MATU|Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping

This chapter has taken me much longer to write than the previous rule. I’ve subconsciously delayed it (or maybe it was slightly conscious). It is a chapter that forces you to grab yourself by the shoulders and putting yourself in front of the mirror and ask: 

How have you been treating yourself all this while?

And I think I’ve been avoiding the uncomfortable feeling, the impending and looming fear of the possibility that I have not been treating myself well. And that, as I have learned from this chapter, seems to be a nature of Being. I hope you benefit well from my attempt to understand.

For this Rule, I’ll be trying out a new format. I will list down all the sections and then try to extract its main idea. After that, I will try to describe the rationale of the flow of the sections in my opinion.

Also, feel free to click on any of the quicklinks. They will bring you to the section in the chapter.

Do leave your feedback, comments and suggestions. Thank you.


Section 1|Why won’t you just take your damn pills

(pg 31) It is very strange that people take far more care of their pets than of our own selves. What is it about us that makes us care for animals more than for ourselves? 

“How much shame must exist, for something like that to be true? What could it be about people that makes them prefer their pets to themselves?”

Section 2|The Oldest Story and the Nature of the World

(pg 33) The subjective experience of Being that makes up the history of Being itself tells us the stories of the fundamentals of the human life. These fundamentals are the ingredients from which actions are expressed that have allowed for survival.

“In any case, that which we subjectively experience can be likened much more to a novel or a movie than to a scientific description of physical reality.”

Section 3|The Domain, Not of Matter, but of What Matters

(pg 35) Subjective experience, or the thing that really matters more than matter, is made up of three things: Order, Chaos and consciousness. Consciousness is the thing that bring peace and balance between Order and Chaos. Order is predictable explored territory while Chaos is the unpredictable and unknown territory. The response to Chaos is instinctive, physical and instant, followed by emotion and then higher order thinking. The extreme of Order is tyranny and useless routine. 

“Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering.”

Section 4|Chaos and Order: Personality, Female and Male

Order and Chaos are closely embedded in the human understanding of the masculine and feminine which stemmed from the social brain through the natural categories, male and female, parent and child. This perspective is the lens that has been used to interpret the known and the unknown throughout history, before the present lens of science. Both male and female have their respective positive and negative subtleties.

“To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balance: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure.”

Section 5| The Garden of Eden

Everyone begins at their own Garden of Eden, unconscious and unashamed. A particular evil comes to them, tempting them at an impermissible act which then also grants them knowledge. This knowledge made Eve self-conscious then she made Adam self-conscious. He then consecutively feels ashamed to walk alongside God. 

“Our primordial parents hearkened to the snake. They ate the fruit. Their eyes opened. They both awoke. (…) Adam and Eve wake up, all right, but only enough to discover some terrible things.”

Section 6| The Naked Ape

The realisation of our nakedness reveals to us our vulnerabilities, sins and transgressions. First and foremostly, to ourselves and then God, which offers to us the choice of becoming one’s own tyrant or one’s own overly protective mother. Our nakedness and vulnerability, from our self-consciousness, opens us up to our own judgement and the judgement of others, and thus makes us ashamed and afraid to walk with God.

“No one has more reason to hold in contempt, to see you as pathetic – and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings. A dog, a harmless, innocent unselfconscious dog, is clearly more deserving.”

Section 7| Good and Evil

Humans care for predatory animals but lack care for themselves. It’s possibly that this is because humans are and have become aware of their higher capacity for intentional cruelty and pain, or torture and malevolence. This awareness is what brings humans to shame and guilt which prevents them from caring for themselves.

“And who could avoid noting that without that guilt – that sense of inbuilt corruption and capacity for wrongdoing – a man is one step from psychopathy?”

Section 8| A Spark of the Divine 

It is from their warped notion of self-sacrifice that people believe that other people shouldn’t suffer and thus are willing to victimize themselves for that sake. But if you cannot embrace yourself as a sinner, how then would you have mercy and help someone who is stumbling and imperfect? To walk again beside God, we must realise that we have the ability to bring forth order from chaos despite our own knowledge of our sins and fallacies. Others have done so despite their transgressions so you are thus morally obliged to care for, help and be good to yourself just as you would have for someone else. 

“You could help direct the world, on its careening trajectory, a bit more toward Heaven and a bit more away from Hell. (…) That would atone for your sinful nature, and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.”

Understanding the Rationale behind the Flow

As humans, we have a tendency to treat others better than we treat ourselves. We believe that other people, and also animals, shouldn’t suffer and we should burden ourselves to ease their suffering, sometimes to the extent of sacrificing or victimising ourselves. But why do we do this?

Like how Adam and Eve became self-conscious when they acted upon their temptations when they were tempted by the serpent, we too became self-conscious of our sins and capacity for evil when we make mistakes and made the choice to give in to our temptations. Naturally, there is a common theme to our lives and the story of Adam and Eve.

Just as how Adam and Eve were in the Garden at the beginning, we all began at some place of Order, a place where everything is expected, known and reliable. But as we grow, it is normal to want Chaos, to explore the unknown, to find out the limits of our potential, to know more about our possible capacities. But it is when we become conscious of the more malevolent capacities that we begin to loathe ourselves and find comfort in helping and being good to others instead of ourselves. But what are Order and Chaos ?

Order and Chaos are the two fundamental elements of life. Before science, the subjective experience of being a human being was explained through stories that were fundamentally stories of Order and Chaos. Our lives, our subjective experience, is really just made up of events that can be categorised as Order, Chaos and the balance of the two. This was how humans understood Life as it was before we became too knowledgeable about matter through the sciences. This was how Life was understood for thousands of years before we discovered the study of the physical matter.

The story of how Adam and Eve should now feel very familiar to you. Because it is the story that is the common factor of human experience.  Because that is what the human subjective experience actually is about. It is more like a story, a series of events that tells the story of how Being becomes self-conscious and feels shame and guilt about its own capacity for evil and malevolence after committing a sin, moving from Order to Chaos.

It is then this self-consciousness that brings one shame and guilt that prevents one from taking good care of oneself. Taking good care of oneself is bringing oneself back to Consciousness, balancing between Order and Chaos. After one’s capabilities for evil has been revealed, we should all bring ourselves back nearer to Order, straddling between Order and Chaos, striving upon the middle path instead of going to extreme Order (tyranny, mindless routine) or extreme Chaos (complete freedom, without aim).

“You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued. You may therefore have to conduct yourself habitually in a manner that allows you some respect for your own Being – and fair enough.

But every person is deeply flawed. Everyone falls short of the glory of God. If that stark fact meant, however, that we had no responsibility to care, for ourselves as much as others, everyone would be brutally punished all the time. That would not be good. That would make the shortcomings of the world, which can make everyone who thinks honestly question the very propriety of the world, worse in every way. That simply cannot be the path forward.” (pg 62)

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