What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach, Illusions
We are living now during one of the most important time periods in human history. As Joanna Macy has described, our global species is at a turning point, the actions and decisions we take collectively over the next few decades will determine the path humanity (and all life on our planet) takes far into the future – towards either greater harmony or chaos, stability or destruction.
If one turns on the television, the news does not sound good. The mass media feeds our fears, warning of global warming, terrorism, racism, wealth inequality, economic instability and ecological collapse.
While most of these problems are real, what the media (and our leaders) do not understand is how these issues are all symptoms of the destructive ways so-called ‘advanced’ civilisations see the world and behave. That to solve these problems requires that we (as a species) grow up, cultivating a deeper level of wisdom, compassion and creativity.
A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels… – Albert Einstein
Our children and grandchildren’s future depends upon our species becoming less materialistic, fearful and violent; more generous, peaceful and caring. It requires that billions of people “wake up” to a deeper sense of unity and love for our human family and the natural world that supports us.
Mother Earth needs us to mature, to transform ourselves from a selfish caterpillar-like species (that consumes resources mindlessly), to more spiritual butterfly-like beings, who behave wisely, dance among the flowers and take joy from living lightly.
The butterfly effect is the concept that extremely small causes can have enormous effects. In chaos theory (the study in mathematics of dynamical systems), the butterfly effect is seen with numerical rounding errors that yield divergent outcomes. This effect is relevant for dynamic systems, such as life on Earth, in that a tiny change or activity in one part of the globe can have untold consequences in another. Each of us has the potential to weave extraordinary unknown changes in the world by our seemingly small actions.
The time has come for our species to evolve our consciousness, to open our hearts, to question the predatory behaviours and mechanistic thinking of our more technologically advanced warrior civilisations.
How Our Thinking Causes Separation
For thousands of years people in Western cultures have been wrestling with the illusions we’ve spun from our dualistic “us versus them” mindsets and beliefs. It’s like we’ve been dreaming a shared nightmare together, grounded in the predatory and feudalistic ways our societies have been organised, rooted in how we live and think.
Across the centuries, the very foundation of Western civilisation has been based on ideas of separation and superiority- men above, women below; kings above, peasants below; humans above, Nature below; etc.
We’ve built walls of separation in our hearts and minds, a sense of sin and abandonment, believing that our entire species was “thrown out of Eden” by a sky God that lives far far away.
With dualistic thinking came an emphasis on linear time, our consciousnesses locked into mental projections of a feared or desired future, an imagined and idealised history.
When lost in these linear projections we became less aware of the magical nature of each moment, blind to the beauty, value and mystery of the here and now. This is how schools teach our children to think and feel, how our ancestors were dazed and hypnotised.
From this mindset grew civilised humanity’s mad circus of history, the hostile cultures of race and nationalism as identity, religion as truth, militarism as method, acquisition of wealth and power (by a ruling elite) as the organising goals of our economic and political systems, the unquestioned materialistic paradigm guiding our way of life.
It manifested with the rise of wealth-obsessed empires seeking power and dominance in the Middle East and Europe. Dualistic thinking led to the Witch Hunts during the Renaissance, to Europeans coming to conquer the “New World” – thinking themselves superior to the Natives, stealing their land. Then going to Africa where they kidnaped and enslaved the people, robbing their resources and dragging them across the oceans.
Over the centuries reductionistic thinking has given rise to all our most difficult problems: racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, human trafficking, organised crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, prostitution, genocide and all our wars.
For thousands of years now, individual artists, poets, prophets and sages have been trying to help ‘civilised’ humans to wake up from our delusions, to let love and wisdom guide us, instead of materialism and fear.
From Jesus to Buddha, from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet to Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Whitman and Blake’s poems, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Van Gogh’s paintings and forward thru time to the Wizard of Oz, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, and James Cameron’s Avatar ― the message of love has been clear.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on. – Led Zeppelin
There was a great creative burst of realisation and vision in the 1960s, but still the spirit-crushing institutions, materialistic lifestyles and unquestioned mechanistic assumptions of the past continued to exert a powerful hypnotic force.
With the rise of new technologies and global industrialisation our consumer lifestyles have overpowered the rivers, mountains and forests that surround us. Over the last five decades we have been destroying Nature’s ecosystems at an astounding rate.
Why has it been so difficult for humans to change?
In part, I think, it is because the ‘Civilised’ Matrix will do whatever it can to avoid a shutdown. Our dominant institutions are designed to acquire wealth for those with power, to maintain control, to defend, expand and perpetuate their existence. Like the immune system of a body, attacking these systems directly only strengthens them, leads to hostility and violence.
Mostly, however, I believe that we have not changed as a species because too many of us are still hypnotised. Primarily identifying our sense of self with names, career, race, religion, gender, political perspective or nationality.
So, we seek pleasurable experiences, wealth, status and material possessions; mistakenly believing that these will bring us happiness and that the only way to solve complex problems is to “defeat the opposition.”
What most of us have failed to see is that we are not the social and cultural roles we imagine ourselves to be. And that the historical systems that have constrained us (the darkness and creative suppression) may have been exactly what we needed, to transform our minds, let go of our fears and transcend our limited cultural ideas of identity.
As Eckhart Tolle has described, “You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.”
We are Life, in human form. Descendants of the stars and galaxies, children of the oceans and forests, creative expressions of Nature. As much a part of this planet as the rivers, trees, mountains and butterflies.
Transforming Our Ways of Thinking and Being in the World
As more and more of us wake up to a deeper sense of identity (as universal beings) we will be more easily able to transcend old thought patterns and beliefs. Observing Nature’s Systems closely, studying her ways, we can re-write and delete old programming.
Viewing the Universe in fixed categories and scattered pieces, it’s become very difficult for Civilisation’s people to see how all the parts connect together to form greater wholes. As a result, modern technologically ‘advanced’ humans have created countless problems that we have been unable to solve.
The field of medicine, for example, focuses on treating “illnesses” which are often the result of biological systems that are overstressed, unhealthy or out of balance. Human bodies that have evolved over millions of years with the capability to maintain and self-regulate their health no longer seem to function optimally.
With education, our children have an innate ability to learn new things, to understand the world’s patterns and develop complex skills. They will learn quickly and easily when their curiosity is encouraged, when learning is creative, interesting and fun. Yet far too often formal schooling is rigid and boring, creating anti-social environments that are out of sync with the way children naturally grow and learn.
It’s time to join with others who see the world holistically, taking the wisdom of our wholeness and applying it creatively to everything we say and do, to all fields of human activity. Economics, entertainment, technology, education, art, music, poetry, law, medicine, farming, politics, transportation, energy- they all can (and must) be transformed.
How we see the world has a powerful effect on how we behave towards others. If we see a world at war― a world of competition and battle― we respond to situations that way, defensively and aggressively, seeking to exert control and dominate.
When we see a world where everything is connected our hearts open more easily, so that we respond more creatively, compassionately and generously.
To truly bring an end to the destructiveness of humanity, a deeper wisdom has to first arise within each of us. As individuals, we must each “be the change,” as Gandhi put it. We have to free our hearts and minds, transform our ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Learn to live in peace, live in love. Make your spiritual growth a priority, so that you can transcend fear. Then find others who view the world the same way, who recognise our connectedness to everything. Together, we will rise above the historical illusions of our species, and bring a new world into being.
What is dawning now (at this time in history) is the realisation that we are not the solitary individuals we had believed ourselves to be. We are expressions of Universal life, Children of the Earth. We are the “leaves of grass” Walt Whitman spoke of – the Awakening voices of Eden, instruments of the great turning.