The Meaning and Project of the Human Being.
Thalia Spanish Theatre, Queens, New York, 9/16/2014
Translated from Spanish by Alejandro Suarez and Patricia Rios Farell
Dear friends, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here with you this September 16th, 2014, in this city of New York, commemorating the fourth anniversary of Silo’s death, together with friends of Universal Humanism, and with all of you.
Saying “thanks” is a common gesture, but it is less common to fully connect with its meaning. Stopping time for a moment, being aware of ourselves in this situation, experiencing the presence of others around me, and moreover, drawing near the feeling of those who are a part of my life but whose bodies have ceased to exist. I could then repeat these words: thank you, my dear friends.
‘The unity in action’, is my third attempt to answer two questions which seem to be entrenched in our genetic plan: 1.- what is the meaning of life if death is always nearby, and 2.- how are we going to humanize the Earth, for once and all, and build a free society worthy of the human race. To answer these questions I will resort to my interpretation of Silo’s teachings, his Message, and the contributions of New Humanism to Psychology. This book is an attempt to get close to the experiences of “meaning” that many have slightly touched, but when acknowledged they can turn a nihilist life accustomed to the belief in death and the apocalyptic end of humanity, into a life based on joy, hope and a relentless struggle for personal change and social transformation.
While my first production “The meaning of the non-meaning”, emphasizes overcoming bitterness and resentment by giving value to failure and reconciliation; the second publication “The look of meaning”, stresses the awakening of the internal look to connect with the mind’s silent spaces. This third work seeks to link the profound meaning of the human being with its transforming and humanizing action.
This essay delves into the possibilities of a new type of human being that no longer lives mesmerized by their desires and ambitions and therefore, is no longer dragged by those reveries into violence and the negation of others.
The awakening of our inner look is proposed in order to achieve the expansion of this consciousness. The inner look is normally identified by the “day-to-day I stuck to our skin”; but certain energetic and attention procedures as well as specific types of action in the world, can internalize it. When the inner look moves behind the sensation of the eyes it can touch revealing experiences of meaning and a profound sensation of one’s own internal unity and the unity for the human being. This possibility opens the doors to the future.
The problem is that when the inner look goes inside and runs into contradiction or violence, that is, with suffering, it immediately flees and becomes externalized. This is similar to getting my hand close to the fire; it will move away by instinct. When our look moves close to unity it internalizes but when it hits contradiction it externalizes and stays a prisoner of desires. For this reason, overcoming contradictions is so important, because the pain they cause blocks the entrance to the depths of our being.
Our look cannot internalize when it runs into contradiction, and contradiction happens because of a lack of solidarity, because of resentment and revenge towards others. Internal contradiction is not produced by external stimuli -the injustice I suffer, or the violence and discrimination I am subjected to. Internal contradiction is produced by what I do to others. The type of response to my situation is what will awaken a new look, or immerse it in the external to be trapped in a vicious circle of desire and violence
Despite the difficulties, it is possible to demonstrate and affirm that an expansion of the consciousness to overcome suffering and violence is feasible and ushers the human being of the future. We have the psychological means to help us integrate psychic contents and change our optic to reconcile with our own lives. We also know meditation as a means to mobilize the psychophysical energy in the phenomenon we call “the Force”. We can destabilize our belief in death through self knowledge techniques, by reorganizing our own biography from the point of view of extraordinary experiences of meaning. But, it is thanks to our action in the world that inner changes consolidate and integrate into our psyche. That is to say, meditation alone is not enough to change, action and reflecting on our action are necessary. This is so because memory’s profound imprints are embedded by doing. Learning and behavioral change can only happen when I do something with the representations of my inner world. A new type of consciousness corresponds to a new type of action and behavior.
When I do things with other human beings, we are betting on the possibility to wake our consciousness and to give rise to a new social order. Generally, “the others” seem to me like objects, something similar to rocks or plants. They seem to me like one more form of life. Plant life, even animal life (though increasingly arguable) are all life species. If I eat a tomato this doesn’t affect the tomato’s life, the tomato keeps existing as a species. Human life doesn’t exist in general, it doesn’t exist as a species, but it exists as a “single and unique human life”. The human is a recent discovery in the field of philosophy, and language doesn’t give us enough information about the uniqueness of a being that is not a species but is pure time and is history incarnated in each individual. Harming a human is like harming the whole species. Expressions like “5,000 died in a bombing”, or “we are 6 billion on Earth”, are wrong because they conceal the human reality of individual and unique beings. Human life is each one of us with names and last names. No one dies as a collective being, we all die one by one. Each one of us is a total meaning.
Normal perception does not register human reality. In order to grasp the human our consciousness expands into a different type of structure, and a new reality opens. When I acknowledge the human my inner look detaches itself from the usual “I” and it settles into an experience of unity -an affective look that connects me at once with myself and with the other; a look that is at times close to a feeling called love.
The internal unity is an experience of harmony with myself, it is the contact with something inside that has a taste of continuity, it is an inner presence that welcomes me, it is the feeling of going back home, to the place where I belong. An action becomes valuable when it allows for the emergence of a sort of center within ourselves. A valid action helps our look to get close to unity and stay on it. An action loses its value when contradiction blocks our consciousness’ perception of its own unity -when our consciousness must flee from itself to carry out a contradictory act. These actions which give or take value to our lives, which are experienced as unity or contradiction, and take us close or far from the meaning, are always connected to other human beings. The actions that recognize human dignity fill me with unity and meaning. I can think of another person or feel their humanity, but actions that coincide with that thought and feeling are what connect me to the other and to my own essence.
The reflections on this book conclude with the revelation of a human project of such characteristics that as it is carried out it transforms those who are doing it. It is a joint action (in time?) where it is not necessary to wait for its completion to notice one’s increasing unity. It is a project to increase internal and social liberty. It is a project to surpass suffering and violence both in the individual conscience and in the form of collective organization.
In order to justify this possibility I point out at the universal crisis we are experiencing; the first truly worldwide crisis concerning all cultures on Earth. This is not a country’s or a political model’s crisis, it is a synchronized crisis of the belief system of every culture. The culture and religion of all existing civilizations drag disintegrating and anti-humanist elements from their origins, when liberty and the human began to break free from their natural prison. If cultures are to survive they will have to transform: to overcome those contents that deny or make enemies out of other cultures; to remove traditions that reject diversity and plurality, and to make the absolute relative so it won’t prevail over freedom and the life of every human being.
A belief system fails when it no longer provides an experience of meaning or transcendence; when it no longer aids the unity of the whole, when it plays down the sacredness of human life; when its ideologies justify the inconsistency between what they preach and what they do. Society then becomes ill with fear of sickness, fear of loneliness and fear of death. Society falls ill with a lack of meaning.
If this failure was happening in every culture, we would perhaps be facing the biggest crisis in history. But, are we about to experience this existential void, or is it already happening on a small scale? This emptiness can no longer be filled by a new proposal from a dying era. The consciousness will have to search in it’s own intimacy. This void of the end of an era will drive our consciousness and our look to connect with that which impels it, with it’s profound meaning.
If what I say is somewhat true, proposing a project of liberation and growth for the human being becomes as urgent as lighting a torch in the mist of the dark storm. At the beginning, this project should embody small groups dispersed throughout the world that study the ways to awake from suffering, search for procedures to overcome internal violence, and organize their action to project a free society toward a universal human nation.
Thank you once again,