Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


The Search for Intelligent Life

Meditations (Spirituality) - From Martin LeFevre in California

The Search for Intelligent Life

Fog enshrouds the town as we enter the mountain community from the valley below. With a few hundred meters more of elevation, the fog clears, though the skies remain cloudy. Reaching the man-made lake, there is a brightening, and even a small patch or two of blue.

A few men, with pickup trucks loaded with tools, are fishing on the stump-strewn shoreline of the receded lake. They joke about playing hooky from work for a couple of hours at mid-day.

We walk about a mile to the far end of the reservoir. The first significant storm of the season brought a good amount of rain the previous night, and everything is still drenched. Indeed, the area is supersaturated, and the heavy, misty air adds depth and dimensionality to the palpable silence of the place. The first trickling water flows into the lake; in the astounding quiet, it’s heard before seen.

Walking down to the edge of the water, I am overwhelmed by the stillness, silence, and beauty of the odiferous woods, glassy water, and reflected sky. It’s the kind of place in which you find yourself almost holding your breath. The lake is dead calm, and not a man-made sound can be heard, except when the fellows fishing talk to each other over half mile away.

Suddenly a large flock of Canadian geese, honking at the tops of their lungs, swoop in and glide to a halt on the water. From a couple miles away over the ridge on the other side of the reservoir, another flock answers their honking, and the sound echoes across the lake.

This place is an unintentional echo chamber of the cosmos, a watery Arecibo (the largest curved antenna on the planet, located in Puerto Rico) of the celestial. The sensitive, self-knowing individual can ‘hear’ the infinite silence of the cosmos here, and with it, that which can only be called sacred.

Jarring me back to the reality of this world, some trucks start up in the distance, and a back-up beeper rings out. Walking in, there was evidence of recent logging around the lake, and it’s probably resuming on a distant ridge.

Listening without resistance or reaction, the stillness and silence envelop the noise. Then, surprisingly, it stops, making one appreciate the extraordinary place and moment all the more.

The human brain is, potentially, a receiver for the background awareness and intelligence of the universe. But paradoxically, ‘higher thought,’ which gave us this capacity, has to fall completely still, so that the brain is free of enchainment to words, images, and memories. Only then can one ‘hear’ what is far beyond the range of our ears.

It seems clear that evolution, like the laws of physics, follows the same principles throughout the universe. I propose a new principle—namely, that the evolution of ‘higher thought’ occurs regularly in the universe, and tends to produce the kind of fragmentation and chaos presently coming to a head in humankind, requiring conscious transmutation.

In other words, with the right conditions (liquid water), and enough time, a diversity and complexity of life forms emerge, and eventually sentient beings like us, who have to pass through the same self-made crucible of fragmentation. They may look nothing like us, but their basic characteristics--symbolic thought, language, and technology—are common to all potentially ‘intelligent life.’ Within the lifetimes of many people now living, we’ll probably find out if this ‘theory of human nature’ is true.

‘Higher thought’ is hardly the goal. Indeed, though symbolic thought is a necessary step to realizing the intrinsic intent of the universe to evolve life forms with consciousness of the whole, it’s also a huge stumbling block to truly intelligent life. That’s because thought, which is an inherently separative mechanism, tends to dominate the brain and society, generating more and more division, conflict, and disintegration, ecologically and socially.

Human numbers have grown from a few million to nearly seven billion in a mere 10,000 years, but in the process we’ve become the locusts of the earth. Global warming, massive poverty, widespread human rights abuses, etc., mean that sentient life on Earth must now make the transition to truly intelligent life.

For human life to have any meaning, we have to awaken insight within ourselves through self-knowing, seeing into the evolution and operation of our cognitive capabilities. Then, with a quiet mind and empty heart, we have the capacity to hear and participate in the silence, sacredness, and intelligence of the universe.


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: The author welcomes comments.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news