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..:: Liberation VII / Survival ::..


Alan Schneider


              As organism, we are confronted with an extensive number of conflicting priorities in this biological existence which has nonetheless become sentient for human beings.   The management of these priorities is the subject of this final essay in the Liberation Series

            In many ways, the goal of spiritual Ascension is in direct conflict with the maintenance of daily living and mundane daily priorities, particularly in Post Modern industrial cultures, geared as they are toward rote, automatic functioning and mass consumption of goods and services.   The thrust of direction in such cultures seems to be to produce a “happy idiot” mentality that will lend itself to maximal consumption (usually accompanied by maximal debt) with minimal thought given to the long term ramifications of consumer behavior and its literal or spiritual consequences for either the individual or collective Psyches of the participants.   And there is, of course, an extensive network of legal and social proscriptions customarily present for use against those who fail (for whatever reason) to conform to the material expectations of the industrial cultural motif.   Yet, this is the type of culture that most of us find ourselves located in today, and particularly at this time in history, this world industrial base is in economic decline almost everywhere.   It would seem that we have “consumed” ourselves into a corner, and now have no apparent way out of this trap, at least no comfortable one.   And this has in no way blunted the slavish devotion of the captains of industry to their materialist creeds, even as these progressively collapse around them along with their physical components – the actual facilities of finance, production, and distribution.  

            My hope for this situation is that it will compel humanity as a whole, and the economic leadership complex in particular, to at least pause to reconsider the value of materialism as a philosophy and methodology of existence.   For the leaders,  this is bound to be excruciatingly difficult to accomplish, steeped as they are  in the dictums that “greed is good” and “profit is supreme”, yet this perception must be fostered if we are to survive the coming socio-economic cataclysm, the first tremors of which have already begun to manifest in real time.   The ability to stop is frequently life’s most important one, as we are all in the process of learning today.  

            But, we must do more than simply halt our mad rush toward the “planned obsolescence” of our products, our culture, and perhaps even our species.  We must search out a better way of being in the aging Post Industrial, Post Modern world that we are confronted with, one that acknowledges the importance of each member of society, regardless of their financial condition, and stresses the discovery or creation of the contributions they are capable of making to the human collective – a new humanism and humane directive for global change.   I believe that the processes of spiritual development and spiritual exploration hold the keys to this rebirth of human consciousness that is needed so badly as this is being written.   The material condition is useful only as the platform of mental and spiritual development of the Psyche – past that it looms forth as a distraction at best, and a waking nightmare at worst.   

            If we are to engage the spiritual, we must first reengage the material by shifting our assessment from the functionally unlimited “what we want” to the realistically attainable “what we need”, deemphasizing desire itself in the process.   As the Buddha so wisely noted, desire is the root of all suffering everywhere in the world, accomplished by capturing the naive and immature personal consciousness and addicting it to material objects and processes.  While this latter may seem natural enough in the human condition, and is so, it constitutes the road to the ruin of the Soul, our highest and most noble spiritual essence.  The Buddha was first and foremost here to save us from ourselves, as has every other noble mind in history been.   We must learn (and teach each other) to seek compassion and selfless love over ever-transitory personal gratification on a global level.   If this can be done, and as it is done, we can then progress in the understanding of wise, minimalist, need-oriented (as opposed to greed oriented) living focused on spiritual attainment in the hear-and-now.  

            I would be the first to admit that minimalism requires the incorporation of the principal of austerity into the Post Industrial culture ethos, and also to admit that this is bound to be a very tough sell to object addicts everywhere, all of whom are accustomed to needing an endless sequence of “fixes” to sustain their acquisition habits.   I can only observe that we currently appear to have the choice of disciplining ourselves and slowly weaning ourselves away from these habits, or of experiencing the “cold turkey” form of abrupt detoxification through unemployment, layoffs, foreclosures, evictions, and the like – all of which have become the banes of contemporary urban living.   We simply must learn to turn our attention within and seek the answers there that we have here-to-fore sought externally for the sake of our collective survival.  Or, we can continue on blindly down the path of extinction that we have delivered to so many other species. 

