Like many children, perhaps all children, I experienced several instances of physical and emotional trauma. And as I suspect is the case with most everyone else, while still a child I was thoroughly indoctrinated with only a slightly modified version of the cultural programming with which my elders and teachers had themselves been indoctrinated when very young themselves. Later on, my innocent respect for their authority and trust in their counsel saw me through some eighteen years of formal education. At some point, however, I started to doubt, and then actively resist their authority, along with that of secular and religious experts who seemed bent on determining the objects of my affection and filling my mind with the knowledge someone else had shoehorned into theirs. Responsible for one part of this rebellion was a growing awareness of the current state of the world perceived as the latest installment of a millenary history of division, unequal progress, injustice, and violence. The other part came as a result of my growing interest in the relationship between the ongoing disorder in human affairs and the way in which tradition and formal learning create a limited and highly biased personal identity that is prone to insensitivity, erroneous thinking, and unwise behavior.
As I moved through various phases of adult experience, I grew increasingly perplexed by the level of confusion and conflict I saw in me and all around me. The mental isolation and the sorrow I happened to suffer myself alerted me to the presence of the same in others. I started to see more clearly how the trace of past afflictions and pleasures influences every present moment in the life of every individual, and how it goes from there to forge a future that is only a somewhat different version of the chronic divisiveness, mental disarray, and violence of the past.
In real life, the claims I had heard and internalized about the greatness of human civilization and the inexorability of its anticipated development turned out to be vastly overstated. Early on I realized that war is monstrous, period. Massive, legalized murder is not made better by technical progress. And yet, inexplicably, armed combat continues to be widely considered as an episodic means necessary for the preservation of periods of peace assiduously dedicated to enhancing the jingoistic mentality of the general population and its principal tool, the military.
To see life and my insertion in it independently, that is as free of taboos and preconceptions as possible, became a necessity that expressed itself through the reluctance to comply with the imperatives of ideology and the obligations of a narrow professional specialization. This unwillingness to conform brought, over time, significant psychological, relational, financial, and other social penalties, but it also made possible a dedicated, on-going consideration of a wide range of fundamental questions regarding the chronic division of the human species, and its attendant proclivity for disorder, conflict, and violence.
My steady bewilderment regarding the way in which the actual condition of individuals and human society contradicted all-too-common claims to the superior goodness and intelligence of the human mind, facilitated shedding layers and layers of early cultural conditioning. It also created the presence of mind necessary to prevent seduction by new ones. By my early forties, I had already gone through the trauma of a failed marriage and the loss of steady institutional employment.
My new course in life was set by attempting to findthe answer to the question of why human beings and their interactions, from family relations to the dealings between nations, are such a strange and perdurable mix of good and bad intentions and behaviors on all parts. Why is it that we are so divided along faulty ideological and experiential lines, and why do we continue to allow this division to so consistently cripple our considerable intelligence and seemingly natural need for unity, kindness, and happiness? In a more formal attire, this question presents itself in this manner: What is the relationship between the determining effect that exclusive experience and learning have on the personal brain/mind, and the divisiveness, acrimony, hypocrisy, violence, and sorrow observable at every point in time and space?
I am sure that these fundamental interrogants have been, or are present in the minds of many people in some form or another. The problem is, however, that they are routinely blocked by vigorously enforced intra- and extra-psychic conformity to traditional values and an ingrained unwillingness to challenge personal beliefs and habits. Every mind isolated and conditioned by cultural and biographical experience finds its particular form of insanity reasonable enough and too cozily familiar to risk going beyond it. Besides, why do anything about this enormous problem if no one “I” know seems to be doing anything about it and there is nothing appreciable to gain from it?
No one knows for sure why very early on in its co-evolutionary process the human mind started to derive its peculiar sense of separate existence and well-being almost exclusively from the cultural and biographical knowledge that pools in memory. However, it is abundantly clear that in our day, this nearly universal identification with particular mental content continues to determine the often contradictory and conflictive ways in which we perceive, think, feel, and act.
