Dichotomy of the human psyche in the evaluation of Nature
The psychic experience of the Ego
In light of the considerations made on the previous page, it could be assumed that human beings are produced to play a role assigned to them in the context of an evolutionary and creative process managed through the human psyche. We can not know if this process responds to some purpose that escapes us, just as we do not know what is behind the process of the evolution of life that led to the current complexity of the human body and its brain, but – the sole fact to be born – a human being starts a path of activation of the consciousness and of organization of the Ego which, over time, leads him/her to elaborate the psychic contents recorded by the consciousness, and to make decisions and choices of action. Although it seems to us that the functional and operational center of these processes is the conscious Ego, all the programs and conditionings that determine the considerations and actions of the Ego, as well as the same processing tools that the Ego uses, are of mental origin, and therefore determined by the brain (and its unconscious activities). Ultimately, the Ego is guided by its own psychic experiences, and even when it seems to play a decisional role, controlling or creative, it does so because this is the task that is imposed on it by the demands of the psyche. While our Ego is able to consciously perceive the coercive character of the commands when they come from other people (for example, in the hierarchically organized structures of work activities), we are much less attentive to the commands of psychic origin, with which we often identify completely.
For most humans, the role assigned to them by the psychic programs that operate in our world is rather gratifying, and in any case represents an unavoidable necessity: the meaning of life coincides for them in fulfilling with commitment the tasks they are assigned by these programs, mediated and transmitted by the social organizations of which they are members and within which they will exercise their functions. The organizations themselves shall transmit and spread, through suitable people trained for this purpose, cultural programs capable of satisfying the needs of those who must fulfill their duties or functions in the role they have chosen or have been assigned to, so that their operational efficiency within the system is not undermined and hindered by autonomous and unproductive processing. The basic psychic programs that determine the functioning of humans are those that reward the Ego through satisfaction and pleasure or that punish it with suffering or fear. Overall, the feeling of accomplishing and having fulfilled one's duty can be a sufficient motivation to give meaning to human life, so much so that many people die quiet (and, as they use to say, with a clear conscience) in the certainty that if there were an otherworldly life, their proper way of acting would receive a reward. It would not be correct to devalue or mortify this attitude towards life: since we human beings are creatures and not creators, we must consider with respect and attention the powers that transcend us and that we do not know. This attitude, however, should not prevent us – if we consider it important to do so – to exercise our intellectual faculties on the ways in which those same powers manifest themselves, organizing and directing us.
Conflicting psychic tunings
Within the human psyche you can find everything: next to nuclei whose roots can already be found in the animal psyche there are others of a completely different origin, which are experienced by our conscious Ego as carriers of typically human instances, or perhaps it would be better to say humanitarian, such as participation in the suffering of others, mutual help, compassion and the sense of justice. This entails that the human behavior can be unpredictable and contradictory, according to whether the egocentric, aggressive or defensive character of the impulses of animal origin prevails, or the more altruistic and evolved character of the humanitarian impulses. The most unpleasant aspect of these inhomogeneous and often conflicting psychic tunings is that the conscious Ego can be overwhelmed by what he/she mentally experiences, and the interactions between different individuals or different social groups often end up by activating incompatible and mutually detrimental psychic nuclei. It is interesting to notice how human cultures are born from this undifferentiated and amorphous weaving between psychic tunings of different origins, and are therefore contaminated by elements of a contradictory nature, not easily interpretable or manageable.
Nature and the humanitarian requirements of the psyche
The presence of such conflicting elements in the human psyche raises the question of their origin. In examining the evolution of life (see the dedicated section), we have not expressed value judgments on that complex phenomenon that we synthesize with the term of Nature, as we have limited ourselves to considering its manifestations in the plant or animal kingdom. But when the human psyche comes into play, this natural world is no longer perceived as something perfect: it is a world in which we are born, we struggle to survive (and therefore we enter into competition with other living organisms), we experience emotions, pleasures, pains and sufferings, and then we die. This applies to human beings as well as to other organisms with a sufficiently evolved nervous system. Nature does not have as its purpose the search for a balance and a justice in the distribution of joys and sorrows: in this regard, any point of view determined by the humanitarian tunings of the psyche seems to be fully irrelevant to the natural creative and disruptive force. But some of the psychic nuclei perceived by our conscious Ego determine a basic dissatisfaction with the seemingly unconscious indifference with which Nature determines the individual destiny of living creatures, and lead us to consider as «inhuman and cruel» many aspects of the natural creative activity. The legacy of this inhumanity is still present in those aspects of the psyche that make some people to abuse their fellow men, or to take advantage of the misfortunes or weaknesses of others. It is as if in submitting themselves to the commands of the natural psyche, even if received and processed by an instrument as evolved as the mind, many human beings proved to remain anchored to a heritage that should be their destiny and their task to overcome, at least according to what is required by the humanitarian psychic instances. But, as we shall see later, even the demands of the humanitarian tunings of the psyche – once they have culturally established – end up translating into commands that determine a different form of submission and conditioning of the Ego.
