|Featured Columnist – Meditations
The foundational philosophical investigation to which I devoted my youth flowed from this question: Why are humans generating increasing disorder and chaos, when we evolved along with all other life, and life moves in dynamic order and wholeness?
Human destructiveness on this planet is an unfortunate byproduct of the evolution of ‘higher thought,’ which we must consciously bring insight into, and thereby end.
A person, people, and sentient species only gets so many chances to cease being destructive, and truly begin learning. As a species we are not learning, and as a people we are not learning. That doesn’t mean we can’t, or won’t, but it is the sad fact.
At the same time, there is tremendous urgency, because we are decimating the Earth. If man goes too far, and destroys the essential beauty, variety, and cleansing capacity of the Earth, he will have destroyed himself, at least for the foreseeable future.
Human beings matter not only because we have the capacity to perceive the beauty of the Earth, which is one of the most beautiful planets in our galaxy, but also because we have the capacity to have direct contact with the intelligence that permeates and underlies the cosmos. If we fail to bring about a transmutation within ourselves, and in so doing change course, the experiment in consciousness will have failed on this planet. Cosmic intelligence will shed a tear, and move on.
It’s getting close, very close, and there is no alternative except a psychological revolution, even though I see no evidence for it. It may be a case of ‘darkest hour before the dawn,’ but it has to happen now, and there are very few people working and pushing for it.
This way of thinking is quite contrary to Buddhist philosophy, at least as its been transplanted to the West, which is disturbingly self-comforting, maintains there are no limits in lifetimes, and minimizes the importance and urgency of radical change in human consciousness. This is epitomized in ‘the Earth will heal itself after man destroys himself’ mentality, which has become prevalent in some circles, and is deeply misanthropic.
When ‘higher thought’ evolved, it gave us the capacity for rudimentary consciousness, but it also became the biggest impediment to true consciousness. Thought-based consciousness is not a progression, as Teilhard de Chardin maintained, but a growing crisis in the species in which it evolves. Each sentient species has to resolve that crisis before it becomes too late, before they fragment their planets and themselves all to hell.
Thought is inherently separative, and as long as consciousness is based on it, as ours is and has been since the emergence of ‘modern man’ about 100,000 years ago, we can’t stop separating and fragmenting. We’re all Sorcerers’ Apprentices, which is why methodless meditation is so important!
Therefore consciousness as we know it is both a necessary evolutionary step, and an increasing reversion and revulsion to the cosmic mind.
These insights have a certain terrible beauty to them, and when one reflects on man from this perspective, one can’t help but feel compassion for what Robinson Jeffers called “the poor doll humanity.”
Thought-based consciousness may be a crucible, but we certainly can’t take comfort in that, since there is no evidence that humankind is going to change course. This is our growing dilemma. It is resolved in the individual, and thereby in collective consciousness, through rigorous self-knowing and self-observation–without reliance on methods or techniques or traditions, which after all are all still products of thought.
Very few people care about such things, and the vast majority that have considered them at all find some kind of intellectual escape, especially in some clever version of relativism and misanthropy.
No one can compel, much less force anyone to see these things, and share in the inquiry and the work. At a time when there was still much more room for error, Byron grappled with these issues, and wrote these lines his last poem: “The fire that on my bosom preys/ Is lone as some volcanic isle.”
The real possibility that man will destroy the Earth and himself (and I say ‘man’ without regard to gender), makes Byron’s key lines in “On this day I complete my 36th year” all the more incisive and painful: “But ‘tis not thus—and ‘tis not here–/ Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now…”
I met a woman the other day that said she was ‘blissing out’ in the park. When we touched on these things, she became upset, and talked about how insignificant humankind is. That’s just plain self-fulfillingly wrong.
Why is it that so many people have quit? I would rather die than quit on humanity, unless I’m absolutely sure we won’t change course, which I’m not.
Even if humankind doesn’t change course now, there may be other chances for future generations on a mostly denuded Earth, if some seed of the human spirit is preserved and handed down.
Can the psychological revolution that changes the disastrous course of humankind ignite at this point in human history? That urgent question pertains to the work of transforming human consciousness within us, which is the responsibility of all serious human beings.