Compassionate Theory of Everything, Main Page, My Experiences

An Ecology of Philosophies

Years ago I went to a meeting to practice public speaking. A new guy stepped softly to the podium and looked out at us. His eyes twinkled with a fierce white light from behind folded curtains of age.

He began a story of Musical Spiders:

“Spiders weave their webs, producing droplets of sticky goo and dripping it along the silk lines as they go. Once the individual threads are woven together, their overall pattern is finished with music…

The web is tuned.

Reaching out with the tip of one leg, the spider plucks a string – Ting! The masterpiece is complete once the frequencies are properly arranged. The web’s resonance helps the sticky goo to distribute evenly, and the spider’s ability to survive is enhanced by playing the right notes.”

I talked to Bob after everyone left. He’d spent decades in the woods as an ecologist and edited the writings of 500 scientists. When I asked questions, his eyes lit up in a way I’d only seen in one person before, on TV.

A sparkling fascination lay behind those eyes, too bright to originate or end in one man.

I felt like Bill Moyers.

Over the course of the next few months, we met in coffee shops or near his retirement home. We spoke of animals and people and the numinous wonder of interrelating biology. He edited papers I’d written, bringing focus and precision to my stories about truth.

Every pattern of biology and environment was a parable to him, one we can use to learn about ourselves.

Bob was 82. At times, a haze of confusion would drift over him, and a quick flash of embarrassment would accompany its clearing. But a single question could bring him back to shining focus. He’d return with bubbly eloquence and eyes bright like sunlight on a river.

His observations were brimming with mythic significance. They perfectly echoed the wholesome kinship and woven connection of “man with world” found in native cultures.

Bob had never heard of Joseph Campbell. I was shocked.

He seemed to have discovered the same lessons by studying animals and writing research papers that Campbell found by reading lines between the cultures of man.

Salmon and owls had told Bob their stories without symbols, and he had avoided views outside those of science. In fact, the philosophical implications of his research had troubled him as they seemed to drag him reluctantly toward spiritual perspectives.

Only recently in life had he dared to consciously examine relationships between the meaning he experienced in his work, and the Catholicism he had been raised to believe.

One day I went to visit him, and was told he was “unavailable” by the staff. I left one voicemail and another. After weeks with no response, I feared he was gone.

A family member of Bob’s contacted me. They thanked me for reaching out, and let me know that he was physically okay, but no longer mentally “present” enough to communicate.

Did that mean he was “gone”? I’ve wondered what it would mean in Bob’s life-philosophy.

His stories helped me see interrelationships of biology and beliefs and people, where all parts of a system affect one another. Life requires no conscious human decision to blossom and swell in this world, yet its flow may be directed by our choices. What we are as human beings may just as easily thrive though collaboration as survive through competition. Animals show us we have, quite literally, a world of options.

Bob’s life taught me this. Maybe I didn’t have to fear he was “gone.”

Whatever may have happened to Bob’s physical or mental existence, his experience of being alive has affected my own, by directing the way my ideas interrelate within an ecology of philosophies.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

My Purpose

The following is the attempt of my conscious mind to see patterns throughout my life that point toward “what I am” at my core, and gain understanding of it to the extent that “knowing myself” may be possible.

The following is the “highest” or “broadest” purpose of my existence, so most of the ways I relate with individuals or groups in some way relate to this largest sense of contribution to a whole of humanity of which I am part.

If there can be any purpose to some of my early experiences of getting hit with a chain or kicked by groups of people…

or some gift that might come from my seeming inability to “see the world through any specific cultural lens” (and accept its limited spectrum) and the resultant pervasive feeling of loneliness and separation I’ve felt my entire life (a feeling that has only lifted in moments of one-on-one intimacy with another human being, or time spent with animals, or seeing the moon between treetops)…

and if both my nature (the physical and mental attributes I was born with – which I did not choose) and my nurture (the environments and experiences of my years of psychosocial development – which I did not choose) have some sort of utility which I may consciously recognize and relate to as a “mission,” it is this:

Help Homo Sapiens Transcend Tribalism

Lots of other people share this purpose and will fulfill it and describe it in their own ways.

Can I really say that I have “chosen” this purpose? Not really. My choice is to allow my “soul” to lead my mind. All I am choosing is to be what I am. And as far as I can tell, what I am is a “Tao-ish seeker of non-denominational interdisciplinary truth,” who became focused on humanity and our ability to connect through compassion.

