Is humanity on the brink of a higher level of consciousness, as many sages and seers have foretold?
In this article I’ll delve into why I think much of modern “progress” has served to “devolve” the human experience, and what we can do to “revolve” to a higher state of consciousness once again.
Agriculture And Hierarchy
Agriculture is widely regarded as a major breakthrough in human evolution. Agriculture enabled the end of the nomadic lifestyle, and empowered communities to develop specializations which allowed them to advance in a wide variety of areas. When you don’t have to hunt for food every day, you can work on craft, art, song, dance, and philosophy. However, agriculture also brought some limitations to the human existence, namely, increasingly centralized hierarchical power and desire for control.
Agriculture empowered the ego, with its desire for possessions, security, and boundaries. “That’s my cow, those are my weapons, this is my land” – these concepts were not known to early nomadic man, nor are they known to those few indigenous cultures who still practice ancient ways today.
Agriculture also lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. People had more leisure time, but what did they do with it? Much of that time was spent doing the leader’s bidding. If you are going to build cities, which agriculture enabled, you also had to defend them. In exchange for the apparent benefits of urbanization, people were taxed and/or they were forced to fight wars, help build towers, walls, and fortresses.
This trend has continued into modern times with the office worker. While we no longer have to work in the fields, we live an even more sedentary lifestyle, serving an ever more centralized power structure. Most “office workers” are saddled with debt levels far greater than a whole year’s salary, especially after paying the taxes, fees, insurance and other costs required to maintain our modern lifestyles and the illusion of “safety”. In modern times, our ego has continued to grow in prominence while our spiritual connection with nature that was so prevalent in pre-agricultural societies continues to decline.
The Zen-Like Nomad – A Recipe For Happiness?
Nomadic, pre-agricultural societies were more group oriented. Their lifestyle required teamwork and specializations, but not the kind of specializations of today in which a factory worker sews a four inch piece of leather 1000 times per day.
In nomadic societies, men hunted while women gathered. Elders helped keep watch while younger members of the group slept, and children belonged to the whole tribe and were cared for equally among all tribe members.
Nomadic people understood and revered nature, and since their lifestyle required them to leave most of their possessions behind on a regular basis, they were spared the mental imprisonment and insecurities applied by the ego.
Daily survival among the nomads probably required a sort of zen-like mindfulness combined with the physical intensity of professional athlete. Best of all, tribe members were likely to hold a deep sense of love and trust within their community, something that has become increasingly difficult to find in the modern societies of our time.
Debt-Based Enslavement That Feels Like Freedom
Banking and debt was the next major “invention” after agriculture that really “advanced” (or, as your author would argue, served to devolve) the human experience. Debt enabled people to acquire goods and services before they could afford them, which created unprecedented economic activity.
While debt is widely heralded as having brought about rapid economic advancement, it has led to even greater amounts of centralized control and hierarchy (just look at the power now ordained upon our Central Banks and financial institutions today).
The struggle to pay off debt can be extremely limiting and frequently prevents modern humans from pursuing art, dance, and other creative specialties that do not benefit from the financialization of the human experience (just ask an art graduate what their job prospects look like, and compare those to a finance graduate).
And, of course, debt ushers in the ego in an even more grandiose form. It enables us to afford bigger houses, bigger cars, and bigger toys in exchange for the promise to work many years in the future to pay for them (plus interest, of course).
Debt separates us from nature and forces us to toil many hours per week in order to tread water in our indebtedness. The ego becomes our controller – “For what do we labor if not to acquire possessions and pay off debt?” asks the modern human being, a question that was never asked by nomadic societies.
What’s The Point?
The point is that the desire for personal possessions that arose with agriculture and expanded through debt creation and now continues to this day has been a scourge on humanity, not a gift.
“Progress” has encouraged us to destroy our environment leading to the fastest rate of species extinction the planet has known since humans roamed the Earth.
Progress has lead to sedentary lifestyles and obesity, and it has put financial engineers in charge of our casino-like financial system on an artificial pedestal.
Progress has separated us from nature in favor of strip malls, sports stadiums, TVs and now smartphones.
Our health has begun to deteriorate along with the quality of food we eat, and while we have cured many diseases, many more new ones have emerged.
Modernization has enabled our population to grow to levels that are becoming unstable and it has lead to increasingly violent wars through the ages.
Solutions And A Path To (R)evolution
As individuals we can start to rediscover our true human nature and reverse some of the trends that are so damaging.
We can start by letting go of the attachments that prop up our ego.
We can reconnect with nature and we can refuse debt.
We can rid our lives of possessions and fill them with experiences.
We can utilize the benefits of modern technology without selling our soul to the corpocracy or the military industrial complex.
We can express ourselves through art, dance, music, and philosophy, and value others who perform those services.
We can work toward creating communities that are aware of what the natural human experience ought to be and we can start in our own backyard.
We can teach our kids to pursue natural experiences. Rather than placing a tablet in their face from the age of 3 or 4 – we can get them outside, helping them to develop respect for the planet we rely on for survival.
As modern human beings we can be free again, by refusing the non-voluntary centralized hierarchical power structure imposed upon us from birth at every turn.
We can start a revolution in which minimalism is cool, nature rules, and debt is foolish. The revolution won’t happen “out there”, the revolution begins and ends with each one of us. The revolution lives in our choices, our thoughts, and our actions.