"You know, the deepest Truths and the full extent of our capabilities are not hidden from us; they are hidden by us!" (Here's how:)

Liberation in the context of this web page is what we get when an understanding of our capabilities is revealed to us and enables us to lift a burden that we didn't realize we were carrying. This revelation can be understood from a purely Scientific perspective, as well as from a deeply Spiritual/Religious perspective as these become two portions of the same reality once our perspective is sufficiently widened. In order to promote liberation, the intent of this website is to help widen our perspective in a way that allows us to see the interconnections between these world views and gain a deeper understanding and control of ourselves. This widening of our perspective does not require believers in science to accept understandings of reality based on faith, nor does it require religious believers to accept mundane explanations for miraculous events that appear to be scientifically impossible. While these two world views may seem mutually exclusive, there is a way to reconcile them. The world of science is the same as the world of religious belief. We all live on the same planet. It is the contention of this website that miracles, such as those performed by Moses and Jesus Christ among many others, were and are absolutely real and possible, and curiously enough, there is a scientific means of understanding how that is possible. This may seem to stretch credulity beyond the breaking point, so I'll begin by approaching this knowledge from a scientific basis of understanding while making references to the spiritual / religious teachings and understandings along the way so that we may more easily connect the dots and make the connections once all is revealed.

The liberation that this website hopes to promote represents the next stage in the evolution/transformation of our species as we approach and embrace the greatest mystery of all - OURSELVES! It is strange indeed that we perceive a seamless reality all around us, when the scientific facts tell us that the seamlessness of the reality we perceive is a comforting illusion. I apologize if this revelation makes any readers uncomfortable. One tiny example of this illusion is the fact that we all have a blind spot where the optical nerve joins the retinas in our eyes. There are no cones and rods, the optical receptors in this area, and yet our brains fill in the blind spots with what we expect to see, and try as we might, we cannot perceive our blind spots. Our brains won't let us notice the hole in our vision. Not being able to see our blind spots is an apt metaphor for the deficit in our self-understanding that this website hopes to illuminate and overcome.

Approaching this knowledge involves us coming into a much deeper understanding of ourselves and aspects of our human nature for which we all have a quite natural and deeply seated aversion. There are parts of our own human psyches, the experience of which can be terrifying or can plunge us into feelings of guilt and despair that we would very much prefer to avoid. That is why it can be said that the deepest truths are not so much hidden from us as they are hidden by us, as the evidence will show. Of course, the best way to overcome our terrors or our guilt is to face them with deep understanding, acceptance, and loving forgiveness for possessing a human nature that we did not choose but inherited from our ancestors. With the depth of understanding, we may judge and absolve ourselves and thus become washed clean, rather than continuing to live with this subconscious burden, or worse, judging and condemning ourselves, which serves no purpose and drives us away from the Truth. We human beings are subject to feelings of guilt that are not inflicted on us by another person's or group's disapproval but are the result of our own innate fear of being found unworthy of society's approval, acceptance and love. A compassionate understanding of the deepest most hidden parts of ourselves can help us to absolve, redeem and liberate ourselves from burdens of guilt, so long endured and internalized, that we are only marginally aware of them, if we are aware of them at all. Sometimes, it is only when a burden is lifted that we begin to realize that we have been bearing it, unaware.

My hope in sharing all of this is that readers will not only come to see who we human beings are, how we came, through no blame or fault of our own, to be in the situation we are in, but also the vast and incredible potential of what we could become when we reach our full human awareness and potential. This should not be surprising to Christians who consider John, chapter fourteen, verse twelve.

Before delving into the scientific analysis and understanding, I'll take a few paragraphs to explain how I was led to this path.

There is a very old prayer known as The Old Cornish Litany that helped people face their fears of the unknown. It goes like this:

"From ghoulies and ghosties,
and long-leggetty beasties,
and Things That Go Bump In The Night,
Good Lord deliver us!"   -The Old Cornish Litany

When I began this journey in 1974, I believed exclusively in science. I "knew" and firmly believed that all of the things that went bump in the night had simple scientific explanations. While I enjoyed fantasy tales of the paranormal, I saw them purely as entertainment and exercise for an active imagination, with no basis in fact and reality. Shortly after my 21st birthday I was presented with some, what I'll call spiritual or paranormal phenomena that violated the precepts of my world view and showed me undeniably that my simplified understanding was completely inadequate to explain the larger more complex reality. I will describe these upsetting experiences in great detail when I complete the second part of this writing. It is almost unbearably shocking to witness phenomena that violate and shatter one's understanding of the world around us. The previously solid ground beneath the feet of our understanding falls away and we no longer know which way is up. In retrospect, I came to fully understand why, when the Angels appeared to the shepherds with their glad tidings, their first words were to tell the shepherds to be not afraid.

If science could be seen as a religion, then its "Bible" would be the careful and methodical examination and observation of the world around us, coupled with an attempt to understand and explain the nature of what we observe. The cornerstone of Scientific theories, according to Karl Popper, is that they should be falsifiable. That is to say, that a test that is meant to validate a theory must also be capable of invalidating the theory if the theory is wrong or inadequate. We have to be open to the possibility, and willing to learn that we are wrong. More broadly understood, when reality does not conform to our theories, understandings and expectations, then it is time to broaden or change our theories, understandings and expectations. When I first witnessed spiritual phenomena that violated my overly simple scientific understanding, my response was to doubt my own sanity and to assume that I was having a psychotic break and was hallucinating, rather than to doubt my overly simplified scientific understanding that was the basis for feeling comfortable in world I thought I understood. When I corroborated my strange experiences with another person who witnessed the same thing, I could no longer explain my experience as a loss of sanity and I was forced to confront the reality that my simplistic scientific understanding had been falsified, was inadequate, and I needed to broaden and widen my scientific perspective. The observable world around me was suddenly far less simple and far more mysterious. It is to this more mysterious world that I hope to introduce everyone, but I shall attempt to do so first by approaching this knowledge from the path of current scientific understanding.

Once I had opened myself up to a broader understanding of reality and the world around me, the Teacher appeared.

In autumn of 1974, I had the great and undeserved good fortune to meet an old Oglala Sioux Holy Man and Ceremonial Chief named Frank Fools Crow who invited me to come and stay with him in his house outside of Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I gratefully accepted his invitation.

There are four of Chief Fools Crow's teachings that I'd like to mention here. I mention these now because the Scientific understanding that follows will ultimately lead us to an appreciation of the importance of these teachings.

