Human psyche in space and time
The cultural transformations of the human psyche
In the last April's post dedicated to psychic energy, I highlighted the effects of the psychic tunings that are generated as a result of the interactions between the brains interconnected in social groups, on the cultural programs and conditionings that influence and determine the functioning and mental experiences of every new member of that social system. The different cultures can therefore be considered as the dynamic manifestations (insofar as they are subject to change over time) of a more or less wide range of psychic tunings, which however constitute only a limited region within the potential shown by the human psyche. The careful observation of these changes in the collective psyche (as tuned by the activity of brain networks in more or less large social groups) leads to an evaluation of the human condition as a state of submission towards something that dominates and uses us, without offering any reliable information or guarantee regarding the purposes of the process of which each human, being born and growing up, becomes a part. At first reading, this consideration may seem like a trivial obviousness. From the inner point of view, in fact, human life is nothing more than this: a series of experiences determined by psychic dynamics that are activated autonomously or as a reaction to certain environmental variables. But once the Ego's consciousness has sufficiently evolved, the question of the meaning of our own individual experience cannot be avoided.
The normal mental functioning, which involves the identification of the conscious Ego with the psychic dynamics in which it is involved, is automatically activated in every new human being that is born and grows within a culture. It is an extension of the natural processes already present in the animal world, in which every single organism functions in a certain way, without knowing anything about the causes that determine its temporary existence and (probably) without asking questions about the meaning of its life. But humanity is also characterized by a cultural evolution that introduces a substantial element of novelty with respect to the dynamics of the animal world. In fact, each culture transmits to its members, through information programs and behavioral conditioning, a series of interpretations – often presented as forms of knowledge – on the meaning and purpose of life, on the energies and powers to which humans are subject, and on the role assigned to each individual within the social (cultural) system to which she/he belongs. Our current interpretation of these processes in psychic terms does not diminish their effectiveness or power: these energies have an enormous power of attraction on the Ego, which becomes stronger as the number of those who are part of that culture increases. It is therefore not surprising that, as a rule, the conscious Ego identifies itself with the psychic dynamics in which it is ensnared by the functioning of its mind, also conditioned by cultural programs and models.
When a person's smart consciousness has developed enough to allow the Ego to be able to observe with a critical look the psychic dynamics at the base of the different cultures that interact in our world in a specific historical period – for example the current one –, the differences, contrasts and conflicts in which human beings are involved become evident. Not to mention the conflictual dynamics, even the violent ones, which occur between the various sub-cultures that confront each other in the wider context of a social organization. In fact, the concept of culture can be referred to various spheres and to various levels of human groups: we can speak of culture with reference to a state and its organization (this is the most common meaning), or to the sharing of a language, to an economic or – as we use to say – cultural activity, but also to a specific way of thinking and acting that characterizes some social categories with institutional or even criminal purposes, such as political culture, military culture or mafia culture. They are the more or less frequent interactions between a certain number of minds (brains) that determine the cultural forms, which in turn influence the programs according to which each member of a certain culture or sub-culture interacts with others.
Each of us can easily notice the influence that culture has on the individual manifestations of the psyche, as well as on the resulting behaviors, by comparing people belonging to different milieus – even within the same culture – or to different cultures. In the social sphere, one always gets the impression that everyone has to play their role – whatever it be – because they are not allowed to do otherwise. The more complex a society is, the more its organization requires that everyone carry out the role assigned to them with diligence and efficiency. Faced with this extraordinary manifestation of the organizational power of psychic energy, the conscious Ego can only take note of its own weakness, bordering on irrelevance. To the collective psyche, as well as to nature, the single individual is an almost entirely worthless entity, given the abundance of human material at its disposal. It is the general framework of the so-called social progress that affects the collective psyche, and within this organizational scheme each individual is given greater or lesser importance in relation to the role played in the service of that collective project. Basically, therefore, the life of humans is determined by the use made of it by the more or less advanced cultures operating in today's world.
The role of the conscious Ego as a sensor
In the face of the social and cultural programs that effectively influence the behavior of each person and many of the psychic experiences in which their Egos are involved, we can observe the different ways in which the conscious Ego reacts to various life events. Indeed, as we have often pointed out, in the vast majority of cases the conscious Ego completely identifies with the psychic dynamics that involve it, also because one of the goals towards which the cultural programs aim – particularly evident in the objectives pursued by propaganda and advertising messages so widespread in our age – is to determine the emotional responses to particular events in as many people as possible. These reactions correspond to experiences perceived as happiness, enthusiasm, participation, feeling of victory, consent, advantage, freedom, etc., on the one hand, or as sadness, unhappiness, abandonment, failure, defeat, isolation, loss of freedom, sense of oppression, etc., on the other. Obviously, the more the Ego identifies with these psychic experiences, the more it is subdued and dominated by the forces and powers – natural, cultural, or of an unknown order – that determine the psyche's functioning. In any case, each Ego plays the role of a sensor, for the sole fact of consciously experiencing the psychic events that involve it, but if the consciousness at its disposal is not enough evolved, its identification with the psychic dynamics prevents any form of evolution and detachment from the human psyche, and the Ego is reduced to being only a device that records the mechanisms determined by the psyche's automatic and unaware functioning.