In considering this general mindset and its negative consequences, it is important to note that individuals who doubt and start to drift away from the limitations and unreasonable impositions of their own cultural and personal encapsulation, almost invariably suffer the painful debasement or outright breakdown of their social position and mental health. No one wants even a small taste of the vulnerability, confusion, guilt, pain, and shame that are the outcome of questioning, even with the best of manners and intention, the general sanity of society and, within it, one’s own. And this ingrained tendency to lean away from all possible discomfort and pain is, of course, one of the most important ways in which the identity (and the certainty and security that come with it) provided by group membership preserves its constrictive hold on the mind. (The acutely repressive tactics of the “think positive” brigades is a good example of this.)
Breaking with group consensus and the attendant ideologies and psycho-social patterns that make up the self, its social status, and very sense of existence is an agony that, barring a forced or willing return to familiar sanctuaries can lead to a form of death. When this occurs, the physical organism goes on living, deeply embedded as it always is in the seamless fabric of the physical universe, but the personal psyche as defined, constrained, and mechanically propelled by recorded and projected experience, first suffers and then withers away.
The notion of the conditioned self coming to an end may appear as a horrendous prospect to many, but not to those who see in this abnegation of the self, freedom from the authority of dysfunctional pre-established memories and traditions. Liberation from all forms of provincialism and personalism does not come easy, but it is the only threshold that leads to something other than the predetermined regime of mental separation we have always known and suffered.
For some individuals, this unprecedented transit away from their cultural and psychological swaddles comes early and instantaneously because they are, somehow, keenly and extensively aware of the limitation and dangers of their attachments and habits. They are not fooled by the common temptation of rebelling against the status-quo, but only to find a different and presumably less confining cultural identity. They are fully aware that all versions of the same phenomenon of mental conditioning imply the same inane alienation from others and life.
Others procrastinate and lose interest, even if they suffer and see to some extent the suffering of others because they are not fully willing and able to see the cost involved in believing they are who they think they are and are entitled to become. The presence of a well-adapted and well-related identity, perhaps further distinguished by a respected and handsomely remunerated career or trade, makes the questioning and dissolution of mental conditioning all the more improbable. This, even when misfortune and sorrow intrude, as they invariably do, to curtail or end a life of exclusive love, power, and pleasure.
The point most worth taking away from all this is that for those who have some critical, but still merely theoretical sense of the divided and suffering reality that mental conditioning creates, life simply continues to be consumed by internal and interpersonal conflict punctuated by occasional pleasures and joys that, when foreclosed, lead to new crises of identity and renewd sorrow. For human beings living today, especially the most fortunate, ephemeral periods or even isolated instances of pleasure, love, and success, makes bearable a life of banal pursuits and profound alienation. There is an overriding sense, especially in the most affluent and secular sectors of human society that good work, enough money, a little tenderness, a little pleasure, and a respectable place in the social or the post-mortem pecking order is as good as it gets. This is not to say that attention, caring, and intelligence are completely absent from the world, but rather that in the mental and social “normality" prescribed and enforced by tradition and personal habit, these natural faculties of the human organism are severely constrained.
Given the glaring evidence that exists of the isolation, bias, and other limitations characteristic of group and personal insularity, it is extraordinary that most human beings remain content with themselves, their respective social contexts and cultural beliefs, and whatever they manage to fantasize about and actually experience. The prevalence of contentment and inertia on the face of perilous circumstances, only goes to prove the extent to which what has been experienced and more formally learned narrows down awareness of present and future threats to the well-being of everyone. If humanity goes down by its own design, it will be because human beings remained too divided and too distracted by their obsession with dreams of exclusive secular and religious self-realization.
The human animal has convinced itself that it cannot live free of the mental and relational comforts and tortures associated with the relatively fixed knowledge of who "one" is, where one belongs, and what are the objects of one’s past, present, and future hate, love, and desire. Thus, the announcement of the possibility of an unconditioned mind and an unrestrained, wide-open heart is, more often than not, instantly ignored or rejected as unrealistic or insane.
The theoretical answers given by experts and "saints" to the fundamental questions of life and death are unrelated to the day to day reality of individual human beings, and therefore irrelevant at least to those for whom not living in fantasy and falseness matters. Existence, more precisely, the human presence in the cosmos, is not a mental construct, and to approach it with ideas (mental representations of sensory and intra-psychic experience) creates a proliferation of severely limited and contradictory mental and social realities, all equally prone to systematic error and further division and conflict. Empirical knowledge has an essential role in human life, but we should be aware of its limitations because they have enormous destructive potential. Without a doubt, the most significant of these limitations is that knowledge increases in volume and acuity in direct proportion to the narrowness of its field of view and that it shrinks in size and certainty as the field widens. It is simply not within the realm of empiricism, its theoretical projections, and technical applications to give account of the unthinkable scale, complexity, and dynamism of “what is” (the totality of what is manifestly and non-manifestly occurring at every instant).
