in a nutshell, in order to be modern humans, i.e. language-using beings with a robust capacity for detailed, long-range planning, we need to imagine ourselves as separate, persistent and singular. much of what it means to become human, both in terms of child development and the long-term human evolution consists of the elaboration and reification of this self-construct. the self-construct is constantly chewing over past activity and building plans for the future. these retrospective and prospective narratives come with emotional tags that are used to rate and evaluate them. it is constantly, assuming, generalizing, jumping to conclusions, explaining and rationalizing. and, as anyone who has tried to meditate for more than 10 minutes will tell you, it never, EVER seems to shut up.
the problem with all this is that we’re not really as separate, either from each other or from the wider world, as we imagine ourselves to be. nor are we particularly persistent or consistent, even when considered on relatively short time scales. the fundamental agendas of our self-construct are often, perhaps constantly, in conflict with the ever-changing, fundamentally ungraspable nature of the reality in which they are inextricably embedded. we want the world and the beings in it to be the way we see them – the way we need them to be. we imagine that both the world and our relationship with it are static and intelligible. we want more of what we think we want and less of what we think we don’t want. we resist change as though our life depended on it. all this in spite of the fact that life is a gift beyond measure and the world, just as it is, is a miracle beyond our wildest imaginings.
no wonder we want out.