In any case, the fact that a psychic event is consciously experienced and registered by an Ego is in itself very important: since consciousness is not unique, but is fragmented into a myriad of individual cores, each Ego becomes the center of reference of a series of conscious psychic experiences, differentiating, in this respect, from any other Ego. In evaluating its personal history and destiny, the environmental conditions in which its life experience originated and developed, the resources on which it could rely and the weaknesses that limited its action, each Ego – more or less naively, depending on its level of evolution – compares its own life experience with what it believes to be the life experiences of other people. Due to a series of reasons – biological, geographical, historical and cultural – there can be enormous differences between the life of one person and that of another, and human equality, meant as uniformity in the distribution of the psychic experiences that can involve the Ego, is just a particularly popular myth of the modern era: each Ego, in fact, has direct experience of the psychic dynamics that involve it personally, and can only acquire indirect information on the psychic experiences of others, or can imagine them, without having cognitive elements to know if what it imagines truly corresponds to the reality of what the other experiences. Each human being is like an island in an archipelago, connected with various other islands by communication lines, through which no experiences can be transmitted, but only descriptions of experiences.
The fact of not being able to say with certainty about the other: «you are like me, you function and behave as I do, you feel what I feel», puts the conscious Ego in a very strange condition of relativism, as it is not able to understand to what extent and for what reason the psychic dynamics that it experiences are different from those that another (who should be a fellow man) experiences. The reason why one feels the need to socialize is that, when one is interconnected within a group, the psychic tunings that the Ego experiences are different from those experienced when one is alone, and this fact offers, if not the certainty, at least the illusion of being part of a plurality of people who share a common feeling. On the other hand, socialization – with its limitations – does nothing but transfer to groups the contrasts and psychic conflicts that often occur in relationships between people: without mentioning wars, just observe a football match, where a half of the audience exults and rejoices at events that for the other half are a reason for sadness, anger or resentment. From the observation of the psychic conflicts, of the ways in which psychic experiences involve and dominate the Ego, and of the changes that the collective psyche of a culture undergoes over time, the need arises for the conscious Ego to detach itself from the psychic dynamics in which it is involved, towards which it considers necessary to take a critical position.
The sensor function of the conscious Ego towards the events – and the psychic dynamics resulting from them – of its own life consists in this: either the Ego accepts the experience of human life as it is, with its lights and shadows, full well knowing that its experience is but one among billions and billions of possible and actual life experiences, some similar, but others very different from its own, or the Ego, as a conscious entity, separates itself from what the circumstances of life and the psyche's intrinsic nature, force it to experience. A third position, that of those who want a different life or envy someone else's life, is naive: the resources we have at our disposal are already present in us, and will have their effects in the course of our life, and events able to change our own life in a substantial way can actually occur, but as the future transforms into the past, the life of each of us becomes what it has always been, and what most matters is the final result. This does not prevent us from taking note of the substantial and sometimes extreme differences that determine the destiny of every human life, also considering the lives of the past that have definitively ended.
From the point of view of the conscious Ego, the events of life that fate reserves for it are transformed into psychic experiences – positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, bearers of more or less intense joys or sufferings – which give a particular tone to every life. What seems to me really important is the way in which the conscious Ego reacts to such psychic experiences: with the passing of life's time, the rudimentary and generally unintelligent consciousness that characterizes the youth years, has the possibility to expand, to evolve. and to intensify its functions, transforming itself into an extremely sensitive and effective tool that allows the Ego to deal with the events that life reserves for it and with the psychic experiences connected to them. Observation shows us how this process of evolution of consciousness varies from individual to individual: not only is it faster in some, and much slower in others, but the modalities through which it manifests its effects – which can range from love of neighbor to charity, from the search for knowledge and liberation to mystical experiences, etc. – also change. In any case, one gets the impression that there is a component of our being that exercises a form of attraction on the conscious Ego, and at the same time sustains it when the confrontation with the psychic dynamics of life becomes difficult.
When the Ego detaches itself from the psychic dynamics that life reserves for it, it feels attracted to an alternative form of existence, which is partly intuited and partly felt as a nostalgia, almost the echo of an elusive memory that has not completely extinguished. When consciousness manages to tune these new forms of inner experience, the attachment to human life is transformed into the confident expectation of a liberating event that allows the transition from the temporary and limited experience of human life to another form of existence. This transformation is often naively represented as a desire to survive death and, based on the knowledge we have about the conditions that make human life possible, many people deny its possibility. But the sensor function of the conscious Ego towards human life is based precisely on its capacity to compare this life experience with another model, which in one form or another – if only in tha more elementary and rudimentary one of pleasure and pain – must already be present in it.