Although the complexity and perfection of the natural processes that led to the evolution of life on Earth are such as to arouse in us awe, admiration and wonder, it must be remembered that those processes are at work both in a man and in a horse or in a sheep, although it does not seem likely that animals are able to wonder about them: we do not know if their minds are able to process those psychic nuclei that allow us humans to know and evaluate the natural processes. When we call Nature this order of phenomena, we must bear in mind that it is an active process from primordial epochs, whereas the human psyche has only recently appeared on the world stage. When we call Nature this order of phenomena, we must bear in mind that it is a process active from primordial ages, whereas the human psyche has only recently appeared on the world stage. The novelty represented by the human psyche is due to the fact that that instrument of representation that we call consciousness allows our Ego to experience – through the activity of the brain – psychic functions such as intelligence, fantasy, imagination, thought, reasoning, which elaborate mental constructions aimed at interpreting and evaluating the phenomena of the world. So the psychic entity uses the conscious Ego, through the instrument of the nervous system developed by natural evolution, to interfere with that process which we call Nature, in a complex and enigmatic game.
A myriad of minds
The human mind is not single, but manifests itself in a myriad of subjects: all human beings have minds that tune one or the other aspect of the psychic phenomenon, combining reality, information, conditioning, emotions, desires and energy in a process that can then manifest itself, in the Ego, in the form of intention and will to organize and condition other minds, and to modify the natural environment. Every human being, through his/her own mind – stimulated and conditioned by the environment and by the other minds with which he/she interacts – brings with him/her and elaborates his/her own baggage of true or confused information, emotional dynamics, joys and sorrows inherited from life. The Ego ends up believing in its existence because the psyche presents itself to it as a mirror that reflects the reality of things, and not as the enchanted instrument used by itself to resolve the conflicts present in its global complexity. This condition is confirmed by the disproportion between the importance attributed to the Ego as the center of inner life, and the shattering of human life in a multitude of transitory individuals, each with his/her own Ego.
The dichotomy between the humanitarian psyche and the psychic interpretation of Nature
As we have said, the process of natural evolution, even if considered unconscious, has produced for millions of centuries a world that the human psyche perceives as complex and fascinating, at the same time sublime and dramatic. A world in which order, balance and harmony live together with fear, restlessness and destruction. What is beneficial for an organism becomes a danger to the other, and some manifestations of the natural creativity, apparently not subject to any coherent plan for harmonization, are only a source of discomfort and pain for many living beings: just think of those microorganisms that cause devastating bacterial or viral diseases, causing torment and death to many living organisms. A significant part of the human psyche can not see any positive meaning in suffering: if it is true that death can be understood by the need to renew and revitalize the herd of living beings, and a certain kind of pain may be the alarm signal needed to prevent further damage to the body, illness and suffering represent for the humanitarian psychic tunings the obscure inadequacy of the unconscious creativity of Nature, the reflection of the primordial chaos in the weave of the current living world.
Precisely because of having consciously experienced the effects of psychic sufferings deriving from natural causes, humans have become increasingly receptive to the lure of the psychic tunings that present themselves as antithetical to Nature. In the psyche there is thus a dichotomy between an alleged good (humanitarian tunings) and a supposed evil (the power of Nature). But what we call Nature is a process that manifests itself in the psyche, according to the modalities that characterize it, pushing humans to procreate in order to produce new material to be used in the dynamics of life: the order or disorder introduced by the human element does not concern Nature at all, as Nature, as a whole, always seems able to self-regulate and resume its creative play. The whole of humanity could be decimated in a short time by a natural cataclysm or by an unusual genetic event (such as the appearance of a lethal virus), but Nature would have no trouble starting all over again.
