Survival Instinct Explored in Berkeley, CA

survival_instinctThis past weekend, I attended A.H. Almaas’ winter retreat in Berkeley. The retreat focused on the survival instinct and most agreed it was a timely presentation.

Two years ago we worked on the social instinct and last year we explored the sexual instinct. Almass explores the instinctual drives in relationship to the Enlightenment Drive – the dynamic quality of the soul that impels it toward awareness of its true nature and freedom from limitation and the past.

The way we’re approaching the question of instincts and their drives is not a question of being free from them, it is a question of freeing them to be what they can be, and evolve and develop in a way that can become part of our realization, support for our realization. – A.H. Almaas

Almaas sees nothing wrong with the survival drive or the other instinctual drives. They are natural components of animal existence and evolution. The challenge for human beings, who have the capacity to muck up the natural functioning of the drives, is how to help the drive do its job most effectively.

Our capacity for reflective consciousness brings with it the capacity for projection and distortion of  what is really happening. The past gets projected onto the present situation and, the drive which can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined, kicks into gear with its fight or flight response.

The current economic situation is raising a lot of safety and security concerns in people. Recessions, property, money and wealth are really not the types of dangers our instinctual drives evolved to engage. We’re hardwired to respond to actual immediate physical threat, not the imagined consequences of Bernie Madoff ripping us off or the consequences of job loss or a dwindling 401K.

We have become so identified with our possessions, that we connect them very strongly to our survival. Survival now has a strong connection to money – and it’s partly true, but mostly not. A downgrade in lifestyle or having to eat beans instead of beef is not about survival. It’s about comfort, preference and self-image. The self-image is what becomes threatened – and – since the hard wiring can’t tell the difference between the body and the self-image, fear, anxiety, worry and even terror result.

The direct connection to money is something we all need to explore – what it is, what does it stand for, what it means personally, how to work with it and relate to it.  This holds true for all of our possessions. This type of exploration will help to reveal the distortions that are interfering with the free functioning of the drives and thus the potential of the consciousness aligning them with the drive for enlightenment.

A very interesting three days.

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