The first teaching is one that Matthew King, Chief Fools Crow's friend and interpreter, said was the teaching that he most frequently shared with his people. That teaching is, "We are always our own worst enemy, and the spiritual path is all about fighting our worst enemy which is our selves." On the surface, this seems like an overly simple, almost trite saying that we have all heard before in one form or another about how we often end up opposing our own best interests, but the true depth of this teaching is unfathomable, as I hope we may come to appreciate.

The second teaching is, "Medicine People are like hollow bones. Where the rest of us are filled with our selves [the desires of our egos], they are empty, and because they are empty, Creator's Holy Spirit can flow through them to heal the people."

The third teaching is to never EVER criticize anyone else's religious beliefs. Everyone has their own very personal religious or spiritual experience, and that is between them and the Creator. If we are attending a religious ceremony with which we find disagreement, then the right thing to do is to quietly walk away and do not mention it unfavorably afterwards, but simply refuse to comment.

The fourth teaching is to not judge people, because we cannot know if we had been born in place of that other person and grew up experiencing all of the things that the other person experienced, that we would have made any better choices or lived our lives any differently. We are all the products of our life experiences. Perhaps the classic example of this is that if we had been born (male) to Hitler's parents, named "Adolph", and lived through all of the experiences that Adolph Hitler lived through, none of us can say with any certainty that we would have made better choices than the one's Hitler made. We can only think that we would have made better choices in light of the experiences that we were lucky enough to have, and the lessons that we were lucky enough to learn, that Hitler did not experience or learn. If this can be said of Hitler, then it can surely be said of every modern-day scoundrel we can name. Of course, the awareness that we might have done the same in their circumstances does not mean that we do not hold them to account, oppose wrongdoing, and let criminal justice be administered as appropriate. It just means that our hearts should not hold on to judgment and condemnation of them, lest we judge and condemn ourselves as well. It may make us feel good, righteous, and superior to condemn those we perceive to be scoundrels, but such feelings are delusions that will lead us away from the painful but spiritually necessary awareness that our human nature is the same as theirs. We just have different circumstances.

I'd like to share one other teaching that came from a different old Sioux Holy Man which I heard second hand and will try to paraphrase and convey as accurately as I can. The old Holy Man said,

"You know, all of our religions are like spokes on a wheel. They all lead into the Sacred Center where the Creator is, and if you are on one of those spokes and move to the outside, then it is all about strict rules and regulations, and who is holy and who is not, and you have to hold on tight to your spoke or you will be spun off, but if you move into the center, then it is all about love and compassion, and when you get into the center, you can step around all of those other spokes without ever losing your connection to your own spoke."

Perhaps the most important words of this teaching are the first two, "You know,..." When I share this teaching with people who have been around wise elders, they often chuckle because so many of the great teachers begin their lessons with "You know,...", enough so that it seems like a throw away introductory expression, but it is not. As with many of the wise teachings, when they are prefaced with "You know,...", what it tells us is that when we hear and fully understand the teaching, if we search our own hearts, we will find that we have always known this truth, and the teaching is simply there to remind us of what we already know to be true deep inside of ourselves. When we find that the Deep Truth is already within us, we need not question its veracity.

To this teaching about the spokes, I would add that Science is one of the spokes on this wheel. On the science spoke, when we move away from the Center, we become convinced that the world around us and our conception of reality is rigid, solid and vastly complex, but comprehensible. While there may be mysteries, these can be compartmentalized, dismissed from consideration as irrelevant, and for the most part ignored, so as not to interfere with the solidity of our experienced reality. When we move into the center on the spoke of science, we realize that our attempt to approach the strange and mysterious is the beating heart of science. Humbly plumbing the depths of reality in hopes of gaining deeper insights into the mysterious nature of this beautiful world-universe-reality that we inhabit, with our abiding sense of awe and wonder, is what true science is all about.

The field of ethics and specifically the evolution or origin of ethics is an important part of arriving at a widened perspective and understanding of ourselves and how we came to be as we currently are. Furthermore, understanding the function of ethics in the evolution of our species can lead us to understand the challenges we face, to make what seems like a leap to the next phase of Human evolution.

The Primal Imperative - The Original Ethic

Consistent with the theories of Charles Darwin, we can conclude that our species, and all other species on the planet are ultimately motivated by a single imperative, and that is survival (through the process of natural selection.) Species lacking a sufficient amount of that motivation, or unable to adapt, are no longer around. The will and motivation to survive are hardwired into our psyches by literally billions of generations of evolution. The fact that we evolved language along with the abilities to think abstractly, chronicle our thoughts, and construct complex theories does not eliminate, nor even diminish our survival motivations. (If it had, then it is questionable whether we would still be here, and it seems more likely that complex language gave us a strategic advantage over less verbal competitors, such as, perhaps, Neanderthals.) Survival motivations are well known to us, even though we do not tend to think of them as primarily promoting our survival. These motivations include pleasure and pain, comfort and discomfort, happiness and sadness, and desire. If hunger did not cause discomfort and prompt us to desire and seek food, we would starve. If excessive cold or heat did not cause discomfort, then we would not take sufficient care of our bodies, and so on. Our desires for plenty of food and a comfortable, safe and secure living space clearly serve the purpose of ensuring our survival.

The sometimes-overwhelming strength of our desire for sexual pleasure and the sublime joy of falling in love evolved to ensure that we will procreate, be attentive to our mate and offspring, and our species will thereby continue on. All of the strange and sometimes crazy, sometimes horrible, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes even self-destructive things that we are motivated to do can ultimately be traced back, in one way or another, to those primal imperatives, the survival of the individual and the survival of our species.

It is the nature of Nature to cause variations in species behaviors, some of which aid in adaptation, procreation and survival, and some of which are less successful, and therefore self-limiting, also known as Natural Selection. This may help explain some of our more bizarre, unique and peculiar behaviors. How boring and lackluster would the world be if this were not so?

As members of societies, we set limits on what behaviors are acceptable within our societies and these ethical limitations serve the ultimate underlying aim of providing safe and secure living conditions, and thus ensuring our survival. The metaphysical basis for a theory of ethics should be grounded in the creation of a safe, stable, and secure society which would help promote our species survival, the primal imperative, the ultimate ethic. From our human perspective, can there be any good greater or higher than our own species' survival? We might try to think selflessly that the survival of life on our planet should trump survival of our specific species but having achieved complex language and some degree of conscious reflection and self-awareness, we may reasonably view human intelligence as the current pinnacle of the evolutionary process, and certainly worth defending and preserving. This is not to say that we should not recognize that we are in a necessarily interdependent relationship with the flora, the fauna, and indeed, with the earth itself. This should prompt us to behave as responsible, intelligent stewards (notwithstanding all obvious evidence to the contrary) if for no other reason than for the sake of our own survival, and the well-being, safety and survival of coming generations. The rest of nature can be seen as our home and our source of sustenance, but with the insights of genetics and evolution, we should also look at other species as our relatives, because we truly are related. If we damage and destroy Nature and the environment in which we live, then we threaten our own existence. Those who think that our food supply inexhaustibly comes from the grocery store would do well to wake up. We might yet learn to behave as an intelligent self-aware species should behave and thus save ourselves.