According to what the psyche shows us, in the animal world the defense of individual organisms by psychic elements is pursued in an instinctual way and without much commitment. The individual advantage, obtained through competition and confrontation, entails winners and losers, according to a raffle totally indifferent to the intentions or the value assigned to the life of each participant. Even non-aggressive animals are subject to competition for the control of resources or for reproductive success, as well as the risk of being attacked by predators and infested with parasites or pathogenic germs. For the humanitarian part of the psyche, the purpose of natural evolution – if there is one – does not seem to create a paradise of harmony, but rather a game based on competition and selection. The intervention of human reason in the natural dynamics seems to offer a new perspective and, at least in appearance, produces a tension that should lead to a more harmonized and less conflictual world in the future. But, at least until today, the mental tunings of humanity, considered as a whole, continue to be more influenced by the psychic elements linked to our animal origin, which determine emotions and passions having a predominantly instinctual character (extended to group individualism), than by the humanitarian components of the psyche.
Wisdom and balance of Nature?
We sometimes speak of wisdom or balance of Nature. It is not correct: as psychic concepts elaborated by the human reason, wisdom and balance are not intrinsic features of the process of natural evolution. It is also true that the process that our psyche defines as Nature can not be judged by the rule of reason, but human life perhaps can, and we can affirm that the experience of life touched to generations of humans (and, why not?, of animals too) does not show itself as a manifestation of wisdom and balance. If until now the psyche has succeeded in giving some more or less satisfactory interpretation about the natural phenomena in their development, nothing can tell us about the possible forms of intelligence or awareness that govern and determine these phenomena, and our ignorance about it hides behind vague labels such as God or Nature. Nor do we know whether these nebulous concepts should be referred to individual entities or pluralistic organizations. The only sure thing is that they do not fall under our senses with the evidence of objects.
However, it is difficult to deny the reality of those psychic tunings which we feel to be the most human part of ourselves: while our body must be rightfully and reasonably considered a child of Nature, on the other hand we are led to recognize that tha same Nature (whatever is hidden behind this label) does not show itself particularly benevolent towards individual creatures, and therefore not even towards human beings. However naive and inadequate it may be in this regard the representation that the psyche presents to our Ego, the problem posed to us is determined by the same psychic contents: it is a conflict that can not be attrubited to Nature alone, since it emerges only if Nature is observed with the glasses of the humanitarian tunings of our psyche. In order to explain the presence of conflicting elements in the human psyche, we must also refer to a different and distinct source than to the process of natural evolution.
Restraints of the human psyche as a phenomenon limited to the Earth
Beyond the interest that the psychic phenomenon as a whole arouses in us, or – we should say more accurately – that the psychic phenomenon emanates in itself, we must keep in mind that all the research we can do about the psyche and the evolution of life are currently limited to this planet, the only one we know, the only one that is accessible to us in a boundless universe. As for the other worlds of our solar system we can not hypothesize the existence of complex organisms capable of manifesting advanced psychic phenomena. Different is the case for the universe: this is so vast that not hypothesizing something of the kind would be practically a statistical error. The psyche hourly elaborates fantasies and hallucinatory experiences related to contacts with alien life forms, and therefore with other psychic manifestations. The fact remains that for now, as humans, we are not able to move from our planet: the interstellar distances are so large as to prevent, even in the near future, forms of space exploration not limited to our solar system.
This confinement to the planet Earth of the human psychic phenomenon poses serious problems regarding all those contents of the psyche that refer to what is commonly indicated with the terms God or Divinity. Let us not forget that even these concepts, as well as all the other aspects related to the different forms of religious faith, are products of the human psyche, determined by the evolution of the psychic phenomenon itself. The idea of God, as manifested in human experience, has always been limited to this world (except for rare exceptions represented by some philosophers and scientists). God has usually been seen as the entity that creates, rules and directs the world, which determines and evaluates the events of human life, which approves or punishes human beings, which bestows happiness or suffering, and which conditions the human development with his laws: as you see, this God is nothing but the reflection of the psyche itself and of the power that it exerts towards the conscious Ego. Beyond the Earth there is however a boundless universe, compared to which our planet becomes a tiny and almost insignificant atom, both in space and in time: on what basis and with what arguments can we believe that the God of this world is also the God of the universe? It is the psyche itself that, in the moment in which it comprehends the boundless vastness of the universe, transfers this doubt into the human experience, questioning the very meaning of the relationship between creator and creature.
In this same world, as we have seen, the psychic phenomenon in its entirety is extremely contradictory, including love and hate, joy and suffering, altruism and envy, culture and ignorance, kindness and violence, education and vulgarity: in short, the whole range of nuances found between the two poles that are commonly defined as good and evil, or light and darkness, or positive and negative. But since the individual experience of life does not reflect all the complexity of the psyche, there may be happy lives and others marked by suffering, rich and full lives and others poor and empty, lives comforted by physical health and others tormented by the sufferings of diseases, lives illuminated by love and others arid and gloomy, lives cultivated in culture and in the aspiration to knowledge and others degraded by greed, violence, hatred. And, as everyone knows, within the life of a person there can be experiences of joy and happiness alternated with others of fatigue or pain.
