Awakening with Trump
An evolving history of consciousness.
What exactly does this new presidency mean? What are we really seeing here? And where do we go from now?
This election is not about Trump; it’s about frustrations, feelings of general human helplessness — both around ineffectual governments and around our individual lack of agency and vitality and, above all, a special kind of imbalance, which we can consider together.
The imbalance or fundamental confusion lies around being both an individual and part of a group. In terms of human evolution, this is really what explains the polarization of people, anywhere. Other animals don’t experience this kind of polarity because their cohabitation patterns are relatively consistent. They don’t develop them as well because they have not evolved abstract foresight. This means that they cannot think “what if.” “What if I don’t have enough money tomorrow to pay for my kids college tuition?”
I think back to an age where perhaps all of this got started. 50 to 100 thousand years ago we left the forest for the planes, in order to find new sources of food. To defend against larger predators, we had to cooperate in new ways in the open planes.
Planning, foresight, and a complex orientation to the (sudden idea) of time — and “my self in time” — evolved. In the evolution of memory and consciousness, this ability to say “my life,” “my future,” and “WHAT IF,” took on a new meaning and became an abstract narrative compass for decision-making, INDEPENDENT OF SUBSISTENCE. An elephant doesn’t need to know it is an elephant. But humans knew “we were,” and we knew that we knew we were. And then we had something very clear to divide. And the first thing that we divided in this new knowledge was ourselves from ourselves. Unlike the other animals, we knew ourselves to be naked.
We obtained a compass for more abstract forms of identity, conceptual fear (including financial fear) power, and more complex forms corruption and manipulation. No longer requiring one toilet for our business, we began to define our “selves” in relation to the “abstract self,” which may need 4 or 5 toilets and 3 cars, and a better (imaginary) portfolio than our neighbor.
It is in this specific ability to displace time and to think about the past and the future that we advanced in the organization of management and technology as well as organized our acquisitive fears. We tried to defend ourselves using a set of tools that actually became a limitation as much as an asset. The undying engine for this organization that we call civilization is the desire to understand ourselves as self & group. And this is what a government represents.
Government is intended to support this conceptual blind spot, and to take care of what the eye of the individual cannot reach peripherally. That is its function.
Currently the individual mind is not equipped to understand being in a group. Why? Because you experience yourself; you don’t experience the group. You have an IDEA of the group. Other animals don’t have ideas of “the group;” they simply cohabitate. Nor are we able to viscerally understand that the group is made up of individuals. That is, you experience your “self” first.
Yesterday’s result is an eruption out of that imbalance — the self lost in the group, and the group displaced from the self — and yesterday we specifically used anger and patriotism to attempt to treat this imbalance.
But if we look closely, are we not together in this?
We are easily convinced of our political polarity. We feel separate and frightened, and we feel this way in the context of “the other’s side’s” actions, which — are they not — also responses to fear and distress and separation? But by this shared distress, we see the common ground and we see that if the underlying nature of the situation were not a psychological and ecological common denominator, we would not be able to have such massive impact on each other. If we were indeed separate, none of this would matter.
But, life and its ecology wouldn’t be here either. So where is the unity?
At first glance, it would seem that the individual mind is not equipped to understand being in a group. Again, it would seem that you experience yourself first.
But what if it became blaringly obvious that we are not two?
There is a clever but blinding contradiction hardwired into our evolutionary mode of self-preservation, in that we actively avoid understanding the group/self unity out of fear of losing that self. And that is a bewildering contradiction. George Bush once put it this way:
“We must focus on the economy [self] if we want to have a strong environment (group) because everyone knows that if we have a strong economy (group), the environment (self) will become strong automatically.” — George W Bush
With the use of the parenthesis above, we can see how clearly there simply is no difference between the self and the group.
Bush’s words represent a kind of brilliance in neglecting the self (environment) by way of trying to protect the self (financial stability). We can see this in terms of ecology, but can we see this in terms of consciousness?
Cooperation and consciousness evolved in such a way to organize the mind to live simultaneously in larger groups than ever before but also in more compartmentalized and private forms of living. In our current lifestyles, we no longer directly experience that the good of the group is the good of the individual and vice versa.
The reason that we cannot see ourselves and respond immediately as the group is that the consciousness has not historically evolved in order that we experience ourselves AS the group and the group AS ourselves. But this is our birthright.
As our birthright, the transformation of consciousness has the possibility to stabilize the balance between two things that aren’t even two. The latter is why it is our birthright.
Moving forward, there are a lot of things to say, such as: we must focus on community in order to see how it works as an independent organism to serve both the group and the individual; we ought to find ways to exercise compassion outside and in the midst of our greed and acquisitive fears; we ought to speak the truth.
But the deepest antidote is to have a practice where you can train your ability to experience yourself as the group and to experience the group as yourself.
Beyond all the philosophies, left and right, unity is not an idea or an attitude or an agreement or even a structure for collaboration. Unity isn’t even an experience — one that we might feel sometimes and not at other times. It is an internally different way of experiencing. It is a different way of seeing oneself and the world.
As we cannot use existing patterns of thought to change the existing pattern of thought, unfortunately practice is required for most us.
All the same, awakening is the birthright of being human. No other animal can wake up in this specific way, for it is in the binary awareness of separation — group & self — that it becomes possible to transcend the binary, and wake up to the fiction of separation, and to experience the world directly. Directly as oneself.
Perhaps in these shocking times, we are more ready than ever to wake up, and to see the limitations of ourselves and others as the mere state of evolution. It is the safest and most effective way to cause the necessary transformation. That is, to be the transformation. I hope that we can consider all of the current events as a blessing, where hitting dark bottom, points more clearly to the light.
Andrew Holiday writes on dating, anthropology, and politics and is a practitioner of Zen for over 20 years — He is a Teacher and therapist in the non-duality tradition.
You can follow Andrew’s coaching and his travel show about exploring the world’s unique dating customs here.