We should not overestimate the full extent of our self-awareness, since a significant portion of what motivates us remains beyond our conscious reach and awareness. Arriving at a fuller and sympathetic understanding of the parts of ourselves that are beyond our conscious awareness is the first step in the process of becoming completely self-aware and thus completely in control of ourselves and completely free. Of course, we all like to think that we are already perfectly in control of ourselves. However, the well-established and well-grounded science of Psychology, as well as the evidence of how we treat the world and one another tells us otherwise, even though that knowledge is often unpleasant and unwelcome, because it makes us uncomfortable. Should we not seek to fully understand ourselves (and maybe overcome our worst enemy) even if the deeper, fuller truth makes us uncomfortable? Or should we only seek knowledge that tells us things we want to believe because they make us feel good about ourselves? (a rhetorical question)

Understanding Free Will

In the field of philosophy it has become popular to suggest that we human beings do not, in fact, possess free will, and to suggest that our actions are predetermined, and beyond our actual control, such that we only think that we have free will, and we only think that we are the intentional authors and originators of our actions.

While our everyday experience includes an intimate and undeniable awareness of intentionally choosing to act one way or another, there may be aspects of our decision-making processes that are conducted outside of our conscious awareness and control. Consider the following scenario:

A philosophy student driving a car is cited for exceeding the posted speed limit and receives a ticket for a one hundred dollar fine. The clever philosophy student goes to court and argues to the judge, that free will is a myth and that he was therefore incapable of driving at any speed other than he did, since he did not possess free will, and his actions were beyond his actual control. The wise judge then says, "Very well, since you were incapable of driving in any way other than how you drove, I therefore increase the fine to five hundred dollars for this offense, with an automatic one-year suspension of your driver's license should you be caught speeding again in the next twelve months. Case closed, please pay the cashier on your way out."

The apoplectic philosophy student objects strenuously. The judge counters, asking how, if the philosophy student was incapable of driving other than he did, the judge could possibly be capable of deciding the case other than she did.

While there may be drivers who consider precisely following posted speed limits as an absolute moral imperative, anyone who spends time behind the wheel of an automobile knows that those drivers find themselves being passed by faster drivers fairly continuously.

Occasionally, the decision to exceed the posted speed limit may be a conscious and intentional decision based on detailed risk / reward calculations considered by the driver, due to circumstances, such as running late for a job interview, or a man whose pregnant wife in the back seat is in labor and about to deliver a baby. There are more likely many times when drivers are speeding, not because of a legitimate, urgent, calculated need, but because their minds are thinking about something unrelated to the particulars of the act of driving, and their subconscious, wild desires influence the pressure they put on the accelerator pedal. If they stop to think about why they are driving with a lead foot, they may conclude that they wanted to get to their destination faster, even if there was no special reason for their urgency. Sometimes, we humans follow the dictates of our wild desires and then attempt, after the fact, to come up with a logical explanation and justification for our actions. These justifications after the fact help us to believe that we are still in full control of ourselves, when in fact we frequently yield control to the influence of our wild subconscious desires.

In our example of the philosophy student and the judge, the philosophy student tried to argue that he should not be responsible for his driving behaviors. The judge gave him a harsh lesson in responsibility. Responsibility (or response-ability) is our ability to respond by consciously taking the reins away from our wild desires, assuming intentional control of our actions, and overriding what our primal selves might want to do. The incentive of not losing his driver's license would likely provide the needed motivation for the philosophy student to accept and vigorously assume responsibility for and conscious control of his driving habits.

We do not like to think of ourselves as giving in to wild desires of which we are only marginally aware. It makes us seem as if we are not in control. Understanding the origin and internal source of our wild desires may give us a fuller and more sympathetic picture of our inner selves. We will need this more sympathetic understanding of our inner human nature, because our natural tendency is to want to, not only deny its existence, but to vehemently refuse to consider such influence, because it threatens all of the things that we would like to believe about ourselves. It threatens who we want to think we are. A full explanation of the evolution of that hidden inner part of ourselves may allow us an understanding that is not only sympathetic, but also allows us to see the hidden inner part as both fully forgivable and even lovable. This is important because of our natural and extremely powerful aversion and revulsion to perceiving this wild uncontrolled aspect of our human nature intimately as a part of ourselves. Approaching this knowledge initially, theoretically, rather than through critical self-examination, allows us to build a deeply sympathetic understanding without immediately confronting our own intimate personal details.

Let us then consider how the mechanisms that favor survival led to the evolution of our currently split human consciousness.

Conflicting Survival Dynamics - The Birth of Ethics

For the sake of this thesis, I'd like to define the term "Survival Dynamics" as those (highlighted) actions, motivations and intentions that promote species survival, and still affect us today.

Beginning with the earliest cells, the survival dynamics were, consume nutrients and undergo cellular mitosis (the splitting of one cell into two daughter cells.) With the evolution of the cellular flagellum (perfectly efficient little chemical motors that flap an appendage or spin a corkscrew shaped propeller) cells gained the ability to move about in order to seek out nutrients and to seek favorable conditions / avoid unfavorable conditions for survival. The process for this did not require conscious control or intent. Simply put, the flagellum on the side of the cell with less dense nutrients or less favorable conditions would flap more energetically relative to those on the other side of the cell, thus propelling the cell towards denser nutrients and better conditions.

Fast forward billions of generations of evolutionary advancement, and the survival dynamic of the territorial hunter comes into being, where species such as our modern-day Tiger, in order to survive, defends a land area large enough to provide for its hunting/nutritional needs and chases off or kills any intruding tigers that might compete for the available prey. The instinct to chase off or kill any foreign tiger (except for potential mates) is a survival dynamic that is essential for the survival of the Tiger species. Allowing an unlimited number of tigers to hunt in the same area would mean that all of them would weaken and eventually starve. Of course, the territorial hunter dynamic simply enhanced the dynamics that began so many billions of generations previously, moving around to consume more food and find better living conditions.

