Human beings are aware.

It must be concluded that there is a process occurring that goes beyond a mere interaction of physical bodies. The systems put forward by materialists and determinists alike do not do justice to the wonder of existence. We are powerful beings, endowed with reason, to be sure, but more importantly we are capable of the conscious and voluntary act of love. It is my opinion that the fully self-aware human being recognizes that at her core, she is an entity of love and acceptance. Too seldom do we pay heed to the concept of loving unconditionally, much to the detriment of not only human society but to existence itself. It is this defining characteristic, that of existence, which serves as the common ground for all we can ever encounter and act upon. The web of existence is an interdependent, cohesive whole and no part stands alone. It is the duty of humanity to embrace our duty and acknowledge the power we have not only over ourselves, but also over the very fabric of reality. For the purposes of this study, I will divide human activity into three categories. Firstly, I will examine the individual’s relation to the self. Next, the interpersonal ethic will command my attention. Once we have come to some degree of self-realization, it is imperative that we consider how to act not only as a society, but also on a person-to-person basis. Lastly, we must study how one is to relate to the environment one finds oneself in. By this I mean not only society, but also the ecosystem and the universe at large. I acknowledge that most of my arguments remain speculative but I will endeavor as much as possible, to justify my claims with accepted scientific evidence. To start my discussion, I will acquaint the reader with the ideas discussed in the book “The Conscious Universe.” Classical physics is ultimately guilty of reductionism. In light of the recent discoveries of relativity and quantum theory, we can no longer accept the Newtonian model of infinite separate parts operating in a Leibnizian fashion. The books’ thesis is that the universe operates as cohesive unit an idea that echoes throughout progressive writings in a movement away from duality in favor of holistic systems. As the author explains, human consciousness is “an emergent phenomenon in a seamlessly interconnected whole that contains within itself the fundamental logical principle embedded in the activities of the whole.”1 Any attempt to express this, be it anthropomorphically, scientifically or religiously, is a fragmentation. Awareness or knowledge cannot be a doctrine, existing separately from any being, it must be directly apprehended by the self. An ancient and highly successful method for doing this is yoga/meditation. As Allan B. Wallace suggests in his book “Contemplative Science,” the Buddhist practice of meditation and the cultivation of “lovingkindness” resonate with modern neuroscience. As a Buddhist monk and a scientist, Wallace concluded that the control of neural activity through these practices allows the practitioner to attain a higher state of awareness, essentially performing the act of evolution.2 The word cultivation is repeatedly employed as it unites both the fertility aspect (female) as well as the active engagement of “reaping the harvest” (male). Again, we see dualism giving way to the holistic approach. The mind/body approach of classical philosophy, as argued my Plato and Augustine, came to dominate Western thought. I postulate that this was to our detriment as we were ever fragmenting the ultimate unity of the universe. Yoga consists of nurturing the body and the mind at once, treating the human as an organic whole, and not as a pair of competing factions as Plato’s chariot metaphor suggests. An aim of yoga/meditation is cognitive quieting; getting in touch with the silence of the unconscious mind.3 It is here, in the very depths of the human psyche, that we connect to the cosmos or the “void” as it is


Kafatos, Menas & Robert Nodeau, The Conscious Universe (New York: Spring-Verlag, 2000,) p. 159. 2 Wallace, Allan B, Contemplative science: where Buddhism and neuroscience converge. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007,) p.135-148. 3 Cope, Stephen, Yoga and the quest for the true self. (New York: Bantam Books, 1999,) p.219-246.

sometimes called in Eastern traditions.4 Often it is expressed as the void because if it were any one thing, even if that one thing were the universe itself, there would still be a fragmentation. This necessitates a foundational, primordial element, that of emptiness. Much in line with what Parmenides was saying, existence simply is and change is an illusion in that change implies not being, a fragmentation of the one.5 In logic, the empty set belongs to every set. A set with one single element then, has only the empty set. Hence the uses of terms like silence or void to describe the fundamental property of existence. My main point is that rather than say there is a more real world of the forms or God is the ultimate reality, we must embrace the here and now. The phrase “the present is eternity” captures this notion. What yoga, meditation and other personal contemplative traditions try to teach us is the cultivation of mindfulness, higher levels of sensitivity and awareness and the practice of loving-kindness. As we journey out of the inner void and into interactive reality, we must realize that we are one minute blip in the web of existence, dependant on every other facet of this reality but also profoundly affecting it with our every action. Earlier I made reference to the unification of male and female properties. This process, while ultimately personal, is a key component of our interpersonal existence. As per E=mc2, all matter is energy condensed to a slow vibration. The modern obsession with the material can be understood as a competition for energy, as all unhealthy relationships are. The “Handbook to Higher Consciousness” suggests that there are three ways we exploit the energy around us. They are addictions to security, sensation and power. The author postulates that at any given moment, we could be expanding our consciousness.6 This, however, requires prior cultivation of mindfulness so often people revert to a quick fix, be it drugs, sex, acquisition of material goods for future comfort, television or directly controlling another beings’ energy. Lacking self-awareness, we become addicted to temporary relief. Modern psychology has much to offer concerning our quest for self-sufficiency. In mythology, the hero archetypes’ apotheosis comes after a journey into the darkness of his own subconscious, as he emerges a demigod (example: The Epic of Gilgamesh).7 This process can be seen as a fusion of the male and female psyche within one being. As Beverly Clack points out in “Sex and Death,” Plato has humanity start in a cave (female symbol and less real), eventually emerging into the world of the sun (male symbol and ultimate truth).8 She argues that this represents Plato’s rejection of the feminine in favor of a male dominated, reason-obsessed style of enlightenment. Her argument made me seriously reconsider Plato and I think she has successfully traced a grievous error of Western thought to its source. The Romantics of the 18th century echoed this as the first group to reject reason and embrace hysteria, nature and love of women. Indeed it is around the start of the Romantic Movement that women begin to truly have a voice and only in very recent times have we begun to undo the prejudice society holds against women. Clack takes the argument further, suggesting that this rejection of femininity is related to our fear of death. Woman, as the creator of life, is often associated with death as in the myth of Persephone who is abducted and made queen of the underworld by Hades. Immersion in the oneness, giving ourselves up to the cycle of life, is a difficult process for the male psyche. It seems we are ever striving to put some stamp on existence, to distinguish ourselves as to attain a measure of immortality. Thus, I believe the ego to be a male construct. Women are often associated with nature, where as man is ever trying to suppress these forces. Apotheosis is really the slaying of the ego and a return to our primordial state of being. Carl Jung and Joseph
4 5

