I had a Q&A session with Carroll Blair, author of more than twenty books, including five volumes of poetry. His latest book is “Human Natures, of Animal and Spiritual.” Spirituality matters and humans are looking for meaning in their lives now more than ever. Let’s explore some ideas from the philosophy of Human Natures, of Animal and Spiritual and see what they can contribute to the quest for a deeper, more spiritual life.
Spirituality and Human Development from a Different Approach1. Where did the idea come from for you to write Human Natures, of Animal and Spiritual?
The idea for the book resulted from thinking about the connection between the major problems confronting the world of today and corruptions that have plagued humankind for centuries in various ways, what was behind them, and why a species of such gifts and potential was not going forward, failing to make progress where it is needed to take the next step in its evolution. What I heard from a number of professionals and proponents of new age philosophy/ spirituality/ human development wasn’t addressing what I perceived to be the root cause of the obstruction, or how much behaviors and attitudes will need to change and the work it will require to meet the challenges that humanity has created for itself and are now crucial to overcome for the sake of its future. Another factor in writing the book was being at odds with certain beliefs and popular influences of the present day that many have embraced who profess to be seeking a more spiritual way of life. For example, the modern view that has wide support of encouraging greater emphasis on self-esteem whether or not it is earned than on humility, and understanding the value and necessity of self-criticism where it is warranted. Being told you’re “special” and “extraordinary” regardless of merit, or advised to “celebrate who you are” even to the point of self-praise was not the advice to follow, I’d say, for those who want to develop into deeper, more wise and spiritually progressive human beings.
2. Humans constantly try to move forward from struggle, lack, fear, and negativity, why do most of them fail?
If the motive for wanting to move forward is of a low nature, then substantive growth that leads to spiritual maturity cannot be attained. Regarding the most worthwhile or virtuous goals, I think the reason for failing to achieve them is primarily an inadequate degree of courage, commitment and perseverance, getting frustrated with the demands of a long term undertaking that calls for great patience, especially when nowadays so much is about instant gratification, wanting to have it now or see immediate results, not willing to pay the price or make the sacrifices necessary to succeed in the mission of higher growth. It also isn’t easy to take a path that is different from that of most of the people around you, the pressure of social conformity often being stronger than the resolve to truly grow.
3. Many ‘experts’ tell people to repress their ego or ‘get rid’ of the ego. How can this be done if everyone was born with an ego? Wouldn’t it be counterproductive to try to rid ourselves of the ego? If the ‘ego’ is bad, why were we born with one?
“Ego” in the sense of a self-centered, selfish-oriented state of being must be outgrown if humankind is to advance in its evolution. Early in human existence, given the harsh conditions of the wild and hazardous terrain of life and death that our distant ancestors were faced with, a predominantly self-centered base of operation was necessary to their survival, but now, a self-interest-above-all-else manner of living on a large scale can not only prevent humankind from moving forward, but fashion a world in which a promising future could be nothing more than a fantasy. It would, in fact, at this point in human history, be counterproductive to hold on to an egocentric way of living and thinking. To the question of being born with an ego, I will say the following: A caterpillar is not born a butterfly. It transforms into a butterfly, and in the process, sheds features that are of the caterpillar. In the same way, not everything that humans are born with should remain throughout their lives (or can remain) if they are to grow into the most beautiful and elevated of human forms.
4. What can humans learn from animals and nature?
Humans can learn that they are part of a whole, with a responsibility to find harmony with that whole, and to live in a spirit of cooperation rather than domination. Every species on earth does exactly what it is supposed to do to keep the sacred balance of Nature in order, except the human species. Man is like the proverbial bull in the china shop in his relation to Nature and his environment. Why? Mainly because of avarice; of wanting more than he needs; of operating from a selfish-based impetus that is shortsighted, callous, and gravely unwise. No other species takes more than it needs to sustain its life, or destroys the habitats of other species in the process of securing its living. The absurdity of man’s behavior is that it is not only destructive to other life, but also his own, compromising the ecosystems on which his very existence depends, even to the point of irreparable harm. All reason calls for a change of consciousness, one that would deem it unthinkable to continue to abuse the environment and exploit its resources with disregard for the consequences of such behavior.
5. What is meant by transcendence?
Transcendence to me is a state of consciousness; a consciousness that is higher than the day-to-day goings-on of the temporal; a state of mind and spirit that is beyond concerns of the ego, not interested in worldly power or extravagant wealth, not preoccupied with thoughts of personal gain, but of contribution, giving and working with consideration for the whole instead of for one (or for one’s own circle). A state of liberation from subjugation to the baser impulses of human-being, aspiring to the best of what human life can be.
6. How can humans move forward to create a better world for all ‘living’ beings? How do we break through cultural barriers?
To move forward in the endeavor of creating a better world (of doing what one can for the endeavor) one must be free of the things that obstruct that advance, the battle for this liberation to be conducted within; a battle to overcome all that is of the animal of human-being that transgresses outside the realm of the physical, that moves into human character and manifests selfish behaviors that are harmful to others, and to realize we are here for just a brief time, and the only sense to be made, only meaning and noble purpose that can be created in such a reality is to focus on service and contribution for the good of the world, and what is higher and greater than an ego-based manner of life. To break through cultural barriers will require a change from thinking in terms of being a citizen of a country or nation to a citizen of a globe (of the planet earth), seeing the folly of ego fears and aggressions, which keeps the notion of “Us” and “Them” alive and senseless conflicts to continue on and on with increasing peril to all.
7. What can humans do to embrace spirituality and evolve to a higher vibration and or plane?
Work their way to the spiritual power and light within. Human evolution is an inner journey, an inner working needing the utmost sincerity and commitment to succeed. Teachings, practices, social exchanges of ideas regarding human development can help, but they are not enough to accomplish what is needed to evolve to a higher level (or highest levels) of human life. It will not happen by just wishing or praying it into being; it will not happen by putting faith in institutions to do what has to be done to eliminate the obstruction to spiritual advance, or waiting for a prophet to deliver humanity to a utopia or paradise on earth. It will only happen by individual efforts, human by human, engaged in the transformational work that will raise their lives to an enlightened state of spiritual industry, with hope that one day humanity can rise to the same by numbers of devoted aspirants high enough to turn this greatest of all dreams into reality.
Bio: Carroll Blair is the author of more than twenty books, including five volumes of poetry. His work has been favorably reviewed, as illustrated by the following commentary from Midwest Book Review, which proclaimed, “The poetic expression of Carroll Blair is both unique and compelling. Using word images like the strokes of a painter’s brush, Blair creates a resonating recognition that is the mark of a master poet.” He is an alumnus of the Boston Conservatory and lives in Massachusetts now working on material for future publications and cultivating a philosophy of human evolution through inner growth, the essence of that philosophy presented in Human Natures, of Animal and Spiritual. Visit Aveon Publishing to find out more about Carroll Blair.