Looking at our nearest genetic relatives in the animal kingdom, the Chimpanzees, we find that there is a more advanced survival dynamic that Chimpanzees exhibit, and that is the social survival dynamic, because the chances of surviving are greatly enhanced when a group of individuals cooperate and work together in support of one another. The value of the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. Chimpanzees, while embracing the social survival dynamic, still have latent territorial traits. Chimpanzees that are not members of a community are not welcome in the territory that the community inhabits and will be driven off or killed if they attempt to encroach. Old habits and long-established survival dynamics do not simply disappear when a more efficient survival dynamic is embraced. Instead, the territorial dynamic, the social dynamic and all of the preceding dynamics are blended. Among us humans we see the territorial dynamic still affecting us, creating fear, anger, hatred, and a desire to protect ourselves from those whom we perceive as outsiders or as "other". We respond to the "other" by building border walls, or differentiating ourselves from others due to the color of their skin, their ethnic origins, or even slight variations in the wisdom traditions that they and we try to follow, virtually all of which, as their main messages, try to encourage us to love and accept one another as one large family living in service to one another. Perhaps that is why we call them Wisdom Traditions. We inherently know the Deep Truth. These latent territorial motivations are responsible for all of our wars, which would not happen if we did not view the "enemy" as inexplicably, irreconcilably different from ourselves (which, of course, they are not.) We view ourselves as good, and our enemies as evil, while our enemies view themselves as good and us, not so much.

The next stage of our human evolution, towards which our wisdom traditions and the intent of this writing are trying to guide us, would be to become completely socialized such that we no longer perceived any human beings as "other" or "enemy." We must hope that we can all figure this out, because so much enmity and so many divisions are growing within and among groups that used to cooperate with one another, that it appears that if we cannot make the leap to our next evolutionary state, then we might well self-destruct. To quote Walt Kelly's cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Becoming aware of our latent territorial survival dynamic gives us the ability to recognize that our deep-seated fears of the "other" are due to an antiquated and non-functional survival mechanism that would have us defend a territory large enough to sustain us. This counter-productive survival mechanism no longer serves our best interests, and actually threatens our survival (think nuclear war) far more than it assures our survival.

It's not clear when the social dynamic emerged in the evolution of the creatures that would become us, nor is it clear how it emerged. Perhaps the social dynamic came into being when it became advantageous to keep the offspring around to hunt in packs, rather than chasing them off to make their own way as solitary territorial hunters, and thus an extended family was formed. Or perhaps the social dynamic emerged when the available prey grew large enough (such as a Buffalo) that successful hunting and survival depended on cooperative hunting in groups.

The social survival dynamic did not replace and extinguish the territorial survival dynamic, as can be seen in the behaviors of both chimpanzees and humans, but it did create a conflict since the latent, primal territorial desires to possess and consume all of the food for oneself (that we still possess) conflicted with the desire to be able to depend upon the advantage of hunting in packs and the protection offered by living in a society. This conflict, created by the evolution of the social survival dynamic, represented the birth of ethics in its most primitive form, as the aggressive, selfish territorial instincts/desires needed to be suppressed and redirected toward those who we perceive as being outside of our extended families/community.

Species that evolved entirely within a social context (ants and bees come to mind) exhibit no behaviors that are at odds with what best serves the hive/society. No honeybee has ever been observed hiding away a portion of its gathered nectar into a personal stash, before returning to the hive with the remainder of the nectar. The honeybee instinctually cares for the hive and the hive serves the needs of the honeybee. Clearly there are no latent territorial instincts at work here.

Since it is certain that the social dynamic came into existence long before the creation of language and structured thought, the original ethic can best be understood as a vague awareness of the need to allow other members of our pack or tribe to share in the bounty of the hunt (or harvest) rather than one individual attempting to take it all for themselves. Attempting to take all of the food for oneself could well result in the individual being cast out of the community or killed, something devoutly to be feared. Thus the primal, self-centered, selfish, territorial hunter aspect of our psyches that Freud named the "id" and Jung called the "shadow"(and that I prefer to call our Tiger Nature because it is more descriptive of its evolutionary root) needed to be restrained, suppressed and redirected towards those perceived as outsiders in order to get along with our neighbors.

Having evolved into social creatures, neither we, nor our simian (Chimpanzee) relatives became completely socialized. On a scale of socialization, with Tigers on the completely anti-social end and Bees and Ants on the completely socialized end of the scale, we humans are somewhere in the middle. We want to, and absolutely need to live in societies in order to have any chance of surviving, but we also have deeply seated selfish desires to look after and take care of ourselves to the exclusion of the needs of others. There is neither blame nor shame in this assessment of ourselves. It is simply how we evolved to be the creatures that we are today. We are among the slowest and weakest of the primates and mammals (have you ever tried to run and catch a wild rabbit?) and we lack sufficient fur (hair) to keep us warm in all but the most ideal climates. Thus, we have become completely dependent on the safety, security and simple technology (such as how to make clothing, shelter, hunting implements and fire building) the knowledge of which is not instinctually inherent, but instead comes of living in societies and learning the technologies that were created by the society.

Ethics are a function of the conflict between the desires of our Tiger Nature and our desire to be able to depend on the safety and security that are the result of living in a society. Both our Tiger Nature and our Social Nature are a function of the ultimate ethical motivation which is the survival of our species. Absent the conflict between our Tiger Nature and Our Social Nature, ethics would not exist as they would have no meaning. If our only desires were to serve the common good of our society, and we had absolutely no personal desires that ran counter to the common good, then the concept of ethics as we understand them would make no sense. That is not to say that life-saving decisions would become meaningless or unimportant. They would still be crucially important, but there would be no internal conflict with our selfish desires, and decisions would be made practically, equally valuing each precious human life for the good of the society. The restrictions of ethics, the "Thou Shalt Not's" of the Commandments, are all aimed at restraining the Tiger Nature within a social context.

It is difficult for us to conceive or imagine ourselves as purely territorial hunters because the social milieu is so pervasive and so deeply embedded in our consciousness. Could a fish understand the concept of water? When Immanuel Kant based his categorical imperatives on their "universalizability", the universal in his concept was an entirely social universe perceived by an entirely socialized philosopher. To our distant ancestors who lived as unsocialized territorial hunters, Kant's Categorical Imperatives would make no sense, and not just because there was no language at that stage of our development, but also because the survival dynamic of the territorial hunter requires them to drive off or kill any encroaching competitors for the food supply. Their survival depended on it and survival of the species is the ultimate ethic, trumping socially based categorical imperatives. If our species doesn't survive, then neither does the knowledge and awareness of categorical imperatives. Having evolved from territorial hunters, we may be glad that they had that asocial ferocious Tiger Nature, because if they hadn't had that nature, they likely wouldn't have survived, and we, the inheritors of the world and the human nature that they left us, would not be here.

