One morning last August I was reading an article in an old Harper’s magazine about the origins of the First World War. The article explained what was happening in the world at the time, and it described the feeling of being alive then as an all-pervasive state of hopelessness, denial, despair, boredom, and malaise; a lack of interest in life. There was a sense that there wasn’t anything anyone could do to change things.
But with the assassination of the Archduke of Austria war broke loose, and triggered an explosion of excitement in the world. War seemed to offer the possibility of moving out of the swamp of generalized misery and hopelessness into a fresh and wondrous adventure, something which might just restore a feeling of the excitement in being alive. “The war to end all war,” they called it.
All of this was, of course, merely an opportunity to move the blame for the misery that had been festering internally to the enemy outside. And also, of course, that excitement could not, and did not, last very long. Soon all of Europe was smothered in corpses and drenched in blood, and the horror and stench of war covered the earth.
We’ve seen many wars since then.
And now, in our time, the same sense of hopelessness and despair is growing larger and more burdensome every day. War and rumors of war abound in Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and, most frighteningly, in Syria where we have been told to beware the arising of a “proxy war” between Russia and the United States, the two most militarily powerful nations on the planet.
Already, millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes by the civil war and are suffering terrible degradation as they seek refuge in the Middle East and Europe.
I won’t try to explain the terrible detail of all this misery. It is all the symptoms of the fear of life writ large; the same misery we have always known. But the drumbeat of fear is growing, and the world seems to be getting ready to march again into yet another world war. We may manage to stave it off one more time, but just for a while, not forever. And when it does come, it will be the most gruesome blood bath ever known. Given the glut of atrocious weaponry at our hands now, a world war actually could put an end to the human adventure once and for all.
But, war or no war, something is terribly wrong with us, and has been for a very long time. Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders ravage the human experience of life everywhere. If you are a human being, there is a very good chance that you suffer from one or more of the hundreds of psychological disorders defined in the professional literature.
The chances are also very good that you have attempted or thought about suicide as a solution to your suffering at some point in your life. Or you know someone who has. Shockingly, for human beings between the ages of 11 and 44, suicide is one of the top three causes of death worldwide. And failed suicide attempts are as much as 20 times more frequent than successful suicides.
If you take a close, objective look at the behavior of human beings, you will find it hard not to conclude that humanity is-that is to say, we are-for the most part insane.
Sane human beings do not rape, murder, and torture one another. Sane human beings do not devastate the habitat, do not seek wealth without regard for the common good, and do not seek to dominate and demonize other human beings.
Sane human beings are compassionate and fair-minded. They honor practical intelligence. And they know that we are all in this life together, for better or worse.
And yet, after all we have seen and done; after all the butchery, pillage and plunder we have inflicted on ourselves and others; after all we have learned about the nature of things; after all the religious, philosophical, spiritual, psychological, social and economic work we have done trying to understand why we are as we are and to help us live up to a standard of behavior in keeping with our actual nature, despite all of that, we continue to murder, torture, rape, dominate, demonize, butcher, pillage, and plunder one another.
How can it be that after all we have seen and done in the hundreds of thousands of years we have been on this planet, we still seem hell-bent on spoiling our own habitat and stubbornly resist doing anything about it? Instead, we bicker while the earth burns.
So, it’s a fair question: Who is to blame for all this madness? Who is to blame for all this horror, all this stupidity? Who?
Well, no one, really. No one is to blame.
All of our self-defeating and aggressive habits of behavior and relationship, all of our misery and disappointment in ourselves and in our lives, spring from one simple cause: the fear of life itself, which drives us insane.
The fear of life comes upon almost all of us accidentally, at or near birth, when the shock and violence of our arrival sets the context and contaminates the soil upon which our entire psychology will take form over time. All of our understandings, all of our bedrock assumptions, all of our likes and dislikes, and even our sense of identity itself, are shaped in this fog of fear, corrupted by the stench of hopelessness and alienation it exudes.
The fear of life is a psychological autoimmune disease. It seeks to protect us from the danger of being alive by holding life itself at arm’s length lest we fall in and perish. It warps the lens of personal psychology through which we perceive the meaning, validity, and the likely effect of everything that happens to us, with us, within us, and around us. It creates and maintains the delusion that life is not safe, that life is not to be trusted. It spoils life for us.
The fear of life disease is the cause of it all, and the worldwide madness is the face of its symptoms: greed, murder, torture, rape, domination, demonization, butchering, pillaging, plundering, and war making.
But no one is to blame.
You are not to blame. I am not to blame. The Russians are not to blame, the Serbs, the inflamed religious warriors, the Israelis, the Palestinians, the warlords in Africa, the drug merchants in South America, the impotent Western democracies, none are to blame.
Every single human being who is behaving in a self-destructive, insane, and hateful manner is doing so from a diseased mind that has been spoiled by the sense that there is something wrong that makes life not worth living, and from the desperate need to do something about it. Every single person who engages in self-destructive behavior and spreads their misery to others does so because of the fear. You can’t blame any of them, any more that you can blame a rabid dog for foaming at the mouth.
So here we are, once again caught in a cyclical pattern of inflicting upon oneself and others ever greater horrors. That sweet allurement of externalizing the inner misery is back again, with greater strength and destructive power than ever before. Only this time we are poisoning the habitat we share with all other creatures, driven by the madness that sees life itself to be the enemy.
There is an astonishingly simple solution to this madness. If you will make one attempt to get the direct experience of what it feels like to be you, of what you refer to when you say the word “me,” the cause of this sickness will be destroyed, and you will begin a journey from fearfulness and confusion to self-reliance and love of life. This is our promise to you.
There is no need to take on any new understanding or belief to do this and there is no need to abandon any existing understanding or belief. You do not even need to believe that this will work. All that’s needed is to do it.
Every day, we receive confirming reports from people all over the world of how this act has transformed their relationship with their lives. These reports always follow the same pattern. After that first faint taste of what it actually feels like to be you, the person, there is most often a period of sweetness and well-being that can last for days, weeks, and even several months. That sweetness is often followed by a period of distress and disturbance. That experience of mental distress is the energy of the dying diseased mind, and we think of that period as a time of recovery. But this confusion won’t last forever, and we offer a couple of methods you can use to minimize the confusion and shorten the time of recovery. They are easily available to you at no cost or obligation whatsoever on our website.
After some time, the troubles of the recovery fade away, as clarity and sanity begin to dawn. A new relationship with life slowly takes form, now free of the sickly existential fear and the endless mental conflict and alienation. An understanding of the true nature of human being begins to take shape and finally we become truly human.
So we blame no one. We have no enemies. The disease is to blame and it can be cured without blaming or punishing anyone, and without requiring anyone to change the way they think or the way they live their lives.
Just one look takes care of it all.