The proportion of individuality in human existence may be lower than expected.
When standing on a beach and watching the waves roll in one observes that big waves are always preceded and followed by deep valleys – the water forming a positive, crested feature being drawn away from its surrounding area whilst both belong to a superior entity that is called ocean. Waves take that water from the vicinity but, impermanent features they are, need to yield and hand the 'borrowed' water back. Some waves stubbornly rise, and violently break once the feature becomes too high hence unstable. Electromagnetic and optical wave fields, although not breaking like ocean waves do also have peaks and valleys. Such signals are expressed in amplitude (strength) and frequency. The higher the amplitude, the louder, the more visible/detectable a signal (positive or negative) it is. Quite often, a strong 'positive' signal comes in the company of significant 'negative' side lobes. In the following chapters I will give a few good examples for wave patterns in human nature.
One important item in our lives that can be well compared with a wave field is money. Both individually and collectively owned, this bundled and legalized human energy is pooled together by banks and other institutions such as pension funds. Like waves in the ocean, there are cash mountains surrounded by cash sinks. In the Western World of 2011, there are enormous narrow cash mountains surrounded by many lows of indebted individuals, cities and nations.
Money is easily mishandled and it should not be allowed by legislation to accumulate solely in the hands of few. An example for the latter is shown by the great financial crisis of the 21st century, driven by a wave of greed and dishonesty – a big wave of evil resulting from a failed culture that places money above any other value, yet without the intrinsic knowledge of how to deal with it in proper ways. After the fall of the communism, a pseudo-altruistic concoction of evil, we are witnessing now the fall of capitalism – we have reached the end of the 'Monopoly' game where one player owns everything and all others are getting bankrupt.
History teaches that culture can also be described by a series of waves – periods of cultural blossoming preceded and followed by generations of relative misery. Take the Roman Empire, for instance. Outer factors (climate, diseases, enemies etc) played together with inner factors (strength of culture, statesmanship, education, respecting ethics) created a pattern of waves that rippled through roughly 800 years (Greater Italy) or 1750 (including Byzanthium/ Constantinople). Waves of misery were often driven by colder climate: Poor harvests led to less food and less taxable income for the treasury, hence poorly equipped frontier troops facing more hungry and desperate enemies.
Most cities in the Americas and also the so-called 'undevelopment countries' have grown fast. In the city centers we find downtowns – glittering agglomerations of high-rise buildings, expressions of corporate wealth and pride. Similar to wave patterns, we see these glimmering islands of wealth surrounded by a deep valley of misery and poverty – only gradually, moving further outwards and away from the downtowns, richer residential areas can be found. Further out again, one sees the transition from residential areas to semi-agricultural lands. It terms of wave pattern, we observe the formula: strong maximum, strong minimum, moderate maximum, average/neural.
When talking about wave fields we observe the polarity between wave-mountains and wave-valleys. In many waves, human civilisation draws its power from the combination of stark differences: The steel of an engine’s piston that can only work in the engine with the help of a good lubricant; the beauty of a waterfall – neither a mountain nor water may be considered beautiful, but the combination hits. Or think about a high-tech satellite that can only operate in a quasi-vacuum. When comparing a wave field to human existence, there appears to be a remarkable pattern of similarity. A child, growing up in a family draws energy from the parents, siblings, nature, community etc and forms a personality (signal, wave crest) that stands out and can be recognised and labelled. Under “positive circumstances”, the young human being then rises to full strength and reputation. The energy that makes a human stand out can be anything – beauty, knowledge, but also evilness. Then, however, comes the time to retreat and leave the podium for others. Like waves that ripple through the ocean and remain largely unnoticed, human talent, aspirations (good or bad) are immense and remain undetected. Like waves that hit the shore and break, it is in exceptional or crisis situation that see new qualities (good or bad) emerge.
Within a densely populated or urbanized world it is easy to see how people draw energy from others and becoming more prominent – through good deeds, strength but also possibly evilness and mobbing, acts that promote mafia bosses and other gangsters. These days, with ethical guidance being increasingly eroded in the daily rat race for money, the distinction between criminal and non-criminal organisation is getting blurred – the motto being: do what you like as long as you can find a good lawyer that saves you from jail. On a country and history level we see leaders emerge – assuming the given limits of the individual, the late 18th century consciousness are Emmanuel Kant and Benjamin Franklin; Germany's and China's anger and frustration are Adolph Hitler and MaoDzedong.
