexity and the intrinsic conflictual state of the human psyche, which anyway produces its effects: by the mere fact of being brought into this world, any new human organism – whose brain is capable of functioning – will experience a gamut of psychic dynamics that will also affect its behavior and actions. The initial condition of the Ego is that of a more or less passive and impotent spectator of the psyche's dynamics that destiny reserves for it, and only the progressive development of consciousness, as the experience of life proceeds, can help it to free from its subjection to the psyche.
The Ego's liberation is not to be confused either with what is socially considered as success in life, nor with human happiness. These conditions are certainly preferable for the Ego over their opposites, because they are gratifying, characterized as they are by pleasant and sometimes euphoric moods, by which the Ego feels attracted and rewarded. However, they depend on psychic dynamics that in certain individuals develop in a particularly favorable way, at least in some periods of their life, when the resources they have and the circumstances in which they find themselves contribute to determining their success and to stimulate those particular moods. In these cases the Ego remains subjected to psychic dynamics of a temporary nature, the advantage of which is that of being seductive for their immediate and pleasant benefit: there is nothing strange in the fact that the Ego feels attracted to them, except that in some cases these dynamics function as baits that lure the Ego into a trap, as they transform over time into psychic attunements of a completely different nature. From the point of view of an Ego whose consciousness has sufficiently evolved, positive and pleasant psychic attunements can be enjoyed provided that their temporary character and their dependence on the conditions of life (including the socio-cultural programs that determine them) are well recognized, and – above all – provided that they do not require any form of subjection, and the renunciation of values felt by the Ego as fundamental.
The Ego's personal history – determined, as we have seen, by the psychophysical resources at its disposal, by the socio-cultural programs it receives and by the environmental events in which the body-mind system is involved – conditions its choices. However, there is always a margin of freedom, an opportunity offered to the Ego to escape from the complete subjection to the psyche's dynamics that characterize human life: it is like a door that opens every now and then, and then closes almost immediately, giving however to the Ego the opportunity of crossing that threshold. Of course I can't generalize, because I don't directly know the condition of every Ego who lives or has lived in this world: indeed, I only know myself, but my impression (or perhaps my hope) is that to each of us humans – despite our personal history – the opportunity to be free is offered: the moment we decide to cross that threshold, we establish a channel of communication with our spirit. But as long as the Ego remains bound only to the needs of its organism and psyche, it is forced to deal with a system subject to degradation and dissolution. As can be seen, this is a definite choice that cannot be made except by the Ego, that is, by every individual human being in their own autonomy: it is not based on an indisputable objectivity, such as to make it a practically mandatory choice for anyone who is in possession of adequate mental faculties, but – indeed – on an evolutionary path for a smart consciousness, which trains in acquiring and elaborating as much information as possible on human life.
I could say, at this point, that the Ego can hear and follow the call of the spirit if it is already predisposed in this sense: this depends, so to speak, on the stuff the Ego is made of, a stuff that can be very different from person to person, and that the exhortation to know ourselves can lead us to examine and decipher. But there is also an intrinsic quality to the nature of the spirit, which determines the effectiveness of its call and the possibility of awakening the Ego: it is difficult, in fact, that a completely asleep spirit can exert such an influence as to free the Ego from its identification with the psyche's attunements that involve and attract it. As has been said, the Ego and the spirit can be considered as the two sides of the same coin: the spirit represents the condition of the Ego released from the contingencies of the earthly dimension and from the conflictuality of the psychic dynamics that characterize it and that can torment the Ego. The Ego is given the freedom to follow the spirit call, but for this to happen it is necessary that its consciousness be sufficiently developed to allow it a certain detachment from life and the psychic attunements that derive from it: which does not mean to give up the interest in some aspects of human life and in the experiences it makes possible, but implies a serene position of non-attachment to life and of not (unconditioned) submission to the conditions that life can impose through the lure of gratifying psychic experiences or the fear of those that can make us suffer.
