Martin LeFevre:The Decade of Darkness
The Decade of Darkness
Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California
As the Decade of Darkness draws to a close, thinking and feeling people find themselves asking: Is a breakthrough in human consciousness imminent? Or is the first decade of the 21st century the beginning of the first global Dark Age?
We cannot know until the turn is made, or it’s too late to make it. The choice is between a gray and smoggy future, if humankind has a future at all, and igniting the content of collective consciousness, allowing a new human being to emerge.
Most ‘educated’ people are clinging to the illusion of incrementalism, gradualism, and progressivism, in the literal meaning of the word—the belief in the steady progress of humankind. However humankind is not progressing but regressing, and rapidly. Scientific and technological progress, as anyone who still has a ventricle beating in his or her heart knows, is completely distinct from spiritual and social growth. Indeed, the technological craze only illuminates man’s unsustainable hubris, superficiality, and refusal to learn.
What can an individual do in the face of the scale of the division, fragmentation, conflict, and deadness overwhelming humankind? There is great urgency for a psychological revolution, but all the living can really do is question alone and together, awakening insight within us, and, through enquiry, ignite insight with like-minded, self-knowing people.
One can only be concerned about the fate of humankind if one is actually transforming. If one comfortingly believes one is changing, or doesn’t give a damn and admits it, the concern and question about what’s happening to humanity is pointless, a useless diversion.
In other words, we have to first change ourselves before we can change mankind. That isn’t quite right, since too many people use that dictum as an excuse to not look at the whole of humanity. Of course, those people aren’t actually transforming anyway. Therefore the maxim can be misleading. Better to say that when we’re skeptically changing ourselves we’re slightly changing humankind.
That isn’t the same as the cliché: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” There is a deep belief in individualism enfolded in that canard. And individualism is separation and fragmentation reduced to the atomic level.
As someone with a love of politics, in the largest sense of that word (that is, the collective expression of priorities and the management of the commons), I struggle with where the political dimension fits.
Politics is the twigs and branches of the tree. Sometimes, with wars and economic collapses (which we’ve had in spades in the Decade of Darkness), the political dimension converges at the trunk. But politics has nothing to do with the roots of the tree. And people with a primary love of politics are usually those who refuse to look deeper into themselves and the human condition.
I don’t deny or disparage the unavoidable necessity of collectively prioritizing and intelligently managing the multi-faceted self-made crisis of humankind (ecological destruction, economic disparity, growing conflict and terrorism, etc.). But since society is the expression of what we are as individuals, the first thing is individual transmutation, beginning within oneself.
Can there be a ‘political’ expression of the psychological revolution in the foreseeable future? There are no signs and evidence that a revolution in human consciousness is igniting. On the other hand, the revolution and its expressions will be unexpected and explosive (but not violent) when they happen.
The wellspring of individual transmutation is methodless meditation. Meditation, I submit, is the brain spontaneously letting go of the longstanding dominance of thought through the passive observation of the movement of thoughts and emotions as they arise. It is an unwilled fundamental alteration in consciousness, as the brain goes from living in terms of symbols (words, images, memories, ideas, imaginings, etc.) of content-based consciousness, to direct perception and insight.
Meditation spontaneously occurs when the observer is negated. One negates the observer by passive observation catching thought in the act of splitting itself off from itself. The observer takes many forms--judgment, evaluation, analysis, or reaction of any kind to thoughts and feelings as they arise.
Someone recently put a challenging, if not also tricky, question to me: “If you feel balanced when you meditate, isn't it true that you are out of balance when you do not practice it?”
Beyond the unforced ‘practice’ of taking daily walks and sittings in nature (which I’m fortunate to be able to do year around here in California, even during winter when it isn’t raining), what is meditation? That word, like ‘dialogue,’ means many different things to many different people. Almost always, however, meditation to most people’s minds involves some method, technique, and ritual. To me these things are inimical to awakening the meditative state, since they are products of the very mechanism we want to quiet—the mind as thought.
It’s necessary to take time each day, preferably in the mirror of nature, to sit and observe the movement of thought and emotion--with intent but without goal--in order to ‘clear the decks’ and allow the brain to fall silent, come into natural order, and feel peace.
We all experience the chattering mind. I’ve found that to take the time to really listen to the mind, without interference, giving special attention to the divisive habit of the observer, thought grows quiet and a deep balance is restored. There is also new insight, and a release of the brain’s energy and an awakening of its capacity.
Without a sufficient minority of people transforming human consciousness within, the next decade will be like the past one, only worse.
- 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.