A fellow in Salem, Oregon came to my attention lately while talking with people in that capital city. He writes a personal blog variously called “Hinesight” or “Church of the Churchless.” In it he opines on everything from the over-abundance of acorns this year in his backyard, to the deepest questions of life.
He’s amusing when he writes about acorns, but is way out of his depth when he ridicules people who “believe that it’s possible to experience things as they are, not as how they seem.”
Parroting the party line of derivative neuroscience, this fellow asserts with complete confidence: “Our conscious awareness is just the tip of a vast unconscious iceberg where most of the brain’s neurological goings-on takes place. Modern neuroscience knows this.”
He doesn’t stop there however, pronouncing, “Each of us views reality through our own personal lens. All we can do is be as aware as possible of how we’re looking upon things, accepting that other people will see things in their own fashion.” Wouldn’t that be nice?
Such a view comports very well with the Western, especially American individualistic worldview, which has produced not only this social hellscape, but given rise to a narcissistic president with his finger on the nuclear button.
The notion that we “view reality through our own personal lens” also supports the illusion that we are our own unique individuals, which is the mindset of dividuals blindly adding to collective hatred, conflict, suffering and war.
When you first come upon the Grand Canyon, thought, which is based on previous experience, is shocked into stillness because the sight so overwhelms anything you’ve previously experienced.
This shows that the brain is capable of fresh perception, and doesn’t automatically “view reality through our personal lens.” Such moments of fresh, direct perception could occur in small ways every day if we made the space for them, allowing neural and emotional renewal.
So is there only darkness, and it’s negation in meditation in the rare individual? Or is there a cosmic intelligence that cares about the fate of potentially intelligent species such as humans?
A philosopher, also in Oregon, replied: “I think there might be a cosmic ‘caring’ or valuation of higher forms of mentality, but it is hard for me to imagine that there is significant caring about a particular intelligent species so infinitesimally localized in time and space.”
To my mind, the “particular species infinitesimally located in time and space“ idea doesn’t apply. Scale is irrelevant, since it’s a question of emergent consciousness over billions of years of random evolution in a universe imbued with consciousness from its inception.
Not just because potentially intelligent species are rare in the universe. Rather, because the cosmos is an expression of consciousness, and we humans, as a potentially intelligent species, are an expression of the cosmos.
In short, the cosmic mind, immanent God, or whatever term you prefer, doesn’t operate in terms of scale. Scale is irrelevant where consciousness is concerned, and therefore where potentially intelligent species such as Homo sapiens are concerned.
That doesn’t address my question of whether the intelligence that imbues the universe is indifferent to failing, potentially intelligent species such as Homo sapiens.
A friend and editor sent me a related essay that begins on the right note, before skating off into New Age self-deception.
“People have been writing about spiritual enlightenment for millennia, and still we remain collectively asleep. Believing such a shift is possible on a mass scale is childish and absurd. Right?”
Again is the mentality of scale, which is taken as a given. Perhaps inevitably, the author then indulges in wishful thinking by quoting one of the first and worst self-promoting New Age gurus, Eckhart Tolle:
“Without considering the Eastern world, my estimate is that at this time about ten percent of people in North America are already awakening…I am hopeful about humanity’s future, much more so now than when I wrote The Power of Now.”
It isn’t a matter of percentages, or “fast enough.” That’s the same old mindset. Tolle preaches a fantasy that’s merely the flipside of nihilism: “The transformation of consciousness is truly happening.”
The revolution in consciousness is not happening, and things are going from bad to worse, dark to darker. It’s true that more and more people intellectually know that a revolution in consciousness is essential. But they emotionally comfort themselves by believing that it has begun when it has not.
That doesn’t mean one gives up. But the fat lady is warming up, on our age at least. Forget scale; the macrocosm is enfolded within the microcosm of each one of us.