Through this lesson, we will look into the fact that every individual goes through life from one, two and to the third levels of existence. Some operate only on one level all their lives; others on two, or three, and some oscillate between these three. The ones who live on the third level of existence, all the time, are those who have found the meaning of life.
First question, first:
What is existence?
Existence is the state of Being. To exist is To Be, to be known to exist, to be recognised expressing life, and to interact with other humans who are also existing.
The levels of existence are levels where the beingness of an individual is felt by those existing as he is. Be-ing is both having subjective and objective realities. subjective reality is what your internal world looks like. Objective reality is what your external world is made of, including the continuous recognition by other beings on the three levels of existence as you are.
On each of the levels of existence, the individual is striving to survive, to thrive, and to live beyond mere survival.
How and when the individual goes beyond one level into another will depend on the level of awareness, knowledge, and information such individual has at hand, and these would determine how well the individual would fare in these levels.
The three levels an individual expresses Beingness are:
The level of individualism
The level of group relevance, and
The level of universalism.
Let us go over each one, at a time.
The Level of Individualism
At this level, the individual first of all lives for self, propagating his or her need for survival through self-realisation and family. How well he or she survives on this level will depend on the information at hand and the knowledge and experience gained. All these combined form his or her awareness. Awareness determines how well a person will perform for his or her survival and this will include how they gain the resources (money, means, and connections) to keep them well and alive.
A large percentage of folks live all their lives at this level because they struggle with the need to survive. Their challenges are so enormous they have no concern for the welfare of others who are likewise stuck on this level.
At the level of individualism, it is all about the Self and every extension of the Self whether the extension is family, property or an animal as a pet. It is I and mine, and no one else.
It takes a basic level of spiritualism, a flare for brotherhood, or sheer nationalism for an individual who is yet unsatisfied with his pursuit for survival and happiness to show to the other levels of existence the same level of commitment shown at his level of individualism.
Ignorance, stupidity, indiscipline, a culture of fear, docility, and the inability to take risks keep people bound at this level, unable to contribute significantly to the levels above them. Surprisingly, some are comfortable in their station in life at the level of individualism, with not much to worry about, but don’t want to have anything to do with the other levels. They die there, some even dying well.
Knowledge, awareness, wisdom, discipline, and productiveness afford people the power to live above mere survival at this level and transcend to other levels. They then seek to make their being recognised at other levels by gaining significance there.
This brings us to the second level, which is:
The Level of Group Relevance
At this stage, the individual makes himself felt in a group. At this level, the individual has gone beyond seeking self-survival to seeking, in alignment with the group effort, the survival of a larger entity. He or she strives for the recognition and longevity of the group through acts of service, and service comes in a million forms!
There are three groups under this level: the racial group, the social group, and the human group.
The racial group is the first human arrangement that every individual identifies with. It is within the racial group that we have the clans and tribes. The human group extends out of the racial group, a tree made up of many branches. The human family is one tree with many branches and its root is black.
So, the individual recognises his or her beingness from being human to being of a racial group, to being a member of a social group. When the individual has gone beyond loyalty to his tribe or race alone, he or she strives to work with others from different tribes and races and that brings him or her to the social group.
The social group can be one or some of the immediate membership arrangements that the individual is part of or that he or she chooses to be part of. It could be clubs, fraternities, party affiliations, philosophical schools, interest groups, and social media groups. The individual’s membership to one or more of these groups is to experience existence through them, to realise levels of beingness within them.
Relevance is what the individual seeks at this group level. To not just be there, but to contribute to the recognition of the group and its longevity.
It takes active participation for anyone to gain relevance at the group level. It takes giving from the resources that should go into personal survival to the needs of the group and this can be tangible or intangible things that the individual possesses. It could be time, money, land, labour, volunteering, being a spokesperson for the group, championing the culture of the group or tribe, or just about any activity that serves as a contribution to the existence of the group.
And, at the third level of existence is
The Level of Universalism
This is the level where living has gone beyond the Self, and the group, to accommodating all of Nature. At this level, the individual unites both personal and group existence with that of all of life. The individual works to improve the survival of the physical universe by attending to nature and all life forms and by ensuring sustainability and better forms of living for all creatures.
Now, how do we bring this home, to bear on us? It is that while we work for our personal survival, we should key into the concerns of the group we have affiliations with and then show support for the livelihood of our environment. Our existence has to be recognised no matter in what small way.
It takes being aware to want to gain relevance at the group and universal levels while still gunning for your own survival.
For example, you are trying to build a business to make a profit to keep you and your family alive. That is good and worthy of praise. But, you are a member of The Sophia Club and The Sophia Club has goals to carry out diverse social initiatives to the public to gain relevance as a group. You contribute to the group’s relevance by whatever support is in your power to do and when you do so, you gain relevance within The Sophia Club. And by extension, we can carry out programmes aimed at helping our environment stay healthy so that it can in turn keep us and generations after us in existence. We can venture to solve a global problem at a local level or solve a local problem with a global perspective. Thereby you gain relevance and recognition for being identified with the group.
From this, we understand that living for oneself at the level of individualism is the lowest level of existence. It is good to strive and thrive for your own good and that of your loved ones. But you must go further by seeking relevance in a group or groups and by extension reach out to help improve the physical world. We have to exist on these three levels to the best of our abilities. And, by living at the three levels of existence, you differentiate yourself from those content to live for themselves alone.