Language - the Creator of the Ego

The development of language changed us completely, mostly for the better, but also for the worse. Language gave us the ability to discuss, not only the present situation, but also the past and the future. Thus, we gained the ability to structure and chronicle memories of the past, and based on those memories, make intelligent plans for the future. We gained the ability to define features of the world around us, and our definitions led to conceptual thought, constructed from those definitions. We derive meaning and understanding from our concepts and definitions, and we are able to draw conclusions, make decisions and establish beliefs based on our structured verbal thinking. Our verbal mental thought processes render and lock into place a solid reality, the solidity of which is built of, and maintained by, language structure and created descriptions, forms, concepts and ideas, and not the inherent nature of reality. (As further evidence of these assertions, I recommend David Eagleman's book Incognito - The Secret Lives of the Brain) This may sound completely strange but the solid nature of the reality that we perceive around us is an elaborate fiction created and experienced in our minds. Our common languages enable us to share this fiction along with the concepts, forms and ideas with which it has been created, with other people who can validate the experience for us. The metaphorical blind spot in our vision of the world that we see around us, is that our language constructs a seamless experience that hides the Great Mystery from us. Where language ends, the mystery begins!

This process of filling in and creating a perceived reality is not usually a problem for us, but it becomes problematic when it comes to our own self-assessment and self-understanding. Our accurately perceived need to live in and as a part of a society, creates in us an overwhelming desire to perceive ourselves, and to be perceived by others, as good people, worthy of acceptance and preferably loved and cherished by those around us. We quite naturally assume (by means of wishful magical thinking) that if we, with our rose-colored glasses perceive ourselves to be wonderful and worthy of respect and love, then everyone around us will be moved to feel likewise about us by virtue of the force of our personality and our strong will to make it so. That overwhelming desire to perceive ourselves as lovable causes us to hide from ourselves and from our conscious awareness that primal Tiger Nature that is still within us and that still motivates our actions. We fear and deny the existence of our Tiger Nature, and thus, unbound by our conscious awareness (and therefore conscious control) it is able to prompt and influence our actions subconsciously. (This is why Chief Fools Crow warns us that we are always our own worst enemy.) While desiring to believe and see ourselves as being in control, we relegate much of our actual control to our subconscious. We often act impulsively, influenced by our Tiger Nature, and then use our language to explain and justify our actions to ourselves by the construction of delusional or at best, misleading thought that hides from us the real inner motivation for our actions. We who exceed speed limits while driving, without having made a conscious intentional decision to go faster for a specific reason are a good example of this phenomena that we can examine without needing to feel overly guilty. Feeling guilty is bad, feeling forgiven, absolved and lovable are far better.

Oddly enough, the Tiger Nature is not the enemy that needs to be eliminated. The real enemy is our separation and alienation from our Tiger Nature, created by our overpowering desire to see ourselves as good and worthy of, not only inclusion in society, but also a high or increasingly higher rank or status within our society (thus ensuring our safety, our survival and our likelihood of attracting mates.) In our own eyes, we see ourselves as worthy of high status because we employ our verbal thoughts and magical thinking (if we convince ourselves that something is true, no matter how preposterous, then we can believe wholeheartedly that it is indeed true) and we use our magical thinking to cast away and hide our wild tiger nature in our darkest shadow. The more we push away and deny our shadow, the darker and uglier it becomes. (Shades of Dorian Gray) What we need to do is to understand ourselves deeply, shine the light of compassion upon, forgive and embrace our wild tiger nature, as it is the real primal source of our power.

Facing and gaining full awareness of our inner demon (tiger nature) doesn't give it control over us, on the contrary, it puts us in control, fully aware of that deep primal source of power and strength which then becomes fully controlled by conscious intention and choice. Hiding from and denying the existence of our tiger nature is what gives it subconscious control over us.

We have repressed and hidden our Tiger Nature from ourselves so much, that it has become the source and object of our most deeply seated fears. Cinematic representations of evil forces or demons gaining control over us are the most frightening when they remind us of our deeply repressed primal tiger nature, the source of our deepest fears, our darkest shadow, the unforgivable evil monster within us that makes us deserving, ESPECIALLY IN OUR OWN EYES, of expulsion from the rest of humanity and annihilation. ("We traced the call. It's coming from inside the house!") That is our most deeply seated fear, the monster within us that we cannot bear to face, because it represents the undoing of every good thing that we want to believe about ourselves, all of the reasons that we think that we are worthy of acceptance and love from those around us. There are reasons why these looming representations of evil have become so much more pervasive in the storytelling of our modern age, and that is due to the reach of our technologies.

As our age becomes more technologically connected, we are all the more bombarded by disturbing images and high-definition color video of human suffering. We are aware of the plight of those unfortunate souls who are in harm's way or being crushed by famine and poverty. They are our relatives, no matter how much our hidden tiger nature might cause us to want to perceive and classify them as "other", "foreign", "alien", or even worse, "illegal alien" and therefore "justifiably" outside of our circle of concern and responsibility.

All of those people are not "other". They are no less human than we are, subject to the same hopes and fears that we have. Their hearts contain no less love than ours. These relatives are not seeking to take our wealth away from us, no matter how much our latent tiger nature would have us defend our territory. They are just desperately trying to survive. Our nation's (for me it is the United States of America's) wealth should not be a point of pride. On the contrary, it should be a cause for shame that our country has not done as much as it easily could do to alleviate suffering outside, and even inside our borders, and so our subconscious guilt grows as well as our estrangement from our primal nature. There is a level at which all of us simply know better, even if we prefer not to recognize that fact.

Our guilt is compounded by the fact that we know that if we all rose up and actively demanded a worldwide end to the grinding poverty and misery that we can no longer ignore, it would be ended. Of course, we should all recognize the obvious wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi's admonition to "Live simply so that others may simply live." Our Earth's resources are finite, and we must learn to protect, preserve and share them intelligently and compassionately if we want to feel good about ourselves. This doesn't mean that there should not be wealthy people, only that the existence of wealth does not necessitate the starvation of others. Even those of us in the middle classes take for granted comforts and technologies of which kings and queens from a few hundred years ago might only dream. Among these are hot and cold running water, showers, flush toilets, sanitation, heating and air conditioning, refrigeration, modern medicine, as well as high tech entertainment, automobiles and air travel. Kings and queens of old would have happily sent armies to invade other countries for the opportunity to enjoy modern conveniences that we in the middle class take for granted.

