We are hungry for food.
We are hungry for sensorimotor experiences, ie for perceiving the world with our senses and moving in it.
And we are hungry for comprehending the world and creating in it, ie changing it. This third type of hunger is mental hunger – curiosity.
The purpose of hunger is to let us grow. The purpose of mental hunger (curiosity) is to let us grow mentally to living our full potential as humans.
Natural mental hunger can be seen in children. Children are passionately curious and permanently explore the world. They ask the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ in uncountable many ways with all senses in order to receive answers. We call this “play.” Answers are mental food. A child whose biological needs are fulfilled and thus can explore the world in its play experiences joy, fulfillment, and a deep contentment with life because it lives its full potential.
Imagine a child named Peter. Peter is totally absorbed by his play. It is noon and a parent calls him for a meal. Peter says that he is not hungry. But he has to obey. He has to stop his play and eat.
Peter indeed is not hungry for physical food. If we passionately engage in something, we are not hungry for food. We are hungry for what we do and we feed from what we do. An image of Picasso dropping his brush and palette because his wife calls him for a meal is preposterous.
Peter must not satisfy his mental hunger with mental food. Instead, he must eat physical food although he is not physically hungry. Therefore, Peter is trained to try to use eating as a substitute channel for mental hunger. He learns to substitute-curiously explore the fridge instead of true-curiously explore the world. The problem with this is that it does not work. Physical food cannot satisfy mental hunger.
As we grow up we learn to try to use also other substitute channels for our mental hunger, which don’t work either. I described them in my (German language) book “Neugier: Der geistige Hunger des Menschen” (“Curiosity: The Mental Hunger of Humans”).
Diverting the power of mental hunger (true curiosity) into substitute channels developed as a “mental heritage” over countless generations of humans. We learned it from our parents, our children learn it from us. This heritage prevents us from living our full potential.
Since we unlearned to satisfy our natural mental hunger properly, we remain mentally hungry, ie we are permanently mentally unsatisfied. This shows as a yearning. None of what we learned as substitute methods stops this yearning. This keeps us in a loop of trying to find satisfaction. The search for happiness is one of those. In truth, we just yearn for living our full potential (see my blog post “The Other Story of the Eagle in the Chicken Coop”.) The key for living our full potential is the true passionate curiosity from our childhood.
There are only few adults who at least partly escaped the programming of the diversion of the power of mental hunger and thus could live a much greater portion of their potential. Examples are Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Nikola Tesla.
Everybody can become truly curious again as a key to live their full potential. This requires to become free from the programs that we received when we grew up.
photo by Colin Maynard on unsplash.com
I spent years exploring the origins of our behavior. It is brought forth by the rules that we permanently learn knowingly and unknowingly by living and having social contacts. Every encounter, every movie, every book, every sentence that we hear or read, every behavior that we perceive, everything changes us. Everything contributes to who we are, how we behave, what decisions we make, and thus influences our future life.
We can visualize these rules as boxes we are in. One of my boxes is the “Austrian food habit” box, in which I am because I grew up in Austria. If I would have been moved to Japan as a baby, I now would be in a “Japanese food habit” box instead. Until my mid-twenties I was in the “always eat breakfast” box. I started each day with a breakfast without ever asking myself if I was hungry. Then I read a book about how healthy fasting is. The book explained that the breakfast is but the breaking of the nightly fast and that by skipping breakfast one extends the nightly fast by a few hours, which was argued to be healthy. This argument convinced me, so I left the “always eat breakfast” box for the “never eat breakfast” box, which, clearly, is just as limiting. I also found countless social behavior boxes. My father was a gentleman – a gentle man – and the rules/boxes that evolved from this contribute to how I treat women.
During more than four years of intensively exploring my behavior and human behavior in general I found countless boxes in all areas of life. We behave how we have learned to behave. There are boxes all humans are in. There are boxes that create cultural, ethnic, national, and religious characteristics. There are boxes that create family traits. And so on. I am unique because of my personal mix of boxes.
