In F.M. Alexander’s last book, The Universal Constant in Living, there is a chapter entitled “Stupidity in Living.” This title has always amused me as it gets directly to the issue we face as a species, worldwide. Stupidity in living sums it all up. Alexander makes a very cogent argument as to why he sees things this way, but as his books can be a bit difficult to read, I have some remarks of my own to share on the subject. My last blog addressed Education; this one is in the same vein.
Man has been remarkable for his ability to change his habitat, and to master great forces outside himself. First, he conquered fire and domesticated animals, and then he invented the wheel, and boats, and other means of transportation. He invented Art! Then, all the inventions in the areas of health and science, till we get to nuclear fission and rocket travel. In fact Man is a powerhouse of zeal and wonder in the forces outside his own skin.
But Man has little or no insight into himself, his deepest inner-workings, and the unity of his being. He knows practically nothing that might lead him to self mastery.
This is why our educational systems fail at every level. We learn things, we learn to do things, we learn to make a living, but we never learn about ourselves and WE ARE NOT EVEN HALF AWARE OF THIS LOSS! I think this omission is remarkable and amounts to, as FM put it, stupidity.
We make a tragic mistake in our lives if we do not develop self-knowledge as we go about what we are doing, day to day. Every day we pass mindlessly, we get better and better at being asleep at the switch. We form and crystalize habits of mindlessness, not only to our present state, but to our own possibilities for real happiness and joy. Why do you suppose so many people say they want to be happy but are not happy? Why are so many people searching for the missing thing that they can’t even name? It seems that discontent, worry, and tension dominate the experience of most people. Deprived of self knowledge, Man lacks the very key to self development and to the achievement of his full potential.
All this makes clear why Alexander would say that it is “useless to urge people to live a full life without the means where-by to wholeness in the motivation and activation of the human self.”