Looking up at the marquee we see “The Night of the Living Dead” and we sense a tingling in our upper body. We take our seat in the theatre, expectant and anxious. After all, we came here to distract ourselves from the horror unfolding “out there” which in its own way is worse than what we are about to witness on the screen. In fact, what we are about to witness is a metaphor for what’s happening in the human community. That’s why these films have such resonance for those seeking escape from suffering, escape from what they mistakenly take to be the “reality” of their lives. Nevertheless, these films can be hilarious in a scary sort of way.
And yet somehow, as we wait for the film to begin, we sense a disturbing truth. Zombies have already broken through our defensive perimeters. They are inside. What zombies? What perimeters? Inside what? Well, let’s find out. It’s important to understand these things because, as we are about to learn, once bitten by a zombie, we will become one. Defending against that ghastly possibility is something we would all do well to consider.
Here is the classic zombie film plot. The “normal” people, whom we are meant to identify with, end up fleeing the hungry-for-human-flesh zombies (reanimated, partially decomposed corpses) pursuing them with a slow-motion stagger. We learn early-on in the film, if we are not already among the legions of zombie aficionados, that a bite from a zombie causes unconsciousness and then a grisly transformation into one of the walking dead.
Our heroes even have to watch out lest their defensive perimeter gets breached when one in their party gets bitten accidentally or due to just plain bad luck. For example, old loveable Uncle Harry, whom we in the audience know has been bitten, unbeknownst to the others, is fighting heroically not to bite Aunt Prudence his beloved wife. What can be worse than being possessed by an evil that causes us to destroy those we love?
By now our anxiety is at its peak because we know that they are all at risk, especially since Aunt Prudence has the same glassy stare after being bitten by Uncle Harry on the back porch away from the others. We continue to root for our heroes all the more because they are about to face the unthinkable.
The change in both Harry and Prudence, who were the most loveable family members anyone would care to have over for Thanksgiving dinner, is more than a little unsettling. They have gone over to the other side. As in the “Lifeboat” scenario, someone must be thrown “over the side,” put into the ocean to lighten the lifeboat, for the good of everyone. Here is the moment when the hero steps forth to make the decision no one else can bring themselves to make. He/she rises to the occasion to whack the two old “loveables,” who are now anything but loveable, but only the hero is able to grasp reality. What is reality?
The tension builds as the “conscious” people are cornered and surrounded. We in the audience have reluctantly come to realize that as others in the band of heroes get infected (those like good old Harry and sweet-as-honey Prudence), they will also have to be sacrificed in order to save civilization. This is hard to watch—it’s all hard to watch—but that is the whole idea isn’t it?
Survival of the uninfected is important otherwise the whole world could become infected. TOO LATE! The whole world is already infected. We are fleeing the 7 billion zombies (each other) that have us surrounded. “Do you mean to say that my Nana is a zombie?” Oh yeah! Take a closer look at her behavior—if you want to avoid becoming one yourself—if you want to “survive” that is.
What is involved in avoiding zombies in the “real” world and indeed, what is the “real” world? It depends, as we are learning, whether we are fleeing zombies in the context of P-B or in the much simpler and far less threatening context of P-A. But if you are scoffing and chuckling at this point, you better wipe that smile off your face and look over your shoulder because they are already here. EEEK! In fact as our title indicates—they are inside you like tapeworms—you have already been bitten, you are already infected.
What are the “zombies inside” which are referred to in the title of this essay? There are many types or “species” of zombies and if we have any chance of creating an uninfected, sustainable human community, we had better become conversant with what they are, i.e. mindful of that reality, and begin to build a defensible perimeter.
There are two types of “zombie infections”—environmental (nurture) and genetic or instinctual (nature). First, each human is quickly conditioned to the beliefs, attitudes and values of the P-B narrative as described in Simple Reality: Essence. The human mind, is infected with a delusional state supported by virtually the entire human community. All of the loveable Uncle Harry’s and Aunt Prudence’s, parents, peers, teachers, minister, et. al., are biting us many times a day from the time we are born. We quickly learn to repress any evidence to the contrary and we unwittingly join the ranks of the “biters” as we reinforce the illusion of P-B that seems to offer refuge and happiness.
Secondly, our own behavior from birth is driven by the natural human instinct to seek plenty, pleasure and power. These “natural” behaviors drive us to create and then reinforce a complex set of conditioned habits that become both complex and mostly unconscious. We have become zombies on steroids, both figuratively and literally.
