Jeff Cannon

Founder/Director/Senior Teacher, Simple Truth LLC

This conversation is closed.

The fact that we are living in the 21st Century with a neolithic body and 40,000 year old wiring is the cause for many of our problems.

Roughly 40,000 years ago scientist agree we became human. At that point our wiring was locked into place. Designed for survival, it brought us to the top of the food chain and drove us to change the environment around us. It worked so well, that it pushed us to create the 21st Century world we now live in. However, we weren't designed to live in this world. Our 40,000 year old programming is now, in fact, holding us back from enjoying all that we have created.

However, through meditation and mindfulness, we can calm our minds and overcome our own programming. To become truly human.

What are your thoughts?

  • thumb
    Oct 6 2011: I think humans have been evolving. And perhaps we have reached a point in our evolution where the changes are no longer physical, but mental, attitudinal. Perhaps we are no longer evolving as a species, but as individuals - shedding the more neolithic shells we have been confined to, in order to emerge into something far more cerebral.
  • thumb
    Oct 6 2011: I think I disagree.
    The big disaster, for me, was when we got agriculture. This changed our societies in a tragic way. The production of increasing food created wealth. And some people began doing awfully boring jobs, while others managed the production and the trade. Ever since, we've been in non-human societies. We should be ants, but we're not. We're designed to hunt in packs, to be creative, constantly looking for solutions in nature. And mostly, we're evolved to live in small tribes where everybody has a real purpose, a place.
    To be truly human means living in such conditions. Our 21rst century is one of ants. People have brain-insulting jobs. This isn't right. And the trick is that people sacrifice all this for a vacation in Hawaii and for virtual reality equipment at home. Through these, we have a chance of feeling human again, but it's only an illusion. Next day, at 8 AM you're back to your ant life, wasting your brains of something a 1980's computer programm would be better at.

    I don't think we can overcome our own programming, and I don't wish to change it. I like humans as they are, I can only dream that some people try not to get anywhere near such stupid jobs, just because they think of all the comfort it'll buy them. In some places, people don't have a choice. They have no other ways to feed their families.
    This has a name : slavery.
  • Oct 10 2011: Knowing that the purpose of our culture in modern society is to climb over the slaves/victims/the uneducated, in whole-hearted pursuit of the money/status/power, and that intellectually, we all understand that this 'growth' cannot continue ad infinitum, we are faced with the only solution : that this 'pattern' of our human society is not acceptable, if our species is to continue to exist.
    Isn't that most of our problems, in a nut-shell?

    We are unable to overcome our own programming, so long as there is someone who will take advantage of what we leave behind.
    The solution to all of our problems is for us ALL to agree that we need to find another way to exist, possibly find an intangible reward for 'social progress'.
  • thumb
    Oct 6 2011: "Human beings will be happier — not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie — but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia." - Kurt Vonnegut

    Seconding Gerald's point, human beings long for inclusion and status within the primitive hunter-gatherer societies we evolved to live in.

    Money, as a claim check on society...
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/5989/money_doesn_t_exist_not_reall.html

    ...virtually guarantees inclusion and status.

    So when Alain de Boton in his TED talk says that when we see someone driving a Ferrari, we should think that this is a person in deep need of love and affection, he is right on the mark..

    I think there is a contradiction between what humans deeply want and what they are forced to pursue - we want love/inclusion/status/security in a broader society, how do we get that? Money. Can money buy inclusion? To a point...but ultimately you are loved only for your money, not for who you are. This is deeply unsettling to us, because we know deep down that money is a collective fiction and can dissipate very quickly - so it isn't real security, it isn't really meaningful.

    Furthermore, there is often an inverse relationship between social productivity and profit. If you want to be a rich capitalist, keep other people ignorant/helpless/dependent:
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/5936/are_capitalism_and_education_f.html

    And that is why I think the quest for money and status can never make us truly fulfilled and happy, because all the money in the world won't make you feel secure if you are living in a mentally/spiritually poor society that only cares about you because of your fictional claim checks, not because of who you are or how socially productive you are.

    Note that I am an atheist, but I still see a deep contradiction between pursuing "God" (as a metaphor for pursuing the good of a broader society) and pursuing "Mammon" (maximizing profit).