Anis H. Bajrektarevic, Vienna
From Rio to Rio with Kyoto, Copenhagen and Durban in between Paris right after and the recent China’s G-20, the conclusion remains the same: There is fundamental disagreement on the realities of this planet and the ways we can address them.
A decisive breakthrough would necessitate both wider contexts and a larger participatory base to identify problems, to formulate policies, to broaden and to synchronize our actions. Luminaries from the world of science, philosophy, religion, culture and sports have been invited to each of these major gatherings. But, they – as usual – have served as side-events panelists, while only the politicians make decisions. Who in politics is sincerely motivated for the long-range and far reaching policies? This does not pay off politically as such policies are often too complex and too time-consuming to survive the frequency and span of national elections as well as the taste or comprehension of the median voter.
Our global crisis is not environmental, financial or politico-economic. Deep and structural, this is a crisis of thought, a recession of courage, of our ideas, all which leads us into a deep, moral abyss. Small wonder, there was very little headway made at the Rio+20, Paris Summit and beyond.
Between the fear that the inevitable will happen and the lame hope that it still wouldn’t, we have lived… That what can be and doesn’t have to be, at the end, surrenders to something that was meant to be…
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If the subatomic world surface to an atomic, quantum scientist (or metaphysicist) invites physicist. If atoms are creating an advanced molecule, physicists can call up the chemists. If such an organic molecule evolves too complex for the chemists, they shift it over to the biologists. If a biological system is too composite, they hand it over to the socio-politologists, or the psychologists, at best. If that biota becomes overwhelmingly complex, one needs geo-politics to connect (all) inorganic and organic systems into a coherent space-time storyline. Do we really behave this way?
Enlightened Behind or dead Ahead?
Is Greece (or Spain) lagging 20 years behind the rest of the EU or is Greece today well ahead of the rest of the continent, which will face a similar fate two decades from now?Beyond the usual political rhetoric, this is the question that many circles in Europe and elsewhere are discreetly, but thoroughly discussing. In a larger context, the intriguing intellectual debates are heating up.
Issues are fundamental: Why has science converted into religion? Practiced economy is based on the over 200-years old liberal theory of Adam Smith and the over 300-years old philosophy of Hobbes and Locke– basically, frozen and rigidly canonized into a strict exegesis. Academic debate has been replaced by a blind obedience to old ‘scientific’ dogmas.
Why has religion been transformed into confrontational political doctrine (holy scripts are misinterpreted and ideologically misused in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa)?Why have (secular or theological) ethics been turned from bio-centric comprehension into anthropocentric environmental egotism and ignorance (treating nature as property, rather than a coherent system that contextualizes our very life)? Why are – despite all our research studies, institutions and instruments – planetary inequalities and exclusions widening? Why has been our freedom reduced to a lame here-us-now choice to consume?
Why doesn’t the achieved degree of our economic development and stage of our techno-logical advancement enable society for self-realization? To the contrary, our democracies are in retreat, our visions are exhausted and self-confidence depleted, while the socio-cultural and political participatory base is thinning. After all, is Rio ahead of itself 20 and 25 years later?
The resonance of these vital debates is gradually reaching the public. No one can yet predict the range and scope of their responses, internally and externally. One thing is certain though: The simple mechanical transmission of global economic (and regional monetary) integration cannot be a substitute for any viable postindustrial, knowledge-based development strategy, scientific advancement or cultural endorsement. Even less so, it can substitute for any social cohesion and the cross-generational contract, environmental needs (including the biocapacity and biodiversity), or maintaining general public mental and physical health.
(Tao) Creek, not only Greek
By roughly summing up the data provided by the World Bank and OECD, the world’s gross annual output is somewhere between €85 and 95 trillions (thousand billions). Servicing of different loans and related interest rates to public and private debts, per annum, cumulatively costs this planet some € 195 to 210 trillions. In simple terms, it means we produce 1, but owe 2 to the different credit institutions. How can it be that year after year we work harder and harder, but are still becoming socio-economically poorer and culturally pauperized, while generational accounting gives us a worrying future prospect?