The purpose of conscious life
The Ego lives by the mere fact that a new human organism was formed as a consequence of the natural laws of sexuality which led to the mating (often consentient, but sometimes not) of the parents of that organism. Although the most important aspect of human life is constituted by consciousness and the process of intelligent evolution in which it is involved, the Ego is not able to know and understand – at least in the course of its human life – the purpose and meaning of what happens on this planet (not to mention the universe!). All that the Ego can do is to deepen its knowledge of itself and try to interpret and critically evaluate – in the light of the resources at its disposal – what emerges in its consciousness. Obviously, it can also read, learn and interpret everything that other human beings make available to collective knowledge through the communication media that we are able to use. The elaborations and proposals of psychic origin, regarding the existence of a project and a direction in the human condition and in the social evolution of humankind, remain unverifiable for us – and to a large extent also incomprehensible to our intelligence – and therefore they cannot constitute reliable elements of knowledge: at most, they can be accepted (or rejected) on the basis of sentimental evaluations, which are in some way satisfying or reassuring for our conscious Ego.
Despite this, it is certainly possible to make observations on different aspects of human life, and above all on the psyche's manifestations that derive from them, and to deduce the cognitive elements that can make us guess the existence of entities endowed with the power to influence nature or the human psyche. For example, the conflictuality of the psyche is a fact: concord, harmony and collaboration of intentions within a more or less large group of humans are considered as precious goods, to be pursued and protected, precisely because not infrequently conflicts prevail, which determine the desire and need to win over the adversary or enemy on duty and, consequently, the need to defend ourselves, even for preventive purposes, from the threats and dangers that the other, the opponent, can represent for us. But psyche's conflicts can also manifest in the individual sphere of our mind, for example as a reaction to interactions with other humans and the conditions that arise from them. In any case, since the psyche's conflictuality has painful consequences for the conscious Ego, it certainly seems legitimate to ask what it originates from: however, it should be noted that the Ego itself, in its ordinary condition of subjection to the psyche's dynamics that involve it, often lets itself be intoxicated by the positive emotions determined by the victory over the opponent and, in any case, by obtaining an advantage even if to the detriment of another person or another human group.
Even if we wanted to attribute the conflicts of the human psyche to the natural, and therefore animal, origin of our organism, the questions that arise from the ascertainment of factual data remain more than legitimate. For example, the existence of predatory animals, which need to kill other organisms to survive, is a fact, which does not correspond to any real need: in the plant world, organisms compete for resources, and there are also parasitic plants, but this competition occurs in a harmonious way. Even among herbivorous animals there can be competition for resources, which however usually results in a limitation of the number of births when resources are scarce. The violent elimination of animal organisms to allow other animals to survive is the manifestation of a specific natural intent, which is expressed in the evidence of evolutionary processes, that is, in the very dynamics by which the individual organisms of the various animal species are produced, regardless of the attribution to this or that entity – invisible to us humans – of a superior or divine nature that our psyche suggests to us.
It can be objected that the natural evolutionary process is in itself sovereign and indifferent, and must not account for the ways in which its creativity is implemented, but – beyond the evaluations suggested by our psyche – it is the same evidence of the facts that shows us that things are not in these terms, since humankind has changed the balance of nature, first by using the resources of natural environments, and then exploiting them in such a way as to technologically transform ever larger areas of the planet, to adapt them to completely different purposes than those of nature. It is therefore undeniable that humankind is the manifestation of an intent that enters into antagonism with nature and does everything in its power to submit it to its purposes. Most human cultures have fought against natural forces and opposed evolutionary dynamics: a particularly significant aspect of this fight is represented by the defenses adopted by humans against what we define as diseases, caused by parasites, bacteria or viruses, organisms (multicellular, unicellular or viral) that act in accordance with the laws of evolution, and that we humans do whatever it takes to eliminate.