The false self then can be said to be “psychological,” the result of both instinct and environment. Most of us walk through our lives in a mesmerized stupor of sorts, reacting to stimuli “out there,” salivating when our own projections are mirrored back to us. We are both the zombie and the hero. Humanities’ unsustainable future is a zombie future in which we humans are all feeding on one another and passing the infectious disease (unconsciousness or “sleeping sickness”) to the next generation.
The “natural” zombies inside are even scarier. Hold on to your popcorn! This phenomenon has its own film metaphors. “Think of the morgue scene in the movie ‘Men in Black,’ when a human corpse is revealed to be a robot, its skull inhabited by a little green man from outer space.” This is science fiction, right? No! That film and others are metaphors for discoveries happening now in mainstream science. The events that inspire these dramatic storylines about “interior” zombies are every bit as real as the zombies or other scary creatures emerging from the swamp “out there.” Unlike the “Creatures of the Black Lagoon,” however, the “scary creatures” we are going to consider now literally live within the bodies of both animals and humans.
No, you are not obligated to read any further but remember—liberation is on the other side of the swamp, that is to say, you must wade through it—you can’t go around it to reach the other side. In short, we have to acknowledge reality before we can change it and right now humanity is using its energy fleeing the truth. Our false self is the creature from the Black Lagoon and the story most of us tell ourselves is the vast, formidable swamp which exists only in our own mind!
The area of that swamp we are about to enter is called by science “evolutionary medicine” and we begin with the usual animal and insect studies that can reveal parallels in the causes of human diseases and/or self-destructive behavior.
In Simple Reality we have learned that humanity has lost the freedom of healthy behavior by acting out an identity based on an illusory narrative. In short we behave as though we were possessed by an alien presence which if expressed in a religious paradigm would include such phrases as “the devil made me do it.” In the following evidence we more scientific types can see that the devil is a metaphor for actual living creatures.
What I call the “zombie inside,” science calls “host manipulation.” For example, the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, causes its mouse host to become obese and sluggish because the tapeworm (nature) wants the mouse to be eaten by a predator, say a fox, thus taking the tapeworm into the fox where it wanted to go when it began its journey. In other words, the tapeworm learned that the stomach of the fox was an ideal environment and used the innate intelligence of the Implicate Order to create a way to get there.
Let us switch to another similar worm known as Dicrocoelium dentriticum so we can see a more complete science fiction thriller. Our antagonist begins inside a snail, ends up inside an ant, which is then eaten by a sheep. When they were inside the ant (to show the genius of evolution’s creative process) some of the worms migrate to the ant’s brain, rewire its neurons and in essence take over the ant’s body. They then control the ant’s behavior causing it to climb to the top of a blade of grass and wait there until the sheep comes along and takes it to its next stage of evolution.
The sequence continues when the worm lays its eggs in the sheep’s stomach, the eggs depart the stomach encased in sheep poop which in turn is eaten by snails, which in turn are eaten by unlucky ants. This host manipulation is an example of the zombie inside.
Do internal manipulator zombies inhabit human beings? Of course! Why do you think we started this whole gory story in the first place? Simple Reality is nothing if not a fascinating adventure. “…what if coughing and sneezing aren’t merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses?”
The zombie metaphor can even influence us to think of our genes in a different way. “Think about having a child, and ask who—or rather, what—benefits from reproduction? It’s the genes. As modern biologists recognize, babies are our genes’ way of projecting themselves into the future.” Think of it this way. Similar to parasites and pathogens, genes manipulate our bodies, and hence our behaviors in a way disarmingly similar to the way a parasitic fly takes over the behavior of a honeybee.
Now we will have to abandon the intellect and science and move to the more profound worldview of the mystic to get an explanation that makes sense, but only in the context of P-A. We have learned that there is no separate ego, no “I” or “me” in Creation but instead an interconnected “Oneness.” Buddhists note that our skin doesn’t separate us from the environment, but joins us, just as biologists know that “we” are manipulated by no less than manipulators of the rest of life.
In our ignorance we identify with the body, mind and emotions and thereby leave ourselves open to manipulation by the illusion of the world of form. First we derive our identity from a non-existent false self. Then we invest it with most of our energy while we are simultaneously trying to escape the suffering caused by this delusional identification. And finally we are alarmed at our self-destructive behaviors biting, infecting and whacking each other in a melee of madness. We don’t have to go to the theatre to see a gory spectacle, we are all involved in writing, acting and directing our own.
Who remains after “you” are separated from your genes? Where does the rest of the world end and each of us begin? Continue reading the rest of the essays on this blog and maybe you will be able to answer these questions. And if you can’t? Don’t worry, no pressure—you will be fine in any case—this blog and the books are about a perfect Creation. It is not a movie script.
References and notes are available for this essay. Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry: Where Am I? The First Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality