Being born on Earth is like entering a game like Survivor on TV. This game has been in progress for a long time before your arrival, and initially you don’t have a clue about what is going on. Gradually you realize that you are expected to pursue your own individual interest, and that others are similarly engaged. In order to survive and get your way you need to have relationships with others, but only insofar as this does not interfere with your getting your way and increasing your power and security. Winning this game of life means being in a dominant position over others which often demands trickery and/or coercion of them.
That these guiding rules of each against each and devil take the hindmost result in a stressful, dangerous, and unhappy life comes to be understood as “just the way things are” or “human nature”. To venture any other way of living is for individuals or small groups to become vulnerable to domination and abuse from others more committed to the ways of strife and selfishness. To be too trusting makes one open to betrayal. Marriage and other mutual arrangements are subject to continual instability and anxiety that one partner may be getting more from the relationship at the expense of the other.
What is true of one on one relations is magnified in much larger groupings, and the same underlying causes of conflict can quickly lead to nations “taking off the gloves” and resorting openly to war, in an attempt to destroy those they cannot dominate. At some historic point the failure to live with each other on some other basis than crude self interest ends up destroying everyone, including large numbers of nonhuman life forms. The desperate attempts to avoid the insecurity our basic failure to love engenders ends paradoxically in our own destruction. This is the essence of hubris – what seemed a way to security and well being ends in disaster.
Is there a way out of this self inflicted selfishness obsession? In our long history on Earth wise people have been working to discover and implement such ways. All spiritual paths have this taming of the crude tendencies of the human ego as a basic goal. All the envisioning of realms and beings beyond our visible sphere, have been attempts by skillful means to transcend and grow beyond our limitations. That these well intended efforts have so often gone awry is part of the sad history of our species. Indeed often what started as a healthy movement ended being only another form of the underlying sickness it sought to cure.
Whether there is an effective escape from the trap we have woven ourselves into is not known. What is known is that if we do not find a way beyond, we are doomed by that failure. Look at it this way, given our situation – what have we got to lose by trying?