One of the biggest problems that we face for which evolution had no way of preparing us, was how to deal with an overabundance of success. There are plenty of pitiful millionaires with more money than they can spend, who are desperately trying to become billionaires. We have not figured out where the "off" switch is on our desire to possess more and more. If we can figure out how to disengage the engine of our desires, then we will be able to rest in blissful peace and perfect contentment, freed from the misery created by our desires. While we associate the fulfillment of our desires with happiness, the actual function of our desires is to make us feel incomplete and miserable in order to motivate us to seek whatever shiny object of our desires we think will make us happy. Happiness and contentment are not what we have, they are what we anticipate we will have once we acquire whatever silly thing we currently desire. The Tao Te Ching in chapter 33, succinctly tells us, "Those who know they have enough are rich." We need more "rich" people who are fully aware that they have enough. "The more you know, the less you need." (a saying of the Australian Aborigines)

People are able to create delusional realities based on their desire to believe that something is true despite all evidence to the contrary, and they thus make themselves literally insane and disconnected from reality. We have seen this in politics where an elected politician who loses reelection refuses to believe the clear facts of the electoral loss, and then convinces followers to embrace the new delusional reality that the election was fraudulent. This is but one egregious, obvious, and undeniable example of "magical" human delusional thinking. Those who have not been thus deceived should take little solace as all of us human beings have been happily embracing delusions and magical thinking all of our lives. We need not deny nor feel bad about this. It is a normal human trait. We only need to understand how easily it happens so that we can take steps to prevent it.

Understanding Confirmation Bias

We are all subject to Confirmation Bias. That is to say, we tend to be more likely to notice and accept facts and reports that confirm our beliefs, and less likely to notice or be willing to consider those that tell us that we are wrong.

Carl Sagan's quote is an excellent example of Confirmation Bias,

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."

Whether a charlatan has bamboozled us, or whether we have bamboozled ourselves into believing some falsehood, once we embrace delusional thinking, it is painfully embarrassing to confront the truth and tear down our delusional thoughts, so we resist hearing the truth. That is why it is always important to try to carefully consider all sides of any controversy, even when we feel quite sure which side we think is correct.

A New Way of Understanding Original Sin

Before we can approach the concept of Original Sin, we should have a working definition and understanding of the word "Sin". It is important to know and keep in mind, that the word "sin" is derived from a Latin root that means "To miss the mark". This is important for several reasons:

First, the concept of missing the mark is in no way laden with condemnation and dripping with guilt and shame. It is simply an acknowledgment that the shot went high, low or wide of the target.

Second, it implies that there was a mark, and that we were attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to hit that mark. We should get points for trying.

Third, it naturally follows that when we miss a mark, the next step is to revise our aim, take another shot, and then hit the mark.

As we fight our worst enemy and uncover our flaws and sins, we should keep in mind, that the point is not to wallow in guilt and shame, but rather to recognize the natural origin of our sins due to the tiger nature that we hide from ourselves and thereby forgive ourselves and wash ourselves clean, liberating us from a burden of which we have been in denial and didn't even realize that we were carrying.

The most puzzling aspect of the story of Original Sin has to be the notion that prior to eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve had no knowledge nor comprehension of Good and Evil. That leaves us with two possibilities. Either Adam and Eve were never tempted and never did anything that might later be considered sinful, or, more likely, they did those sinful things freely, with no awareness whatsoever that what they were doing was wrong. (Before the Original Sin, were Adam and Eve more like ants and honeybees that never indulge in antisocial behaviors, or were they more like Tigers that exhibit no social restraint?)

There is another way of considering this:

In Genesis Chapter Two, verse nineteen, Adam names all of the animals, a reference to the creation of language. Adam and Eve created language. When we humans created language, we came to define ourselves as good and no longer ruled by a now repressed tiger nature, and thus our egos were born along with a knowledge of good and evil, and we shoved any awareness of our most primal desires completely out of our conscious awareness, thus empowering them to influence us without our conscious awareness.

What if the Original Sin was the creation of the ego? According to the Bible, the original sin was to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Prior to the formation of language, when we were socialized but had not yet developed language, we might have had a vague notion that we needed to avoid doing things that would anger other members of our community, but it was simply a vague notion. As we developed language, our desire to see ourselves as worthy of acceptance in the community caused us to define ourselves as good and not evil and hide from our conscious awareness the existence of our antisocial tiger nature. We became good by definition, and evil was the part of ourselves whose existence we dared not acknowledge. This freed our tiger nature to influence us without our awareness.

To say that we are all afflicted by original sin would mean that we all have egos that hide our inner Tiger Nature. It is not an attempt to lay an unreasonable shame, blame, and guilt trip on us for an indiscretion of our most distant ancestor, but rather, a way for us to understand how we became separated from the most dynamic part of ourselves.

This understanding of Original Sin provides a new way to understand the Bible. The first Book of The Bible, Genesis, gives the introduction in which the Bible lays out the problem of our original sin, which is the creation of our egos, and the rest of the Bible provides instructions on how to overcome this ego separation from our primal nature (that allows our primal nature to control our actions without our conscious awareness.)

Speculation About Quantum Mechanical Solidity
- Clues from the Double-Slit Experiment

The most classic experiment in quantum physics is the Double-Slit experiment, which is used to explore the particle/wave properties of light as well as matter. Is light a particle (a photon) or is it a wave?

If we shine a laser through a single wide vertical slit, we will see a dot of laser light on the wall (or target) on the other side of the slit. If we start narrowing the gap in the slit, a property known as diffraction comes into play, and instead of seeing the dot grow smaller, the light begins to scatter and we see a widening horizontal beam of light with dim light sidebands on either side of the solid main band as seen on this picture borrowed from Wikipedia's excellent Double-Slit Experiment page:

If we create two slits, side by side, extremely close, and shine the laser through both slits simultaneously, the wave property of the light scattering from each slit causes interference patterns where the peaks of two waves make a doubly bright part and the same when two troughs combine, but where a peak meets a trough, they cancel each other out and the picture that we get looks like this:

Here is a graphic to show how the interference pattern is generated:

(All of these pictures are borrowed from Wikipedia's Double-Slit Experiment page)

If we only fire one photon at a time through the double slits, and then note where each photon lands on the target, and accumulate many more of those strikes, we find that the pattern of photon strikes still shows the interference pattern that we saw above, as if each photon interfered with itself.
Wave-particle duality

To make matters even stranger, this experiment was repeated with electrons, shooting one electron at a time through double slits, and over time, the target showed the same interference pattern. The experiment was also conducted with whole atoms, molecules, and even complex molecules with as many as 810 atoms (as described in the Wikipedia's Double-Slit Experiment page) with the same interference pattern emerging over time. Perhaps a better description of this phenomena than this poor layman's description can be found in this 13 minute YouTube video from PBS, titled "The Quantum Experiment that Broke Reality | Space Time"

If complex molecules can exist as both particles and waves, then so must we exist as both particles and waves, and perhaps it is our language created ego consciousness that limits our experience of the world around us to a solid, particle based, or particle perceived reality. This would be in keeping with the Copenhagen Interpretation of Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg.

