“Mr. Natural, what does it all mean?” Part 1 
By Dr. Keith Witt
March 7, 2013
If you grew up in the sixties and seventies, you probably are familiar with Zap Comics, the counterculture’s irreverent, risqué, and hip extension of Mad Magazine (junior and senior high school boomers were crazy for Mad Magazine in the sixties). Robert Crumb became the patron saint of the Zap Comic genre, and two of his signature characters were Flakey Foont, a hapless victim of modern society, and Mr. Natural, a bearded egocentric guru in a white robe, who occasionally was the real thing—an authentically enlightened being. One classic exchange is Flakey Foont pursuing Mr. Natural across a field, begging him, “Mr. Natural! Mr. Natural! What does it all mean?” Mr. Natural, in a hurry to somewhere, tosses back over his shoulder, “It don’t mean shit!” Really? I’ve always loved this conversation, and have reinterpreted it endlessly to myself over the years. My current take is that Flakey’s obvious desire for one insight to resolve his multiple dilemmas is crazy, and Mr. Natural is whacking him for his ridiculous assumption one answer can do the trick, but also establishing his credibility in really knowing what it all means–after all, he’s answering confidently, and he is the one and only Mr. Natural! We always yearn for organizing principles and confident teachers, and, after reading Andrew Cohen’s brilliant Evolutionary Enlightenment, I find myself considering, once again, “What does it all mean?” Evolutionary Enlightenment will move you I recommend you check out Evolutionary Enlightenment. Cohen teaches how our authentic self (the “I” that’s closest to pure soul) committed to the evolutionary impulse is about as good as it gets. His explanations of the nondual combinations of radical emptiness (the experiential goal of most meditative traditions) and our fierce human desires to relate and create are simple, accessible, and satisfying. Andrew maintains we have two basic states, “authentic self,” our soul-sourced core of pure consciousness which serves the evolutionary impulse, and “ego,” the culturally conditioned sum of our habits. At the end the book, Andrew mentions, “creative friction” where the dialectic of differing opinions drives evolution onward, and I was feeling some creative friction as I read his last pages (it’s always good to read last chapters—writers save some of their best stuff for a final blast). I wanted to add a couple of points to his approach. Specifically:
- We have many selves in addition to pure “authentic self,” and “ego.” We contain everyone we’ve been, not to mention identities programmed into us by the rich cultures we live in and naturally form when two or more are gathered together (me as child, parent, friend, lover, professional, boss, follower…you get the idea).
- Even though enlightened states of expanded consciousness and communion plus single-minded devotion to the evolutionary impulse are arguably likely to be more mature, caring and transcendent than other states, everyone regularly enters immature states, egocentric states, and defensive states (among many others). All these states yearn to be acknowledged and effectively integrated–you can’t just dismiss them entirely as “ego.” Each has its own legitimacy, power, and wisdom.
- A developmental line is any aspect or ability (like physical development, thinking, making moral decisions, learning a skill, relating to others, or caring for ourselves) that involves stages of development where development is in one direction and we don’t skip stages.
- The way to progress on each line is to devote yourself to the healthy expressions available to you at whatever level you currently occupy—what Integral calls your “center of gravity” on that line.
- For instance, on the psychosexual line of development, if I’m single, I want to get better at dating in a healthy way. If I fall in love, I want to grow in being a supportive, reliable lover. If we have a child, I want to become a progressively better parent and cocreate a thriving family.
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