We were born with only biological needs and no boxes. As long as these needs (such as for food) were fulfilled, we experienced true contentment with life. But then we inevitably started to copy the behavior of the people around us – just like in “The Other Story of the Eagle in the Chicken Coop” the baby eagle copies the behavior of all other birds. We inherit not just the genes. We inherit also the boxes. The genes come from our parents. The boxes come from everybody and everything we encounter in the real world or in virtual (media) worlds. We also take on the boxes of fictitious people from TV, cinema, internet, computer games, and books. “Infection” happens through perception and there is nothing we can do about it. Our parents received their boxes from their parents and peers. And so on. Our boxes represent thousands of generations of human lives and the fantasies of authors, filmmakers, computer game producers, advertising people, and so on.
Our contentment with life got lost as these boxes emerged. Now we are busy following the boxes/rules and trying to satisfy the mental needs that arise from them. (More about this in my next article.)
But the memory of how we felt during early childhood exists and creates a yearning: a yearning for a life without boxes. This yearning makes us experience the boxes as a prison. What does this do to us?
Since, biologically, we are animals, our behavior is rooted in animal behavior. Therefore, we need to ask: How does an animal react to imprisonment? It uses aggression to break free.
Our boxes cause subliminal aggression. This aggression accumulates over time and, eventually, a small cause can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The result can be outbursts or “inbursts”, ie the aggression can turn outwards or inwards. Outward aggression shows as violence anywhere between banging one’s fist on the table and running amok. Inward aggression shows as accidents or diseases anywhere between a flu, psychic disorders, burn out, and cancer.
In order to reexperience the true contentment with life that we yearn for, there is only one path: Become free from the boxes.
One could argue that without boxes/rules there would be chaos and people would start killing each other. But this is only partially true.
Consider a group of small children, who still are largely free from boxes. They just would have fun playing together. They would never start killing each other. Only when they see such behavior, they start copying it.
According to our evolutionary genealogy, we carry both a chimpanzee and a bonobo in us. Genetically, they are our closest relatives. (More about this in a future article.) Chimps are aggressive and beat, rape, and kill each other. Bonobos are friendly and play together. The boxes bring out the chimp in us. Without the boxes we could live a bonobo style life. But this transition can only happen if people have to courage to become free from their boxes. This cannot be achieved collectively. This can only be achieved individually. I explored and experienced this during more than four years.
I described the mechanisms behind the boxes in the book “Consciousness : Its Purpose, Nature, and How to Use It” and I wrote about the boxes in my German language book “Neugier : Der geistige Hunger des Menschen”.
Copyright (c) Bernhard Kutzler
Photo by Hannes Kutzler.
One day an eagle laid an egg in a chicken coop. The egg hatched and the newborn eagle learned from his peers how to live like a chicken. Life seemed great. However, there was a yearning in him that made him seek. But none of what he found truly satisfied this yearning.
Would it help if someone told him that he is not a chicken, but an eagle? No, this would not help. The eagle has learned to “be” a chicken; he carries a “chicken program” that tells him how to behave under which circumstances. He feels safe and comfortable “being” a chicken – except for the unsatisfied yearning.
Would it help if the eagle attended an eagle seminar in order to learn to be an eagle? No, this would not help either. Learning to be an eagle would install an eagle program that would overlay the chicken program. Then he would be an eagle who believes he is a chicken who has learned some eagle behavior, which would be even more confusing than continuing to live as a chicken.
The only way for the eagle to be what he truly is, is to free himself from the chicken program.
Why did the eagle’s mother lay her egg in a chicken coop in the first place? Because she also lives in the chicken coop and believes that she is a chicken. In fact, all birds in the chicken coop are eagles who believe that they are chickens. And this has been so for 200 thousand years.
This story describes the essence of my findings after living for 3.5 years with no social interaction and no print and electronic media in order to fully focus on exploring consciousness and human behavior.
Humans carry a human chicken program, which I call the human program for short. This program developed from 200 thousand years of mental evolution. I described the underlying mechanisms in the book “Consciousness : Its Nature, Purpose, and How to Use It”.
More than 99% of the global human behavior is a result of the human program. If we consider the troubles humankind is in, it seems as if something has gone wrong. But nothing has gone wrong, for evolution has no goal. Today’s human program just developed in uncountably many small steps during uncountably many human lives.
But that does not mean that the resulting behavior is „natural.” It is only the result of conditionings, some of which are as old as humankind. Therefore, this behavior can be transcended. In other words, things don’t have to remain as they are.
Copyright (c) Bernhard Kutzler
Photo by Dulcey Lima on unsplash.com