Welch, Holmes, Taoism. (USA: Beacon Press, 1965,) p.18-50. Copleston, Frederick Charles, A history of philosophy. (London: Burns and Oates, 1946,) p.47-52. 6 Keyes, Ken, Jr, Handbook to higher consciousness. (Berkely: Living Loving Center, 1975,) p.50-60. 7 Campbell, Joseph, The hero with a thousand faces. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004,) p.179-142. 8 Clack, Beverly, Sex and Death. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002,) p.10-38.

Campbell both point out how archetypal myth invokes a divine aid character that represents the complete psyche, be it Achilles’ Cheiron or Perseus’ Athena to use Greek examples.910 What I’m getting at is that for humanity to develop a legitimate interpersonal ethic, we must employ all available faculties. We cannot hold reason on a pedestal, or worship feeling above all else. In light of planetary degradation, genocide, famine, widespread epidemics and out of control consumer culture, it is high time we shared our collective energies. I would like to return to “The Conscious Universe” as it offers insight concerning the evolutionary process and the role of the human in an ecological context. Once again, the book argues against fragmentation, this time masquerading in the form of Darwinian evolution. The author says, “The discovery of symbiotic alliances between organisms that become permanent is another aspect of the modern understanding of evolution that appears to challenge Darwin’s view of universal struggle between atomized individual organisms.”11 One must understand that it is not Darwin that needs to be refuted; he was merely constructing hypotheses in light of new data. If anything he is to be praised. What needs correction is the modern interpretation of Darwin. Capitalism often invokes the great scientists’ ideas in order to justify its “dog eat dog” mentality. What has been discovered however is that the ecosystem really works as a cohesive unit. I will take a moment to illustrate with some examples, all taken from “The Conscious Universe.” As biota moved from the sea to the air, the rest of the ecosystem responded in turn by adjusting the atmospheric composition, regulating the oxygen level to be around 21% about two million years ago. The temperature of the earth, determined by this composition, was also set around this time. Species do not kill each other off to avoid over-crowding or shortages of resources as is commonly believed. Rather, species will adapt in various ways, such as limiting the amount of years a female elephant will spend in sexual maturity thereby reducing the birthrate over a number of years, in order to make room for other species. To share resources, species will utilize them in very specific ways, be it at different times of day, eating only short grass leaving the longer for others, or attacking prey that is suited to their “weapons” as is the case with the cheetah and the gazelle or the lion and the zebra.12 We often hear reference to the chaotic state of nature but a detailed account reveals an incredibly complex system that ultimately ensures the survival of all its’ species until they become part of evolutionary history. What humanity is currently subjecting the planet and animal kingdom to is profoundly unethical. It seems human arrogance knows no bounds and I attribute this at least partly to our worshipping of the ability to reason and our inability to cultivate mindfulness. Any species worthy of the title of intelligent would have found a way to integrate harmoniously into the eco system by now. Our fear of death seems to be driving us towards a need for security and dominance over all other life. The justification? We are pursuing our self-righteous pleasures simply because we can. We’ll talk about what we can and can’t do after nuclear winter sets in or we start dying off by the thousands because of skin cancer, forest fires and floods. I hope that by now the importance of the holistic approach has been made clear. If we were to understand ourselves and employ the science we’ve created, we could, with relative ease, reshape the course of the planet and develop a sense of evolutionary conscience. For this to take place, I refer the reader to my first argument: love. Unconditional love for the self entails love for existence at large. After all, the planet will live on. It’s only humanity that stands to lose in the long run. If we fail, then it’s up the single cell organisms developing in

Jung, Carl Gustav, Man and his Symbols. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1964,) p.101. 10 Campbell, Joseph, The hero with a thousand faces. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004) p.69-76. 11 Kafatos, Menas & Robert Nodeau, The Conscious Universe (New York: SpringVerlag, 2000,) p. 95. 12 Ibid, p.97-103.

the pools of nitrogen at the bottom of the Atlantic to give it a shot. We need not all be Zen guru’s to make it work, it’s only a matter of remembering all that we are in face of the little we appear to be.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful