Martin LeFevre: The Crisis of Consciousness
The Crisis of Consciousness
In my last column (Meditations: An Inquiry Into God, Nature, Religion), I inquired into the existence of a sacredness beyond thought, and proposed that if a person is self-knowing, and really does the work of passively observing thought into stillness, there is an awareness of energies which words like ‘God’ and ‘love’ cannot begin to describe.
In this column I want to explore whether there is an intelligence in the universe that ‘cares’ about the planetary crisis engendered by human consciousness. (The word ‘care’ is anthropomorphic, and connotes a deity or supreme being of some sort. Since there is no such entity, no God as such, the word can be misleading. I only mean to ask whether the universe is completely indifferent to the fate of the earth and humanity, which ‘man’ is destroying with the wrongful use of ‘higher thought,’ or whether some new evolutionary question may be posed by the evolution of the human brain.)
Needless to say, I don’t take a ‘my truth, your truth’ approach. Relativism has reached its logical end with the total atomism of society, rendering philosophy either an old Greek joke, or giving it a new, open field. Unsurprisingly, as a philosopher I do feel there is such a thing as philosophy—the uncovering and discovering of unfixed truths that are universal. There are no absolutes, but there are tentatively held insights that apply to all people, irrespective of culture, experience, and time.
One of them I hold is that the human brain, when it awakens sufficient attention through undivided, unwilled watchfulness of the movement of thought and emotion, has the capacity for a limitless awareness beyond thought.
However there is a big difference between tentatively maintaining that a quiet brain can be aware of ongoing creation, and holding that there is an intelligence that cares about the fate of humankind as a potentially sapient species. But since human darkness and evil are real and gathering threats to the health of the earth, the individual, society, and the human spirit, I for one must find out if there is nothing except the individual’s negation of thought.
Clearly, the idea of the universe as a vast, cold machine is a projection of a mind that makes rationality the highest principle. That notion has served science and technology, but not the human prospect.
Don’t get me wrong. I value rationality and science, and part of my work is explaining, up to a point, so-called mystical experience in scientific rather than theological terms. But reason is not the sole, or even the primary faculty of the human brain. When it is put first, the coldest acts of slaughter and terror arise and are rationalized, as the 20th and first few years of the 21st century have horrifyingly demonstrated.
So without implying special creation or special anything, does the human brain, irrespective of its scientific and technological capabilities, matter to the universe in some sense?
The erroneous use of thought is wiping out animal and plant species nearly as fast as the meteor impact that initiated the last great extinction hundreds of millions of years ago. Therefore either nothing matters; or, something quite does with respect to the human brain.
Humans have learned how to manipulate the very genetic structure of life, but haven’t learned how to leave anything alone. ‘Civilization’ has experienced thousands of years of organized murder, yet we are enshrining war as a permanent feature of human existence.
Even so, as the mystery of human evolution is reaching a peak (or rather nadir), it is simply too easy, philosophically and emotionally, to quit on the human race.
Is the crisis of human consciousness coming to a head on earth? Has this happened elsewhere, on other planets that have evolved creatures capable of ‘higher thought?’ Does the evolution of brains such as ours ineluctably carry with it the tendency toward planetary destruction, culminating in a crisis of consciousness and the imperative of radical change?
It certainly seems that the crisis of human consciousness is coming to a head. Thousands of years of needless and destructive content (division and hate for example) have accumulated, arising from the unrestrained separative application of thought.
Hesitantly, I hold there is an intelligence beyond self-centered existence, waiting and working within to help humanity awaken from our growing collective madness. Indeed, intelligence can only operate from within the individual, never from the outside, since there is no ‘God the Father’ out there. (Don’t take my or anyone’s word for it; everyone has to find out for themselves.)
Awakening universal intelligence within oneself is therefore the responsibility of every serious person. Then humans will grow into the sapient species that we prematurely named ourselves. Then we may also find that there are other species on other planets that have gone through the same dark passage.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.