“Truth,” however, is all that I ever knew I was looking for. That’s why I started reading the encyclopedia when I was very young, and running away from home to the library or musuem even before anyone tried trapping me behind a school desk.

All I was aware of, for most of my life, was that I wanted to understand the truth of “tribalism.” I didn’t use that word. I just looked for the patterns of bias and behavior it describes. I don’t care if we call it “tribalism” or “culturalism,” or use another word from the social sciences – or even from English. I speak English, so I tend to call electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of 625–740 nanometres “red.” The phenomena exists regardless of what anybody calls it. If I spoke Spanish I’d call it “rojo.” This thing I’ll call “tribalism” right now is a universal human phenomena, so we can pick from any of mankind’s 7,200 languages and endless scholarly or religious divisions to describe it.

Really, when I was a kid I wanted to know “What the hell is wrong with you people?” and by “people” I truly meant “all people.” I was hurt, but I started to notice the things that hurt me were not limited to any specific group of people.

In many ways, it feels like “surrender” to fully acknowledge all this consciously. So it comes without a sense of majestic triumph and zeal, as I sense many “missions” might.

Why would anyone choose to “transcend tribalism” when they could be on a boat drinking champagne instead, or even just smoking weed and eating cheese fries?

I never would have chosen that type of mission.

But the one thing that has distracted me from various glittering lifestyles, is “truth.” I’m drawn to it. Helplessly.

Truth on its own, however, is still not enough. There is some “active” component to my philosophies that I cannot escape.

The most I can say that my own conscious understandings have contributed directly to this “mission,” was a realization that my philosophies were… doing something to me.

They made changes to my emotional and experiential well-being.

After a series of traumatic events brought me an (admittedly strange) new form of perspective, one that might be called a “total lack of attachment to my own beliefs,” I wondered: “What good are all those things I was trying to figure out and learn my whole life? What use are the philosophies I’ve come up with? It seems like this Chris Shelby guy has put together a somewhat unique model of mankind’s relationship with reality, and he was quite certain that everything he figured out was true. But everyone who ever lived was pretty sure they knew what was true, and what some people believe makes them act like jerks. So what happens when this particular model/worldview is acted on? Is it good for anything? If tried out and experimented with, what happens next?”

New connections became possible. Almost like some sort of cognitive path had been cleared towards the experience of “compassion.”

I noticed that I had access to feelings of empathy and understanding that I never had before. It used to make me angry when people were wrong. When their ideas were so wrong they were dangerous, my anger made me treat people badly based on their ideas. It frustrated me when other people didn’t make sense, and brought feelings of disgust when other people did not seem to even be trying to make sense. But those feelings went away, diminished, or became manageable for me.

The next thing that occurred to me is that “compassion” is the only thing I’m familiar with that allows people of differing cultures to connect with one another. In my philosophies it is the “self-seeing” of shared humanity in others. It has a long and rich tradition in many forms of spirituality, although unfortunately the stories and traditions of many religions are themselves divisive, often nullifying any world-healing benefit of their practice.

Compassion is, as far as I can tell, the way “group divides” are crossed. If you look closely enough, every group of people has an “in-group morality” that differs from their ideas about how to treat outsiders.

Individuals in street gangs only stick knives in the human beings of other gangs. Nations bomb other nations. It may not be a coincidence that “flying your colors” is vital to nationalism, racism, and gang warfare. Though their mansions may not have a specific flag, it may not be all that different for CEOs of large agribusiness companies who see “the public” as an out-group to be used and abused. These men in suits would never, ever poison their OWN family. Families living outside their mansions, however, aren’t quite as human. Those people can be collateral damage in a war for profit.

It is not, as I see it, a coincidence that my friend was beat up after last week’s Seahawks game. He’s from California, as are his jerseys. They are not blue and green. He walked past the bars near the stadium after the game, and was attacked by a pack of five-fingered animals all jacked up on testosterone and ethanol. Their vicarious tribe had won a symbolic battle minutes before.

Am I saying that “football fans” are violent and tribalistic and unreasonable and immoral towards out-groups? No.

Nor are “patriots” or “conservative shock-talk pundits,” or the uncle who ruins family reunions by yelling about “those people.”

I’m saying that the species Homo Sapiens is violent and tribalistic and and unreasonable and immoral towards out-groups.

Does that mean we’re all capable of “Man’s inhumanity to man” because it’s in our DNA? With billions of renderings of genetic code in every person across the earth, yet each one containing a line that says: “get them before they get you”?