The psychic origin of cultural systems
Being able to understand how a certain cultural system originated and evolved over time is a difficult and risky undertaking. Generally we start from the hypothesis of the tribal community, within which the activities carried out as an organized group offered advantages, in terms of survival, reproduction and raising of the offspring, compared to the environmental risks that threatened the existence of the isolated individuals. A long period of time, about which we have little information, separates the group animal life of our ancestors, from the already human tribal cultures, even if of a primitive level, characterized by a communication based on language. Certainly, natural conditions – environmental and climatic – have contributed to shape and differentiate the various cultures, because one thing is to live in the lush, warm and humid equatorial forests, and another thing is to live in desert areas or in the cold Nordic lands. In any case, the idea that a cultural organization originates from a concord of intentions in facing life difficulties, acting efficiently – each one in harmony with the others – to obtain the desired results, is certainly naive, as it can also be observed in our days: humans are not manufactured from assembly lines, as identical specimens, but present significant differences not only in physical efficiency but also – and above all – in mental functioning. Therefore it can be considered probable that the first cultures arose more due to the charisma of some particularly gifted individuals, capable of exerting their organizational influence on other grouped humans, than to a common intention on an equal basis.
After all, the enormous power exercised by the psyche over the Ego (more or less conscious) has always been recognized, since the most ancient times, through the idea of the divine and divinity, especially when the latter was attributed to the dominant characters within a cultural system. In fact, the great social organizers, the holders of authority and power, are the receptors, the processors and the actuators of particular psychic attunements that arise in their mind, and to which they must be the first to obey, almost always without even knowing why. The fact that these charismatic characters, endowed with particular resources of psychic energy – whether they be called Caesar, or Tamerlane, or Bonaparte, or Hitler – are capable of exerting the talents of command and organization, is a further proof of the power springing from the psyche: the same psychic tension that, with one polarity, drives some individuals to command and dominate, with the other polarity induces many other individuals to obey and bow their heads in front of the consolidated collective power that is embodied in those who are part – in the various hierarchical roles – of the dominant organization. Just as nature does with living organisms, the psyche also uses the abundant human resources at its disposal to pursue objectives that have so far escaped our cognitive abilities, regardless of whether they are evaluated by us humans as positive or negative. In any case, many human creatures have suffered, many suffer, and many will suffer even in the future, under the psyche's dominion.
If we can only indirectly study the cultures of the past, by examining the documents and traces that we can find out, we can realize the complexity of the collective psychic dynamics by studying the current cultures, and in particular the one which we ourselves belong to, given that in this case we may have a large amount of information. In today's world, the fact that strikes us most is the extreme fragmentation of the human psyche, now divided into billions and billions of individuals living in different environmental conditions and within cultures that – although much more connected to each other than happened in the past – still show significant differences. Without a doubt, a process is currently underway – which started in the last century – which is defined by the term globalization, characterized by an intense exchange of information, as well as goods and people, in almost all the planet's areas. This process is greatly helped and stimulated by the exchange of data and information in real time made possible by the rapid development of information technologies and telematic networks. It would seem that the current orientation of the human psyche has as its goal the creation of a global super-culture, in the context of which current cultures would be progressively assimilated as second-level cultures, maintaining certain requirements determined by their historical heritage: a process similar to the fact that dialects can continue to be used locally even when a national language has been established.
We are unable to say how long it will take for this process of cultural aggregation to be successful: the conflictual dynamics that historical cultures have inherited still have a considerable power in opposing the aggregative processes, leveraging the principle of partisan advantage. In the natural world, organisms, single or grouped, often compete with each other for the control of territorial resources or for the reproductive and hierarchical status within a group, and some individuals temporarily prevail over others, until death eliminates every single organism, leaving the task of continuing this repetitive game to the next generation. The human psyche has not made much progress, at least until now, with respect to this natural pattern: terms such as prevail, win or lose are still extremely widespread in all our cultures, and evoke intense emotional reactions, whether referring to sport competitions, or political elections, or wars. Confrontation and competition are often culturally encouraged and boosted at an individual level, and then proposed again at the level of increasingly numerous and complex organized groups, up to the highest degree of sovereign states. This is the historical legacy of humanity, with which every aggregative trend must deal. At the same time, however, the organizational needs within every human group that pursues the same goals and has the same concerns, stimulate and encourage collaboration and mutual support, since the results thus obtained should – at least in principle – translate into an effective advantage for every person who is part of that organized group.
