Saturday, August 20, 2016


All living things ... including human animals ... are opportunistic. This is a fact of Nature. The human conundrum began with evolutionary transformation of homo sapiens from hunter-gatherer to cultivator-herder. This evolutionary step began humans' independence from natural planetary environments. So, unlike elephants or rattle snakes, humans can adapt to living anywhere they can accumulate food/fuel sources and devise shelter to cover their needs, despite weather patterns. So, human beings have invaded every part of Planet Earth.

The current climatic correction, caused by human dependence on fossil fuels to grow food, heat habitation and move people/goods as desired, comes from unchecked human opportunism. The climate change which may decimate the human species eventually will be 100% natural, even if man-made. Man, after all, is part of Nature. Extinction of human beings may simply be  the natural effect of mindless human causation.

"Mind", in the sense of frontal lobe consciousness capable of intent, is also 100% natural. It is another evolutionary adaptation of the human brain, developed in part by the earliest pressures of environmental degradation by unconscious human behaviors. It is a neurological defense against stress and animal behaviors which are self-destructive. The greater the propensity of the species as a whole to be self-destructive, the greater the reaction in some adaptive humans who withdraw from that self-destructive behavior to survive. Causation and result.

The current evolutionary struggle in the human species is how to integrate mindfulness, an adaptive abstract defense, into the established crowd behaviors of humans. These behaviors are also 100% natural. If you have ever watched a video of ungulate herds on an African savannah, you know that one member of the herd is often more aware than others around it. That herd member will signal defensive behaviors when it senses a predator in the high grass. However, despite efforts to communicate that observation to its herd mates, the majority of the herd does not react to the predator until a fatal attack is in progress. The more aware herd member is more likely to survive, of course. But its offspring will still be vastly outnumbered by the odds once the herd reaches a certain size in relation to its predators.

Mindful (aware) humans are often labelled as "paranoid", "pessimistic", "conspiracy-theorists", "critical", "manipulative" and so on. Like the ungulate herd, the mass of human beings live socially and contentedly in the daily process of working for sustenance, eating, copulating and reproducing. Leaders ascend to power by applying their minds for good or evil to attain dominance. Mindfulness can be applied to antisocial as well as philanthropic ideologies and actions.
I believe the first use of mindfulness in tribal societies gave rise to the powerful dispensers of anesthetic herbs and unguents to ease the inevitable pains and traumas of daily life as hunters, gatherers, herders or cultivators. These were the earliest human scientists who observed, somehow remembered and applied herbal and/or mineral remedies. These same leaders eventually merged with those who developed the first ideologies about life, death and Nature. The deep-rooted reverence for religion may well come from its alliance with healers, who are still revered in societies worldwide. Methods of verbal or signed transmission of this earliest science, presented as mystery, magic or divine intervention,  led to dynastic power within groups.
If mind and mindfulness are 100% natural, then science and ideas are also. However, the human brain easily confuses scientific and philosophical solutions to human questions as a path to personal immortality. While this desire for immortality may also be natural, it is not necessarily practical in the sense of furthering well being for all the living. Personal selfishness and greed often transcend mindfulness. This is an example of the struggle between mindfulness and natural animal fear of the unknown. Fear undermines the effective use of progressive mindfulness for the betterment of the human species.
Fear also fuels the use of mind in questions about human origins and human exceptionalism. Humans are exceptional in their use of mind to develop technology which enables populations to overpopulate their natural ecological spaces. Dubai is a good contemporary example. But what use is Dubai to the average human being? The answer is simple to the simplest human mind. What has enabled the development of Dubai? An autocratic religion based in fear of the most draconian morality wielded by aristocrats in possession of power over a toxic natural resource (oil). This natural development by the use of mind to rise to power and exploit human fear can only be overturned by an opposing use of mindfulness to liberate those who are oppressed from the fear which enslaves them. That, as we can see in the current state of the Muslim world, is a tall order which may not be realized before other catastrophic events lead to a less benign human evolution.
Extinction of entire species is also 100% natural. While obliteration of species by man's relentless predation can be seen as natural as well, Nature itself has a way of obliterating species, such as homo sapiens. Even if humans devise solutions to the destruction of the atmosphere by fossil fuel use, combined with deforestation, The inevitable death of Earth's star will lead to the inevitable death of Earth itself. This is not necessarily a long term proposition. Unlike the constant heat of a controlled petrochemical burner, the sun's thermo-nuclear power is much more unpredictable. Human minds are just beginning to investigate the constants of solar dynamics and its anomalies. However, it is clear from what we know that our star's life-giving properties are also its lethal properties. This too is 100% natural.
Mindfully living with these ideas after educating one's mind to them is not easy. Ignorance, while yielding nasty side effects, is indeed more blissful. Perhaps that is the core human choice, which will ultimately undo our species. Perhaps that explains today's rush to religious fundamentalism and anti-scientific superstitions. Perhaps it will prove natural for human beings, like lemmings, to blissfully crowd themselves to a violent, choking and starving oblivion. Perhaps. My own mindfulness prevents me from speculating beyond what I can see through the eyes of what I already know. In the meantime, I can use my mindfulness to pull whatever joy I can from each moment of my existence.

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