Kites are most gracile and graceful of falcons. They hover for 30 seconds or more, scanning the field for prey before tucking their long, slender wings into a 'V' and parachuting to the ground.
Less than a decade ago, I would see this species of falcon nearly every time I took a meditation along the creek on the periphery of town. The kites are gone now, and I for one feel the sorrow of their loss.
A monstrosity of a new courthouse has been built, and businesses and subdivisions are going up in the fields. Needlessly, the habitat of the kites, wild turkeys and long-eared rabbits has been destroyed in the name of progress.
A theory of consciousness that does not account for man's fragmentation of the earth to the point of causing the Sixth Extinction is not worth considering. No theory can be sufficient for an individual, much less a species, to change course, but it is necessary to understand how humans evolved into such a destructive species.
Along with a million other species of animals and plants, the human species is threatened with extinction by the success of a hyper-hominid brain that separates, stores knowledge and manipulates reified things to its imagination and desire. (To reify means "to make into a thing; to consider as a thing.")
Did man make a wrong turn early on, tens of thousands of years ago, and we haven't been able to change course since?
What is the root cause of our ecological destructiveness, of our unending conflict and war, of personal and ancient grudges, of hatred and violence, of psychological and emotional suffering? Is there one source of all these things?
I feel there is. Simply put, the evolutionary adaptation of being able to consciously separate, store and manipulate 'things' spilled over into the psychological dimension, where it became division, domination and control.
Therefore it's not so much that man made and continues to make a wrong turn, much less that evolution made a monumental mistake in evolving Homo sap. Rather, the evolution of symbolic thought carried with it the strong tendency in the creature possessing and possessed by it to fragment its planet.
The awakening of another order of consciousness, based on awareness, attention and insight rather than symbol, memory and self, is the remedy.
Human transmutation is being driven, not from the outside, by the usual evolutionary forces, but internally, by our very success as a species of 8 billion people ceaselessly competing with each other and increasingly decimating the earth.
The terrible, beautiful paradox is that the evolution of conscious thought is both a crucial step in the evolution of brains with the capacity to commune with the intelligence that imbues the universe, and a tremendous impediment to awareness and realization.
It's up to us, as individuals and a species, to spiritually and philosophically resolve the evolutionary riddle of man. Division/fragmentation is our bar to clear.
The bar we urgently need to clear was not set by a deity, but by the immanent, unfolding intelligence of the universe itself. We face nothing less than the imperative of making the leap from a lower order of consciousness, based on symbol, memory and thought, to a higher order of consciousness, anchored in attention, stillness and insight.
A working understanding of the increasingly non-existent relationship between humans and nature is inextricably linked with a working understanding of the mind-as-thought. Man is a tremendous anomaly in nature, and self-knowing is the path to understanding and resolving our existential contradiction.
One of the most basic questions in philosophy is whether it's possible to perceive things as they are, or whether our internal lenses always prejudice and distort our perception.
The conventional view, indeed the near philosophical dogma, is that we never see things as they actually are, that we inevitably and inescapably interpret what we see and hear.
Every time you're stopped in your tracks by the beauty of a sunset, or feel deep affection when a young child (not just your own) smiles and says hello, it disproves this precept. Indeed, before conditioning narrows children's minds and stunts their hearts, direct, unmediated perception typifies the mind.
Becoming is based in fear; being is beyond time. Direct perception of what is is the way ahead.
We live in fear because of thought, afraid of death when it is in every breath. Immortality is not living forever; it is dying every day.
We humans need to learn how to die, before we kill everything off, including the human spirit.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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