|Contributor – Meditations|
Fog enshrouds the town as I enter the mountain community from the valley below. With a few hundred meters more of elevation, the fog clears, though the skies remain cloudy. Reaching the man-made lake, there is a brightening, and even a patch of blue.
A few men, with pickup trucks loaded with tools are fishing on the stump-strewn shoreline of the receded lake. They joke about playing hooky from work for a couple of hours at mid-day.
I walk about a mile to the far end of the reservoir. A storm brought a good amount of rain the previous night, and everything is still drenched. Indeed, the area is supersaturated, and the heavy, misty air adds depth and dimensionality to the palpable silence of the place.
Walking down to the edge of the water, I’m overwhelmed by the stillness and beauty of the odiferous woods, glassy water, and reflected sky. It¹s the kind of place in which you find yourself almost holding your breath. The lake is completely calm, and not a man-made sound can be heard, except when the fellows fishing talk to each other over half mile away across the water.
Suddenly a large flock of Canadian geese, honking at the top of their lungs, swoops in and glides to a halt on the water. Then another flock, flying in from a couple miles away over the ridge beyond the dam, answers their honking, and the sound reverberates across the lake.
This place is an echo chamber of the cosmos, a watery Arecibo. A self-knowing individual can hear¹ the infinite silence of the universe at this place, which can only be called sacred.
Some trucks start up in the distance, and an infernal back-up beeper rings out, jarring me back to the reality of this world. Walking in, there was evidence of recent logging around the lake, and it¹s obviously resuming on a distant ridge.
Listening without resistance or reaction, the stillness and silence of the universe envelop the man-made noise. Then, surprisingly, it stops, allowing one to appreciate the extraordinary place and moment all the more.
The human brain is, potentially, a powerful receiver for the background awareness and intelligence of the universe. But paradoxically, higher thought,¹ which gives us this capacity, has to fall completely still, so that the brain is free of enchainment to words, images, and memories. Only then can one hear¹ what is beyond the range of our ears, senses, and thought.
Undoubtedly evolution, like the laws of physics, follows the same principles throughout the universe. My gut feeling is that higher thought¹ evolves throughout in the universe, albeit rarely. Also that it tends, because of its inherently separative nature, to produce the kind of fragmentation and chaos presently coming to a head in the world. To my mind, the only remedy to such a condition is conscious transmutation.
With the right conditions (liquid water and carbon for example), and enough time, a diversity and complexity of life forms emerge. Eventually sentient beings like us appear, and they pass through the same self-made crucible of fragmentation. They may look nothing like us, but their basic characteristics–symbolic thought, language, and technology‹are common to all potentially intelligent life. Within the lifetimes of many people now living, we¹ll probably find out if this proposition is true.
Higher thought¹ is not the aim of evolution, but rather brains capable of awareness of and creative participation with the cosmic mind. Though symbolic thought is a necessary step to realizing the intrinsic intent of the universe, thought is also the biggest impediment in sentient species awakening intelligence.
Why? Because thought is an inherently separative mechanism. It strongly tends to dominate the brain and society, generating more and more division, conflict, and fragmentation, ecologically and socially.
The human species is enormously successful. Our numbers have grown from a few million to nearly seven billion in a mere 10,000 years. But in the process we¹re destroying the earth and ourselves. Climate change, mass extinctions, unconscionable poverty, and growing conflict mean that sentient life on Earth must now make the transition to truly intelligent life.
The future of humanity depends on the living generations awakening insight within ourselves through self-knowing. That means seeing into the operation and limitation of our cognitive capabilities.
Then, with a quiet mind and an empty, humble heart, we awaken the capacity to hear and participate in the silence, sacredness, and intelligence of the universe.