Photo credit: Max Pixel
Clearly, we do not live in a “one for all and all for one” world. Yes, there are some hopeful indicators that pockets of this thinking exist here and there, and it is most encouraging. But, there is much more evidence that “every man for himself” behavior rules the day still on planet Earth, and this could be our undoing as a species if it continues to dominate the behavior of many humans, particularly those who control most of the resources and much of the financial, military, and political global decision making impacting the vast majority of humankind.
One could argue that this is the dominant worldview of today. Evidence abounds that this is indeed the case, and understandably so given that materialism has been the prevailing worldview since the pronouncements of Isaac Newton and René Descartes. One could plausibly assert that Newtonian and Cartesian thinking is largely responsible for the nature and character of the world we live in today, in which the dominant model is “every man for himself” instead of “one for all and all for one.”
Surely it cannot be otherwise, for if we truly cared about the welfare of future generations, would we have allowed Earth, “the only home we have ever known,” as Carl Sagan said, to be overpopulated and over-polluted past the point of reason or sustainability? Would we continue to deny climate change and refuse to remedy it? Would we continue to behave in an irresponsible and reckless manner by arrogantly persisting in nuclear proliferation and the production of weapons of mass destruction? Would we continue the accumulation of unprecedented global economic sovereign debt that has effectively bankrupted several successive future generations in America, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere, which some call “weapons of mass financial destruction”? Would we continue to turn a blind eye and a cloth ear to over 50 percent of the population currently suffering in starvation and penurious squalor? Methinks not, and methinks that these things evidence a pervasive lack of caring, compassion, and altruism on our planet today, which if left without remedy will likely be the cause of our undoing.
Contemplating the Gateway Questions
If there was ever a time when everyone on the planet should be contemplating these gateway questions and finding reasoned, reliable answers to them, it is now while we still have time, before we self-destruct. We live in deeply troubled, perilous times, with our very survival in jeopardy. There is but one cause underlying all this turmoil. It is none other than flawed thinking borne of erroneous perceptions of reality.
If one day the erroneous perceptions of reality and the flawed thinking they spawn turn out to be the root cause of our species’ extinction, then our own stubborn ignorance will be to blame, for solid scientific evidence exists that should motivate us to completely reevaluate who we are, why we are here, and what our true relationship is to one another and all living things.
Stubborn ignorance is a petulant refusal to open one’s mind and change one’s views and one’s behavior in the face of certain incontrovertible facts, even when credible knowledge and evidence are available. It constituents stupidity of the worst kind.
It would serve us well to closely examine our own recalcitrant refusal to evolve by embracing the credible knowledge available to us from the science of consciousness. Toward that goal, the following theoretical framework is postulated for consideration in the hope that it may provide a better understanding of this most lamentable human proclivity.
Five Personality Types in Humanity’s Search for Meaning
To stimulate contemplation of this weighty cornerstone issue, I hypothesize that there are five main personality types that together may describe how and why most humans manage their consideration and pursuit of knowledge concerning life’s gateway questions, or in the main perhaps, their refusal to do so.
The first personality type is termed the “Materialist Personality.” Atheists, nihilists, existentialists, and many conventional, traditional, and mainstream scientists belong to this category, which maintains that physical matter, as well as information and energy in the quantum realm, is all there is to reality.
Materialists contend there is no divine realm and no afterlife and no creator. We are merely physiological/biological creatures on a planet orbiting a star in a random cosmos filled with billions of stars, fated to live out a relatively brief existence, destined for nothing but oblivion. The universe and everything in it, including us, is one huge machine of pure happenstance.
The Materialists assert that this lifetime is all there is for us as individuals. There was nothing before it in terms of discrete individual awareness and nothing that comes after it except nonbeing.
We humans are here, Materialists contend, simply to experience whatever this one single, solitary lifetime brings to us. They feel the sole purpose of life is to reproduce and also to amass the largest estate possible to leave behind for heirs as their inheritance, preferably our offspring, who will perpetuate our bloodline and gene pool, or better still, male offspring who will also perpetuate the family name and crest.
And when it’s over, it’s over. End of story. Nothingness. Nonexistence.
The second personality type is called the “Nonchalant Personality,” which is the “Avoider” personality, one that makes little or no effort to tackle life’s big questions. This is a lackadaisical, superficial, and casual posture, even dismissive, in that one devotes little or no time to the matter. Agnostics, I submit, belong to this personality type, insofar as they resign themselves to the neutral position of declaring that they simply do not know and cannot know the answers to life’s big questions.
The Nonchalant Personality chooses to go through life ignoring or avoiding the big questions as best they can, opting to comfortably pretend that these issues will magically sort themselves out over the course of time with no need for inner work or preparation. Their rationale is essentially one of fatalism, as if to say, it is what it is and it is whatever it will be, so no need to be concerned about it during one’s lifetime. Better to brush it all aside. This same syndrome often applies to the Materialist personality type as well.
The third personality type is the “Abdicator Personality.” This personality type was aptly described by C. S. Lewis, popularly known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series. In a style befitting his prodigious intellect and creativity, he offers in his incisive work titled The Abolition of Man a candid discussion about “the Conditioners,” who classically enable the Abdicator Personality type.
The Conditioners, according to Lewis, “know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they will produce . . . they are the motivators, the creators of motives.” In today’s lexicon, Conditioners would be considered thought leaders, opinion makers, trendsetters, style makers, those programming our views, attitudes, preferences, values, priorities, beliefs, prejudices, practices, and more.