That may seem like a very nasty thing to say about humanity. It might make us sound brutish and hopeless and “broken.”

I do not see it that way.

We’re getting better.

In aggregate, on a worldwide scale, on a loooong timeline – we’re getting “better.” As a species, over millennia, we are becoming kinder and more welcoming. Not as a nation, over decades. But as a whole, over the course of pre-historic speculation and through recorded history, we are becoming better at treating each other well.

We simply have a bump in the long road of history, with Brexit in the UK and immigration in the US, and religions coming apart at the seams.

To progress from the point of evolutionay psychology or cultural evolution we are at now – we need to see the challenges more clearly.

Right now, most people can easily see that “the other group” is tribalistic and biased. But to “get past” this point, in which we can all see so clearly how terrible “those people” are, a significant number of us must see that the species Homo Sapiens is violent and tribalistic and and unreasonable and immoral towards out-groups.

One problem with stating this message clearly, however, is that for the most part – only tribes of psychologists know what I mean by “out-group.” And most people don’t spend their decades looking for patterns of “tribalism” in human affairs. (That’s why I started the Compassion Circle – so everyone who does recognize this pattern and “gets it” can work on translating a message of healing between cultures and lexicons and idiolects so as to free it from any boxes of thought and perspective)

We live in a world that is experiencing more and more divisions between groups. We are rather gifted animals, with our ability for abstraction and symbol – but that also lets us divide ourselves based on politics, religion, money, or any preference. Social media allows everyone to see the beliefs of everyone else. That’s new. And so we are noticing that some of us believe it’s okay to be gay and others don’t.

I’ve heard from representatives of large worldwide religions recently, that their religions are splitting in two. Even religions that have been “together” for some time will be splitting apart. A group of people who have sat on the same pew for years will no longer be “together,” but instead be found in two churches meeting in separate buildings across town. Because one of those buildings will allow you to marry someone with genitals similar to your own, and the other won’t.

Lots of splitting in the world, for a SEEMINGLY maddening variety of reasons. But I don’t see it that way. There’s only one reason for the splits: “Your beliefs are different than mine and our symbols are different colors. So go away before I bite you or take your stuff.”

So it seems to me that my life, and all that thinky-cerebral-activity (that I really have no choice about, either) – all the times that high-school teachers yelled at me for reading textbooks in their class or that people sighed and shook their head when they saw me scribbling in notebooks my whole life – might have something to contribute to a larger whole.

Is this a “choice” or a “mission”? It feels far more accurate to say that my conscious mind has finally learned to step out of the way so that my soul can get things done.

The Facebook Group “The Compassion Circle” is a place where we discuss “how” we can transcend tribalism. We also celebrate compassion-in-action, wherever we can find it in the world.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

Every Soul Thirsts for Relationship

“The word ‘soul’ refers to the central order, to the inner core of a being whose outer manifestations may be highly diverse and pass our understanding.” – Werner Heisenberg

Everyone has a soul, a core pattern that exists below or beyond our ability to comprehend it, whether our minds allow us to be consciously aware of its presence or not.

This inner core we can call ‘soul’ relates with the totality of existence we can call ‘reality’ or ‘God.’

The mind, which gets stuck in the middle, seeks an understanding of this relationship. For this reason, we need a spiritual practice like we need water.

We see an incredible variety of ways for people’s minds to commune with their souls and get the interaction they need to thrive, just as there are so many ways people get the water their bodies need to survive.

Some are direct and overt, because people have become consciously aware of their needs. They buy square bottles from exotic springs. “My water is the purest.” Some folks believe they’ve found the one true belief.

Others claim: “I never drink water,” and don’t notice they get it while seeking out the sweetness of soda pop. Many sit in megachurches that smell like the perfume counter at the mall. Some of these people experience a relationship between their inner core and the furthest reaches of existence.

Ideas about a relationship between soul and universe, are not the same thing as an experience of this relationship.

Every soul thirsts for this water and so every mind reaches for a cup. We often grasp the cup offered by the nearest culture. There are a few thousand religions offering ideas about relationship, including an atheistic one believing in a higher power of randomness.

We search to fill our cup with meaning in an endless variety of ways, but all of us thirst for the same relationship with reality.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

Compassionate Theory – Spirituality

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

“Spirituality” as a term has a broad spectrum of applications. It can be applied either for the purpose of rejecting rational inquiry or broadening and deepening it.

