The modern age is inherently anthropocentric in outlook,
from “anthropos” Greek for human, that is it places human beings and their Experience and concerns at the center of the hierarchy.
Above the claims of nature, animals, Gods or the universe more broadly.
We are now in every way, in our own eyes the center of the show.
But, it was not always like this,
traditionally, religions declined to give human beings a central place in the cosmos,
the ancient Greeks pictured their gods living on the summit of Mount Olympus and looking down upon humans with a mixture of amusement and pity.
Zen Buddhism Interpreted nature with all its diverse flora and fauna as far more important than, any one kind of upright ape of questionable merit.
And Judaism and Christianity,
presented the world Theocentrically, with human life as a small, and in many ways not very impressive,
fragment in a much larger scheme, known only to the infinitely superior mind of God.
With the decline of religion, we have come to embrace the philosophy of anthropocentrism,
We have identified ourselves as the most important things that exist.
It’s a move that can be cast as one of Liberation,
the stories on which God focused societies were founded have been displaced,
by more visceral tales of human heroism in business in science or in the arts.
But this liberation has brought an unexpected kind of suffering in its wake,
a vicious sense of our own lack of importance as compared with that of mightier other humans,
a feeling that we don’t matter really, when we actually should.
All this is unleashed a torrent of envy and inadequacy.
Theocentric or biocentric societies,
cast all our eyes upwards and reminded us that we were, everyone of us in the wider scheme,
ultimately puny and forgettable propositions.
But in our times there is now no established point of reference beyond us that can matter,
what happens to us here and now is framed as overwhelmingly important.
It’s all there is and so everything that goes wrong, everything that frustrates or disappoints us, fills the horizon of our being,
the idea of something bigger, older,
mightier, wiser and nobler than us to which we owe love and obedience has been stripped of its power to console us.
But tough it can seem as if there is nothing left to awe, or relativize us.
There is, what puts us in our place and reduces us in size, needn’t be, as religions presumed gods alone.
It might be the site of the stars at night, spread out in a mantle of Darkness,
unaccountably many unimaginably distant and themselves constituting only an infinitesimal fraction of the cosmos.
From their perspective, all human differences fade all our conflicts and competitions feel less urgent or significant.
We are as nothing.
Or, we might remember that we’re not at the center of things on a more domestic scale when we meet a small animal,
for example, a duck or a hedgehog its life goes on utterly oblivious to ours.
It feels not the slightest curiosity about who we are from its point of view,
we are absorbed into the immense blankness of incomprehensible things.
A duck will take a piece of bread as gladly from a criminal, as from a high court judge,
from a billionaire, as from a bankrupt felon,
our Individuality is suspended and that can be an enormous relief.
Nowadays, the sense that we are small and relatively unimportant in the universe is disorganized and fragmented,
religions used to organize it, interpret it, ensure our regular contact with it, and gave it its proper status.
They do continue to be opportunities to meet with this feeling, but they are haphazard.
We should take care to take them when we can,
whenever we feel overwhelmed, or punishingly self-absorbed,
when there’s a chance of a walk in the wilderness a look at the stars or a few moments with an animal.
We should be keen to get back in touch with that all-important feeling that we are not,
Thankfully, the center of the show.
Our “Who Am I” journal is designed to help us create a psychological portrait of who we are,
with the use of some far more unusual, entertaining and playful prompts along with bespoke psychological exercises to help develop our self understanding.
Follow the link on screen now to find out more.