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This is why being continually aware of the truth is so hard—we’re too lost in the fog to see it or think about it.

And when the alien representative is finished observing us and heads back to his home planet, I think this would be his sum-up of our problems: This struggle in our heads takes place on many fronts.

We can’t conceive of what life higher on the staircase would be like, but absorbing the fact that higher stairs exist and trying to view ourselves from the perspective of one of those steps is the key mindset we need to be in for this exercise.

The Higher Being can see the truth just fine in almost any situation.

But when the fog is thick around us, blocking our eyes and ears and coating our brain, we have no access to the Higher Being or his insight.

— Alan Lightman You go to school, study hard, get a degree, and you’re pleased with yourself. You get a job, achieve things at the job, gain responsibility, get paid more, move to a better company, gain even more responsibility, get paid even more, rent an apartment with a parking spot, stop doing your own laundry, and you buy one of those $9 juices where the stuff settles down to the bottom. You do all kinds of life things—you buy groceries, read articles, get haircuts, chew things, take out the trash, buy a car, brush your teeth, shit, sneeze, shave, stretch, get drunk, put salt on things, have sex with someone, charge your laptop, jog, empty the dishwasher, walk the dog, buy a couch, close the curtains, button your shirt, wash your hands, zip your bag, set your alarm, fix your hair, order lunch, act friendly to someone, watch a movie, drink apple juice, and put a new paper towel roll on the thing.

But as you do these things day after day and year after year, are you improving as a human in a meaningful way?

In the last post, I described the way my own path had led me to be an atheist—but how in my satisfaction with being proudly nonreligious, I never gave serious thought to an active approach to internal improvement—hindering my own evolution in the process. Society at large focuses on shallow things, so it doesn’t stress the need to take real growth seriously.

The major institutions in the spiritual arena—religions—tend to focus on divinity over people, making salvation the end goal instead of self-improvement.

But on the grand timescale, he’s a very new resident in our heads, while the primal animal forces are ancient, and their coexistence in the human mind makes it a strange place: So it’s not that a human the Higher Being and the Higher Being is three years old—it’s that a human is the combination of the Higher Being and the low-level animals, and they blend into the three-year-old that we are.

The Higher Being alone would be a more advanced species, and the animals alone would be one far more primitive, and it’s their particular coexistence that makes us distinctly human.

Considering that the human mind is an ocean of complexity that creates every part of our reality, working on what’s going on in there seems like it should be a more serious priority.

In the same way a growing business relies on a clear mission with a well thought-out strategy and measurable metrics, a growing human needs a —if we want to meaningfully improve, we need to define a goal, understand how to get there, become aware of obstacles in the way, and have a strategy to get past them.

I like to think of it as a consciousness staircase: An ant is more conscious than a bacterium, a chicken more than an ant, a monkey more than a chicken, and a human more than a monkey. A) Definitely something, and B) Nothing we can understand better than a monkey can understand our world and how we think.

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