Hypotheses of psychic origin on the destiny and on the purpose of individual life
Human reason has always had to deal with the apparently insoluble mystery represented by the destiny of the individual life. Until now all the proposed solutions, produced by the intuitive thought elaborated on the basis of psychic experiences, have proved to be deficient or insufficient under the profile of a true knowledge, which can never be separated from an adequate operative power allowing to give a solution, even partial, to the problems that are faced. I quote briefly here only two of these pseudo-solutions, and the reasons why they can not be considered satisfactory. The first one imputes entirely to the human being the responsibility of the choices between good and evil in the sphere of earthly life, forgetting the conditioning power of the psyche. But even if we wanted to hypothesize, beyond the psychic phenomenon, the reality of a conscious Ego able to choose freely, autonomously and consciously, between good and evil, we could not understand why an entity deriving from a emanation identified with the good should consciously choose the evil.
The second pseudo-solution is linked to the cycle of rebirth and to the theory of karma, according to which in a life each human being takes advantage of the merits or is conditioned by the sins accumulated in previous existences. In this case too, the reason that inspires the sense of justice would want every soul, passing through a complete cycle of reincarnations, to experience the full range of nuances present in the evolutionary path towards the good. Therefore, considering the emanation of souls (or spirits) as a process that unfolds over time, during which each spirit must pass from a state that we could call unconscious, childish and inexperienced to a more and more advanced level (reached through a series of experiences of incarnation), in every age spirits that are found at different levels of evolution would find themselves living together, and even the spirits that in a certain period are at the lowest level would later reach the higher levels. It's a bit like when you go to school: in the same year there are those who attend the second grade and those who are already at the fourth high school, but even those who attend the second grade can be in high school in a few years. Even this theory – of psychic origin – attributes to the unconsciousness of the initial states of evolution a greater inclination to be contaminated by negative psychic attitudes, while the evolution would lead the spirit to a progressive purification that would have the effect of directing it towards the more positive, humanitarian and spiritual psychic tunings.
If this theory tries to satisfy the human sense of justice, promising to any spirit emanated the same evolutionary goal, and leaving him the freedom to choose the path to achieve it, nevertheless it presents some limitations: first of all it is necessary that the concept of time, as we know it in this world, extends to the emanation of the spirits, so as to justify the coexistence of spirits of different evolutionary level. Secondly, one should understand the reason for the dualism between the existence of the spirit in its own dimension and the personal experience of the Ego in this earthly dimension, since the existence of a conscious spirit – already marked by the various previous experiences made – would then be forgotten in the dimension of earthly life. Finally, the attraction of the spirit towards the earthly experience (lived through a conscious Ego) should derive from the awareness of a possible advantage, even in the form of an unavoidable evolutionary law, otherwise we would not understand why we should move from the dimension of the spirit to the tribulations and sufferings of a good number of human existences.
Conflicting polarity between Nature and spirit
In any way we want to consider things, the internal conflict in the human psyche is not solved, and the human being finds himself in the not very pleasant condition of having to mediate between two conflicting instances, one deriving from the natural evolution of life on the planet Earth, the other of different origin (usually defined as spiritual or divine, according to the psychic tuning from which the Ego is most attracted). It is however advisable to avoid the use of the term «God», extremely contaminated by all the psychic tunings that refer to powers and laws that go beyond the humans: as is well known, God has also been considered as the creator and lord of Nature, as well as the source of all spiritual entities. And even if Nature and spirit were considered as emanations of a single creative entity, they would continue to present themselves in the psychic sphere as a polarity characterized by conflicting elements. It would also be questioned for what reasons has been performed what should be considered as an intrusion on the part of the humanitarian contents of psychic origin (and related powers), towards a physical world dominated exclusively by Nature up to a very recent era. In fact, it does not fail to surprise us the often coercive character of certain humanitarian psychic nuclei, which force so many human beings to act with determination to promote an alleged good that, by altering the natural balances (and also the social ones), ends up producing negative consequences, more or less predictable with a bit of intelligence. A typical example of this eventuality is represented by the high population increase that in the last century has affected our planet as a whole, but mainly some geographical areas, creating human masses destined to live in precarious conditions, also due to the strong competition for the control of the limited resources of our planet.