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Stanislav Grof- Consciousness Evolution and Planetary Survival: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed

Stanislav Grof- Consciousness Evolution and Planetary Survival: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed

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06/29/2012

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Consciousness Evolution and Planetary Survival:*Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.
Stanislav Grof, M.D.Abstract.
Diplomatic negotiations, administrative and legal measures, economic and socialsanctions, military interventions, and other similar efforts have had so far very littlesuccess in alleviating the rapidly escalating global crisis. Drawing on the observationsfrom forty years of research of non-ordinary states of consciousness, the author exploresthe implications of this material for the understanding of the psychological and spiritualroots of the problems humanity is currently facing.The vastly expanded cartography of the human psyche that has emerged from thiswork offers a new understanding of insatiable greed and malignant aggression, twopowerful forces that have played a critical role in human history and currently represent aserious threat for life on our planet. The author suggests that the problems in modernworld are products and symptoms of a psychospiritual crisis and that any effectivesolution will require a deep inner transformation of humanity and a new scientific worldview emphasizing unity, co-evolution, and cooperation. He explores the possible role of ancient and modern methods facilitating spiritual opening and consciousness evolution inachieving these goals.
The two most powerful psychological forces in human history have beenwithout doubt violence and greed. The amount and degree of atrocities that havebeen committed throughout ages in various countries of the world - many of them inthe name of God - is truly unimaginable and indescribable. We can think here of thecountless Christians, sacrificed in Roman arenas to provide a highly sought-afterspectacle for masses, many hundreds of thousands of victims of the medievalInquisition who were tortured, killed, and burned in the autos-da-fe, the mass__________________________________________________________* Paper presented at the Thirteenth International Transpersonal Conference entitled
Spirituality, Ecology, and Native Wisdom
in Killarney, Ireland, June 1995.slaughters on the sacrificial altars of the Aztecs, and the millions of soldiers andcivilians killed in wars and revolutions of all times.Genghis Khan's hordes sweeping through Asia killing, pillaging and burningvillages, Alexander the Great's army conquering all the countries lying betweenMacedonia and India, the amazing spread of Islam by sword and fire, the expansionof the Roman Empire, the Crusades, the ventures of Cortez and Pizarro, thecolonialism of Great Britain and other European countries, and the Napoleonic wars -all these are examples of unbridled violence and insatiable greed.
 
2This trend has continued in an unmitigated fashion in the twentieth century.Historically, more people were killed in the last hundred years than have existedfrom the dawn of humanity up to the last century. A total of twenty million men andwomen were killed on the battlefields of World War II and an equal number as aconsequence of the wars off the battlefield.The expansionism of Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust, Stalin'sdomination of Eastern Europe and his Gulag archipelago, the civil terror inCommunist China and in the South American dictatorships, the atrocities andgenocide committed by the Chinese in Tibet, the cruelties of the South AfricanApartheid, the war in Korea and Vietnam, and the recent bloodshed in Yugoslaviaand Rwanda are just a few salient examples of the senseless bloodshed we havewitnessed during the last fity years.The human greed has also found new less violent forms of expression in thephilosophy and strategy of capitalist economy emphasizing increase of the grossnational product, "unlimited growth", plundering recklessly non-renewable naturalresources, encouraging conspicuous consumption, and practicing "plannedobsolescence". Moreover, much of this wasteful economic policy that has disastrousecological consequences has been oriented toward production of weapons of increasing destructive power.In the past, violence and greed had tragic consequences for the individualsinvolved in the internecine historical events and their immediate families. However,they did not threaten the evolution of the human species as a whole and certainly didnot represent a danger for the eco system and for the biosphere of the planet. Evenafter the most violent wars, nature was able to recycle all the aftermath andcompletely recover within a few decades. This situation has changed very radicallyin the course of the twentieth century. Rapid technological progress, exponentialgrowth of industrial production, massive population explosion, and particularly thediscovery of atomic energy have forever changed the equations involved.In the course of this century, we have often witnessed more major scientificand technological breakthroughs within a single decade, or even a single year, thanpeople in earlier historical periods experienced in an entire century. However, theseastonishing intellectual successes have brought modern humanity to the brink of global catastrophy, since they were not matched by a comparable growth of emotional and moral maturity. We have the dubious privilege of being the firstspecies in natural history that has achieved the capacity to eradicate itself and destroyin the process all life on this planet.
 
3The intellectual history of humanity is one of incredible triumphs. We havebeen able to learn the secrets of nuclear energy, send spaceships to the moon and allthe planets of the solar system, transmit sound and color pictures all over the globeand across cosmic space, crack the DNA code and start genetic engineering. At thesame time, these superior technologies are being used in the service of primitiveemotions and instinctual impulses that are not very different from those whichmotivated people of the Stone Age.Unimaginable sums of money have been wasted in the insanity of the armsrace and the use of a miniscule fraction of the existing arsenal of atomic weaponscould destroy all life on earth. Many millions of people have been killed in the twoworld wars and in countless other violent confrontations occurring for ideological,racial, religious, or economic reasons; hundreds of thousands were bestially torturedby the secret police of various totalitarian systems. Insatiable greed is driving peopleto hectic pursuit of profit and acquisition of personal property beyond any reasonablelimits. This strategy resulted in a situation where, beside the specter of a nuclear war,humanity is threatened by several less spectacular, but insidious and more predictabledoomsday scenarios.Among these are industrial pollution of soil, water, and air; the threat of nuclear waste and accidents; destruction of the ozone layer; the greenhouse effect;possible loss of planetary oxygen through reckless deforestation and poisoning of theocean plankton; and the dangers of toxic additives in our food and drinks. To this wecan add a number of developments that are of less apocalyptic nature, but equallydisturbing, such as species extinction proceeding at an astronomical rate,homelessness and starvation of a significant percentage of the world's population,deterioration of family and crisis of parenthood, disappearance of spiritual values,absence of hope and positive perspective, loss of meaningful connection with nature,and general alienation. As a result of all the above factors, humanity now lives inchronic anguish on the verge of a nuclear and ecological catastrophe, while inpossession of fabulous technology approaching the world of science fiction.Modern science has developed effective means that could solve most of theurgent problems in today's world--combat the majority of diseases, eliminate hungerand poverty, reduce the degree of industrial waste, and replace destructive fossil fuelsby renewable sources of clean energy. The problems that stand in the way are not of economical or technological nature; their deepest sources lie inside the humanpersonality. Because of them, unimaginable resources have been wasted in theabsurdity of the arms race, power struggle, and pursuit of "unlimited growth". Theyalso prevent a more appropriate distribution of wealth among individuals and nations,as well as a reorientation from purely economic and political concerns to ecologicalpriorities that are critical for survival of life on this planet.

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