Who are we and why does it matter? Gregg Braden has written a new book, Human by Design: Why We’re Wired to Be Extraordinary (Hay House, Inc., 10/2017) with one purpose in mind: to empower us in the choices that lead to thriving lives in a transformed world.
Before that he looks at other questions, who are we? Where do we come from? Why does it matter? He begins that conversation here in a condensed piece from his new book. Gregg Braden is a five-time New York Times best-selling author, and is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science, spirituality and human potential.
Find out more at greggbraden.com.
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Human By Design
September 01, 2017 - Gregg Braden
Our Origin: Why It Matters
Since our earliest ancestors looked with awe into the distant stars of a moonless night sky, a single question has been asked countless times by countless numbers of people sharing the same experience through the ages. The question they’ve asked speaks directly to the core of every challenge that will ever test us in life, no matter how big or how small. It’s at the heart of every choice we’ll ever face, and it forms the foundation for every decision we’ll ever make.
The question that’s at the root of all questions asked during the estimated 200,000 years or so that we’ve been on earth is simply this: Who are we?
Key 1: In the presence of the greatest technological advancements of the modern world, science still cannot answer the most fundamental question of our existence: Who are we?
The way we answer the question penetrates the essence of each moment of our lives. It forms the perceptual eyes—the filters—through which we see other people, the world around us, and most importantly, ourselves. For example, when we think of ourselves as separate from our bodies, we approach the healing process feeling like powerless victims of an experience that we have no control over. Conversely, recent discoveries confirm that when we approach life knowing that our bodies are designed to constantly repair, rejuvenate, and heal, this shift in perspective creates the chemistry in our cells that mirrors our belief.
Our self-esteem, our self-worth, our sense of confidence, our well-being, and our safety stem directly from the way we think of ourselves in the world. From the person we say yes to when it comes to choosing a life partner and how long our relationship lasts once we create it, to what jobs we feel worthy of performing, the most important decisions we’ll ever make in life are based in the way we answer the simple, timeless question Who are we?
The way we think of ourselves is reflected in what we teach our children as well. When their delicate sense of self-worth is threatened by relentless bullying from rivals and classmates, for example, it’s their answer to Who am I? that gives them the strength to heal their hurt. Their answer can even make the difference between when they feel worthy of living and when they don’t.
The way we think of ourselves also determines the policies of corporations and nations that either justify dumping waste into the world’s oceans each year or show we cherish our living oceans.
Key 2: Everything from our self-esteem to our self-worth, our sense of confidence, our well-being, and our sense of safety, as well as the way we see the world and other people, stems from our answer to the question
“Who are we?”
It’s precisely because the way we think of ourselves plays such a vital role in our lives that we owe it to ourselves to explain who we are and where we came from as truthfully and honestly as possible. This also includes changing the existing story when new discoveries give us the reasons to do so.
Over 150 years ago, geologist Charles Darwin published a paradigm shattering book entitled On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. He intended to provide a scientific explanation for the complexity of life—how it has morphed over the ages from primitive cells to the complex forms we see today. Darwin believed that the evolution he witnessed applied to all life, including human life.
In one of the great ironies of the modern world, the science that was expected to support his theory and solve life’s mysteries, has done just the opposite.
The most recent discoveries are revealing facts that fly in the face of long-standing scientific tradition, especially when it comes to human evolution. Among these facts are:
Fact 1: The relationships shown on the conventional human evolutionary tree are not based on evidence. While these relationships are believed to exist, they have never been proven and are inferred or speculative relationships.
Fact 2: Modern humans arose suddenly on earth approximately 200,000 years ago with the advanced features that set us apart from other forms of life already developed.
Fact 3: The lack of common DNA between Neanderthals, thought to be some of our ancestors, and early humans, whose DNA is similar to ours, tells us that we did not originally descend from them, even if we interbred with them at some point.
Fact 4: Advanced genome analysis reveals that the DNA that sets us apart from other primates is the result of a mysterious and precise fusion of genes that suggests something beyond evolution made our humanness possible.
To be clear, the advanced features identified in Fact 2 didn’t develop slowly over long periods of time, as evolutionary theory would suggest. Instead, characteristics that include a brain 50 percent larger than that of our nearest primate relative and a complex nervous system with emotional and sensory abilities fine-tuned to our world, already existed in modern humans. And humans haven’t changed 2,000 centuries later!
These facts, based upon peer-reviewed science, present a problem for the long-held evolutionary story of our origins. The new evidence clearly doesn’t support the conventional narrative of the past that we’ve been taught. The popular story in textbooks today leads us to believe we’re insignificant beings that began as a biological fluke, then endured 200,000 years of brutal competition and “survival of the strongest,” only to discover that we’re powerless victims in a hostile world of separation, competition, and conflict.
Scientific discovery, however, now suggest something radically different. It’s for this reason that we need a new story to accommodate the new evidence. Or we need to follow the evidence we already have to a new story. From fossils and grave sites to brain size and DNA, the existing evidence is already solving the mystery of the origin of our kind.
Key 3: By allowing new discoveries to lead to the new stories they tell, rather than forcing them into a predetermined framework of ideas, we may, at last, answer the most important questions of our existence.
If we’re honest with ourselves and acknowledge that the world is changing, then it makes sense that our story in the world must change as well. In all likelihood, the new human story will be a hybrid of theories that already exist. These will be woven together into the new tapestry of a grand chronicle that describes an extraordinary and epic past. And with this new story, at last we’ll embrace the history that cannot be accounted for in any of the existing theories by themselves.
A growing body of evidence suggests that we are the product of something more than random mutations and lucky biology. But the evidence can only go so far. Fossils, DNA, ancient cave art, and human burial sites cannot tell us why those things happened. We may never know the complete why of what has made our existence possible, but maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe it’s not necessary to have that level of detail for us to shift the way we think about ourselves and change our lives. The discovery that we are the product of something more than evolution—very likely a conscious and intelligent act of creation—may be all we need to point us in a new, honest, and healthy direction.
The undeniable fact is that something happened 200,000 years ago to make our existence possible. We owe it to ourselves to embrace the body of evidence and the healing it can bring to our lives. The power of the emerging human story may help us bring true and lasting healing to the racial hate, the sexual violence, the religious intolerance, and the other devastating challenges we face, ranging from the abuse of technology to the plague of terrorism that’s sweeping the earth. To do anything less is simply to place a Band-Aid on the emotional wound that creates these expressions of fear.
For the first time in the 300-year-long history of science, we’re writing a new human story that gives us a new answer to the timeless question of who we are.
Key 4: New DNA evidence suggests that we’re the result of an intentional act of creation that has imbued us with extraordinary abilities of intuition, compassion, empathy, love, and self-healing.