How many of us truly appreciate the role that instinct plays in our lives? Long ago, our ancestors dreamed up myths of self-importance that distanced our species from other living things. We are told, “Don’t be an animal” and that Mankind was created in God’s image (1). One way or another, every culture has its spiritual elitist story.
The irony is that by associating humanity with a ‘spiritual high ground’, these stories disconnect us from the cosmic whole, so to speak. How can we feel truly connected if we start off by seeing ourselves endowed with the power to transcend our humbler animal reality. From a symptoms point of view I’d say such stories are rather signs of our unique ‘not knowing this knowing disease‘.
I was either going to name this post “Instinct Liberates” or “Instinct Cures”, but “Born Again Taoist” had a better ring to it. Even so, I imagine many will regard my instinct rules point of view as too demeaning or materialistic. In truth, instinct is at the heart of all life on earth. What could be more spiritual than feeling at one with Mother Earth’s whole biosphere? Instinct moves all animals to do what they do. This plays out in us cognitively as well because we have large brains with minds that think. We just think we are different, which disconnects us cognitively — hence the disease. While often helpful, no amount of “God loves you” can bridge that divide and cure the disease, as I see it anyway.
Much of life’s stresses arise from how we think we should be, or how others should be. Such stories are insidious poisons that eat at the heart and soul of our lives. These stories are fabricated from the ideals of what we should or could be if only _______(you fill in the blank). We carry this mental baggage around throughout life (2). Ideals easily leave us feeling unbalanced and disconnected—diseased. Realizing and admitting that all we are arises innately from instinct helps reconnect us to all life on earth. It liberates us from unrealistic ideals and expectations. It allows us to be as natural as the day we were born—to be a born again Taoist. 😉
In Free Willers Anonymous I said, “Wouldn’t admitting one is an instinctive free willer—powerless over core emotions—be a realistic first step to recovery of one’s innate nature—one’s dharma simply put. Sure, “recovery” may sound like we are choosing to do or change something for the better. However, the only thing that truly shifts is our perspective — the eye of the beholder. This helps bring your ideal self and real self into closer alignment. With that, you naturally contend less with the way things are and live life more gracefully.
(1) For example, see the comment *** FREE WILLERS ANONYMOUS *** by Jonathan Paul Coneby on Centertao Facebook page.
(2) These ideals arise from instinct as well, so we need not beat ourselves up for harboring them… even if they mess up our lives. We can’t help it; we have a genetic predisposition to our ‘addiction’ to ideals. This situation is similar to our innate attraction to calorie rich food; it served us well in the wild, but it easily becomes a liability in civilized circumstance. Then, ‘less is more’ become the way to live in balance.
I don’t know if any particular ideal we harbor arises from a specific instinct, group of neurons, an emergent property of deeper drives, or just the blending of simpler distinct drives. But, who cares? The point is, it all arises from our innate nature. Nature is efficient and employs basic elements in myriad emergent ways to fulfill its dynamic role in creation. Exactly what and how are questions science struggles to answer; in the end, the answer is still the same: it is nature’s way.
Of ancients adept in the way, none ever use it to enlighten people,
They will use it in order to fool them.
People are difficult to govern because they are too intelligent.
Therefore, using intelligence to govern the country injures the country.
Not using intelligence to govern the country blesses the country.
Know these both and investigate their patterns.
Always investigate the patterns.
That is called profound moral character.
Moral character, profound indeed, distant indeed!
To the outside world, contrary indeed.
Then, and only then, reaching great conformity.