Its lexicon can be associated with woo-woo platitudes, or processes that help the conscious mind “step out of the way” and open us up to larger experiences of being alive.

The terms we use to describe “spirituality” are necessarily amorphous, because we’re discussing phenomena that might be seen as non-physical, or as electrochemical interactions in the dark space between our ears. But either way, nobody has seen an “ego.” We just have a sense of what it is.

How, specifically, can spirituality widen our circles of compassion?

The “ego” or conscious mind sets boundaries on a sense of self based in our ideas of identity and our beliefs about what is “good” within us.

In moments of meditation or presence – these boundaries are transcended.

“We,” the parts of ourself that our “ego” perceives as “self,” are found to be a somewhat arbitrary boundary. We experience more than this.

The “ego” may then expand.

Through this process, over time, the “ego” eventually learns to find a self-ness within a larger boundary. While the “ego” and the inherent limitations of conscious awareness persist, they are no longer as tightly bound by the older, smaller set of conceptualizations.

We gain the experience of a “self” that exists beyond our conceptualizations. The experience cannot be denied, and returns during moments of “presence” or various practices of meditation.

When the conscious mind remembers these experiences that do not “fit” its conceptualizations, this allows the “ego” to become more flexible – and perhaps learn not to take itself so seriously.

Our ideas about the universe are no longer mistaken for the universe. We’ve experienced our conceptualizations, however grand, to be inadequate. They cannot even contain the whole “self,” let alone the totality of what truly exists.

So the ideas held by our “ego” about what is self-like are expanded, because we have experienced self beyond ideas. While these ideas continue to show up again and again, they are recognized for the arbitrary boundary they were to begin with.

More varied forms of self-ness can then be recognized in other people. The circle widens. It can be expanded to include all humanity. Or all living beings. Or grown further to include all things.

We continue to ask these questions:

“What is best for my loved ones?” Whatever belief system the experiences of our life happen to support will continue to show up in our minds. We may eventually learn to consider these beliefs “one illusion” or even playfully nickname their occurrence “the game of being me.” We no longer confuse the mind’s conscious activity for “The One and Only True Reality.”

“Who are my loved ones?” This becomes a larger and more flexible conception of “self.” It is clear that “we” extend beyond the reach of our fingertips, and beyond the reach of our ideas. Our “loved ones” are expanded beyond the “ego” and those related by blood or belief.

Our loved ones can be expanded to include the whole of nature in its beauty.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

Compassionate Theory – For “Sapiens” Fans

“The truly unique trait of ‘Sapiens’ is our ability to create and believe fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities.” – Yuval Noah Harari

If you look at a NASA photograph of the earth taken from space, you’ll notice it doesn’t have a bunch of rectangles and lines all over it.

We, as human beings, draw the boundaries of our nations using our minds.

Nations are not something that “exists” in the physical world. Yet at the same time, when enough people get together and say that a nation exists, those people will help each other grow food and trade resources together. A “fiction” such as a “nation” existing in enough imaginations is a great thing that helps us survive.

Unfortunately, people who imagine this fiction together – may also work together to kill anyone on the other side of the imaginary line.

In the same way and with the same wonderful and terrible consequences, all sorts of things that people imagine become real.

Pick an “ism” and somebody out there believes it is the one and only thing that exists – or should exist. Capital-ism, Scientific material-ism, national-ism, and even the zeroes and ones in a computer we call “money” all “exist” in the human-created environment of belief systems. Get an earthful of people together who imagine “money” exists and you get worldwide commercial-ism.

All of these “isms” bring gifts and disadvantages when people apply their principles. Capitalism probably brings overall growth (Yay!) but only helps a tiny sliver of people (Boo!) In a reality outside the human imagination, an “ism” cannot be “good” or “bad” but only produce a complex set of results. It’s up to human beings to determine which tradeoffs we’d prefer.

Yuval Noah Harari suggests that our capacity to create “fictions” is the reason we find ourselves at the top of the food chain. We’re a co-operative species like no other. Wolf packs grow up to a few dozen wolves, mostly bonded by blood ties. Humans grow packs in the millions because we can copy and paste ideas of “capitalism” or “nationalism” into our brains and bond through ideology.

Let’s say we run with his ideas as to the nature and origin of homo sapiens cultures and civilization.

If we then consider that:

1) Human beings are born with the capacity to see people as part of an “in-group” or “out-group.”

