On the outskirts of town is something locals call "The Tree Farm." Its formal title is the "Genetic Resource and Conservation Center." The place raises the old question to an absurd degree: What's in a name?
The entrance sign amusingly says: "Mendocino National Forest." Which is strange, because that is located well west of here in the Coastal Mountain Range.
I'm going to have to find a ranger, if they're called that at the 209 acre Seed Orchard (another name), to understand what actually goes on here. Is it really some kind of government botanical experimental site, as is joked around town?
The website says, "Two of the Plant Introduction Station's [that's five names] early accomplishments included introducing the pistachio in 1917 and the kiwi in 1934. The 'mother' and 'father' kiwi are still at the Orchard and are the oldest producing kiwi in the country."
Whatever actually goes on behind the names, and there are some odd-looking grafted trees on the grounds, a kiwi is still a kiwi. (Or is it with genetic manipulation?) Anyway, the Tree Farm is hidden in plain site and open to the public most of the day, a mere 10-minute bike ride from where I live.
A man-made stream runs through the place, and the freeway runs along its perimeter. When I took my seat for a meditation at 4:30 the din wasn't bad, but half hour later it overwhelmed the aural environment. So I moved to a cascading section of the stream that masked the noise in front of a small bamboo forest (I kid you not).
Ending the observer and time is the only intent of my sittings. The sacred cannot be sought, and descends or ascends as it will, when thought/time falls completely, attentively quiet.
It's important to look ahead. It's important to have things to look forward to. But living primarily in terms of tomorrow violates the imperative of ending time.
Humanity faces a crisis of consciousness. This crisis is not merely due to the self-fulfilling prophesy of global terrorism, or the real and present danger of nuclear war, nor a multitude of other problems in the "global commons."
They are external manifestations of the accumulation of long-neglected division and dark matter in individual and human consciousness. (Essentially there is no difference between the two). It's not an exaggeration to say that in recent years human consciousness has become synonymous with darkness.
The outward expansion of scientific knowledge and technological innovation masks humanity's inner crisis, and is reflexively used as a way of denying and avoiding the worldwide psychological bottleneck.
"One way or another," scientists tell us, "humanity's future is in the cosmos. Perhaps spacecraft will one day manage to carry humans to the stars, or at least robots with instructions on how to create humans."
The same theoretical physicist who voices such incorrigible outwardness feels compelled to "remind us of just how far humanity has traveled in just a few decades." But he ends his piece with the right question: "Will we meet the global challenges we face or succumb to them?"
The vast majority of people, especially well-educated people, simply cannot grasp the fact that in the modern epoch, the more we outwardly progress the more we inwardly regress.
I used to wonder why the only thing my brilliant literature teacher in high school made us memorize was this passage from Shakespeare's Macbeth:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Never has there been a better expression of human nihilism, nor one more apt to our times.
On the other hand however, never has it been more possible, and more urgently necessary for ordinary men and women to embrace our responsibility to turn inward without ignoring the outward.
The muddy stream of thought clears in watching its movement without the watcher. Then we drink from the eternal wellspring of life, which runs freely through us when we attentively end psychological memory and time.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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