Shortcut To Enlightenment

The main obstacle most humans experience when seeking enlightenment is really very small when seen without the ego. Accepting this simple reality can shave years off of an individual's seeking, but so few are able to let go of their very large egos in order to do it. It's not a secret, and it's been understood by "wise people" for centuries. Yet, it seems to be so difficult for many to come to terms with.

This very small and very obvious obstacle is this:
We are very, very similar to our primate cousins, monkeys and Great Apes. In fact we are so close to Chimpanzees that in 2003, studies showed that we are 99.4 % identical in functional DNA, and scientists have demanded that Chimps should occupy the family Hominidae along with Humans. 1

And yet another study shows that certain parts of the Human genome are closer to Orangutans than Chimps. 2

What does this have to do with "enlightenment"?

This is where most people turn and run, unfortunately for those who seek "enlightenment":
A huge amount of our reactions, our perception, and our behavior are dictated by the same factors as the other primates in our Order, and the closer in the family tree you get to humans, the more evident it becomes.

There are behaviors that most of us can see easily, right away. Others might be less obvious, but mostly because humans are very good at explaining them away so they seem perfectly "logical" to the less observant (which is most of us).

For example (Most people are aware of this one by now): Taller/larger males are followed, obeyed, promoted, and elected to leadership positions more than any other human body type, from the smallest social groups to the largest corporations and governmental positions. Of course there are exceptions, but statistics don't lie, and neither do our own eyes. If a larger male is in a room with a smaller male, the majority of humans will defer to the larger male, regardless of the circumstances.

"Nit-Picking" is a term most of us have heard, it refers to constantly finding fault in someone else, and pointing out all kinds of little things to criticize. It's literally something that primates do all the time, you may have heard it being referred to as "grooming", but they are picking the bugs off of one another. This behavior is essential for health, but it also creates bonds. It's also used to maintain hierarchy.

You know how a lot of people talk over others, talk about themselves only, don't listen, contradict, and interrupt? That's a primate display for attention and/or dominance. (It's obviously not polite, and doesn't help or facilitate actual communication.)

Space invasion is another blatant social signal, an attempt to display "dominance". Especially with those who are smaller than themselves, humans will move into someone else's personal space, stand right in front of others, walk right in front of others, refuse to move to allow someone else to pass (even if the other person moves first), gesticulate INSIDE of someone else's personal space, speak louder, make loud noises nearby, and even put their hands on another person without permission or invitation.

Another obvious example that many humans for some strange reason will frequently deny: Males are nearly always assumed to have more experience, skill, and ability than females in a given group of humans. And the larger the male, and the smaller the female, the more exaggerated this assumption becomes. The denial may come from the conscious knowledge that this is of course not based in reality; most people might not want to be seen as sexist, so they deny their true assumptions and behavior, but that's the facts, Ma'am. Men and women alike will assume that a guy "Knows" or "Knows How", and that a gal just hasn't got the experience or the smarts.

Sex bias is simply a way to keep the illusion of Social Hierarchy going. Denying that it exists is all part of it for Homo Sapiens, but we seem to be the only ones who pretend we don't do it. Ironically, Humans are by far the worst perpetrators.

Here's some more stuff most people don't realize they have in common with other primates, or don't like to admit to at all:

Exaggerated fear of snakes, spiders, and other "scary" animals.

Laughter, silliness, play.

 Haughtiness, cliques, elitism.

Hunting other animals for food.

Aggressive competition for attention and approval from others, especially from anyone perceived to have any level of power or authority. That includes parents, teachers, bosses, and peers. (In other words, envying, sabotaging, or trashing the "pretty" boy or girl,, making fun of and bullying the "smart" girl or boy in class, trying to show one's self to be "tougher", "stronger", "more logical", "more responsible", "wiser", or "more stable".)

Tribal battles, "warring" for territory.

Caring for the young of others, or other species.

Treating those smaller (shorter or thinner) than one's self with less respect, as if they're ignorant, less capable, weak, or child-like.

Treating those who are "different" in some way with prejudice (even hatred or extreme aggression).

 Choosing/allowing a "Leader" no matter how small a group is, and that "Leader" is usually the one who is the tallest, or the one with the widest shoulders. Sometimes it's the one with most money or the one with the most aggressive behavior.

Creating comfort, shelter, and using tools.

Assuming that those who have a polite demeanor, and/or a pleasant disposition to be less intelligent, less experienced, and less capable (strangely, the OPPOSITE is usually true).

Trying to dominate those around us with all kinds of social signals, language signals, and behavioral displays.

Trying to create a social hierarchy by body size, sex, appearance, and age in any group we're in, even in temporary groups such as waiting for a train or during an emergency.

Trying to attract the opposite sex all the time, even if we are in a committed relationship.

Trying to show dominance and show "status" with body, face, and hair appearance; possessions; body language; "skill"; hostile or "dangerous" behavior, even self-destructive behavior.

Both sexes generally seek MALE approval, and try to diminish and dominate females (in this current  "patriarchal" culture era.) (Creepy since half the population IS female, so females are trying to dominate themselves, and creepier still because every human has a female MOTHER, and every female is someone's CHILD.)

All forms of prejudice, bigotry, arrogance, greed, shunning, exclusion, and aggression, including WAR.

There are many, many more, of course. Those who can handle it and want to know more would probably enjoy watching and reading documentaries about Chimpanzees and Bonobos, Gorillas, Orangutans, and Macaques. The recent movie Chimpanzee follows the survival journey of a 3 month old Chimp whose mother was killed in a tribal battle. Dian Fossy was the world-renowned scientist who studied Gorillas extensively in their natural habitat, and Jane Goodall is the premier scientific researcher and observer of Chimpanzees in their natural habitat.

Our Great Ape roots combined with the wonderful intellectual and spiritual gifts that many have even described as Divine are what make us what we are. Becoming aware of these many facets of ourselves and other human beings, and understanding how we are all connected and attached to them, and also to one another, and further still to this incredible universe we live in, are all footsteps on the path to "Enlightenment".

copyright 2013 M.M.Black 

(thank you, Cyndi Joy Lee )