Contemporary Issues Human Mind

QM and the End of the World

It looks like the world is having a nervous breakdown. It had seemed quite anxious for a while. What can the quadrune mind model of spirituality have to say about that? Does it matter if we continue our quest for spiritual awakening in such dismal times? Don’t we have enough to do just to survive? It seems to me that “end of the world” issues must be addressed before QM will be trusted to answer other finer-grained questions about the state of Human spiritualty. Therefore, here are some questions I asked the quadrune mind model and its answers.

Is the world ending? Yes. The world that we are comfortable with, that we can feel unthinkingly safe and secure in, that we can move through by habit and where our daily routines make sense, that world is ending.  

Will I die? Not necessarily, but many people will, including people who may be very close to us. We may see more death now than some of us have seen in our lifetimes. But others of us, depending on our age and our countries of origin, will have already lived through tragedies surpassing COVID-19’s assault on human life.  

Will I suffer? If you have to ask, then, yes, you will suffer. Your question says that you are suffering now. Only people who are desperately depressed, psychotically delusional, or religiously fanatic can believe that the end of the world would heal suffering.

Can I stop the world from ending? No.

Can a president of the United States, the U.S. military, billionaires, Vladimir Putin, China, the European Union, financial advisors, the common people of the world, movie stars, athletes, preachers, judges, the International Monetary Fund, or public relations agencies stop the world from ending? No. But people in those categories, along with the rest of us, can make surviving the end of the world and building the next one more or less painful for everyone, depending on how we act.

Postscript, September 07, 2022: The following article makes the billionaires’ contribution for the end of the world clear: Rushkoff, D. (2022, September 4). The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse: Tech billionaires are buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive a societal collapse they helped create, but like everything they do, it has unintended consequences. The Guardian.

See also our related post “Dinosaurs, Billionaires, and Mass Extinctions”.

Will there be a next world? Yes. An important fact to observe is that the Earth, along with the life that it carries, has never yet ceased to exist. That event probably won’t happen for at least a billion years, when the sun begins to go “red giant.” This observation is not a trivial one. It means that, so far, when we talk about the “end of the world,” we’re referring to the “end of the world as we know it.” The new order would still be the result of normal, physical and social laws of cause and effect. 

However, from about 200 BCE to about 135 CE, a Judeo-Christian body of apocalyptic literature developed that predicted a total break from the course of naturally caused history. This literature rose out of a deeply pessimistic view of life held by the faithful. A fervent expectation of God’s imminent intervention intensified during this period. By this eschatological view, history would come to an end with the final destiny of humanity fulfilled: the ultimate “End Times.” 

This expectation continues to affect some people’s attitudes toward the tragedies and injustices afflicting all of us throughout world history. Instead of seeing religious, cultural, and ethnic conflicts as problems for us to heal, apocalypticists from Zoroaster to some present evangelical Christians long for full-out destruction. Never mind the extreme suffering to people that would result as God’s will is realized. Apparently, God’s will is for the faithful to be relieved of their anxieties and feelings of helplessness in a relentlessly hostile world. 

As a secular model of spirituality, quadrune mind offers no such luxury for a select group of “believers”—but also no such predestined tragedy for those “left behind” because of their lack of faith. Our destiny, in the model, does not hinge on faith, but on our own thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Do worlds end quickly? Usually not. After the transition from the old world order to a new one, later historians can usually find signs of degradation in the old order that had, for decades or centuries, preceded a more dramatic final collapse. However, the people in the old order had not made the necessary corrective, progressive changes in time to prevent the collapse, because their minds were not conscious enough to change their old destructive habits.

Is it possible for people to act like a Human being during the end times of a world? Yes, without doubt.  

We may imagine that any hope to develop our spiritual awakening requires a great distance from the chaotic mess of the world we’re living in now. Surely, only a miracle could get us out of this fix. If only God would give us instructions on how to build an ark that would carry us (or anyway me and my family—we don’t want to get infected by having too many people on board) away from these coronavirus-infested lands. 

As a secular model of spirituality, QM says we are not to expect a divine cavalry to ride to our moral or physical salvation. To wait for such rescue condemns us to a life of perpetual procrastination as portrayed by Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot. Even suicide is passively postponed by the existentially exhausted duo. They represent the absurd life of some reptilian-minded people who mechanically go through the motions of life, waiting for “meaning” to hit them over the head. 

Few of us will ever have the world we think we need before we can earn the life we are meant to live. The life we are meant to live is the fully Human spiritual life and it takes work to achieve.

Some people have acted in ways that seem to be guided by a Human mentality in horrific circumstances throughout history; in spite of, or perhaps because of, the expected doom of their world. 

In Auschwitz, the Jehovah’s Witnesses comprised a tiny minority of those in the prison camp. Still, they resisted the dehumanizing world created by the Nazis. “The Jehovah Witnesses would not commit any act of aggression or harm toward another person, even if that person was a murderer and an SS officer. At the same time, each Jehovah’s Witness would perform every other job, even the most obnoxious, to the best of his ability, as long as it was morally neutral for them.” (See Pawelczyńska, 1979 in the “Resources” section of the Study Guide.) The actions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses gained the respect of fellow prisoners as well as guards. They believed that performing the neutral tasks they were ordered to do enabled them to fulfill the Christian scriptural admonition for slaves to obey the authority “of earthly masters” as written in Ephesians 6:5-8. But they adamantly refused to follow any orders that would cause harm to another living being, which could suggest a Human mind in the quadrune mind model. The key goal of the Human mentality is, after all, reducing suffering for others. 