Individuals with the Abdicator personality type abdicate their decision-making concerning life’s big questions to others, the Conditioners. They surrender their personal power, opting instead to substitute intellectual rigor and analysis for blind faith in someone or something else, the Conditioners, whether deserving or undeserving of their confidence and trust (often the latter). Conditioners can come in the form of government or other social institutions, political ideology, religion, spiritual leaders, a charismatic demagogue, a ritual, modern media, money and materialism (worship of the “Golden Calf”), or some other external distraction or alternative.
Abdicators are indoctrinated by their Conditioners, accepting whatever information they sanction, even if it is false. Abdicators willfully abandon their innate capacity for critical thinking, submitting to the alluring and abiding influence of their chosen Conditioners. Abdicators sublimate their independent judgment and replace it with full reliance on the teachings, literature, theology, and counsel of their Conditioners to whom or to which they have succumbed. They are content to remain under the umbrella of total belief and faith in their Conditioners of choice, confident that the answers provided by them are completely trustworthy and valid.
Many Abdicators inherit this orientation from their parents, passed down from generation to generation. Their perspective is often purely the result of their upbringing, socialization, and cultural conditioning.
The fourth personality type is the “Experiential Personality.” This personality type, to be admired if not emulated, generally springs from powerful direct spiritual experiences of one kind or another that provide firsthand knowledge about life’s big questions. This could occur from one or more of any number of causal factors, typically referred to as epiphanies, mystical experiences, peak experiences, exceptional experiences, and the like.
These include spiritually transformative experiences such as near-death experiences, after-death communications, nearing-death awareness, past-life recall, out-of-body experiences, and more. Additionally, they include nonlocal consciousness experiences such as spontaneous healing, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, mediumistic communications, and many more. Also, they include experiences derived from disciplined spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, fasting, chanting, rhythmic repetitive movement (tribal dancing), sensory deprivation, self-hypnosis, extraterrestrial encounters, angel encounters, psychedelic drug ingestion, transcendent sexuality, and much more.
Individuals with this personality type are blessed with glimpses of the other side, that is to say, the transcendent dimensions or realms. They no longer fear death. They no longer wonder about life’s big questions. They discovered the answers for themselves during the life-changing experiences they had. They are now in a place of knowing, of certainty, based on their own direct personal experiences.
The fifth personality type is called the “Empiricist Personality.” This personality type is objectively and dispassionately data-driven and evidence-based in their quest for answers. They are interested only in facts based on irrefutable and incontrovertible evidence. They seek only reasoned and reliable truth, not opinions about it or distortions based on it. They have no time to waste chasing illusions, falsehoods, fantasies, or half-truths. Rather, they embrace timeless incontrovertible wisdom and certain knowledge, as well as indisputable facts.
An Empiricist believes one should formulate answers to the big questions based on objective scrutiny of all available evidence. Views, opinions, and beliefs should all be grounded and based on data—on knowledge—deemed to be reliable and credible by the standards of frontier science.
Empiricism has its limits of course. It is not a perfect way of knowing. Data can be flawed and interpretations of data can be faulty. But unlike a dogmatic mind, the empirical mind will change with the discovery of new knowledge. As new data emerges, and new interpretations along with it, then so too does the Empiricist change his views, opinions, perspectives, and perceptions, correspondingly and proportionately.
Make Haste On Your Own Path
I urge you to make haste on your own path to finding truth because it is plain to see that the materialist model is stealing or certainly compromising humanity’s future, conditioning many humans to engage in obsessive consumption and mindless exploitation of Earth’s precious resources, deceiving them into falsely thinking that this lifetime is all there is, so we better get while the getting is good. Such thinking is leading us to galloping ruin.
The sooner we abandon materialism as flawed and invalid, the faster we can co-create a truly magnificent future for Earth and all its inhabitants. This wonderful potential destiny will escape us, however, until or unless we discover our true spiritual identity and our role in the larger reality in which all things are truly one, interdependent and interconnected, coming from and returning to the same Source.
Copyright 2017 by Ervin Laszlo. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher,
Inner Traditions International. www.innertraditions.com
The Intelligence of the Cosmos: Why Are We Here? New Answers from the Frontiers of Science
by Ervin Laszlo
With bold vision and forward thinking, Laszlo and his contributors Maria Sagi, Kingsley L. Dennis, Emanuel Kuntzelman, Dawna Jones, Shamik Desai, Garry Jacobs, and John R. Audette outline the new idea of the world and of ourselves in the world. They help us discover how we can overcome these divisive times and blossom into a new era of peace, coherence, connection, and global wellbeing.
About the Author of this chapter
John R. Audette earned a master of science degree from Virginia Tech. He is the primary founder of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, Inc. (IANDS.org) with cofounders Raymond Moody, Bruce Greyson, Kenneth Ring, and Michael Sabom. He currently serves as CEO of Eternea, Inc. (eternea.org) which he cofounded with prominent neurosurgeon and bestselling author Eben Alexander and with Edgar Mitchell, the late Apollo 14 astronaut. He is an honorably discharged veteran with over six years of voluntary service in the US. Army during the Vietnam era.
About the Author of this book
Ervin Laszlo is a philosopher and systems scientist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has published more than 75 books and over 400 articles and research papers. The subject of the one-hour PBS special Life of a Modern-Day Genius, Laszlo is the founder and president of the international think tank the Club of Budapest and of the prestigious Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research.
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