In contrast one sees shining examples of peoples who have shed individuality for the purpose of helping and educating others. In this mode, energy is not concentrated towards the center (=ego), instead energy is kept here to the bare minimum (vow of poverty: Franciscan monks, Buddhist monks), whilst all efforts are aiming at the surrounding 'side-lobes.' Surprisingly, such action creates even a much stronger, but a reversely-poled signal. This it what the Buddha called Nirvana, this is the Christ's resurrection given no energy is vested any longer in the mortal self, but everything is vested in the other, and so becoming immortal.
Leaders, celebrities etc – good or bad- not only draw their energy from others but need to perform some good actions now and then – otherwise they starve themselves from the flow of energy required to sustain ego, and end up lonely and abandoned in a situation one might call the ego trap (the hole Saddam Hussein was hiding in may be a good example). Nobody wants to have anything to do with such a person, particularly once the wallet is empty. On the other side of the scale we find the rare and noble exemptions: people who have given up ego entirely and pumped their energy into the surrounding whilst living in utmost poverty – people like Jesus of Nazareth, Lord Buddha, St. Francis and many others.
This finally brings me to the question of individuality. This concept, practical as it may appear could be somewhat elusive. Once flying over Los Angeles I remarked a very consistent pattern of houses, pools, cars, car brands, and trees. One might make a statement as follows: If house in Area A, > than 10000 square feet, and pool, then car = Mercedes or Lexus. A similar picture came to my mind when visiting Singapore: Such urban districts could be very easily described by a computer program, and whilst people believe there are acting freely and individually, they are realistically nothing but tiny wheels in a huge clockwork that don't run properly. The notion of freedom in this sense could be quite elusive.
This said, individuality, in pure practical terms, is a given. One is born alone, dies alone, and in between visits a supermarket, a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer etc. On a merely physical level, individuality exists but perhaps only there. However, on an emotional level, we seem not to be able to live alone. It is telling to look at examples of humans living on the fringe of society. A lonesome gaucho's best friend is his horse, St. Francis talked to the birds and the famous cheeky Himalaya hermit Milarepa even turned evil (mostly female) spirits into benevolent consorts and family. The conclusion being that on an emotional and/or spiritual level, individuality is less concise and perhaps less important. Wherever the human spirit exists there seems to be some sort of company and exchange with the surroundings. We seem not be able to live without any sort of company, and form a wave pattern of society.
A Practical viewpoint
What if we are a wave field? This would be in a way a soothing idea (albeit coming with the sacrifice of one's cherished ego), given that death would loose its terrible, frightening meaning. If human existence is indeed a wave field, what would be the logical outcome for anybody's life? Would life be different? Well, as a matter of precaution one might try to behave less ego-centric and devote more time and attention to others, finding fulfilment in seeing others grow rather than chasing one's own private and egocentric dreams.
This, however, can be nerving and painful and doesn't produce immediate results. One might argue, in a world where everybody took care of others and offered our human intelligence for education plus the goodness of our planet, terrible things as described above could never happen.
Without egoism I believe there might be no wars, no crime, no habitat-destruction and probably no famine and poverty, though I'm not quite sure about the latter. The human population wave is heading towards eight billion people, and these eight billion will die again in some 50 years or so causing a critical shortfall of burial grounds. Many who live today are without land, food and drinkable water. The human race may have simply multiplied beyond any reasonable limit, which means that this enormous human wave-mountain may simply collapse – with or without ethical glue.
Here, one question comes to my mind: Is it better to live in relative poverty, with an intact and well-preserved environment or to live in relative richness, whilst the rest of the planet is dying slowly? I do not have an answer for this, but it is clear that the latter is not any longer sustainable. There can be no doubt: as long as the bad spirit of egoism is acting in far too many people, everything that is good will become spoiled and broken.
A word of hope
My hopes are that the current 'new world order' collapses peacefully and the planet (both environment and people) recovers – then people can build a happier spiritual world. There are plenty of good and happy ideas in us that cannot manifest right now – an underlying wave of creativity and goodness that hasn't shown up yet. Somehow the ultimate disaster has always be avoided (albeit narrowly) in human history, and there was a future for some and their descendants – us.
© 2011 Franz L Kessler