Just after I took my seat in front of the small bamboo forest at the Tree Farm, a 30-something fellow stopped and spoke. Excited to have discovered the place after growing up here, he marveled at the light and shadows through the bamboo trees, and began taking pictures in a non-amateur way.
The fellow, who had traveled all over the world, kept returning to talk for a minute or two, which I didn't mind. After half an hour of on-again off-again conversation, he had given me the short version of his life story, which was actually quite interesting.
The "Tree Farm," or officially, "Mendocino National Forest Chico Seed Orchard" (locals joke about the entrance sign, since Mendocino is 300 kilometers away) is an open secret. It's on 209 acres, and was "started in 1904 tor the purpose of breeding research and plant introduction from all over the world."
Hence the only bamboo forest in California that I know. On this day, I too was enrapt by the light and shadows through the bamboo trees, as well as the flowering red rhododendron along the stream, and the sound of the gently cascading water.
Passive watchfulness gathered intense, undirected attention, which in turn consumed every thought and emotion as they arose, incinerating psychological memory and self-concern, leaving only beauty, love and eternity.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, it may be, as Joe Biden said during the recent debate with Bernie Sanders, "People are looking for results, not a revolution." But without a spiritual and philosophical revolution, Americans will continue to get the same results.
And not just Americans. As one commentator put it,
"There is a life-threatening, nation-shuttering, wealth-decimating crisis at hand."
That's as far as his insight extended however, since in the next sentence he proclaimed, "This is a moment of utterly warranted panic." No it isn't.
Amid the sound and fury, does the pandemic and panic signify nothing? Or is it designed (without implying a Designer) for maximum impact with minimum harm to change the course of humankind?
Perhaps God evolves as humankind evolves. I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, since I neither believe in a separate, external God, nor in psychological evolution.
With all due respect to Teilhard de Chardin, human consciousness is not an upward spiral toward the Omega Point, but a downward spiral toward a dark singularity. Will there be a creative explosion at that point, which is now?
Everyone I talk with agrees something very strange is going on with this pandemic. The fog of this simulacrum of world war begins to clear however, when one considers the coronavirus in the context of the crisis of human consciousness, and the urgency of radically changing.
The gerbil wheel has stopped, and busyness has been removed as an excuse for the absence of spiritual and philosophical reflection. So what are ordinary folks supposed to reflect upon?
All conceptions of God suffer from two fatal flaws---separateness and exteriority. I propose, as mystics throughout the ages have maintained, that the universe is permeated at every level with immanent consciousness, which is both beyond the cosmos and inseparable from it.
I further propose that the universe is imbued with an intrinsic intent to evolve, through random processes, brains with the capacity to commune with and share in the cosmic mind.
Finally, I propose that the greatest stumbling block to the realization of cosmic intent is the very adaptation---symbolic thought---that puts the brain over the threshold of conscious awareness.
The tendency of so-called higher thought to fragment the planet on which it evolved applies to any planet where life has the right conditions and enough time to evolve symbolic thought.
(This could explain why there has been no confirmed contact with intelligent life. They cannot contact Homo sap until we grow into intelligent life ourselves, and are worthy of the name we've given ourselves---Homo sapiens, 'wise humans.')
In any case, since God is within everything, cosmic intelligence can only be expressed, and can only act, through us.
Coming at a time of global interconnectedness through the Net, social distancing is prompting, if not compelling people all over the planet to look within, and ignite insight within.
Insights are glimpses into the mind of God, which may be formulated into advancing scientific knowledge or expressed as great art.
The completely silent state of insight in the depths of meditation is communion with God within.
And simultaneously shared insight through small group inquiry is listening to the symphony of the spheres, and composing great music together.
Invited to question together online with the intent to ignite shared insight, someone gave the most absurd excuse for not doing so: "We're too busy now taking care of each other."
Idle hands aren't the devil's workshop; busy minds are. Silent minds, however, are vessels of cosmic intelligence.
Photo by Martin LeFevre
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
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