"According to the Copenhagen interpretation, physical systems generally do not have definite properties prior to being measured   [by an ego consciousness]   and quantum mechanics can only predict the probabilities that measurements will produce certain results. The act of   [the ego consciousness making the]   measurement affects the system, causing the set of probabilities to reduce to only one of the possible values immediately after the measurement. This feature is known as wavefunction collapse."   (The preceding three sentences are taken from the PBS video referenced above with my [bracketed comments] added.)

Perhaps those who can kill off their egos and transcend language structured reality, such as Chief Fools Crow, are enabled to interact with, and perceive, both particle and wave based reality, and that is why they can do things that are considered impossible or miraculous by all of the rest of us who are still burdened with our egos and locked in particulate, ordinary reality. So perhaps our language limited ego consciousness binds us to particulate reality. That is a difficult theory to prove when the proof requires the falsification of the commonly shared, language structured reality. It does, however, provide a coherent means of explaining both the religious reality as well as the scientific reality in a way that maintains the truths and integrity of each. Perhaps it also satisfies William of Ockham's razor test. (  "Don't multiply entities beyond necessity"  or as it is commonly expressed,   "All other things being equal, the simplest explanation is probably the best."  )

Ethics Revisited: The Original Golden Rule

Over two thousand years ago an exceedingly wise Jewish man gave the world a saying that came to be known as the Golden Rule. The name of this wise man was Hillel. He had been challenged by a gentile to explain the entire Torah while the listener stood balanced on one leg. Hillel accepted the challenge and told the gentile, "What is hateful to you, do not do to the other fellow. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary, go and study." This response, paraphrased as, "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you" came to be known as Hillel's Golden Rule. What Hillel pointed out is that the sociological intent of the Torah was to create a minimal, baseline ethical standard necessary for the proper functioning of an integrated society where all of the people can interact in ways that support one another. The Torah taught us how to get along with one another.

A few years after the time of Hillel, Rabbi Jesus gave us his golden rule that was clearly patterned after Hillel's. Jesus' Golden Rule is, "Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you." Jesus and his disciples would have all been quite familiar with Hillel's marvelous teaching, so Jesus patterned his Golden Rule after Hillel's, but Jesus raised the stakes! It is not enough to just get along with people. Jesus' Golden Rule mandates love of our neighbor. Jesus tasks us with forgoing our own desires and instead caring for the needs and wants of those around us. The difference in the wording of Hillel's and Jesus' Golden Rules is very slight, but the difference in meaning is profound.

Split Level Ethics - Our Final Evolutionary Advancement

The Golden Rule of Jesus provides us with insight into the split nature of ethics and shows us two levels of ethical understanding. The lower level of ethics is the baseline ethical standard of Hillel's Golden Rule. This is the mandatory level of ethics. The higher level of ethics indicated by Jesus' Golden Rule is the aspirational level of ethics, that we should love and serve one another. To understand the difference let us consider an example in which we have no personal stake, but are merely concerned observers:

As we send our children out to play with other children, we give them two sets of ethical instruction. For the first set, we tell them that they MAY NOT hit, kick, spit on, hurt, insult, or be otherwise cruel to any other children. Our children are told in no uncertain terms that such behavior (if observed) will not be tolerated and will result in punishment. That is the mandatory set of ethics covered by Hillel's, "What is hateful to you, do not do to the other fellow."

The second, aspirational set of ethical instruction given to our children, patterned on Jesus' Golden Rule, is to share your toys with your friends; be kind and considerate; let your friends go first; think how much fun it will be to do things that make your friends happy and knowing that you made them happy! A child wise enough to follow this advice will find themselves surrounded by friends who like them, want to spend time with them, and want to reciprocate the kindness shown, because having a devoted friendship with another child is far better than toys. This higher-level ethical standard is not one that can be mandated. Attempting to do so would only create resentment. We cannot force our children to let go of their primal, selfish desires and love and care about their friends. We can only hope that they do.

Of course, the Golden Rules, both the mandatory and the aspirational, that we try to teach our children, apply every bit as much to us parents. It is also important to remember that our children are keen observers of our actions. We are their heroes, the type of adults that they want to grow up to become. If they see us being unfailingly kind and thoughtful, even to obnoxious and annoying adults with whom we interact, and they only hear us speak charitably about those annoying adults, they will be far more likely to emulate that behavior.

Divine Command Ethics

There is a very religious school of ethical understanding known as "Divine Command" which proposes that Biblical commands, such as The Ten Commandments, should be understood to be the ultimate source and foundation of our entire ethical understanding. Since God commanded it, it is so.

For those who embrace divine command theory, I'd like to propose a no less religious understanding of the source of ethics that is completely compatible with an Atheistic understanding of the origin of ethics. It is to suggest that ethics are a function of our human nature and the societies in which we live. For the understanding of many religious people, the Earth on which we live and everything in the universe was created by God, the Creator. Therefore, if we view ethics as a function of society, it is still something no less created by God. The Henry Ford analogy might help clarify this:

Henry Ford created the automobile (or at least one brand thereof) and Henry Ford saw that people were driving their automobiles with the parking/emergency brakes engaged, and thus causing all manner of problems. Henry Ford issued forth an addendum to the owner's manual that said, "Thou shalt not drive thy automobile with the emergency brake engaged. Thou shalt only use thy emergency brake while parked, or in the event of an emergency." The impropriety of driving with the emergency brake engaged was inherent in the nature of the automobile that Henry Ford created. The "Thou shalt not" addendum did not create the need to release the parking brake. That need was a function of Henry Ford's creation. We just didn't get it and needed to be instructed to follow rules that should have been obvious.

The two Golden Rules, while having been given by religious authorities, are not in themselves religious in nature. They are practical pieces of ethical wisdom, the truths of which could be just as well appreciated by an atheist as by a religious person. Hillel's Golden Rule teaches us how to get along with one another, while Jesus' Golden Rule teaches us the Supremacy of Love. Hillel teaches us how to walk; Jesus teaches us how to fly.