Therefore two antagonistic instances, one tending towards collaboration, concord, the pursuit of common objectives, the other aimed at competition, opposition and confrontation, even conflictual, with others, are destined to manifest themselves in the psychic dynamics that involve the conscious Ego, not only as a legacy of the natural – and therefore animal – origin of our organism, but also as a result of the cultural programs that are transferred to us in the course of our life training process, as members of a sociocultural system. These programs can be more or less coercive and more or less respectful of the freedom of each person to have an individual orientation concerning their own life: in dictatorial regimes, forms of conditioning and coercion are implemented, which aim to force each individual, not adequately conditioned by the regime's propaganda, to behave and act as they would not want, and to keep their own mental reserves to themselves. Obviously, these coercive methods work because the human psyche requires the Ego to do what it can to survive and to avoid suffering. In more liberal systems, on the other hand, the forms of propaganda are essentially different, as they mainly leverage the positive aspects of psychic dynamics and the advantages offered by the social system to which we belong, often compared with other social systems – almost always presented as more oppressive – from which it is necessary to defend ourselves and with which we must confront.
Undoubtedly some political systems are preferable to others, and we can also rejoice in the fact that destiny has given us birth into a democratic system rather than a dictatorial regimen. However, the fact remains that other people also exist, and that the reasons for being born in one place or another are beyond our understanding. The experience of human life therefore presents itself as subject to an uncertainty which, at the moment it manifests to our consciousness, somehow asks to be fairly compensated. Genetic, cultural and social inequalities have a remarkable influence on the life experience of individual humans, and are the striking manifestation of the contradictory and conflictual dynamics that characterize the psyche. Both democratic political systems and many dictatorial regimes never fail to emphasize the importance of what is called social equality, showing off, almost always hypocritically, programs whose aim should be to eliminate once and for all – or at least to reduce – such inequalities. The constitutions of almost all states are full of solemn declarations of principle regarding the equality of all citizens, and the need to remove the economic and social obstacles that determine inequalities. This need, of evident psychic origin, is continually contradicted by the psyche itself and by nature, which make the causes that determine inequalities continuously active and operative, respectively in the cultural and organic fields. Despite this, our human sensibility is led to seek an explanation especially with regard to the unequal distribution of sufferings, which affect some human beings much more than others.
In an attempt to find a humanly satisfactory justification for this state of affairs, the psyche has devised various essentially fideistic elaborations, which in any case provide for a form of conscious existence in an alternative dimension to the human one: be it referred to karma and the cycle of rebirths, or to life meant as an examination test followed by a reward or a punishment, or to a temporary experience to which a transcendent entity (be it called soul or spirit) undergoes in order to learn and understand some aspect of this mysterious universe, the comprehensione of the meaning of our life becomes possible only from a point of view different from the condition in which we currently find ourselves. The alternative is a nihilistic conception that denies value and meaning to any human action and any commitment aimed at the evolution of consciousness and the search for knowledge. Even the same idea – currently in vogue – that the meaning of life consists in thinking and working in order to achieve more balanced human conditions, more just and more satisfying in terms of temporary gratification, cannot be accepted – if separated from the possibility of an existence in an alternative dimension – for two essential reasons: 1) first of all it does not render equity and justice to all human beings who have already died, after suffering and being unjustly tormented for natural or cultural causes; 2) it has the utopian goal of achieving a just and balanced global social system, when all human experience shows that psychic energy is governed by a bipolar tension between good and evil, by virtue of which, at every intention and every action aimed at the good can correspond, in another person, an intention or an action in the opposite direction.
Life within a cultural system
If the psyche shapes and transforms cultures, these in turn condition the psychic experiences of each new member that is raised within them: what the conscious Ego experiences, and which is improperly called our own inner life, is a series of psychic events determined by the functioning of a mind shaped by the cultural programs that are gradually transmitted to it. The same conflicting psychic reactions, which can go as far as an open rebellion to received conditioning, become cultural events, as they are stimulated by the effects that certain programs transmitted by our culture can have on other programs already active in our mental system. As a rule, the psychic attunements experienced by every human being are conditioned by the time and place in which his life takes place: therefore the process of liberation of the conscious Ego from the identification with the psychic tunings that involve it also has the effect to free it from the limitations imposed by a form of existence conditioned by space and time. Obviously, the life of the organism – our body – remains subject to these limitations until its death: only in rare, absolutely exceptional cases, does an alien energy, completely unknown to us, sustain for more or less long times even the body's life, overcoming the needs imposed by natural laws.
