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Our Human Potential vs. Our Animalistic Predisposition
A Planet of Mental Centaurs
For those folks less familiar with the ancient mythology, centaur was a creature composed of a human figure from waste up, and a horse's bottom part of the body. Metaphorically that could describe our hierarchy of mental forces, depicting our more advanced mental functions attached to, and greatly influenced by our primordial urges.
So, in terms of such an unfortunate tandem, I find it quite appropriate to say the mankind is suffering from something like a "bastardity complex". Of course, "bastard" as the root word here is not used in its profane, slang meaning, but in its original one - a result of crossing of two different creatures.
It just Had To Be a Monkey
Let us leave it to those smart experts to continue theorizing about the "true" human origin; but, whatever the result they may ultimately come up with - it will have to contain the simple truth that a part of us is distinctly animalistic.
Just for an effect of entertainment, we could think of some possibilities like an ape-like creature being exposed to certain chemical, or radioactive, or cosmic influences which mutated his DNA to give an evolving push to his brain.
Or, for those of us with cosmological fantasy it could be more like an intervention of space visitors who used a poor unsuspecting ape roaming around the wastelands for an advanced experiment in genetic engineering.
Hey, why not, if the creationists' story is being taught these days - then the truth of our origin is up for grabs. Feel welcome to come up with your own theories. O.K., let's be fair to the creationists by giving them a benefit of a doubt - with one single reservation : that God didn't make us from scratch, but used a damn crazy monkey as the base material.
Amygdala - Our Survival Centre
We might as well leave it to medical scientists to search some more within the limbic system, while we just hang around those two nervous formations on each side of our temples, both called "amygdala". Don't expect a long description of its functions because I wouldn't be able to give you one without peeking into some smart books - which I hate doing.
So, just be happy knowing, or reminding yourself that amygdala is basically in charge of our survival instinct, our sexuality, our fear, and in a sense it's the generator of our emotional energy. It is particularly responsible for storing memories about dangerous elements in life and associating any current situation to them.
Our Animalistic Core
Thinking of something that has been coined as "the human condition" - there seems to be an eternal tag of war between these two tendencies, tearing us between our divine predestination of creators and mini-gods on one side - and these primitive urges that are pulling us down towards the mother earth and her crude laws.
Despite our evolving and cultivating attempts to bridge the gap between the two worlds by refining those animalistic urges in us, and channeling, specializing them into something more humanly dignified, in the vast majority of human specimens it's this animalistic tendency that's dominating over the other one.
Like a volcano spitting out the hot core of the planet's guts, and earthquakes shifting those deep layers, so we are constantly getting impulses of our animalistic urges from deep below our precious conscious mind.
Emotional Refinement - Our Ticket to a Heaven on Earth
Emotions are our greatest blessing and our greatest curse, the two sides of a coin. Modern science is telling us how emotions have a mysterious power over our state of being, our health and cellular vitality. The more they are refined and specialized by our higher intuitive drive towards perfection, the more beneficial effects they are producing in us and in the world that we touch in so many ways.
So that crude sexuality becomes romantic love, sensual experience of bodily beauty, artistic expression, esthetic taste, dancing art, and so on. Amygdala can provide the fuel to our spiritual wings, our zest for life, optimism, altruism and compassion, the sense of self-love and self-esteem - all that and so much more when refined by our higher models of functioning.
Primitivism and Education Are Not Excluding Each Other
However, the true human drama starts unfolding itself with that massive majority of human specimens who never advanced themselves far from their animalistic base. Interestingly, education has nothing, or very little to do with it.
Now, I am not smart enough to know, or even to guess why some folks simply have this spiritual drive from within - almost like they were born with a seed of it and then driven into a spiritual blooming.
Yet others, no matter how much exposed to higher learning stay at their low gear primitive functioning. We are witnessing a garden variety of ruthless leaders or heads of corporations who are highly educated - and yet, it's a sheer animalistic arrogance propelling every step of their inhuman careerism.
Fear, So Obvious Motivator
On the scale of amygdala's repertoire, fear is definitely at the very top. We can easily spot those of us who have refined their fear into something more dignifying. Among such characters, who wouldn't recognize all sceptics, cynics, critics, those artists with morbid motives, pessimists, complainers, and basically all nervous types, regardless of a possible distinct diagnosis.
Not to forget those alarmists who seem to thrive on their yearly predictions of the end of the world, WW3, collapse of global or local economy, or spreading conspiracies about certain secret societies working on taking over the world, with some disastrous consequences affecting the majority of the world's population.
The Raw Side of Religious Belief
I have covered the theme of existential fear as a base of the need for religious beliefs in a few of my articles. However, in the context of everything said here, suffice it to say that such refinement of fear is pretty obvious, especially in its detail of obsessing over soul's immortality, or passing over into heaven after the game is over.
Another significant point worth mentioning would be that whenever such belief is not refined into a spiritual quality - but stays at the level of amygdala, religionists are displaying arrogance of sharp criticism about the world's evils, they are prone to demonstrations and fights for social reforms which are in accordance with their religion.
In other words, they are not displaying their divine teachings of tolerance, love, but a fighting spirit of someone feeling threatened - a raw impulse from amygdala.
"Patriotism" - a Fancy Name for Territoriality
Another feature of animalistic drive doesn't need much defining, because it is so recognizable all through our history and into our present times. It's our territoriality. With just a slight refinement of the upper brain it turns into the well known phenomenon of "patriotism".
When it grows in intensity into something like a national paranoia, it reaches the character of a Nazi-like sense of national supremacy and grandeur. Being "proud" of something for which we can't take any credit is delusional. We never "chose" the country of our birth, we were just born into that environment.
Thus, it's not a plausible moralistic value, but a sheer animalistic sense of attachment to our "natural habitat", or an ambient which provides the means of our preservation. It is incredibly used and abused by certain leaders, who use it as the persuasive tool to make you go fight for their careeristic ambition and their orgasmic celebration of personal power.
Well, don't take me wrong. There is absolutely nothing bad about feeling attached to our peoples and our country of birth, but it helps to understand that it may be nothing more than a very instinctual affinity to our habitat, not a fetish glorified in your leader's speech.
An Ultimate Measure of Humanness
I have saved these last few paragraphs for appealing to the people to make a decent search within their hearts and see how much of what they observe there is of typical human quality, a dignified refinement of those crude emotions - and how much is just that, a raw animalistic material that never passed the steps of any evolvement.
We have to start with ourselves, and get rid of those traces of arrogance, envy, need for dominance, and groundless worries and insecurities. I tried to make it clear that those are not signs of "our being only human" - and we can't use them as an excuse - but rather the signs of our being animalistic, which we should minimize if we want to achieve any happiness, peace of mind, and harmony with ourselves and our world. Animalism in our nature is playing some really dirty tricks on us, so let's try to be less animals - and more humans.