2) Empathy and compassion occur naturally for those we PERCEIVE as part of our in-group. And…

3) The in-group is formed through a perception of “who is similar to us,” and who we conceptualize as having physical or mental traits in common (including our fictions, ideologies and -isms)

It follows that all human subcultures can also feel empathy and compassion for one another by discovering similarities in our abilities.

Perhaps all we need to see is that we all have a CAPACITY in common. When we make other people wrong and stupid because of what they believe, we are forgetting that those beliefs are created by the same process we used to create our own. But other people have had other experiences by which they confirmed their “fictions.”

Everyone forms their own “Theory of Everything.” Every brain makes a belief system inside a truth inside a model of reality.

When we recognize that all of us are questioning “Who are my loved ones?” and coming up with answers that include “people who believe in my favorite -ism,” and all of us are questioning “What is best for my loved ones” and applying one fiction or another – we see that beneath all the contradictions of cultures – everyone wants the best for the people we care about.

This is a beautiful thing for all humanity to have in common.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

Compassionate Theory – A Jungian Analogy

Jung used the terms “ego” and “Self” in very specific ways. His “Self” would include the total personality – consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.

While each of us is born “whole,” the “ego” begins to differentiate our conscious identity into a separate “part” based on a limited conceptualization of what “we” are. We then tend to ignore the rest of what we are, especially what our conscious minds judge as dangerous or bad.

We create a “shadow” in which traits and desires we do not like, and do not see as part of ourself, lurk in the darkness. The only problem with this is that everything we’ve separated from also has a positive dimension that would allow us to lead a more fulfilling life.

Over the course of life, through the process Jung called “Individuation,” we explore all parts of ourselves and learn to embrace and integrate all of what we are as “Self.”

A similar process of embracing all parts of what we are can happen in our conceptualizations of humanity as a whole.

In the process of asking ourselves “Who are my loved ones?” and including all of humanity, we are performing a task on a collective scale analogous to what Jung’s called “individuation” on an individual scale.

This does not require accepting the behaviors of sadistic individuals or rapacious cultures. Instead, we may recognize that such horrific behavior is an ugly expression of desires and aspirations that all humans share, which may also be expressed in beautiful ways.

We can see as we look through the pages of history, some filled with staggering achievements of empathy and progress and others dripping with blood – humanity is both bright and dark.

“The Self…embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension. As a totality, the self is a coincidentia oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither.” – Carl Jung

Compassionate Theory of Everything

A Playful Explanation of Everything

God made evolution, because She preferred to plant colorful humanity in a wild jungle and see how we twist and curl as we reach for the sun.

Let’s be honest: If you were omnipotent, omniscient and eternal, would you wind up a bunch of people-clocks so you could listen to their heads tick? That would get awfully boring after a year, let alone an eternity.

Messy organic diversity is exciting and frustrating and delicious.

We evolved physical bodies in lots of shapes and sizes, but mostly with two eyes to see and two legs to carry us.

We evolved minds that twist the world into symbols and metaphors in an endless array of singular shapes, but all these abstractions serve the same purpose of telling us how to collaborate with our families and thrive in this wild jungle.

First, we evolved to survive in a physical environment where we had to fight off wolves and find food on our own because there weren’t many people. Then, we evolved to thrive in a social environment where some people seemed like family but other people seemed like wolves. Today, our minds are still trying to figure out which people are wolves and which ones are family.

“Who are my loved ones? What is best for us?”

Compassionate Theory of Everything

What is the “Compassionate Theory of Everything”?

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First, where did a “Compassionate Theory of Everything” come from?

Personal Background:

My mom searched frantically for me when I ran away from home at age 3. She found me at a bus stop. The bus was idling.

“Lady, the kid told me his mom was ignorant so he needed to go to the museum.” The driver explained.

I had questions about the world. Encyclopedias weren’t enough. I wanted to know what was true, and also what people believed. I suspected there was a difference between the two, but at that age I still assumed well-reasoned arguments grounded in science would clear up the confusion.

It wasn’t long after those runaway trips that the Jehovah’s Witnesses learned to skip our particular door.

What I wanted was for the world to make sense to me in ways that helped me love all the people in it. But at that time, I thought I could find “Truth” with a big “T.”

I wondered a lot about division, and if the things we thought made some people different and “bad” were true or not.