Put differently, many “things” and their interactions can and should be intellectually abstracted and thus turned into valid and useful knowledge. However, there are limits to this process. Despite all its potential for generating, storing, and projecting information, our cognitive reach (itself an abstraction sequentially identified with other abstractions) cannot come even close to touching the source and totality of life. Life is actual and indivisible, not a thing or an interlocked collection of things to be gradually deciphered for subsequent manipulation at the service of some interest or another. This immensely significant fact is routinely overlooked, or denied outright because to admit it poses an intolerable threat to the conceit of a separate existence based on the information-based and self-centered process of thought going on in most every brain.
Let us unpack this a bit. The ground of our respective identities and very sense of personal existence depends on different (and more often than not, contradictory) forms of knowledge. This existential dependence on exclusive memory and its self-projection predisposes us to fear and avoid at all costs the mystery that can be vaguely felt, but that lies permanently outside the reach of the intellect. Humankind has always had some dark non-conceptual sense that the actual ground of our existence lies in life indivisible and therefore ineffable, and not in what we each happen to know, experience, and think about at every point in time. However, the religious and now the scientific intellect have always found a way to replace this vague intuition with self-projective forms of limited or outright false certainty. We continue to ignore, or actively despise, hate, and destroy one another precisely because our sense of being and becoming continues to be grounded on different and contradictory forms of knowledge that preclude the overcoming of separation.
For those with eyes to see, it is evident that the mental record of our pre-historical, cultural, and biographical experience determines our separate identities, as well as our strangely common conceit of existential uniqueness. It is also evident that the conditioned intellect issues our daily marching orders, with preset fear and desire providing the energy necessary for the intra-psychic and interpersonal struggle involved in complying with them. Thus, by determining the objects of pursuit or avoidance for today and tomorrow, what has already been experienced and conceptualized systematically stifles the ever-fresh newness of life.
Not even the worst outcomes of this corrupt general mental system persuade a critical number of individuals to question it and look beyond its confines. Ours is an illness that refuses to acknowledge itself, and pay due attention to the source of its painful and foreboding symptoms. As already repeatedly suggested, it is because we conflate existence with knowledge, we are only too quick to conclude that there could not possibly be any advantage to a mind free of mostly irrelevant cultural and personal information. We are so terrified of the unknown and unknowable (life and death) that we opt at every instant to continue toiling day and night in lukewarm or hot pursuit of the questionable material and psychological carrots that some hare-brained ideological consensus puts at the top of our wish stick in exchange for exclusive commitment.
Despite this overwhelming mental rigidity, or perhaps because of it, civilization continues to have its discontents. Not a reference this to the uniformly predetermined revolutionaries, lunatics, and sociopathic criminals part of every society and present throughout history, but rather to those individuals who for some unknown reason are and remain quietly aware of the limitations and dangers of provincial, partisan, and self-centered knowledge and desire. Occasionally this awareness is so independent, thorough, and accurate that the memory-based ego dissolves in it leaving behind only what is indivisible, and therefore imponderable: the all-encompassing unfoldment of life and death.
The outcome of humanity’s general mental alienation from the mystery of life is the self that is both source and consequence, cause and effect of our unending atomization, animosity, struggle, pleasure, fear, and pain. Paradoxically, only a constant and impersonal love of life fearlessly defiant of this general alienation contains the energy necessary to independently and passively observe the stream of conditioned sensory perception, thought, emotion, and desire that everyone calls “my” self. This love is impersonal in that it exists outside mental time. It is also all that is.
Please understand that what I have to say about the plight of humanity, how it came about, and why we should attend to it with all our being, comes mostly from direct observation. Observation of the world in and around us, and of the mental operation unfolding right here, index finger pointing to this (my) head. I make absolutely no claim to authority, and for several reasons, the most important of which is that the subject at hand —the stream of conditioned consciousness— is fundamentally the same in every human being alive, and yet only accessible to each of its personal manifestations. Thus, the only worthwhile thing these texts can do is nudge you to independently look at your mind and the state of the world and uncover, in yourself as a particular instance of thought conditioned by experience, the source of all the mental, social, and ecological problems of humanity.
