Humankind’s Place In The Universe And Lack Of Fit On Earth
The first step in meditation is to end the observer. Sitting beside the stream in town on a magnificent autumn afternoon, a meditative state deepened after the observer/self dissolved in attentiveness. The continuity of thought ended, and with it psychological time ceased.
In that state of awareness in which the ‘I’ was not operating, two young deer, yearlings nearly full grown, clambered down the steep bank on the other side of the stream.
Both appeared to be female, as neither had buds indicating incipient horns. The smaller of the two entered the creek and began to walk upstream. When she saw me she stopped and froze, ears up. Only a few meters away, she became intensely alert, but more curious than fearful.
The bigger yearling followed her, but when it saw me, it was instantly afraid, and turned back toward the steep bank. I didn’t blink an eye when either deer made contact, so it was fascinating to see their different reactions.
The water is where deer have been most vulnerable for millions of years. So the larger deer remained fearful, and after looking back and forth, started back up the bank. But a large downed log was in her way, and so she reluctantly came back down to the water and joined her sister.
The smaller deer never moved or showed any sign of fear. It just kept staring at me about ten feet away, rotating those big ears. In the meditative state there is no species barrier. And since “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” (defined as, “an organism’s development takes it through each of the adult stages of its evolutionary history”) one was both the human looking at the deer and the deer looking at the human.
Native Americans and other indigenous peoples often describe such experiences, and they attest, as much as science, to the inseparability of evolution. Though humans are driving thousands of species into extinction through the unwise use of higher thought’s separative capabilities, we are actually, inextricably part of the animals with which we share the planet.
The universe is “fine tuned” in many different ways, from the correct degree of “dark energy” enabling the right amount of expansion in the first moments after the Big Bang, to the increasing complexity of cosmic evolution “favoring the existence of life.”
Taking things a step further with respect to terrestrial evolution, the right conditions over enough time appear to lead, in a non-linear way involving a high degree of randomness, to the evolution of conscious beings. So it turns out there is teleology after all, albeit without fixed goals or forms.
That does not put humans at the center of evolution on Earth, much less the universe, as Christianity has taught, but points to cosmic and terrestrial evolution leading to life capable of conscious awareness. On this blue mote in the incomprehensible vastness of space, the human brain is indeed “the pinnacle of creation.”
Clearly, consciousness both permeates energy and matter, and is in some way the goal of evolution. The intrinsic intent in the universe appears to be to evolve, through random means, brains with the capacity to commune with the cosmic mind.
If so, why are we using that brain to fragment the Earth and ourselves to the breaking point, rather than growing in awareness as we progress in science and technology?
Because the evolutionary development that put life over the neural threshold for conscious awareness is a tremendous impediment to the realization of full consciousness. I’m referring to symbolic thought, the ability to consciously remove and recombine ‘things’ in the environment, and even in our genes.
I propose that the impediment of symbolic thought is a ‘filter’ that applies wherever life evolves brains capable of high science and sophisticated technology. If so, creatures possessing the Promethean fire of thought must have a deep and abiding insight into conscious thought, or they become possessed by it and destroy their planets and themselves using it.
If thought-bearing creatures gain an abiding insight into higher thought, it enables them to use it wisely and continue to advance scientific knowledge and technology capability. Homo sapiens is no different than other potentially intelligent life, just more pigheaded apparently.
Perhaps truly intelligent species advance to the point of mastering the impossible distances in the universe and transcend space-time, both inwardly and technologically.
Science fiction and film have portrayed such scenarios, but they lack the insight and awareness that inward development comes first, and that when it lags behind, as it does with humans, the consequences are catastrophic as science and technology progress.
If these insights are valid, they point to both our place in the universe, and our lack of fit on Earth.