Martin LeFevre: What Kind of Revolution?
What Kind of Revolution?
From inside, the day is uniformly gray and dreary, as another in a long series of storms off the Pacific discharges rain and wind on California. But on the patio, after a few minutes of sensitive observation, one notices a variation from east to west in the skies.
It is between squalls and lightly raining, and the winds are occasionally gusting. Traffic noise from the freeway is also intermittent. To the west, the sky is dark, even ominous-looking. To the east it is brighter, though still solidly gray.
Suddenly things reverse, and the sky turns white to the west--a florescent white that makes the dark, leafless branches of the trees next door stand out with unearthly vividness.
One feels a palpable sense of mystery and reverence. It is near sunset, and the whiteness grows so bright that for a moment you think the clouds are about to burn off and the sky turn blue.
Instead the wind ceases, and the ethereal light grows even more intense. The mind falls silent. Within a couple minutes the light is gone and the skies return to a uniformly dull gray. But now nothing is familiar, and at some inexpressible level, one feels changed.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges facing humankind, and to conclude, “I can only think of myself.” Why are so many taking this attitude? It may represent an even greater threat to the human prospect than the growing ecological crisis and economic inequity facing the global society.
Of course, not all people who say, “I can only think of myself” have completely quit on humankind, but nearly all who think and feel that way are overwhelmed. Many such people often see the world more clearly than the average person. They just don’t see any other way, or much chance that things can change. And they may be right, although a personal orientation feeds the very momentum that is overwhelming them, and all of us.
When one says, “I can only think of myself,” it signifies not just a giving up on humanity, but a giving up on oneself. No person is separate from humankind, but rather, each of us, in a very real sense, is humanity.
More and more people feel that some kind of radical change in human consciousness is essential. But discussions about a revolution in consciousness can and often do degenerate into vague, New Age verbiage.
It is essential to see that consciousness does not ‘evolve,’ it just accretes. Therefore it’s absurd to talk about “the next logical step in our trajectory as a species,” because the next logical step is total deracination and the fusing of the brain with the computer.
So what will a revolution in consciousness look like? Since it has never occurred, it is much easier to talk about what it is not.
A revolution in consciousness will not be a revolution in thinking, but rather beyond thought and thinking. The human brain has the capacity to transcend its 75,000-year-old enslavement to tradition and conditioning, and to be anchored in attention, direct perception, and insight.
Consciousness, as we know it, is essentially perception mediated by symbols, and association ruled by memories. However, another consciousness is possible. When the brain is no longer engaged in the chatter of self-centered activity, but resides in the unforced stillness of attention, the human mind has a completely different quality.
The self-made fragmentation of the earth, culture, and the individual is putting tremendous pressure on everyone to radically change. Most people aren’t accepting the challenge and responsibility however, but quitting on humankind and themselves, turning to strictly personal pursuits.
A small but growing minority however, is responding by questioning and observing human consciousness within, thereby transforming themselves, and potentially, human consciousness as a whole.
There won’t be any more significant political advances without a revolution in consciousness that transforms so-called human nature. The historical process, for whatever it was worth, has been completely overwhelmed by the sheer speed and volume of scientific, technological, and social change.
Whether a ‘temporary’ or irrevocable state, the unconditioned mind sees things directly, without the mediation of symbols, associations, traditions, and beliefs (that is, the past).
This process of transmutation allows insight to flourish in the brain, which illumines the way out of humankind’s downward spiral of deterioration and devolution. That is the living ground for the true, next step in human evolution.
- 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.