Living within a culture means interpreting the reality of the world and of life according to the canons and mental programs developed by that culture. The very objectivity of the events of the physical world can become an interpretative objectivity: even if the effects of a certain event, for example an earthquake, are objectively evident for (almost) everyone, the objective interpretation of that event is in any case determined by culture. Science can rely on the objectivity of its knowledge only in the context of an unconditional recognition of the objective validity of the acquired data and the applied mathematical rules, on the basis of a normal mental functioning that reassures us about this objective validity, confirmed by the prediction of events that then regularly occur. But as far as the interpretation of life is concerned, any form of objectivity is nothing more than a cultural expedient developed to program the functioning of an adequate number of new members of that culture, sufficient to allow (not always successfully) that culture to survive or evolve. Cultural cycles too seem subject to phases of expansion that alternate with more or less long periods of crisis and transformation: the agony of a culture can last a long time, like that of a terminally ill person who is artificially kept alive by any possible means, even if it is evident that he will never recover and that his fate is sealed.
The symptomatic signals that make the decline and crisis of a culture evident are a manifestation of the psychic conflicts occurring between the programs that that culture continues to elaborate and use, and other instances coming from the depths of the psyche, endowed with sufficient energy resources to influence the cultural orientations prevailing until that moment, and to cause the progressive crumbling of that culture. Of course, a culture can also be destroyed by another culture as a result of a direct confrontation, but in this case, usually, the health state of the prevailing culture is better than that of the succumbing one. In any case, the conscious Ego of an individual always runs the risk of being a victim of the conflicting psychic dynamics by which it is involved both in clashes between different cultures and in the internal crises of a culture. In the current era, our Western culture has entered a phase of crisis – probably irreversible – despite the remarkable and indisputable technological successes that it can boast, and the economic well-being achieved by large sectors of the population, although patchily concentrated in some areas of the planet. The symptoms of this crisis are different, but I will indicate only three of them below, to point out how the psychic dynamics that come into play in determining the behavior of a large number of humans are not manageable, neither on the basis of cultural programs already developed, available and usable, nor on the basis of other programs that could be developed without this culture coming into conflict with its fundamental principles.
The first symptom is of an economic and financial nature: the presumed growth of the main Western economies can now be presented as such only through a progressive public debt. The systematic nature of this debt is unmasked by the fact that public debt bonds are no longer placed on the free market, as instruments for collecting already available real savings, but are bought by central banks – which have lost their autonomy against the political power – which magically transform them into printed money, devoid of any economical value. In a nutshell, since the economy has entered a phase of crisis, attempts are made to transform, without success, an alleged future economic recovery – devoid of any guarantee – into a fictitious stimulus for the current economy, forgetting that the complexity of the planetary economy is also based on the use of the planet's natural resources, which today has already reached its limits. Under these conditions, not only the accumulated debt can never be repaid, except through a very devalued currency, but the same debt condition – now widespread on a global scale – is destined to become a chronic component of the various economies, indispensable to make appear as growth, or at least as stability, a substantial weakening and progressive impoverishment of a society's economic conditions. These are obviously expedients that allow to prolong a state of incipient agony.
The second symptom is represented by the consistent migratory flows of masses of people who, coming from very different cultures, try to reach the areas considered to be among the richest on the planet, in order to settle there and improve – in one way or another – their life chances. These areas are typically those best organized according to the canons of Western culture, which assumes – naively or perhaps presumptuously – to be able to incorporate and assimilate other cultures, even very different ones. In this regard, the intrinsic contradiction in our culture should be highlighted, which on the one hand establishes laws for the protection of its territorial areas – which are illegally circumvented, through expedients of all kinds, by migrants and by those who organize their flows for profit – and on the other hand tries to defend, not to get its hands dirty, the human solidarity values and the principles of hospitality and help deriving from them. Despite the hypocrisy that characterizes it, our culture is well aware that these values are only applicable to limited and occasional minorities, while migratory flows of conspicuous masses such as the current ones, self-feed over time, due to the increase in the number of humans ready to move from their places of origin to areas where they think they can live better – also called by those who have already settled there – inevitably ending up causing a deterioration from within of the culture that should assimilate them. The idea that a multicultural society can exist is a contradiction in terms, because it is a culture that forms a society and constitutes its foundation: it would be like saying that a language can be multilingual. A language can coexist with other languages different from each other, provided that all those who speak in those languages are also able to speak and understand the main language, otherwise that language will no longer be able to perform its function and will be replaced, over time, by another common language.