For many centuries the domination of humankind over nature has been psychologically perceived as a value, and the successes achieved by humans through scientific discoveries and technological progress have aroused positive feelings, such as pride, admiration and satisfaction, towards our creative intelligence. Only recently have humans begun to have doubts about the effects of their interventions to alter natural balances, but even in this case human concerns are essentially motivated by the negative effects that these transformations of the natural environment can have for the same mankind, and not by the respect for nature itself. Obviously, since human behavior is almost always determined by the psyche's instances to which the Ego is subject – both of natural origin and culturally transmitted – we can get the impression that humans are like the pieces of a chess game that the players (White and Black) can move, use and sacrifice at their discretion, determining their actions through the functioning of the psyche. It is useless to ask who the players are and if they have their own autonomous and real personality in this or other dimensions: whether we imagine them as technologically advanced aliens from another world, or we want to attribute to them a divine nature, facts do not change, and as long as the conscious Ego has not freed itself from its subjection to the psychic attunements that control it, it cannot help but diligently carry out its role as human automaton, moving on the chessboard at the service of this or that player.
Once the Ego has become well aware – through direct experience of its own life and the information acquired on the lives of other human beings – of the conditions that life imposes, it can feel in tune with one or the other of the following three orientations: 1) love human life for what it is, with its lights and shadows, trying to get what it can offer, but also accepting all the negative aspects of life that affect others in terms of suffering, conflict, misery and injustice; 2) not to love human life because of the suffering it entails, for oneself as for others, but to keep on living because the survival instinct still prevails over any other consideration, perhaps in the hope of being able to improve its own condition, or because it believes that living is a specific duty towards ourselves or others who need us; 3) not to love life, and therefore intentionally put an end to its own before its natural or accidental end, which in any case is inevitable for each of us.
An intermediate state between the first and the second is given by those who decide to commit themselves to make the world a better place, that is, to improve the conditions of their own life and that of others. This is a position, generated by particular attunements of the psyche involving the conscious Ego, only apparently logical and commendable, since: its effects cannot be applied to those who have already suffered and died; almost always the positive effects obtained in relation to a problem transform it into a problem of a different kind, and sometimes even more complex; often we see only one side of the coin, trying to intervene in relation to what we see, without understanding that our interventions will also have an effect on the hidden side; as I have tried to point out, many conflicts are intrinsic to the human psyche, even in relation to the divergence of goals between psyche and nature, and therefore cannot be solved simply by the good will of some humans. This does not mean that the intention, and the consequent actions, to improve the conditions of human life are not necessary: they are indeed indispensable, to create that balance that maintains a certain order, however precarious, in the conditions of humanity; however they still fall within the dynamics of psychic origin, even if they can be considered of a more evolved order than those other dynamics of the psyche that determine competition, conflict, exploitation, destruction and suffering.
For many people, the meaning of life consists precisely in this commitment to improve the general conditions of mankind (the so-called progress), intentionally following a plan whose purposes remain unknown to us: some of these people believe that their commitment in this life will be rewarded, in one way or another, in a future existence in another dimension, while other people are simply convinced that this is the right way to live human life, regardless of whether or not there is a existence after death. Obviously, those who are committed to this must have a goal, which is often referred to with the generic expression: the good for mankind. However, it is a fact that this goal is often pursued, in good faith, with different methods, precisely because of its psychic nature: therefore, it would be more correct to say that the goal is what a person believes to be the good for mankind, and this leads us back to the contradictions and conflicts caused by the fragmentation of the human psyche into billions of individual experiences.
There is a fourth orientation with which the conscious Ego can feel in tune, an orientation which is currently quite minority, and which can be referred to as: the spirit way. It is the commitment of the conscious Ego to discover its most authentic essence already in the course of human life, regardless of the environmental events, the social conditioning, the flattery with which the psyche lures, gratifies and ensnares it, and the pains and sufferings with which it intimidates, threatens or torments it. It is advisable to highlight the fact that, while always using the term Ego to indicate our authentic essence, there is a substantial difference between the condition of the Ego that identifies itself with the psyche's instances that involve it and that of the Ego that tries to detach itself from them, not to mention the Ego that has already freed itself for good. The spirit way is a path which can already be taken in the course of human life, towards a goal that will become clearer only when this life has ended. It consists in a continuous exercise of strengthening and perfecting our consciousness, which does not prevent us from living life, but progressively makes the conscious Ego less and less subject to the dynamics of its own psyche: from this point of view it can be considered a path of liberation.