However, in order for us to understand if their behavior is truly Human, we need to understand their motivations. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses followed scriptures to preserve their Jehovah’s Witness ideology, it would mean their new mammalian mind was in control. If they refused to harm others to continue to survive in an everlasting realm then, even though their actions positively benefited those around them, they would still be reptilian-minded. This is why the question of motivation is so important—actions that look altruistic can actually be nothing more than an instinctual quest for survival, albeit survival of the soul. 

If the Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to harm any of the people in the prison camp, with no strings attached, because they saw them all—Jews, guards, and everyone else—as equally human and worthy of love and compassion, and saw their purpose as helping all living creatures to the best of their ability, then they were acting out of their Human mind.  

Is there anything wrong in believing that God directs history for His purposes? Yes. Christianity, for example, has an apocalyptic tradition based on certain passages in the Bible. (See Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12.) These verses include descriptions such as the sun going dark, the moon turning to blood, and the stars falling to earth. It certainly sounds like utter physical destruction to not only the Earth but the entire solar system. Unfortunately, a literal belief that the entire world is going to be destroyed so that a deity can make a point can create serious obstacles to our spiritual development. People may put their trust in an external power to fix things, in this life or the next, instead of taking on the daunting task of using our own lifetimes to reduce as much suffering in the world as we can. Those who do so reject outright the only meaning our lives in this world could ever have.

Also, belief in a divine plan for the world encourages people to “help” God’s plan in a way that often serves their own self-interest, especially their interest in heavenly eternal survival. Significantly, different people have different ideas about what God’s plan is for the world. Those different ideas can lead to dramatic, and deadly, conflicts among devout people who are trying to enact God’s will in the world. By “helping God’s will,” they may well end up causing great suffering. All too often, religious metaphysical beliefs are used to excuse imperialistic, greedy, or other malevolent worldly motivations.

Wouldn’t the end of the world encourage more people to become Human? No. Most people would probably go through the crisis of the world’s end at the same level of consciousness they had before the crisis. Or the trauma of major social upheaval could regress the person to a more primitive mentality. (See “The Four Minds of the Human Brain” on page 9 of the Study Guide for traits associated with each mentality.) Only if we are aware of what mentality guides our behaviors, emotions, and thoughts during the end of the world can we use it as an opportunity to develop our Human mind. Examining our mentality, even in the direst times, is the first step in guiding it toward greater compassion for all. 

If the impending world’s end was avoided, wouldn’t that be a great blessing for humanity? In the short run, yes. But in the long run, maybe not. Of course, avoiding widespread suffering and destruction would be the best possible immediate outcome. However, if relief from the threat of the world’s end came very quickly and relatively painlessly, then people might erroneously believe that their usual worldly lives work, that they are right in their habitual way of acting, feeling, and thinking. There would be no motivation to make the spiritually important social, political, and economic reforms the present world needs to become more humane. These reforms are only possible when the situation is bad enough that we feel forced to actually make the changes within ourselves to become more humane; when the pain of staying the same outweighs the discomfort of changing. In any event, it is never a good idea to try to bring about the end of the world intentionally. That kind of behavior would always be an indication of a non-spiritual mentality and would almost certainly create even more suffering for the world.

Is it really such a bad thing to have a pre-Human mind if the world is ending? Yes. People with pre-Human minds may make moving from the old world to the new world much more difficult for everyone than it would be if more people acted from their Human mentality during the transition. 

Reptilian-minded people’s behavior is always directed toward protecting their own instinctual survival. Concern for the well-being of anyone else does not exist in this mind. Consequently, they may not understand that other people have the same need for safety and security that they do. They may instinctively act to protect themselves at the expense of others, because they do not even recognize the essential humanity of the people going through the same trying time as they.  

People at the old mammalian level of mentality care only to defend the survival of the group to which they are emotionally bonded. This group could be their family, their nation, their church, or almost any group they emotionally feel like must survive if they are to survive. People at this level of consciousness may compete with, or attack, people of other groups during times of crisis. For example, they might hoard toilet paper or disinfectant wipes so that they and their family will feel less scared and to reassure themselves that their group will survive, even if others perish.  

New mammalian-minded people have killed and died for the survival of an ideology, such as communism or democracy. These conflicts are usually fought from the type of morality that we inherited from our primate ancestors. (See The ethical primate: Humans, freedom and morality by Mary Midglely. Midgley is a moral philosopher whose book describes the moral continuity between human beings and our evolutionary ancestors. Dutch primatologist and ethologist Frans de Waal has also written extensively on the roots of moral behavior.) This morality is not to be confused with Human love, which may fall under the heading of “moral” as opposed to “immoral.” However, human love goes beyond the confines of “morality.” A new mammalian might seek to maintain the ideologies of the old world in the new one, even if it becomes clear that those ideologies contributed to the end of the world and mass human suffering. 

Is the Human mind all that different from the other minds? Yes. The pre-Human minds have only one goal: survival (of self, group, or ideology). The Human mind is the sole exception. The Human mind does not value survival of a part over the wellbeing of all. (See Marian Wright Edelman’s and Ani DiFranco’s “Value Statements” on page 11 of the Study Guide.) The healthy adult human brain inherently produces the Human mind. 

Will the world end again? Yes. So far, there has been a series of worlds ending and being rebuilt. We call it history. It is painful for some of us to learn that we are not privileged to escape the forces of history, which have afflicted humanity from the beginning. People who value spirituality recognize this fact without resentment.

Is there one most important thing to know about living at the end of the world? Yes. The purpose of our lives as Human beings is the same at the end of the world as it is at any other time: to reduce suffering and increase healing. Although doing so as the world ends may be more difficult and even more risky in some cases, it remains our imperative.