             Indeed, some clarification needs to be given here regarding what measure of extinction I am referring to.    It may well be that the human species will continue for some time along its current, misbegotten route, overpopulating and decimating the world for the sake of microwave ovens and flat screen televisions.   Or, the infinite Self may, in Its Wisdom, decree that enough is enough, and terminate all or most of our race through a series of natural and man-made disasters (apparently already in progress).  The extinction with which I am concerned is the extinction of spirituality, spiritual consciousness, and spiritual Truth, to all of which we are perilously near today.   It seems to me that only a Divine Awakening of the Heart of humanity will save us from this type of extinction, which draws ominously nearer through the encroachment of social fascism and mindless procreation in an alarming number of locations around the planet weekly.   If the Heart and Soul of the race dies, what does it matter if the carcass survives en mass or not?   If we are all to be regimented and regulated into oblivion, what quality of any kind will survive for humanity?   This is the extinction that I fear we are facing.  

             At least in terms of sentience, we appear to be the only aware species on this planet, with the possible exception of dolphins, and no one knows how they experience their awareness in any definite terms, although they certainly seem to be animated and inquisitive enough.  Perhaps they are a race of perpetual children with child-consciousness, naked and at joyful play forever – in which case we might well envy them their ocean-going freedom and simple ecstasy!   We as a species are younger than the dolphins, whose ancestors returned to the seas, abandoning a terrestrial existence, around fifty million years ago.   We have existed as a proto-sentient species for arguably ten million years or thereabouts, only a micro-second in the geological lifespan of just this planet, let alone the Solar system and universe, and this is not at all a long time when viewed in this fashion.    So, we are primate upstarts in the course of local, planetary evolution and there is nothing to say that we are not approaching a dead end, and nothing to say that we should not reach this dead end as well.   Perhaps the dolphins had the right idea all along.   It is most unusual for a species to reverse the course of its development and take an apparent backtrack to a previous mode of existence, and then remain there apparently flourishing as a result.   The sea harbors the most ferocious predators on the planet, yet the dolphins thrive there.   It does give one pause for thought – no houses, no cars, no computers, no medications, yet they seem to live in delight, even delighting to be trained in captivity!   And, they have the largest, most physically complex brains on Earth, too.   Perhaps they are the wise ones, and we are the fools, after all.  

            How did we come to the trap of desire?   My personal opinion is that this is the result of scarcity of resources.   There is evidence that around twenty thousand years ago, human beings lived in an idyllic balance with nature on the Iranian plateau in what is present day Turkey.   We must have done what we do so well – breed – and bred ourselves out of this paradise, as we have continued to do forever after.  We must have consumed all of the available resources in paradise and fell into disharmony and imbalance thereafter.   Desire, after all, is not an issue if there is plenty of everything to go around – it only becomes an issue in the presence of scarcity.   Perhaps the dolphins saw this threat coming thousands and thousands of years ago, and took the logical course of action that their superior brains dictated – abandon the land.   Or perhaps they were driven off the land by some prehistoric predator that could not follow them into the sea where they took refuge – perhaps this predator was even an ancestral primate, already motivated by frustration and spite, or a mindless reptilian remnant of the dinosaurs.   Of course, this is all conjecture, but still most enticing food for thought.   What we do know with certainty is that the dolphins adapted so perfectly to aquatic life that they stand out as a hydrodynamic marvel of design, expressing this in the wonderful agility they display in their medium of existence.   They have nothing, and yet they have everything – how I marvel at their perfect freedom... 

            But for me, and my human counterparts, it remains to cope with my smaller brain and smaller existence here on dry land, fraught with illusion, frustration, guilt, remorse, and all the other accouterments of my limited human condition and Karma.   What the dolphins attained through physical evolution by reentering the limitlessly abundant environment of the sea, we must attain through spiritual evolution here on the ever restrictive environment of the land, marked at this time in history by scarcity everywhere.   Where the dolphins can effortlessly glide through their world, we must lumber and lurch through ours in endless search for the peace and grace that most of us never find.   How I marvel at the dolphins...      


                                                                                 - With Love, Alan -

                                                               (Copyright 2009, by Alan Schneider)


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