The human condition is the normal framework of existence to which human beings are subject. The obvious difficulty one has when commenting upon the human condition is that, all of us being humans, we have nothing to compare it with, without using our imagination.

However, by observing the world around us and imagining how we would like to be, one can say human beings are weak, fragile, forgetful, easily influenced by others and unable to control their desires (for food, sex, money etc). Both Western and Eastern religion and mystical traditions have often been based around controlling the human condition. This has been often attempted through fasting, or overcoming the desires so an individual can think in a manner which is absolutely objective, free from all desire, and thereby know absolute truth.

In monotheist traditions, the prophets were individuals whom the spirit of God gifted with clairvoyance, and the ability to guide their people, and human beings in general, to live in accordance with our human nature, as we were created by God.

Such theories are perhaps diametrically opposed to modern hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure and fulfilling desires. This is the philosophical basis of Philip Pullman’s popular “His Dark Materials” trilogy, which views original sin to be the basis of human life, and experience of pleasure its purpose.

The justification by which religious and spiritual traditions oppose this philosophy is that its outcomes do not fulfil their conceptions of justice: the strong dominate over the weak, the rich over the poor, ruthlessness and deception lead to a long and happy life. This is the human condition. To oppose it one must be guided by something which is more than human, i.e. the spirit of God, which can tell you a way of living which can make you happy and in the process help rather than harm other people.

A great modern(ish) example of such a pseudo-religious spiritual movement is Subud, the founder of which, Bapak, described an out of body experience he had (back in the 1920s). Being taken from his body made him free of his desires, thereby escaping the human condition, so he could see and understand everything in an absolutely objective way.

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