“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.
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” civilizations see the world and behave.
That the way to solve these problems requires that we grow up (as a species), 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 become 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.
The Butterfly-Like Beings
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 time has come for our species to evolve our consciousness, to open our hearts, to question the predatory behaviors and mechanistic thinking of our more technologically advanced warrior civilizations.
For thousands of years people in Western cultures have been wrestling with the illusions we’ve spun from our dualistic “us vs. them” mindsets and belief systems.
It’s like we’ve been dreaming a shared nightmare together, grounded in the predatory and feudalistic ways our societies have been organized, rooted in how we live and think.
Across the centuries, the very foundation of Western civilization 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 idealized 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 hypnotized.
From this mindset grew civilized 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 organizing 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 and compartmentalized thinking has given rise to all our most difficult problems — to racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, human trafficking, organized 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 “civilized” 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 & 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 realization 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 industrialization 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 “Civilized” 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 hypnotized. Primarily identifying our sense of self with names, career, race, religion, gender, political perspective or nationality.
Seeking 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 these 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.
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. — Eckhart Tolle
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.
As more and more of us wake up to that deeper sense of identity 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.
To truly bring an end to the destructiveness of humanity — to really transform the world — a deeper wisdom has to first arise from within. As individuals, we must each “be the change” as Gandhi put it. We have to free ourselves first, transform our ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Then join with others who have awakened, 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.
What is dawning now is the realization 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.
See simplicity in the complicated, Seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy. — Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
About the author: Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages “Tao & Zen” “Art of Learning” & “Creative Systems Thinking.” Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University’s School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.