Here's a quick recap of how we got to our current situation:

Our extremely distant ancestors appear to have been territorial hunters who later became a social species by blending our territorial nature with our newly acquired social nature. With the development of language, we created a world built from our definitions, descriptions and ideas, gained the knowledge and understanding of good and evil, and seeking to see ourselves as good and worthy of inclusion in society, we hid the territorial part of our nature (our tiger nature) that we came to view as evil, from our conscious awareness. This allows our subconscious tiger nature to influence our actions without our conscious awareness, which causes all manner of problems and currently threatens our safety and survival. The obvious solution to the survival threatening problems that we face is for us to evolve into a completely socialized species where we no longer view people from different countries, races or religions as enemies, but rather as relatives to be cherished. Learning to love our perceived enemies is no simple feat, and our tiger nature wants no part of it. In order to make this evolutionary leap, we need to learn to fight our worst enemy, which is ourselves, our egos (which are a deeply seated, language created perception of the world around us as well as a self-description of how we wish to perceive ourselves - invariably quite positively), so that we may gain full awareness of and connection to our tiger nature. With a full grasp and conscious awareness of our tiger nature, our tiger nature loses its ability to influence our actions subconsciously. The tiger can be tamed and made to work for us, subservient to our conscious loving intent, instead of leading us astray.

How we go about fighting our worst enemy

In the Lakota Sioux tradition, a person will fight their worst enemy by going on a Vision Quest, known as a   Haŋbléčeya   ("Hahn-blay'-chay-ah") which means "crying for a vision". This typically takes the form of a total fast (no food or water) for up to four days and nights, equipped with nothing but a blanket and their Čhaŋnúŋpa ("Chahn-nuhn'-pa" - Sacred Pipe) to pray with.

A number of exceedingly wise and kind Lakota people shared their wisdom with me about going on the hill (haŋbléčeya) Here is what they told me.

Selo Black Crow said,   When we go on the hill, we expect four things:
First, we expect to die up there, and some have...
  [and if we do it well, our egos, which feel to us like our entire beings, will die, so we need to be ready and willing to die, because when our egos die, it feels like the death of our entire being. "It is a good day to die!"]
Second, we expect that we may go crazy up on the hill and when they come to get us, we will be out of our minds and need to be put in an asylum for the rest of our lives, and that has happened too...   [We human beings like to be in control of ourselves. We like to "get a grip" and hold on to our control, but when we fast, we need to trust the Creator and completely let go, even though that can feel like losing control and going crazy. There is another aspect of going crazy that will be discussed below.]
Third, we expect that we might completely disappear. When they come to bring us back down, there might only be a few bones, or nothing at all. We would just be gone and never seen or heard from again, and that has happened too.   [While we are on the hill, if we are faced with the void or nothingness, we should accept that and welcome it! Once again, "It is a good day to die!"]
Forth, we expect that we may come back down.

Pete Swift Bird said, When you are on the hill, if a Mole comes to you and says, "I have a gift for you!", tell it "NO!" and if a Buffalo comes to you and says, "I bring you a medicine", tell it "NO!" and if an Eagle flies down and lands on your hóčhoka ["ho'-cho-kah" - altar] and says, "I will be your spirit helper" tell it "NO!". Say "NO!" to all of these things and hold out for God!

Upon reflection of Pete Swift Bird's words, I remembered that when Jesus fasted, he was tempted and said, "Get thee behind me!" and then Jesus was blessed. Also, when Siddhartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi Tree, he was tempted by Mara and when he rejected this temptation, he became the Awakened "Buddha". When we go on the hill, we do not go there to gain something. If we are lucky, we go on the hill to lose that part of ourselves that is the source of our desires, our egos.

Frank Fools Crow said,   You could be on the hill for five minutes and they could come for you. It does not matter how hungry, thirsty or tired you are, it only matters how ready you are to receive them.

There is one more piece of advice that I have gleaned from various wise Lakota people, and that is to "Talk less and listen more." We tend to think of prayer as us talking to God, but the other, and perhaps most important part of prayer is to stop talking and to silently listen. Turning off our internal dialog so that we may be receptive to Creator's Holy Spirit, is the most important thing we can do. (How can we listen while our tongue is wagging?)

The Lakota Haŋbléčeya (fasting) ceremony is not the only kind of "Vision Quest" that there is. Fasting was a definite part of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, but it has been mostly ignored and forgotten in our modern age. In Matthew Chapter Six, Verse Sixteen, Jesus says, "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites..." He doesn't say "If ye fast..." because fasting was a normal part of Judaism and then Christianity. It was assumed that everyone would fast.

It becomes exceedingly important, before a vision quest, for us to have gone through the rather unpleasant task of tearing down any delusions that we may be harboring and carrying, because if we go up on the hill carrying our delusions intact, then the best we can hope for is that nothing will happen while we are on the hill, other than getting very thirsty and hungry. If we manage to make that leap into the void, into that Most Powerful Spiritual Presence with our delusions intact, then we really may make ourselves permanently insane as Selo warned.

When I used to live with Chief Fools Crow, people would ask me if I wanted to have spiritual power the way that Chief Fools Crow had power. I would answer that, what I most wanted, was to learn to be humble like Chief Fools Crow. It is that which I would still like to achieve.

The path that leads to humility is a long, difficult and humiliating one. Success in this endeavor is a function of our ability and willingness to fight our worst enemy despite the pain, discomfort, despair and humiliation that are the result. All of us would prefer to find a spiritual practice that made us feel powerful, connected and righteous, but those feelings only strengthen our ego's hold on us. To lessen our ego's hold on us requires moving in the opposite direction. The deepest and strongest spiritual power comes to us when the part of us that would desire to wield such power dies away. That part is our egos.

Perhaps the best tool to employ in order to try to approach humility is an appreciation of The Righteousness Paradox. The Righteousness Paradox is an awareness that the more righteous we feel or think we are, (and this includes feeling connected, feeling like we've got our act together, and feeling that we are doing well and are on top of things) the less righteous we actually are. And the more we feel flawed, failed, fallen and contrite, the more righteous we actually are.

Most people would probably prefer a spiritual practice and path that makes them feel good, powerful, and spiritually connected, while the path that leads to the power that people like Frank Fools Crow and Jesus Christ wielded would appear to take them in the opposite direction. This may explain why there are so very few people like Frank Fools Crow and Jesus. Heading towards humility is no fun whatsoever.

This concludes the first part of the writing.


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