The third symptom is the end of the traditional family as a stable social nucleus responsible for cultural (or sub-cultural) transmission. Obviously, the traditional family, made up of father, mother, children, and sometimes one or more grandparents, has often been anything but idyllic, and the conflicts and tensions of psychic origin in which its members, each in its role, were involved, could occur more or less frequently, depending on the case. However, it was also an area of culturally defined relationships, in which the members could train, facing and overcoming the difficulties of life, helping and supporting each other with a spirit of solidarity, also towards the psychic dynamics that involved the one or the other member. Alongside very degraded familiar milieus, there were also excellent families, and in any case family constituted the primary institutional nucleus to which – for many centuries – the transmission of the basic cultural programs of our society was entrusted. Certainly, if the traditional family has gone into crisis there are good reasons, which always fall within those reactions of the psychic dynamics that direct human behavior: I am only interested in highlighting how the fact that our culture is no longer able to defend a basic institution, such as the traditional family has been for a long time, is in itself symptomatic of a decline in its capacity to organize the roles for cultural transmission, destined to result in a phase of more or less chaotic and more or less prolonged agony, before a new form of cultural reorganization arises.
It is interesting to note how, for all the three criticalities previously listed, it is possible to find valid arguments in favor of each of the alternatives taken into account: in fact, currents of opinion are formed in favor of one or the other alternative, which end conflicting even drastically, especially on a political level. This is how the human psyche works. The fact that, in a democratic system, one or the other current of opinion prevails, or that they alternate over time, does not offer any guarantee regarding the possibility that the problems to be faced can be solved: indeed, not rarely they are precisely the currents of opinion that enjoy the greatest consensus that cause remarkable cultural disasters. Furthermore, the same conflictuality triggered by the division into two (or more) opposing fields represents in itself the manifestation of a factor of disintegration characteristic of the psyche: not surprisingly some people are led to believe that human life consists in a permanent state of competition and fight, and behave accordingly. Obviously, there are also very different psychic attunements, which tend towards harmony, conciliation and agreement, but all this confirms the impression that the human psyche, as a whole, be in any case a form of bipolar energy that springs from a tension present between the negative and the positive pole.
The conscious Ego's evolution
Inserted into this bipolar energy field, human beings – meaning every single organism capable of experiencing a fragment of the dynamics generated by the human psyche – spend the time of their life identifying themselves, as a rule, with the role that destiny has reserved to them: this human condition, which can be very different from individual to individual, generates in each one some psychic reactions that involve consciousness to such an extent that the great majority of humans do not even set themselves the goal of researching and knowing their own true inner essence, contenting themselves with the automatic, passive and submissive experimentation of their own psychic dynamics, as they manifest over time. I define this condition as human automaton, not because it corresponds to that of a mechanical robot – even if certain aspects of cultural conditioning have the effectiveness of a true programming – but because it lacks the recognition of an autonomous and independent inner essence with respect to the circumstances of life and, above all, the psychic reactions deriving from them. What is experienced by the human automaton, and the way in which it behaves and acts, depends on something that transcends and dominates it through its physical and mental system: our culture comes to claim that we are nothing but our own body and our brain, that is, a living machine.
In the first phase of life we all experience the condition of a human automaton, living in the environmental conditions that destiny reserves for us, assimilating the programs of the culture (or sub-culture) in which we are raised, and fully identifying ourselves with the psychic reactions that involve us, determine our behaviors and make us believe – given our lack of experience – that also others be as we think they are, and that they function more or less like us. As time goes on, we acquire more and more information about the environment in which we live – each one in relation to their cultural milieu – and about life in general, and we experience the psychic dynamics activated by the events in which we are involved, especially due to our own interactions with others. We thus become aware of the substantial differences that characterize the various human beings (or rather, the various human automata), but not for this, as a rule, the conscious Ego is able to face the difficult task of separating itself from the psychic dynamics that involve it and with which it identifies. Indeed, precisely the perception of the extreme and complex variety of the psychic tunings that involve others – each according to their own destiny – strengthens the grip and the power that our psychic tunings have on a conscious Ego still not very evolved, and thus weak and vulnerable, whether they stimulate and delude it through desires and emotions, or torment it with the fears and sufferings generated by particular events.
The Ego's consciousness is thus flooded by a continuous flow of information, commands, thoughts, evaluations, judgments, desires, programs and positive or negative moods that characterize arbitrarily and without any apparent purpose, other than the whim of destiny, the interior life of every human automaton, and consequently also their behavior. For most humans the life experience is exhausted in this random flow, constantly confronted with the more or less imaginary flows which are attributed to others, some of which are envied because they are considered, with some reason, more gratifying of what fate has assigned to us, while other ones are repulsive to us and to be avoided by any means, so much so that we rejoice because they have not been our lot: yet someone else's conscious Ego had to endure them. This is the overall picture of human life, as it was in the past and as it also shows itself in our days. In this context, the disconcerting difference in individual destinies constitutes a problem and a challenge for which humans have in vain tried to find, in one way or another, a satisfactory solution: which should not surprise us too much, because the tension that gives rise to different individual destinies derives from the same bipolar nature of the psychic energy, and therefore it is naive to rely on a solution revealed by the human psyche itself.
