A late afternoon thunderstorm yesterday gave way to clouds and cool temperatures today. The sun shone enough in the afternoon however, to invite a long meditation beside the stream.
On the way in, I stopped at the great oak that anchors the four miles of Lower Park. It's the largest, oldest and healthiest Valley Oak in the park, and its massive, gnarled branches end in twigs touching the still brown grass of summer.
The sun slid behind the tree line while I sat next to the stream, and it grew chilly as the light began to fade. In watching thoughts and emotions as they arise, without the judgment and interpretation of the observer, one leaves the stream of psychological time. Suffering is not sustained without the observer that sustains and adds to it.
It's good that shows like "How the Universe Works" are on cable TV. They popularize the latest scientific discoveries about galaxies, stars and planets, as well as our own solar system.
Of course science is not the stars, anymore than the word is the thing, or the map is the territory. You have to go out and look at the night sky...if you're fortunate enough to live where you can see the stars.
On one such program last night, with the lame name, "Finding Earth 2.0," I heard the stupidest thing I've ever heard on a science show. "The future of humanity lies on an alien exo-planet," the announcer said, presumably with a straight face.
If that is supposed to pass as hope, it's no wonder so many people are despairing about the future of humanity.
Some lines from Robinson Jeffers come to mind and give perspective.
"...to labor eighty years in a notch of
eternity is nothing too tiresome,
Enormous repose after, enormous repose before,
the flash of activity.
Surely you never have dreamed the incredible depths were prologue and epilogue merely
To the surface play in the sun, the instant of life,
what is called life?
I fancy That silence is the thing..."
So what do we make of this "flash of activity in a notch of eternity?" Not just what do we make of our lives, or leave as our legacies, as important as that is, but what does this notch of eternity exist for, if anything?
Is the universe a stage for the evolution of consciousness? Is there an intrinsic intent in cosmic evolution to evolve, through random processes, brains with the capacity to commune with Mind? (Cosmic chaos is a misnomer; only man and creatures like man generate chaos.)
What is consciousness? Is the universe as a whole, which is unfolding order from beginning to end, conscious?
When the mind as thought is completely still, one feels so. We humans clearly haven't attained consciousness, since we're ravaging this beautiful planet on which we evolved.
Do brains like ours, with the capacity for awareness beyond thought, evolve through random processes wherever the conditions for life exist and are stable enough to be sustained over billions of years?
Science may find out by the end of this century, but humankind doesn't have until the end of year to change the basic course of man in our age.
The basic course of humankind hasn't changed since 'modern humans' emerged with the subconscious cognitive revolution about 100,000 years ago. For people that haven't quit on humanity/themselves, or 'numbed out,' we're feeling more evolutionary pressure than humans have ever consciously felt.
Paradoxically, the evolution of symbolic thought, wherever it occurs in the universe, gives the brain the capacity for cosmic awareness and insight, though 'higher thought' then becomes a tremendous impediment to awareness and insight.
If awareness is our ultimate raison d'etre, why is noise, disorder and chaos the increasing lot of man? If silence imbues every animate and inanimate thing in the universe, why is stillness and silence increasingly rare for humans?
So is the secret of life, the reason we exist, as simple as this: A human being, wherever they awaken, is a being that regularly experiences the silence that preceded everything in the universe and permeates everything in the universe.
No Creator God stands apart, starting, much less intervening in the whole shebang. Nevertheless, immanent intelligence is silently working and playing within the cosmic flower as it unfolds. Listening for it, one participates in creation.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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