Moving Beyond Survival

Much if not most of what drives a human being today continues to be rooted in the basic need to survive.  Initially very much like the animal that is an intrinsic part of him, he would have had to compete for food, territory and the right to mate like any other animal.

Over time this would have evolved to include the pursuit of power and prosperity to the extent that they are necessary for a sustainable level of survival where one might feel secure enough to turn their mind to other things, such as seeking the larger context of it. This would mean moving beyond survival as an end in itself because you have come to realize that survival in and by itself is essentially meaningless unless it is seen as a means to an end.

Being able to make that conclusion and reach beyond it  is the unique property of human beings as no other creature on this planet is capable of this.  This leaves us with the choice to either continue our lives strictly on the basis of our animalistic needs and desires primarily concerned with survival, or to  pursue our true human potential within the new and challenging existential dimension that has been given to us in virtue of our species.

But true human potential will never be realized unless we start taking our cue from the larger context of existence as it is being manifested in our daily experience of it.  The challenge here will be to translate experience into a language that allows the larger context to emerge so that we can all be inspired by it. This might well lead to a sense of enlightenment reflective of the fact that we are no longer primarily driven from the bottom up, but from the top down.  By this I mean that we are no longer just motivated by the most basic of  instincts, but instead by a shared sense of purpose centered on community, knowledge and ideas because survival makes no sense without it.

And so you might be driven by the need to maximize those human qualities that enhance our well-being in whatever realm you wish to consider this: emotionally, intellectually, ethically, socially, physically, and economically. Ideally, there will be a balance between these different ways of being in the world that provides evidence that – indeed – we can progress as a species towards a level of human activity that clearly aims to go beyond those actions that find their root in the need for survival at the most basic of levels. And the difference in quality between these actions would be one of kind and not of degree, so that something new would be added to the cosmos, such as when life first occurred with the emergence of living matter, or when sentiency first arrived within living systems.  Each time these higher levels of existence were introduced they were the product of ever more complex levels of material organization; but in the case of the next advance on this evolutionary tract it will be a function of ever more complex levels of human interaction that can no longer be reduced to behaviour based on survival instincts

This doesn’t suggest, naively, we will be able to ignore our “basic” survival instincts to the extent that we consider them no longer relevant.  That would be impossible, as they are an intrinsic part of our human psyche.  However, as opposed to pursuing them for their own sake, we will know them for what they are – and attempt to manage them accordingly in the context of a more enlightened existence.