Cosmic Being Oil painting on board by Kim Schrag
I do not know how the world appears to you, but I am certain that if you are a relatively well-informed and reasonable person, you must wonder as much as I do about what is meaningful action in a world that seems mindlessly courting total catastrophe with its division, unjustice, and escalating violence. This plight of ours is peculiarly perilous, but far from new. It is clearly the net outcome of all the contradictory and largely unwise actions that preceded it and, if there is no radical change in the way human beings living today think and behave, our thoughts, emotions, and actions will only lead to a modified manifestation of the same plight in the future, perhaps far more virulent.
In saying this I am not, of course, denying all the useful and wonderful things the human mind has been able to create during its long presence on planet Earth. I am not ignoring either that our social structures and our very physical survival depends on the practical functions that most of us perform every day. However, I definitely mean to highlight the dangers posed by constant war, the chronic ill distribution of the fruits of civilization, and our general impotence when it comes to confronting the many interrelated variables that are increasingly putting in jeopardy the very survival of the species.
Why do we continue dulling ourselves to the carnage of injustice and war, and the steadily growing possibility of a nuclear or ecological catastrophe? Is it not idiotic to keep mindlessly adapting to rapidly worsening psychological, social, and ecological circumstances simply because awareness of this idiocy would do harm to the tribal affiliations and personal memories on which we all depend to be who we think we are and deserve to become?
The very character of the crisis with which we are confronted demands that all action based on experience and pre-established commitment be stopped, does it not? Could we not simply stay, together, with the shattering realization that to continue doing what we have been doing for the last fifty-thousands years is no longer an option? The fundamental fact is that the human mind that has created the constant division and the multiple and interconnected problems afflicting humanity today is utterly incapable of ever finding a solution that is immediate and fully effective at the interrelated mental, local, regional, and global levels in which these problems manifest.
Still, despite the danger it creates for everyone, and especially for future generations, we remain largely and strangely inattentive to what is actually going on in the world and in our own minds and relationships. Paradoxically, this mental dullness, both personal and collective, operates as a measure of self-protection. The last thing we want is a level and breath of alertness that would disturb whatever measure of comfort, respectability, and security one may have separately managed to attain. We like to think that our present and future physical and psychological security is well served by obeying the limited, contradictory, and mostly dysfunctional norms established, and rigorously enforced by the traditions and memories on which our identities depend. However, that unquestioning obedience to authority and habit and the false sense of psychological security and stability it creates is a clear indication of the extent of our mental deterioration. What else could explain the indifference with which so many regard the growing cultural, economic, and political disintegration of humanity, and the threats posed by our devastating impact on the ecology of the planet, and our desire to “protect” ourselves with nuclear arsenals.
The central problem we face as individuals and as a species —the problem of chronic and worsening division, conflict, and suffering— is not an externality demanding from us greater knowledge and improved problem-solving skills and methodologies. We are the problem, consequently the only viable solution to this problem involves a radical undoing of the mindset we all separately refer to as “me.” The normative and self-projective record of particular experience that has splintered and uniformly dumbed-down the human mind, simply cannot withstand the impact of seeing the nature and magnitude of the general crisis it has created and, simultaneously, its incapacity to act in any way commensurate with the threat it poses.
Personal identity, the sense we have of existing as separate and unique psychological entities living within equally separate and unique cultural enclaves is, in every case, a particular combination of mental traits encoded in the generic brain that nests within every human cranium. This brain of hours holds, without exemption, the record of the evolutionary transit of the species, the imprint of a given cultural-historical context and, at the tiny tip of the mental iceberg, the selectively remembered residue of what we like to assume is a unique personal experience. This common, but relatively idiosyncratic record of experience projects itself onto the future through functions of thought, fear, and desire that are also common features of the same record. Consequently, our personal projections are, in every case and at every stage, only slight modifications of the accumulation of psychological and tribal/historical experience, and therefore never good or significant enough to make a real difference. A real difference implies a sane, healthy mind capable of bringing unity, peace, and intelligent cooperation to human society, and only the irreversible abandonment of all predetermined and mechanically self-projecting patterns of thought and behavior can achieve that.
To be more specific, no “one” can undertake this hallowing out of the mind and perhaps turn into a source greater status and profit. However, anyone can see the necessity of freeing the mind from the multiple and conflicting ideas and ideals that, in every person, are attached to gender, race, age, physical appearance, sexual preference, nationality, religious faith, political and philosophical conviction, socio-economic class, educational level, profession, state of health, recreational inclination, and all the many other possible sources of self-centered thought and action. There is no sense then in trying to “think” about what this liberation from exclusive identification might be.
All that can be done while still imprisoned in self-centered thought is gain an accurate and complete perception of its character and dynamic nature, and do so without indulging on any form of corrective action that, by coming from the same memory source, would only reanimate the inmate and prolong its sentence. If complete and non-reactive, this unprecedented and passive awareness of the tragic condition of humanity burns away all traces of egocentric thought and behavior, leaving behind only the love and intelligence of its attentive emptiness.
(If you found this text a bit too abstract, and for this reason are feeling the need to ground yourself in something more down to Earth, you may find in this article just what you are looking for. I did.)