Last week I began a short series on Liberation’s understanding of depression and anxiety. Each post centers around a different question word. These words are What? – Why? – Who? – How? and Wow. The post of What? has already been posted here. Today we venture into Why?
Why do we suffer? Why do so many of us become depressed and painfully anxious? This is the question for today.
First let me present the key idea. Deep inside each of us is, what I call a King Thought. Just like any king, this thought has great authority. In fact, it is the final authority on we understand our daily experiences. All of our other thoughts either serve the King Thought (KT) or rebel against it. This is the war of thought and feeling that all of us know.
This KT is our core and primary personal identification. It is the person we believe ourselves to be. For most of us, this thought lies beneath the surface of our everyday consciousness. The KT expresses itself as the voice beneath our psychological thoughts and experiences.
Why does it live so deep within us? The KT is very old; nearly as old as our physical bodies. It lives in our the deepest chamber of our psychological being. Because it is so deeply embedded it is something we take for granted. It is our longest habit. It is like the air; always there, but never really noticed. But because it is so deep and so hidden, many of you will deny its existence. It’s too close to you.
So, what is this KT and why is it so powerful?
The KT is a belief in our own innate inadequacy. It is a belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. It is the source of ALL our psychological suffering. It is also the source of many human achievements, but we’ll get to that later.
We were not born with the KT. We entered this world as beings in balance and harmony. But shortly after birth things begin to happen that give rise to what becomes the KT. I can only give the most summarized account for this process in this post. If you want to hear all of the details and the mass of evidence, you will need to read Liberation from the Lie.
There are two ways human beings have organized their lives. For about 140,000 years all of us lived as hunter-gatherers; nomadic people that lived with death everyday, for these people lacked the ability or desire to store food. Each day’s food was gathered and consumed. They trusted Nature to take care of them. Despite the immense and apparent insecurities of their lives, they were able to trust this world fully. Not much happened in these societies. People were born, they grew to womanhood/manhood – had kids, hunted, gathered, laughed, labored, cried, sang, fell in love, feel out of love, and died. There did not have a religion, but they were not without faith. Accounts of these cultures drawn from anthropologists, colonists, and explorers show that they were remarkably gracious, caring, light-hearted, and relaxed. The children did not have temper tantrums, were very curious, and rarely showed unhappiness.
Contrast that with our world. We live with comparatively very high levels of security, yet are highly insecure. Where HG people lived with high levels of mortal danger, our lives are immeasurably safer, yet we are the ones deeply enmeshed with both our fears and struggling to find ways to be happy in world that offers so many diversions, particularly for the well off. Where HG people saw no need for religion as a way to find shelter in a dangerous world, our world takes religion with great seriousness. For many, it is religion that most powerfully allays their most powerful fears and insecurities.
Why are these world so different? The answer is the KT. The KT of HG (hunter/gatherer) people is either nonexistent or possesses far less vigor. Unlike HG people, we struggle under the weight of our identification with inadequacy. So the question becomes, why are modern people identified with inadequacy when people have lived primarily without this underlying belief for tens of thousands of years?
In tomorrow’s post, I will explore the roots of the KT, but this is enough for today.