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.