Even when the need is felt to understand the reason for the sensible differences between the various individual destinies, the attempts at explanation proposed by the psyche never have the value of a reliable knowledge, but rather fall within the mental devices through which the psyche conditions and controls the conscious Ego. The simplest of these explanations consists in convincing the Ego that life is what it is, due to the natural origin of our organism and the rules that govern nature, and therefore everyone must necessarily live the experiences that a blind fate assigns them, for better or for worse. A more complex explanation – on which it is worth reflecting since it is particularly valued by our current culture – proposes as the purpose of life the social and cultural commitment aimed at balancing individual destinies as much as possible, bringing them to the best possible level of satisfaction. The premise of this explanation is that human life can progress from a level of misery, unhappiness and dejection (the infamous «tears valley»), to a level of well-being, satisfaction and confidence in the future: actually, in the last century, scientific and technological progress has achieved extraordinary and undeniable successes in this respect, at least for a part of mankind. However, if this explanation is applied to human life as a natural phenomenon in itself concluded, it is also necessary to point out its limits.
First of all, those who died in the past, having endured all sorts of tribulations and sufferings, would not derive any advantage from our present well-being or from the possible and uncertain well-being of future generations. Moreover, even in our day individual destinies can be very different from each other, and since they all end in death, one gets the impression that the way to go to create more balanced conditions for all mankind is still very long, uncertain and full of obstacles. Today's improved living conditions have meant that the number of simultaneously living humans has tripled in just 70 years, thereby increasing the use of the planet's resources and stimulating competition for the control of these resources. The complexity of social interactions required by the production and distribution of technological products implies that people must increasingly function just as human automata, depriving them of the energy and resources necessary for the evolution of the conscious Ego. Therefore, considering mankind as a whole, even the current conditions of individual destinies can show substantial differences. Finally, given the bipolar character of psychic energy, the current and future commitment of those who work with dedication to improve the general conditions of humanity will always be offset by the commitment of those who seek to take advantage, in terms of acquisition of personal or group wealth or power, from the new socio-cultural conditions that are gradually created. Even in this case, being part of the group of the good fellows, or of the evil ones, depends on the psychic tunings that ensnare the conscious Ego: not infrequently, especially in the political field, we can find people who belong to both groups.
The motivation to commit oneself to the common good, in case that this behavior is not simply determined by programs of cultural conditioning, may arise from the belief that such commitment will be adequately rewarded once this life is over. This conviction – which too has a psychic origin – is not based only on a kind of utilitarian calculation, but on the recognition of the fact that human life, in its progress over time, is the manifestation of a project to which we wish to give our own contribution: a point of view that must already be present in the current cultural programs which aim to promote social commitment. It would not be understandable, in fact, why we should commit ourselves to the common good, if then all our efforts in relation to this goal could still be thwarted by chance events, unless we establish that, beyond the results obtained and their permanence, our commitment will still be recognized and rewarded by a superior entity. In fact, a project aimed at achieving a purpose also requires the existence of a planner, at whose service we can put our resources. We thus fall within the field of those interpretations that attribute to a dimension other than that in which human life normally takes place – and to the entities that dwell in that dimension – the compensation of the imbalances, injustices and sufferings to which so many humans have been subjected during this life, due to their own destiny. In relation to this interpretative framework, many questions arise for which satisfactory answers cannot be found, from a cognitive point of view, given the lack of any evidential documentation, with the exception of mediumistic communications, with all the inconsistencies that they show us.
The variant according to which the current conditions of our life would depend on the karma accumulated in the course of previous lives seems to me a naive gimmick of the psyche completely devoid of interest, at least from the point of view of the conscious Ego, which is well aware of the fact that its formation and evolution are related to its current life, while the traces of other lives may eventually emerge, in some cases, in the psychic experience, as non-ordinary states of consciousness, like certain dream experiences whose reality is indistinguishable from that of the waking state. But to argue that the condition of our current life depends on the actions performed in a previous life, without having identified a conscious subject to whom the continuity of this cycle of existences can be referred – and the relationship between this subject and the conscious Ego – is equivalent, in my opinion, to claiming that the conditions of my life depend on the actions performed by someone else, who may also be a contemporary of mine: as is obvious, in the context of a socio-cultural system all individual lives are interconnected, and it is a matter of fact that the lives of some individuals have had a very strong impact on the fate of thousands or millions of other humans. But on what becomes of the human experience of each of us once this life is over we have no reliable information. What seems to me really important, therefore, is the faculty offered to the conscious Ego to claim its own right to existence, regardless of the more or less unfathomable and insecure plots in which the human psyche ensnares it. It is obviously the right to an existence not subject to the precariousness that characterizes human life.
