Five hundred million years ago, during the Precambrian era, the instructions for building an eye jumped from plants to animals. The blueprint was encoded in the RHO gene tasked with the manufacture of the rhodopsin protein — nearly identical to the one in the human eye. Considered one of the major leaps in evolutionary history, this gift to animal life came from microscopic forms of marine plankton called “dinoflagellates.”
In a 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers suggest this extraordinary gene transfer occurred through symbiosis — from dinoflagellates to jelly fish. This seemingly-impossible merging of plant and animal DNA was a game changing event for life on earth.
My metaphorical imagination makes me think that the submicroscopic piece of DNA now infecting close to a million people is actually meant to open a third eye in us all. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, Covid-19 seems like a dark emissary carrying a threatening, yet pivotal message for humanity: Wake up!
Wake up from your addictions and your delusions, from your insatiable appetite for more and more stuff causing your relentless assault on the environment. If you’re looking for someone to blame, take a hard, honest look at yourself! Your addictions and insecurities were precisely what forced me to unleash my fury. You seem incapable of listening unless death itself comes pounding on your door. Do you hear it now? How many do I need to suffocate to death until finally awakening the third eye within you?
The pineal gland, also known as the third eye, is a miniscule organ located deep in the human brain which is activated when exposed to light. French philosopher René Descartes called it the “seat of the soul.” A sacred and revered tool of seers and mystics, the third eye opens the pathway to clarity, imagination, and intuition.
For a long time now, it seems nature has tried to speak to our intuition, or embodied knowledge, warning us that our modern way of life is not only unsustainable but detrimental to our well-being. Her message can be perceived in the increasing levels of depression and anxiety, particularly in affluent societies.
In the U.S. alone, antidepressant use has soared by 65% in the past 15 years. Close to 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2018. The country produces and consumes 90% of the world’s Ritalin to treat attention deficit, and, every year, doctors write nearly 50 million prescriptions for Xanax or Alprazolam to ease anxiety.
If we’re so rich, why are we so miserable?
A painful hangover would be well worth it had the party been smashing, but it doesn’t appear we’ve been having such a good time in our frenzied race to the land of plenty.
Could it be that the voice of our intuition has been telling us all along that we’re on a slippery slope to self-annihilation but we no longer feel able to control our destructive impulses? Ironically, our desperate pursuit to ‘secure’ our future has now made us more vulnerable than ever.
An organism at war with itself is doomed. — Astronomer Carl Sagan
What’s it going to take? A million deaths? The wipeout of the world’s coastal megacities by rising seas? Hordes of desperate climate refugees pouring across borders? The sudden collapse of pollinator communities and ensuing global famine? What!? “Civilizations die from suicide,” warned historian Arnold Toynbee, “not by murder.”
Something truly extraordinary happened 500 million years ago giving rise to our capacity to see.
If Covid-19 awakens humanity’s third eye, the current crisis will be hailed as a new leap in evolution; the pivotal moment when we decided to write a better and more sustainable chapter in the storybook of humankind. If it doesn’t, and we proceed with business as usual, I’m afraid it won’t take long for nature to excise the cancerous scourge we’ve become.
Author Dave Hollis recently said that in the rush to return to normal, we should use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to. It is my fervent hope that we’ll all heed his wise counsel.