When I was young and attending an Indianapolis school, our teacher had us crawl under our desks and cover our heads to protect against nuclear attacks from “Russkies.” Many people said we had to get them before “they” got “us.” Attacking another country was supposedly justified because “they” were Communists, and not really human like “us.” I wondered if “communists” might still be people regardless of their beliefs.

When I went to buy bubblegum at the corner store, I was often attacked by a group of kids who claimed I was something bad because my skin color was different from theirs. I wondered if they might be mistaking me for “something bad” based on their ideas. This mistake had to be based on “their ideas about my skin color” as opposed to the reality of my “skin color.” None of my friends in the neighborhood had the same skin color as my own, so the violence was based on ideas about reality and not reality itself.

I developed a burning curiosity to know how and why human beings come up with ideas of “us” vs “them.” I wanted to know why these ideas could shape our reasoning process and justify attack. Over decades I began to see patterns in common between racism, nationalism/war, and ALL forms of prejudice.

A cohesive, harmonious “wholeness” took decades to form. Eventually I would discover the transcendent or spiritual perspectives of Alan Watts, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell. Each of them presented rather elegant and complete theories of the universe and our relationship with it as humans. But I still needed those to relate and form a cohesive whole with the physical ontologies implied by Charles Darwin, B.F. Skinner, and Yuval Noah Harari. What brings the world of mind, spirit, soul and matter together?

Perhaps a shared origin in our conceptualizations of them.

Looking back over my life I must say that a wholeness, a conceptual “intimacy with reality” that nurtures compassion for the sparkling galaxies of human belief growing in this universe – has been my life’s work.

The following is an attempt to boil 100,000 words down into 1,135.

Brief Summary of the CTOE using some technical terms from psychology: Human beings are born with the capacity to see people as part of an “in-group” or “out-group.” Empathy and compassion are innate parts of the human experience occurring naturally for our in-group, yet these are applied ONLY to those we PERCEIVE as part of our in-group. The in-group is formed through a perception of “who is similar to us,” and who we conceptualize as having physical or mental traits in common with us. All forms of “moral” or “immoral” behavior can be explained by an individual’s conception of their in-group.

An in-group can be conceptualized by the individual as including only the individual (in remorseless criminals who will harm others for personal gain/pleasure,) our own nuclear family (in the CEO who sells carcinogenic products to the public to buy his children a mansion,) expanded to those who share our religion (Crusades, etc,) our nation (war,) our race (racism,) our gender (patriarchy,) or all people (as in the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.) This perception and conceptualization of in-group is often learned from culture and upbringing, but this learning can be modified through conscious effort. We can make a deliberate effort to EXPAND our conception of an in-group, by seeing their desires and mental activities as similar to our own. This conception can include all people who are human beings.

Application of the CTOE: Widespread and cross-cultural understanding of this basic process will reverse the global trend toward extremism and fragmentation of societies.

This extremism has grown as our ideological differences (dissimilarity in conceptualizations) have been highlighted and advertised through tweets and modern communication technologies. The natural result of this has been in-group bonding through shared outrage at the conceptualization and behavior of others and out-group attack of those who see reality differently.

An awareness and understanding of our OWN in-group formation process is vital to the survival of our species, or at least human political and social systems. Without it we continue to create a world full of groups all viewing themselves as “moral and good” as they attack other groups.

Research supporting the CTOE:

Psychology – Pre-verbal infant behavior indicates in-group bias –…/babies-help-unlock-the-origins…/3/

Yale Infant Morality Researcher Paul Bloom: “We are predisposed to break the world up into different human groups based on the most subtle and seemingly irrelevant cues, and that, to some extent, is the dark side of morality… We have an initial moral sense that is in some ways very impressive, and in some ways, really depressing — that we see some of the worst biases in adults reflected in the minds and in the behaviors of young babies…a bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences.”

Endocrinology – The one hormone we think of as the “love hormone” motivates both in-group favoritism and out-group antagonism

“Results show that oxytocin creates intergroup bias because oxytocin motivates in-group favoritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation. These findings call into question the view of oxytocin as an indiscriminate “love drug” or “cuddle chemical” and suggest that oxytocin has a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.”

History – Individual conceptions of in-groups can be expanded by cultural conceptions, when legislation grants “personhood” –

In 1879 the Native American Chief Standing Bear’s family was being removed from their land by the US Government. He brought suit against the Army general charged with removing him.

The Ponca chief spoke before the court: “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain,” said Standing Bear. “The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled on May 12th, 1879 that “an Indian is a person.”

