Are we locked in to or liberated by our natural state? This is an old question. With a hat tip to Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, perhaps I provide a new twist here.
If Nature is the essence of the reality we experience as living beings, what is real to us? How do we define reality? People seem to know that the tangible things we can touch are real. We can touch them. They are part of Nature. People also seem to acknowledge that people, animals, plants, the planet, and the universe all change over time, they develop, they evolve. We can see this. This changing over time is also real, it is also a part of Nature. And, people direct much of their creative efforts towards things they envision, designs for a home, for work together, for a meal to be prepared, for a journey on the road ahead, for what the day looks like. We invest lots of energy towards this vision, this possibility, this potential. We can see this. This potential is real, and is a part of Nature. So Nature is composed of what we can touch right here right now, in this space-time, and of what we can see changing over time, and of the potential to which we can see how to give our future resources.
What seems obvious about reality might also be supported by the physical sciences. Physics uses similar definitions of what is real in Nature. Particles that attract each other in particular structures to form matter. The kinetic energy of the particles in motion over time and in relationship to other particles over space. The potential energy of the particles in relation to a field or system of particles.
If that is Nature, who is experiencing Nature? I have suggested in previous blogposts that we can conceive of human beings as Homo lumens, beings of light. There is plenty of data from our research to support this suggestion, as well as thousands of years of wisdom teachings.
If we are Homo lumens living in Nature, what do we experience? What would our experience be like without human agreements, before we put in place of all the agreements we consciously and unconsciously accept? Philosophers have called this the “state of nature.”
I have asked this question of people in hundreds of groups in over a dozen countries in the past two decades. In what people share, I see a pattern. People describe their experiences, awful to great, through the vibrancy they experience in five primary relationships: to the self, another human, a group, to the creative process of nature, and to the spirit of the source of creativity. I experience greater or lesser vibrancy for me, with you, in what we each contribute to the group, through the process of nature, out of the spirit of the creative force. So Homo lumens feels more engaged in reality when it experiences greater vibrancy, as experienced through the five primary relationships. This is our experience of the state of nature, a state prior to the rules of society.
When trying to understand how we humans think about reality and how we engage with it, I have found four basic lenses that we use, over and over again, throughout human history, to define our human duties and privileges. These lenses ask the questions of how much is there, who decides and enforces how to allocate what there is, with what criteria, and what are the rules of the game? We also think of these as economic, political, cultural, and social questions, respectively.
With each lens, Homo lumens seems to naturally seek to maximize a different dimension of the human experience. Through the economic lens, asking how much is there, Homo lumens seeks greater abundance of resources. Through the political lens, asking who decides and enforces, Homo lumens looks to maximize power, the control of how people are related (to self, other, group, nature, spirit), or relatedness. Through the cultural lens, asking what criteria are used to decide and enforce, Homo lumens wants to maximize what it most values, the wellbeing experienced in its primary relationships, the vibrancy it experiences. Finally, through the social lens, asking what the rules of interaction are, Homo lumens works to maximize the harmonic experienced in the synthesis of the contributions of each unique voice. Abundance, relatedness, vibrancy, harmonic. This seems to be what Homo lumens naturally seeks to maximize in the experience as a living being in Nature.
We do not have to be told to do this, we naturally do. And, many times we forget. For those times, as Homo lumens, we create agreements–ways of thinking that guide how we engage in Nature. We agree with each other, through unwritten codes of natural law and through written codes of social law, that each individual Homo lumens has the liberty to decide for its own potential, development, and use of existing capacities, with others who equally have the liberty to decide for their own potential, development, and use of existing capacities, in the contribution of the unique gifts each Homo lumens brings to any given group, manifested through their own access to the creative source and process. These are the rights or privileges of Homo lumens. We desire to maximize these rights, until they infringe on the rights of another. For these cases, as Homo lumens, we have created agreements in the form of laws to remind and protect ourselves. Laws, derived from the word that means “to lay down,” are where the individual lays down the right to something, where the individual is deprived of the freedom to choose one’s own response. These agreements can be guideposts to remind us of the experiences we want to have as we individually and collectively attempt to maximize the abundance, relatedness, vibrancy, and harmonic we experience. These agreements can act as guideposts, when it all works well, and as penalties or constraints when it does not work well.
My colleagues and I have spent the past decade actively searching across the globe, for examples where people are learning to maximize the individual and collective experience of abundance, relatedness, vibrancy, and harmonic, through their agreements and their experience of the natural state of Homo lumens. We are mapping the global social topology of human agreements, at their best, at their worst, and at their most common, in a diverse set of cultures.