It’s the warmest day of the year so far. But the creek that runs through town, with its adjacent parkland on either side, is still running cold and fast. Amazingly, a large family group of about 15, young and old, is swimming or wading at the only sandy spot in Lower Park.
As I walk by, I see one head and then another bobbing by on the rushing current. Everyone is shouting and laughing and having a great time.
Just after I sit down about 100 meters downstream, the entire group clambers up the steep bank to the park road across the stream. How far they have to walk in their flip-flops, with towels draped around their shoulders, I don’t know.
Within a few minutes the only sounds one hears are water, birds, and the occasional vehicle passing by. Soon there’s only the clear, rolling stream, the new and redolent grasses, and the subtle shades of luxuriant greenery that have recently burst forth. A single birdsong is audible over the water, and two ducks come floating down the creek, masterfully negotiating the current, turning their bodies almost perpendicular to it as they pass in front of me.
Reactions cease; one thought no longer entrains another. There’s a surge of feeling as accreted emotions arise and fall away, absorbed not by the current of the creek, but in the current of attention.
The movement of content-consciousness within one slows to a trickle, and then stops. After all these years meditating, it still comes as a surprise to find oneself suddenly beyond the noise of the memory, association, and the past.
Can more people learn to set aside all activities and take the time to have contact with nature (even if just in the backyard), attending to the movement of thought and emotion? Few understand the importance of doing so, since distraction has become a way of life. As another writer said recently, “we think we’re multitasking, but we’re only mincing attention.”
Effortlessly attending to the movement of thought is the key to a basic shift in consciousness. But few people in the West can pay attention to anything for more than a minute anymore. How is this most important of all actions to arise in the perpetually distracted?
It can’t; people are beyond reach as long as they refuse to stop, look, and listen. Even so, perhaps enough people are listening, and looking within to dry the material and prepare the hearth of humanity.
Can the breakthrough in human consciousness that changes the course of humankind occur at this point in human history?
The usual vicious cycles and dubious progressions of human history have been rendered moot by the tsunami of globalization on one hand, and the man-made ecological crisis on the other. Clearly, there has to be a breakthrough in consciousness.
But what is the character of that breakthrough, are we anywhere near it, and how will people know when it has occurred?
Contrary to many, including some philosophers, (who should know better than to indulge in wishful thinking), the revolution in consciousness essential to change the basic course of humankind has not begun.
Patriotism is an example par excellence of atavistic, thought-made emotion. It pollutes actual feeling, and fellow feeling. ‘My country,’ like ‘my religion,’ has become an anachronistic absurdity in this globalized world.
The breakthrough in collective consciousness will occur when a sufficient minority of people go beyond such childishness and ugliness as we’re seeing in the “USA, USA, USA” after the American government acted as judge, jury, and executioner for the international terrorist Osama bin Laden.
One good thing about globalization–the collapse of the superpowers spelled the end of hegemons in human history. What’s next? The contradiction of capitalistic communism in China cannot continue for long. Something has to give there, and everywhere.
The revolution will be non-local, insight igniting at the core of human consciousness. Then it can manifest anywhere in the circumference of the world.
It won’t be uniform—the first will indeed go last—but any self-knowing, non-accumulatively learning, transforming individual anywhere on the planet will feel it and share in it when the match is struck. Of course those in power will do their best to ignore it, but they won’t be able to suppress it.
Even so, the outer social, economic, and political forms that the revolution in human consciousness takes matter much less than the inner flowering of the human being. Undivided individuals (a redundancy really) will recognize each other, irrespective of language, culture, nation, or background.