In the past posting we looked at how the evolution has conditioned us to react with automatic reflex under certain context. The reptilian brain was designed to aggressively protect ones own territory. If someone came into our territory they got aggressively chased out. When we are afraid and sense danger we automatically  go  into  fight – flight mode to get out of danger.

As life got more sophisticated, evolution found a way to allow living in-group setting without being overly aggressive and seriously harming each other. There is a distinct advantages of  being able to live in a groups. As mammals started to live in a groups their behaviour got more sophisticated; the need for fighting and the rule of sexual engagement was handled through rules of status hierarchy . Long before Carl Jung described the workings of the archetypes in humans, and even long before we come on the scene, mammals were dealing with the archetypal themes that enabled sexual competition, loyalties and betrayals,group living and tribalism, submission to leaders and fear of dominant males , the striving for status and social position, cooperative hunting and working together.

Our minds are still preoccupied with these themes today. Our desires that flow within us were implanted in us not only long before us but long before all humans. It is tragic that sometimes our brain gets turned on and off according to the evolutionary journey our brain has taken; resulting in knee jerk behaviour causing enormous damage. I myself have said things to my loved ones in anger, which with all my heart I wish I could take back. This happens when we simply turn off our capacities for compression and let cruelty flourish. We are then in danger of losing balance. We may become cruel and callous to ourselves with self – criticism , self dislike or even self-hatred. Because we are doing it to ourselves, like bullies who have no one to stop them, we think its fine to be self -uncompassionate. But it’s not fine.

We have an intelligent and creative mind; let us not be dominated by the past protective but now destructive evolutionary strategies. It is these strategies when triggered out of context that puts us at risk. They don’t work very well in our fast paced and sophisticated society of today. We can reduce the risk of these strategies being triggered inappropriately by conquering fear,anger and desire to harm with simple caring and compassion.


The Compassionate Mind  by Paul Gilbert

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