Most of the US population now sees Native Americans as “human beings,” which was not the case in the 1800s. Those whose skin “looks different” than “ours” can be seen as fully and completely human, and legislative changes promote cultural changes which promote individual changes in conceptualization.

In Canada, On Oct. 18, 1929, women were declared “persons” under the law. Women were granted the right to vote in 1940, and all women regardless of race were granted the right to vote in 1950.

Those whose “gender is different” than “ours” can be seen as fully and completely human. We would prefer this process to happen “on its own,” but cultures and individuals must instead “learn” to see those who look or think differently as fully and completely human. There are evolutionary reasons human beings have twin capacities to “recognize humanity” and “reject it,” and those will be covered elsewhere.

Summary: Although we continue to see horrific violations of human rights around the world – human cultures and civilizations have been moving in the general direction of “expanding our in-groups” for hundreds of years. The UN Declaration of Human Rights was a milestone in the 20th century impossible in the century before. That declaration was likely a result of awareness – many people could see the danger to all humanity posed by a world of fragmented in-groups each possessing nuclear arms.

Cultures provide answers to our individual questions, and these answers in general have become more and more inclusive as evidenced through advances in “personhood” and suffrage. But sub-cultures often still teach us that “we the people” are different and better than “they” the not-quite people.

We, as individuals, can nurture the process of compassion in ourselves by recognizing that all people have certain questions in common – regardless of the various foreign “realities” their answers may bring them. Having questions in common aids us in experiencing empathy and compassion.

We can nurture the progress of this compassionate process in society through our daily interactions with others, and find our own ways to communicate and share “how the process works.”

The “2 Universal Questions” are the simplest and most direct communication I could come up with, after working at unifying evolutionary and psychological perspectives, and attempting to boil them down to a process as simple and cross-culturally recognizable as possible:

“What is best for my loved ones?” (my family and those I see as similar to me in some way)


“Who are my loved ones?” (who, specifically, has something in common with my conception of myself and can be embraced as my in-group?)

Whatever your sub-culture, be it an academic or political or spiritual, there is some way of communicating this same basic process to others.

Please find it and spread it, because it will help human civilization continue to grow in compassion.

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Compassionate Theory of Everything

What a “Compassionate Theory of Everything” Did When I Tested It

There was a decade after I joined Facebook that I couldn’t use it without getting pissed off.

One morning I opened my laptop and saw all the political chaos, spiritual debate and outrage and horror we create in the world… and I felt love for humanity.

I knew I had something.

The theory helped me create a house-wide oasis within a ghetto, where I brought homeless people and felons and stroke victims to eat Thanksgiving dinner together. We watched Tom Hanks on the wall with my projector.

Police responded to no calls to the address. One of my tenants was arrested in the driveway, but for charges unrelated to behavior in our home. Parole officers called it the nicest rooming house in town.

My success, failure, addiction, depression – and even the anguish of meaninglessness – now has a sense of order I can relate to based on a theory I developed over decades.

This theory – the story I believe is true – has also helped me train dogs for both behavior and emotional state. Compassion can be found between humans and animals.

The theory, which explains why humans have such different ideas about reality and everything in it, is congruent with evolutionary theory.

It does not negate religion or spirituality.

It has allowed me to find fulfillment and quality of life, regardless of my lifestyle at any given time. Living in a rich neighborhood or sleeping on pavement affected my comfort level, but I’ve enjoyed purpose and a sensation of aliveness.

I have tested the Compassionate Theory of Everything in my own life, and it brings me empathy and understanding for others. Self-compassion allowed me to integrate parts of myself I had hated or feared into a fulfilling whole.

I’m not going to insist that the CTOE is “true.” It produced a predicted result for me.

If you want the world to make sense in ways that let you love all the people in it, I will be offering the theory to you. So you can test it yourself.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

All Humanity Grows from the Same Seed

Our skins may look different.
Our ideas may sound different.
What makes one person laugh may make another cry.

Yet within us all is the same capacity for tears and laughter, growing from the same seed.

When we see the potential for good, evil, and everything else people have ever done is within all of us – we can cultivate self-compassion for all parts of what we are. This helps us know ourselves, and make choices based on what we value instead of pretending we’re incapable of wrong.

When we recognize this same seed of humanity in others, we can cultivate compassion for their choices. This brings peace for everyone.

Contact me if you want help with the process.