Since the Ego, living this life, can take the opportunity offered to it to enhance the resources of its own consciousness and to broaden the knowledge at its disposal, as it proceeds along this evolutionary path it becomes increasingly aware of the essentially bipolar – and consequently conflictual – nature of the psychic energy, in its various fragmentations and in the contrasts that derive from it. The experience of the domination exerted by the psyche both over the organization of sociocultural systems and over any personal aspect of life, due to the identification of the Ego with the psychic dynamics that involve it, translates into the predisposition of the conscious Ego to a different existential condition, preceded by a phase of liberation which usually coincides with death, but can also be anticipated, if the circumstances of the last part of this life allow it. Leaving aside those who believe that death brings about the ultimate annihilation of the conscious Ego (since in this case there is no issue about the possibility of an alternative existence in another dimension), most humans who have an expectation in this sense believe that they will have to face an entity (or a plurality of entities) that still represents a higher power, from which the Ego hopes to receive a greater benevolence than the conditions experienced during human life, but may also fear that it will have to undergo a worse treatment. In any case, this is an extrapolation of the hopes and fears (of psychic origin) that the Ego experiences in the course of human existence. Alternatively, the conscious Ego can lay the foundations for a different psychic condition of its existence, based on an agreement with the spirit.
The spirit is a non-bipolar form of energy, which exerts an almost irrelevant influence in human affairs, because it is screened by the much more intense energy emanating from the psyche's bipolar field. One could compare the spirit to a very bright but distant star, visible at night but not during the day, when the light of the sun – a less bright but much closer to us star – prevents it from being seen. The attraction exerted by the spirit on the conscious Ego, however weak, can be perceived more or less intensely – depending on the level of consciousness evolution – but in order to go towards the spirit the Ego must be able to get over the intense force field generated by the human psyche, within which it is caged. The magnetic attraction force that the psyche exerts on the conscious Ego is very intense, so much so as to make the Ego doubt that it will ever be able to go beyond the energy barrier constituted by the psychic tunings that involve it and bind it to life. Death offers the conscious Ego the opportunity to escape from the psyche's energy field, provided that the Ego has acquired sufficient autonomy with respect to the psyche itself, in order to have enough energy and elasticity to be able to abandon the psychic field maintaining the awareness of its own existence, otherwise it would run the risk of being consumed by the psychic field, when the latter fades away. To save itself from this risk, the Ego should necessarily resort to the help of some higher entity that comes to its rescue: it may also be that this help is always guaranteed to every creature who has lived reaching a sufficient level of consciousness, according to the rules of a cosmic project that goes far beyond our cognitive faculties.
If, on the other hand, the Ego manages to pass beyond the barrier of the psyche's field of forces, entering the field of attraction of the spirit, it finds itself in the condition of being able to develop its potential outside the conflicts and needs imposed by the human psyche, and in accordance with a form of energy that helps it to develop in tune and harmony with its true nature. If we want to represent, in some way, the spirit's dimension, we have to remember that the dynamics of the human psyche which we experience and know are determined by our temporary bodily existence on planet Earth: the spirit could be considered as an energy that feeds life in a very different way than the psyche, on another planet belonging to another star system, far from our Sun. Instead of having to believe that in every other world of this huge Universe the same psychic dynamics that feed and regulate life on this planet must necessarily work, we are free to imagine that completely different forms of energy operate on other worlds, which support the evolution of conscious life and the development of the Ego in accordance with the demands of the true nature of the latter. And since, just as this Universe exists, other alternative Universes can also exist, death can represent the occasion and the opportunity to transfer the conscious Ego to a different world or a different dimension, freeing it from the mooring cables and anchors that keep it bound to the psychic dimension of this world, in which it usually remains ensnared due to the habits contracted during human life.
Therefore, those who have a sufficiently evolved conscious Ego, and the necessary resources, should not consider death as an unfortunate event – thinking that it definitively puts an end to the only possible form of existence – but should prepare themselves in such a way as to be able to wait and welcome it with confidence and with the optimism that accompanies the spirit of adventure, which leads to extend the boundaries of experience and knowledge. The fact that this orientation is in contrast with our culture's predominant vision is determined by the collective energy of the human psyche, which exerts its effects by keeping the conscious Ego anchored to this life as much as possible. Usually the Ego arrives at the final phase of life already drained of the energies needed to prepare itself adequately for the encounter with death, indeed – under the drive of the psychic dynamics that control it – it still tries to postpone this mandatory event, however precarious and miserable may have become the conditions in which it continues to live. Here it is enough to point out that our culture knows nothing of what can happen to the conscious Ego outside the boundaries of human life, just as it cannot know the conditions in which a conscious existence may occur on a planet located thousands or millions of light years from our world: therefore, any inference about it is determined by the tunings of the human psyche that control the conscious Ego, which will lose their effectiveness at the moment of death, but which – if the conscious Ego succeeds in this enterprise – can be turned off even before.