Please first read the summary in
The Habitual Ruts of Security and Pleasure

We focused on everything which gave us security or pleasure and civilisation slowly developed. We repeated the lessons of the past, combined and created until now, when in the Western world we have an enormous freedom of choice.

But the fruits of our focused understanding gave us a diversity of beliefs, ideas, and opinions, which has no mutual confirmation and no central integrity. So that now, collectively as a group, our beliefs are insecure in a way no human in any previous culture has ever experienced, or even imagined.

Regardless our material security, we're psychologically insecure, and we are compensating with our species' habitual survival stategy – focusing.

We have collectively developed, what in animal psychology would be seen as a form of displacement behaviour.

Displacement Behaviour

Displacement activity is the term used to describe when animals under stress, revert to inappropriate behavioural habits.

For example, hens scratch and peck at nothing just because they feel nervous and insecure; dogs and cats clean themselves when they actually want feeding. Any habitual activity can be displaced.

And we have begun to act like birds in captivity who can't stop whistling, in a desperate search for mates and territory – with compulsive grooming habits and (especially among cockatoos) commonly plucking their own feathers out. Or overpopulated deer who will rub off so much musk on their territorial marker trees, that whole rings of bark disintegrate and their territorial trees die.

Humans are collectively displacing. We are destroying ourselves, our culture, and our environment with an inappropriate habit. We are overfocusing.

It used to be hunger and cold, but nowadays, in the Western world, our collective psychological insecurity is the driving force behind all our various forms of wanting.

In the material world, all the things we made with the focused coordination of our senses and minds, led to an enormous amount of things we can want.

And everyone – except communities and individuals like the Amish – wants it. It's a simple example of overfocusing. It has its own repetitious momentum which will constantly increase.

But the spiral of increasing beliefs, opinions, conspiracy theories and even lies, doesn't have a collective aim. We don't know who we are individually or as a culture, and as we become more insecure, we displace more and the spiral accelerates exponentially.

In this modern world, each individual must search for, find, and then believe in their own abstract truths. We need to have a goal, a raison d'être, (or a reason to give up and stop trying)... even enlightenment with it's parodoxical freedom from goals... in short, we look for focal points in life.

And once we find them, we are forever wanting confirmation of, or needing to defend, our ideas and beliefs, our focal points. The endless discussions taking place inside our own heads are self evident. With each individual trying to confirm their own beliefs and opinions, by their constant repetition.

We lack the confirmation of our tribe. Our community no longer has absolute knowledge of who and why we are.

Whereas previously we had unquestionable Gods, these days we have to believe in ourselves.

Our Involuntary Egoism

Our ego is a focal point.

It's not because humans are by nature greedy, self-centred egoists. Our egoism is involuntary. It is an involuntary response to insecurity – we are displacing.

Let's just put the whole story together.

Focusing is always selective. Focusing separates life into specific bits and puts it together again as a relationship, an interdependence between individual focal points.

We even developed abstract symbols in the form of a grammatical system of subjects and objects; so every time we talk or even think, it reconfirms this feeling of an interdependence between the separated bits of our world.

As a natural result of our 'blinkered' focused approach to life, each of us has become our own individual focal point, needing interrelationship, needing another focal point as a reason to live. A subject with something, a verb, to do – in order to get at an object.

Whereas in ancient times people would find security in their God or Gods – central almighty focal points. These days psychology and even modern religious thought is about self realisation, 'finding yourself' and 'being a self-reliant individual'. The focal points are getting narrower.

Our psychological sciences emphasise the individual; our sociological ideas stress the importance of interrelationships between individuals.

We want to feel a sense of wholeness or at least cohesion, and we try and do this, by finding a secure and stable relationship with the world outside; an interdependence between individual focal points.

But all these modern ideas on the value of individuality and relationships go hand in hand with, and are a product of the one-sided human survival strategy of focusing with our thoughts and senses: splitting life into bits and joining it together again.

Having an identity, and a purpose in life is considered as necessary even admirable, and from a focused point of view it is.

But it's only one side of the story.

The basic need is to feel safe, satisfied and at peace.

Being any sort of focal point (the real self, the ego, the spirit, an authentic individual) is a sidetrack. It isn't necessary to 'find ourselves' in order to feel safe and wholesome.

Animals have a way of sensing the world directly, now, as a whole; feeling alive and connected with the world around them: panoramic sensing. Are we ignoring it? Yes! Why?

We are lost and blind in a vicious circle.

We suffer from a collective mental imbalance, tunnel vision and a blind spot. We're focusing so intensively that we don't even see any other way of experiencing life.

We focused on what we wanted, and then we focused on repeating that. And now, we are overwhelmed by the self-perpetuating momentum of the repetitions inherent in focusing. We are overfocusing.

Our culture is blind to panoramic awareness, and blind to that experience of life.

The self-centred egoism evident in modern life, is a mental imbalance, a weakness, an involuntary response to stress, and a symptom of psychological insecurity.

Nature's Balance

To express the problem from a focused point of view, we need to 'let go'; from the panoramic perspective we need to see life as a whole; the bottom line is we need balance.

Animals coordinate or alternate all their focused activities with panoramic awareness. Panoramic awareness is the natural way to compensate focusing and cure overfocusing.

All other animals need to use both perspectives in order to survive. Panoramic sensing opens up enormous new potential for securing our survival – individually and as a creative modern culture.

Please continue with : Balancing on Solid Earth

Back to Chapter Three : Civilisation's Habitual Ruts
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