An Optimistic View of Human Possibility
When I look at the history of the human experiment what I see is an account of the domination of conditioned mind over our efforts to procure happy and fulfilling lives. That’s a bleak way of looking at things, I know, but it fits the facts. As I suggested in the previous blog, the human story since the advent of agriculture is full of oppression and tyranny, war and slavery, rape and pillage, prejudice, famine, and violence of all kinds — all of which, I would suggest, are the result of the self-centered focus of conditioning. It’s been a long, hard road to this point in time, and it’s easy amidst the artificial affluence of the western world to forget the terrible suffering that has been the lot of many, perhaps most of those who have come before us. I say that our current immunity in the west is artificial because the wealth we enjoy is stolen often to the point of death from those in less privileged places, and also from the environmental security of all who will come afterwards. We are where we are now because, in our ignorance, we have served conditioned mind rather than Life for the past hundred-thousand years.
When I look to history I also see the stories of those who through their own genius and determination have escaped the grasp of the “matrix”, as a friend of mine likes to call it, and made real contributions to the world. There have been many, many of these, I believe. Most of them lived in obscurity, applying the clarity they acquired within their families and communities without the splash that makes history, and yet the possibility of freedom that we possess we have inherited from them. It is in the small daily acts of compassion and generosity that the world is changed for the better. What these people have done we all may do, and we all must do if there is to be any history to tell after the next few generations.
I also see the evolution of Life over these past millennia, despite the horror of what has happened. All of everything that has occurred is Life manifesting, after all — it could not be otherwise — and Life, in my experience, is nothing but goodness. Life continually evolves, and so I trust that we are going somewhere. The process we are going through, in fact, seems to mirror the growth that can occur on an individual level. To grow involves pain; the path that leads towards maturity runs through the loss of the lesser person we believe ourselves to be, and that hurts. If I want to experience my adequacy to life, for example, I’m going to have to fight my way through everything within me that believes I have no value, and that’s a staggering piece of work. Same with us as a human family. I would propose that all the suffering that has occurred through the ages is a part of this same process, only on a species level. And so where are we going? I don’t know, of course, but if I had to guess I’d say that our pain prods us towards the possibility that we may move beyond selfishness, that we may let go of the illusion of our separation from what simply IS and join through the power of our awareness with the Life that animates us all. It’s the self-centered orientation to life that is holding us back, and so it seems logical that this is the thing that will have to go if we are to evolve further.
We stand now at the potential brink of our own destruction. It seems miraculous to me that we haven’t destroyed ourselves already since the bomb was dropped upon Hiroshima, and I wouldn’t bet a nickle that we will be able to hold our nukes unused for another period of the same length. We may have passed the point already at which it’s too late to reverse the effects of global climate change, and we are no where near the magnanimity and courage required to choose a course that will save us from ecological devastation. Admittedly, it’s hard to remain optimistic with these disasters looming before us, but I have an intuition that says all will be well. It’s just in the nature of Life that this would be the case. I’ve often joked about what I call “the four phases of any project”. The phases are these: enthusiasm, frustration, despair, and success. I think we’re in the despair phase right now. If so, then success will surely follow. The result of the evolutionary process we’re involved in may not even be something we would recognize as human — it probably won’t, now that I think about it — but it will be, whatever it is, that which Life has been aiming towards all along. Let us all do our part, then, to help make it happen.