This peculiar perception may well be, in itself, the deactivation of the cultural and biographical record of previous experience that must occur if humanity is to have a future. However, nothing will happen if the possibility of both, full perception and the simultaneous negation of the human condition is just an empty concept expressed by one person and heard by another who may then dismiss or toss it on top of the old memory heap. Insight in this essential matter is not transferable because it is ultimately unrelated to knowledge and thought. The awakening to and from the false reality created by a preprogrammed mind is not something to learn, or even to do. It simply comes to a mind empty enough to receive.
What follows is an admittedly rough sketch of the developmental transit of humanity and the gradual conditioning of the brain by experience. The primary purpose of this examination of the past is to make evident the commonality of human experience and the reasons why the cultural and psychological isolation intrinsic to mental conditioning can only produce new social and personal iterations of the same ancient experience of interpersonal/cultural friction and mental misery. In our own time, the conflictive fragmentation of the species has brought about the confluence of extremely dangerous and tightly interrelated factors and circumstances that are putting in jeopardy its very survival.
First of all, let us make sure that we are on the same page regarding the nature of the brain. Much like the liver, the kidneys, or the heart, the human brain is a generic physical organ shaped, along with its equally generic mental function, by millions of years of adaptive evolution undergone by the species as a whole. Consequently, there is no such a thing as “your” brain or “my” brain. If (our) day-to-day mental function is ordinarily assumed to be a personal possession and attribute, it is because it has split in two, with one part adopting the pose of a unique being separate from everything else, including “my” brain.
The equation of human existence with personal thought —“I think, therefore I am,” as Pascal’s dictum puts it— is the very source of the faulty perception and divisive cultural and personal action we draw both, pleasure and interminable suffering. It is far more accurate to say that we are who we each think we are. We have collectively and personally become the disparate and contradictory time-bound accumulation of associative and dis-associative mental artifacts that we strive to augment every day vying for an imaginary better future. The worse part of this condition is that the contradictory multiplicity and defended isolation characteristic of personal and tribal identity make the definitive solution of our core problem —the constant and acrimonious mental distance between us— seem nearly impossible to resolve (more about this in the fourth and last installment of this series).
The word “reptilian” commonly used when referring to the ancient core of the brain, highlights the continuing presence in the human being of physiological characteristics and instinctual behavioral drives identical to those that allowed the survival of the animal species that preceded, and then accompanied humanity in the general co-evolution of the species. Survival at this foundational level resides in the steady ability of any given organism to attain nourishment and a few other conditions of well-being, security, and procreative continuity. Survival also necessitates the concomitant ability to avoid circumstances that would bring about hunger and other forms of stress and distress possibly leading to death.
Proprioception (“The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.”), sexuality, territoriality, fear, aggression, and some measure of social organization are all components of the primordial instinct for survival. The operation of all these factors of survival is energized and oriented by the same alternate current of pain and pleasure. In the species with the most evolved brains this primary drive was amplified by a higher degree of sensitivity and inquisitiveness that eventually led to the human being and its nascent capacity to record and project experience, that is, to learn and utilize knowledge as a unique and powerful adaptive tool.
In the evolutionary process of humanity proper, the reptilian core of the brain is gradually overlaid by two other layers or systems of experience-based physiological and mental conditioning that over a very long span of time produce the exceptional size and differentiation of the modern brain.
Humanity starts to consolidate its planetary presence by means of its demographic growth, and the resulting geographic dispersion of significant numbers of increasingly disconnected groups. Despite the physical distance and cultural differentiation, all these groups exhibit essentially the same tendency towards functional diversity and collaborative organization that will grant individual organisms and families the possibility, not just to survive but thrive.
The development of language and tool making, and the creation of increasingly more specialized social roles, and entirely new ways, not just of adapting to the natural environment but of deliberately and craftily exploiting its resources, finally break with the rigid instinctual determination characteristic of the animal brain. An ever-increasing portion of the surface of the planet is gradually inhabited by different cultural enclaves that exhibit a similar capacity to create, accumulate, and project knowledge derived from the everyday trial-and-error experience of adaptive challenges.
It is in this manner that our species journeys away from the instinct-bound animal kingdom traveling on the vessel of mental representation created by the very task of survival. Our ability to conceptualize whatever happens to come our way has also given us (some of us, never all) a significant degree of progressive security and wellbeing. However, this unique gift has turned out to be as well the source of unforeseen problems, many of which do not yield to the tools and abilities fruit of our entire history of intellectual and social development.
Demographic growth and territorial expansion inevitably start to bring back in contact cultural groups that had formed in the first expansionary movement away from humanity’s point(s) of emergence. All too often, this contact takes on a brutal and bloody character due to inter-tribal competition over limited territory and other resources but also, and increasingly, due to stark differences in the cultural identity that each group has adopted utilizing the same species-wide capacity to produce, internalize, and project images and ideas. Today we may wonder why the level of intelligence that was already available at that distant point in time opted for violent conquests and the exploitation of conquered populations, instead of endeavoring to manage these encounters in more reasonable (non-violent) and almost certainly more fruitful ways. However, this line of inquiry immediately brings to mind that, despite all the progress we attribute to our great intelligence and goodness, we are still using extraordinarily stupid and violent means to defend our particular sources of identification and to pursue our private ambitions at whatever cost to others. The last few centuries of human history are, in great part, the record of countless instances of absurd injustice and violence afflicting every sector and level of human society.
Another extraordinary development occurs during this extended transitional period in which humanity moves mentally and physically away from its source in the animal kingdom and the mystery of life itself. Within the protective cocoon offered by cultural affiliation and the development and diversification of knowledge, individual human consciousness turns back upon itself and becomes self-conscious. That is, the existing representational and self-projective reservoir of experience (memory/knowledge/thought) splits in two with one aspect of it assuming central dominance over the periphery of the psyche. This internal division also generates a constant egocentric separation from “others” who display the same dubious distinction of being unique and the same presumption to lord over (their) knowledge and the separate and entirely subjective portion of reality this particular knowledge creates.
Nestled within the primary layer of images and ideas representing the process of socialization undergone by the particular organism at the hand of its tribal/cultural sponsors, now lies a second and far more intensely conscious layer containing the distinctly psychological conditioning of the brain/mind by what is now separate, “personal” experience. The sense we each have of a distinct “you” and “I” and “us and them,” comes from a combination of particular cultural conditioning and the sense of a continuous personal existence that stems mostly from the accumulation, retrieval, and projection of images and ideas related to strictly biographic experience.
For the conditioned person, existence is not so much the mysterious wholeness of being, but rather the mental time and space we all know as “me” and “my” self, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Together, these closely related layers of recorded and ever extrapolating cultural and personal experience, differ from the reptilian core only in that their presence and effect on groups and individuals (their perception, thought, and behavior) are particular. The exclusiveness and particularity of remembering and thinking, in turn, allows individuals organisms to conceive of themselves as different enough from one another to justify claiming a separate existence —again, a conceit paradoxically common to all. To know one-self as a distinct instance of being, necessarily implies an idea-based comparison with others who use the same culturally endorsed capacity for isolated self-reflection to make a similar claim of existential separation; this, even if they happen to derive a large part of their identity from the same cultural group.
The ever-increasing conflictive fragmentation of humanity created by the recorded experience of particular groups and individuals accounts for the diversity and complexity of traits (cultural, psychological, behavioral, and relational) displayed by modern-day individuals. However, regardless of what its level of acquired sapience, ability, and virtue may be, no separate entity can escape the limitations that the general phenomenon of sustained mental programming imposes on every cultural group and every individual. Thus, despite all the advantages it has accrued from its unique intellectual capacity, humanity remains divided and conflicted by the self-centered record of its experience, and also unwilling, if not unable to see and overcome this condition.
Put differently, no matter how self-conscious and smart, the particular patterns of thought and action that emerge from different instances of historical (cultural) and psychological differentiation, both obscurely influenced by prehistorical mental conditioning, are also the block impeding proper perception of the fact and negative consequences of conditioning itself. Without the ability to adequately see the entire problem of mental conditioning our thoughts and actions, no matter how nobly intended, remain unintelligent, uncaring, and insufficient.
