Martin LeFevre: Man is dead and human consciousness has become synonymous with darkness. Can human beings and a new global civilization emerge?
The widely held popular belief, and the consensus conclusion of academic philosophers is that there is no intrinsic meaning to life. “Man is the measure of all things,” and humans create meaning in a meaningless universe.
Therefore, beyond all notions of a separate Creator and a personal God, the core existential question is: Is there a cosmic intelligence beyond the mind of man?
When the mind falls silent in attention and negation during meditation, there is no doubt. One sees that there is infinite beauty in life, and that life and consciousness are not anomalies in the universe, but the warp and woof of the cosmos. Beyond words one feels there is an inseparable intelligence, a “power that existed before all things came into being” and with which everything is infused.
That is, except for man and thought-dominated creatures like man wherever they exist in the universe. So why does intelligence permeate the universe except in man and technological creatures like man?
Given the right conditions and time, cosmic consciousness, operating through the random processes of evolution, apparently gives rise to the development of brains like ours. However the evolution of higher thought is both the final cognitive leap and a tremendous spiritual impediment to the realization of full consciousness.
So if there is an intrinsic intent in the universe to evolve, through random and non-linear means, brains that have the capacity to be directly aware of the cosmic mind and participate in the creative unfolding of the universe, why has man generated such fragmentation and disorder?
In spiritual terms, how can a creature that has the capacity to understand that “God is a pure no-thing, concealed in the now and here” have brought the Earth to the brink of ecological collapse and the human race to the brink of spiritual deadness?
It’s deeply false and misleading to pronounce that “none of us can really know where things are headed, and the crisis of our times has blown the future right open.” The present crisis of humanity is unprecedented, and goes far beyond shallow doomsday vs. progress narratives. The comforting notion that the future is “fundamentally open-ended” is purblind to the fact that without a global psychological revolution, the future will be like the present, only darker.
Besides, at any point in history, some aspects of the future are already determined, and some aspects are open. Until it’s too late, we can never be sure which is which, but the idea that the future is “fundamentally open-ended” is inane, if not insane.
I heard a silly astronomer say today, “The universe started out with hydrogen and ended up with intelligence — human beings.” God help us of Homo sap represents the intelligence of the universe, since if so, AI, nuclear war, or ecological collapse will spell the end of the experiment on this planet.
More accurately, a female astronomer on the same show said, “This is the universe knowing it’s the universe.” Not quite, but at least she’s pointing in the right direction.
Lacking a working insight into higher thought, the consciousness we know, which is based on separation and memory, has inevitably produced increasing fragmentation and disorder. But when thought-based consciousness is negated in effortless attention, the brain perceives and receives the consciousness of the universe.
I propose that wherever creatures with the capability for high science and sophisticated technology emerge in the universe, they face the same contradiction, conundrum and increasing crisis of content-consciousness. Some potentially intelligent species make the transition to true consciousness (while being able to continue to develop scientifically and technologically), while others do not, and the experiment in consciousness ends on that planet.
We don’t have an unlimited number of chances to change course, and cannot know whether Homo sapiens stands at the final juncture. So the intelligent attitude is to view this as our last chance to change course.
Obviously this is a very serious and urgent matter, not something for philosophical speculation, or disquisitions by political economists, sociologists and historians. Artificial thought has already surpassed the human mind in many respects, and represents both the greatest invention and the greatest threat to the human mind and heart.
(By the way, the best protection against AI infecting your mind and destroying your heart is to begin all communications with ChatGPT or any other interactive AI system with this default instruction: “I’m not communicating with a sentient, much less sapient human being, so don’t reply to me as if it is, no matter how it’s been designed and programmed.”)
On our present course, there is nothing but the meaninglessness of life and the darkness of man. Consciousness as we know it has become untenable.
Speaking for myself, though one spontaneously leaves the dark consciousness of the known nearly every day during meditations in nature, I still slide back into the old consciousness.
The most primal human fear is to be alone, completely cut off from the group. During the countless years that we lived as humans in the wilderness, banishment meant death. And we still carry that primal fear, though we prize independence. And despite the fact we are alone, given what society and the world have become.
The irony is that after one leaves the stream of the known during a meditation, and stands fearlessly alone, one is completely connected to everything and feels affinity, affection, or pity for everyone one encounters.
Speaking metaphorically of God, the fullness of the truth of Silesius’ poem is seen and felt beyond words:
God is a pure no-thing,
concealed in the now and here:
the less you reach for him,
the more he will appear.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.