The poet William Blake realised that humanity chained itself in “mind forg’d manacles.” We construct a world out of ideas and concepts, and then project this conceptual world in material form, through our technologies and social systems: “Thought chang’d the infinite to a serpent; that which pitieth: To a devouring flame.” Because of our capacity for creating abstractions and then believing in the abstractions we create, we are easily seduced and deluded.
While climate change and the depletion of natural resources due to global mismanagement are real dangers that we face, the worst threat to our future remains the low level of human consciousness. Most people are trapped by the inertia of inherited concepts and belief systems that imprison them in rigid and regressive world views. Among the belief systems that seem particularly dangerous are religious fundamentalisms, New Age idealism, any form of patriotism or fanaticism, faith in technological progress, belief in capitalism and the diehard cynicism of scientific materialism, with its conviction, against accumulating evidence, that consciousness is solely brain-based.
Given the improbable fact of our existence, cynicism is a peculiarly pathetic response. Our bodies are made up of tens of trillions of cells and microorganisms that mesh together and cooperate seamlessly. We live on a planet that swirls around our local star at just the precise distance to keep our environment in a stable state of balance. Each of our cells contains a DNA coil that could be stretched, like a pulled Slinky, into the outer atmosphere. It seems more likely that the evolution of consciousness out of matter is programmed into the structure of the cosmos, rather than insisting such a bizarre phenomenon happens purely by accident.
On a planet bristling with weapons of mass destruction, a burgeoning population of seven billion and rapidly diminishing resources, what we need is a leap of the imagination that creates a new goal and a new vision for human society as a whole. The design scientist Buckminster Fuller saw that humanity faced a choice in the 21st century between “utopia or oblivion”: either we use our technical genius to institute a planetary culture based on sharing and empathy, where everyone is provided with their basic needs and granted free access to the cultural and intellectual commons, or we will soon extinguish ourselves.
What will inspire us to awaken into the present moment, realise what is at stake and what is possible, and coordinate in the construction of a new social system – one that does not tear apart and destroy, but repurposes and supersedes the current one? We need to present a vision of an amazing future that all can share, that promises to liberate human potential and satisfy our authentic desires. Mass media and celebrity culture currently indoctrinates people into ignorance and passivity – but these forces could be repurposed to inspire the multitudes into a new way of being instead.
The method for building a pragmatic utopia on Earth within our lifetime is to inspire humanity with a new vision and a new myth that supports our collective awakening into bliss while we redesign the economic system, repurpose our media and re-skill the global population in holistic techniques and garden technologies. Rather than just talking about it, it will be necessary to show people, step by step, how they bring this vision into reality, by mass-distributing the tools, techniques and teachings they need to do so.
In the short term, bringing about this alternative future requires complete commitment from those who would like to avert our species’ pell-mell rush toward obliteration and self-extinction.
For a new myth to define the birth of planetary consciousness now underway, we can envision the human species, as a whole, undergoing metamorphosis to become one supra-organism, meshed symbiotically with the Earth that nourishes and sustains us. “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire,” wrote the Catholic mystic and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. The explosion of human egotism over the last few thousand years was an exfoliation, releasing old waste and stored toxins, before the next cycle of harnessing and discovering, blossoming and flourishing,
DANIEL PINCHBECK is the author of BREAKING OPEN THE HEAD, 2012: THE RETURN OF QUETZALCO ATL, and the just-published NOTES FROM THE EDGE TIMES. He edits realitysandwich.com and is featured in the documentary, 2012: TIME FOR CHANGE