Particular cultures, institutions, and individuals perceive each other’s memories and projections as significantly different from their own and, naturally, this appreciation determines the nature and quality of their relationships (in the terms we are discussing, rarely for the better). It also hampers their capacity to detect and eliminate the dangers posed by the mental distance separating them. To give an obvious example, the title “United Nations” is indeed an oxymoron considering that nation states are permanently divided internally and externally, bitterly competitive, and all too often violently at odds with one another.
At the personal level, the mental and relational problems we suffer (despite the fact that particular identity invariably stems from some claim to unique distinction or even superiority), are routinely ignored or cunningly blamed on someone else’s pathetic existence, faulty thinking, and bad behavior. Not only is the myth of psycho-somatic uniqueness false, it demands protection, expansion, and extension at all costs. Widespread psychological distress, mainly due to insufficient or unhappy relationship, and the general incapacity of the species as a whole to do anything genuinely useful to integrate itself and assume proper kinship with life, are the worse consequences of being permanently conditioned and isolated by slightly different memory imprints of fundamentally the same human experience.
The problem is, few are willing to let go of their particular convictions (political and religious), fixed attachments, mental habits, and other equally noxious mainstays of separate identity. We insist on protecting who we think we are and are meant to become even though it is increasingly evident that the partisan egotism we all embody is the souce of widespread and interminable conflict and sorrow. The future of humanity depends on nothing other than the willingness of a critical number of individuals to seriously and independently examine how the nature of their conditioned minds and the quality of their relationships contribute to an acrimonious and disintegrating world.
There is no doubt that the gradual differentiation of humanity has brought about enormous advance, in some areas of life, and in certain places. However one must take issue with the perverse way in which the significance of this progress is often exaggerated to hide that its actual benefits are not always benign, and never distributed justly among the general population. Division along the lines of tradition, ideology, and exclusive distinction and power, invariably breeds injustice and abuse that, in turn, breed misery and violence. Different secular and religious ideologies, all claiming to best represent the goodness and truth of life, and hence be the potential source of unity for the species as a whole, live in permanent tension with each other. This animosity helps consolidate the general division of the species and is a continuous source of distress and violence that occasionally explodes into the absolute brutality of war leaving wounds that never seem to heal. The existential risk posed by the continued development and proliferation of thermonuclear weapons with which certain nations intimidate and blackmail others is the ultimate irony and most malignant form of progress.
Advances in the development and private accumulation and utilization of knowledge have also led to excesses in the extraction of the natural resources needed to satisfy the ever-increasing levels of consumption that certain segments of the human population demand. Extravagant consumerism has brought about, in turn, widespread ecological disruption and environmental catastrophes that are already afflicting significant sectors of the world’s population and outright destroying countless animal species. Still, many remain reluctant to see that there is no point to forms of growth and development that are the source of suffering for multitudes and a potential existential risk for the species as a whole. This marked indifference to increasingly grave dangers is a clear indication of the mental atrophy and emotional deadness brought about by our divisive thinking and dysfunctional relationships.
As we have endeavored to show all-along in these essays, the mind conditioned by tribal and personal experience is in itself a problem that thought cannot solve, and human society is so rigidly conditioned and divided by what different groups know and covet, that it cannot muster the energy necessary to think sanely, and therefore collaboratively.
Paradoxically, the only thing we seem incapable of learning how to do is come together and deal promptly and conclusively with issues that are an affliction and a threat to all.
When considering our current mindset and the problems it creates —wholesale ecological disruption, social and economic inequality, rampant militarism and nuclear proliferation, excessive population growth, secular and religious dogmatism, notable increases in mental illness, etc.— it is reasonable to expect that the future will only a modified reiteration of the great sorrows and little pleasures we have always known. This, of course, unless a critical number of individuals come to see the absolute necessity of a mutation in consciousness, and fearlessly open themselves to it.
The first of this series of essays aimed to provide an overall picture of the phenomenon of mental conditioning and the cultural fragmentation and psychological isolation it permanently generates. The second essay attempted to clarify further the nature of conditioning and self-isolation by experience and to identify its positive and negative consequences, both mental and social. This essay, the third of the series, has given a little information regarding the person writing these pieces and his motivation for doing so, and hopefully provided some sense of the prehistorical and historical evolution of mental programming and its current consequences.
The fourth and last essay will examine the necessity and implications of becoming fully and directly aware of one’s experience-based mental predetermination and its impact on the world.