It is Coming

It is coming. We know it the way animals know when a storm is coming. Deep in our bones. Through our bond with Mother Nature. Through our sense of the balance of life.

Call it “The Event.” A seismic natural disaster. The result of humans’ rapid expansion in a few millenia all over the planet. The result of vast technological and ecological changes.

The event that will change the general complicity in our lives. Dreaming of the house and the white picket fence, and the latest gizmos and the image – the fantasy – of the forever rising tide of the middle class.

The event which is the result of global warming. And maybe artificial intelligence. And maybe nuclear attack.

Maybe it won’t happen in 10 years or 20 years. Or in my life time. And maybe it won’t be one big event. Maybe it will be a series of events. But still, it is coming. Maybe it has already started.

The event which will force humans to confront the situation as a species. Something which will affect all humans, irrespective of race, religion, ideology and nationality.

What will we do? How we will deal with the event? How can we prepare for it?

There won’t be any magic consensus after the event. Differences between conservatives and liberals, atheists and theists, nationalists and globalists, capitalists and communists won’t magically disappear the day after. Or the month or the year or the decade after.

Intellectual battles won’t end. They never end. They go on, just like physical battles. And strongman leaders will come heralding the limits of reason and debate and the congress – heralding the need, the urgency of action. And the battle between the strongmen and their opponents will rage on.

As will the battles between the globalists and the nationalists. The globalists claiming that one government and one global state is needed to tackle global problems. And nationalists claiming the globalists are only elitists setting up a global plutocracy.

These are the coming issues of this century and the next.

The issues are too complex for easy predictions. And clear solutions. 10,000 years after humans settled down into an agricultural life, they have swarmed the planet and are on the verge of a cybernetic existence exerting mass impact on the planet.

Thinking is needed. Action is needed. Good intentions are needed.

But none will suffice. As it never suffices.

What more is needed to confront the issues – to face it head on – is a change in consciousness. A transformed mode of being. A lighter, freer, more compassionate awareness. An existence centered not on me and mine, but on ours. All of ours. On life itself.

An awareness and mode of being which can guide the thought. Give it the structure and direction which thought by itself never finds. An awareness which can guide action and the good intentions.

An awareness which doesn’t look to who is to blame – “the globalists!”, “the atheists!”, “The religious”, “Them!” – but which finds, lives and breathes our common humanity. Which binds us to each other while giving space for our differences. Which knows that we are all one, even as it knows that we can never all live or think the same way. That difference is as essential to identity and to love as sameness.

An awareness which embraces the grace of religious consciousness and the wisdom of skeptical philosophy.

An awareness which first arose from the communal mythical consciousness of hunter gatherers half a million years ago. Which transformed into the dances and visions of the shamans. And then into the rituals of the priests. And then into the faith of Christ on the cross, the stillness of the Buddha under the tree, and Socrates’ life affirming embrace of drinking hemlock.

These past guides show the way to the next stage of consciousness, the arrival of the new mode of humanity a hundred or two hundred years from now. After the event.

The event will bring great pain, loss and suffering. Millions will perish. Parts of the globe now flourishing might be inhabitable.

Those who give in to the fear and shock of the event will kick and scream, shout and fight, claiming to lead the way. But they will only make it worse, as fear only begets fear.

Those who can see the event with the gaze of nature, with a cosmic awareness, neither overwhelmed by it nor cold to the suffering in its wake – they will lead humanity onto its next phase.

What if the event destroys all of human life? Well, then, that is that.

But as long as humans live, they, as any life, can only live into a world where they survive. Where they adapt. Evolve.

The meaning of a seed is the plant. And the meaning of the plant is the tree.

The meaning of us now is who we will become. After the trials of fire. After the event. The meaning of us is those who will wake up from the ashes of the event, the way we woke up from the ice age, and since then from the rise and fall of civilizations.

Our consciousness now is the egg. We have to protect it, safe guard, yes. But an egg is meant to crack, under heat and pressure. So that the meaning of the egg can be born and thrive, long after the egg is no more. And in time the new being becomes the egg for the next being. And on and on it goes.

Explosions from Within

Some people once lived in a compound. They were often attacked by invaders who shot arrows of fire into the compound. When the arrows were shot, huge explosions went off in the compound. The people living in the compound were frightened and agitated by the explosions, and would focus all their energy on attacking the invaders and stopping their arrows of fire.

But no matter how much they stopped the invaders, inevitably some arrows would break through and there would be devastating explosions in the compound. In response, most people in the compound spent their time figuring out more and more elaborate attacks on the invaders. Yet each time they felt they would destroy or at least control the invaders, an arrow would pass through and the compound was rocked with explosions yet again.

Finally one person realized that there was dynamite all over the compound. And it was really the dynamite which was causing the huge explosions. He saw that when the arrows of fire fell on empty ground, they were relatively harmless. But when they fell on dynamite, there were huge explosions.

So he removed all the dynamite from the compound. Confident there wouldn’t be anymore explosions, he was unperturbed by the arrows of fire and was able to focus on how best to deal with the invaders.

A wise person is like the person removing the dynamite from his compound.

An unwise person is like the people ignoring the dynamite in their own compound and looking outward for the cause of the explosions.

Normally I try to not be angry or frustrated or upset when interacting with others. When I am feeling grounded and calm, it feels like I am ready and poised to thwart and not be overcome by any arrows others might shoot towards me.

And yet, no matter how poised and on guard I am, usually at some point, there is an explosion. The hull has been breached. There is an explosion from within. While I am looking out for attacks from outside, fire explodes from within me – destroying my equanimity and filling the air with dark clouds of negative, painful, frustrated emotions.

At that point, panicked for myself and confident that the bomb which exploded in me was thrown from someone on the outside, I focus all my energy in retaliating against that person.

But did the other person throw a bomb or was it the dynamite I carry within me which exploded?

An unwise person gets surprised every time he becomes angry or depressed or frustrated. He asks, “Where is this emotion coming from? Who is triggering it?” And he looks out at the world to find the cause. He keeps looking until he pins the cause on something out there. So he can focus his anger on that and release the anger in that direction.

A wise person is unsurprised every time he becomes angry or depressed or frustrated. He doesn’t ask where the emotion is coming from, or who is triggering it. He knows right away that the emotion is an explosion from within. That it is his dynamite which went off. And that the explosion will cloud his judgement and make him look outwards. But instead of falling for that illusion, he turns away from the outside. He looks towards himself and focuses on removing the dynamite he carries within.

The unwise person looks at the wise person and sees a fool and a coward: “Look how he is not attacking the enemy in righteous fury and is running away, navel gazing at himself! Not to worry: I will find the enemy out there and destroy him!”

The wise person looks at himself and sees a diligent worker. Methodically removing the dynamite from within himself so that he can be free of pain.