Is our environmental situation any better? By applying the same data’s ecological footprint ratios, mankind annually extracts from the ecosystem the biomatter and minerals for 1, out of which only 10% end up as a final product. At the same time, we pollute waters, land, air and near outer space with non-degradable and/or toxic, solid or aerosol, particles and noise for 2. Despite all the purifiers, cleaners, separators, distillations, silencers and filters, our surroundings are becoming filthier and filthier. Does this earn the right to be called ‘development’ at all? Over centuries, especially in the last decades, we indeed intensified, rationalized and optimized our economic activities as well as related technologies and information flows. Still, could it be that despite our push with the right intensity, the overall direction of that push is wrong?
To answer these simply-worded but questions of sensitive and complex (selfhood) meaning, we definitely have to enlarge the context. For that sake, let’s return to Greece.
First, a few words about a term in frequent common use: cosmos. The expression cosmos itself is of Greek origins (κόσμος) and means: a harmony, perfect order, and is opposite to the Greek word khaos/chaos (χάος), which means: confusion, disorder, asynchrony (also an unordered and formless primordial mass or even nothingness). The fascinating classic-Greek mythology thoroughly describes the creation of the world, as an event marked by the final victory of the forces of cosmos over the forces of chaos. It is a thrilling ancient text, marvelous in its beauty and symbolism.
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life…”
In the modern scientific and philosophical (or astronomic, esoteric and theological) sense, the word cosmos should describe (a dependent origination of) everything (of the manifested, comprehensible and visible universe as well as the non-comprehensible potentiality and invisible universes/multiverse) that nature and/or God has created. As everything that has been, is and will ever be conceived as a time–space, matter–energy and force (with all the properties and all their conceivable aggregate states/stages, elevations and degrees), particle – wave-function (consciousness-information), cosmos is nature and/or God itself. It is all that ever begins (from), lasts (with/in) and ends in (returns to) the quantum field.
Contemporary astrophysics claims that the known or comprehensible universe is expanding, still being powered by the quantum event generally referred to in literature as the big-bang (or perhaps the Higgs Boson particle recently reviled by CERN). Up to now, there is no general consensus of the scientific community on what is the property (nature) of the invisible, inter-stellar and inter-galactic space (dark matter). However, it is certain that the visible stellar universe is mainly composed of two elements only: helium and hydrogen. Thus, stars – this backbone of the universe – are predominantly (to 99%) made of these two elements. Tantalizingly enough, the colony of progressing biped primates, while evenly spreading over this planet, has developed a strong technological, civilizational and physiological culture of addiction to a completely other element: carbon.
Earth is practically bathing in immense spectrums of sun-rays. This solar radiation that our star supplies above us is practically an infinite source of energy. The core of our mother planet is still kinetically and thermally very active, meaning that humans in fact sit atop a source of inexhaustible energy provided by the gravitational, magnetic and seismic events and enormous residual geothermal heat of the Earth.
How did we – advanced civilization – miss this? Residing between two infinite energy aggregators, how did we end up with hydrocarbons – with the carbonized remains of passed life? How did we end up tapping just a thin upper lithosphere and keep obsessively digging and drilling for fossil fuels? How did we develop this necrophilic obsession? How did we manage to focus our human and economic development on carbons, and steadily develop the so-called ‘technologies’ that apparently take us right into a collision course with the universe and with everything that surrounds our biosphere? Why do we keep mankind enveloped in an exhausting competition and dangerous confrontation over a tiny, finite portion of fossilized carbons situated beneath the surface of our habitat? Finally, do we so live cosmos or chaos?!
How did things go wrong in the first place? Evolutionarily, our 2-million-year history as hunters-gatherers – exposed to stark scarcities, rival gangs of humans and other predators, permanent seasonal oscillations, harsh climatic and topographic conditions, constituting an integral part of the natural food-chain– has taught us to observe things sequentially, horizontally, territorially, and linearly. Not cognitively. That’s how we – through the primor-dial mechanical solidarity of an endangered, insecure herd – learned to prolong our existence at the expense of other living creatures, even turning their fossilized remains into fuel.
“Get your kicks on Route 66…”
Admittedly, the way we are developing and deploying the anthropotechniques indicates that we did not manage to depart significantly from the central pre-cognitive challenge which we humans share with all other planetary forms of life – survival. Our central cognitive question, a quest that should largely distinguish us from all other living forms: What am I doing here?, or How can I bridge my past, my presence, with my future? – remains largely unanswered. Our ‘developmental’ palliatives are corrosive, autistic, particularized, aggressive, reactive, incoherent and harming for this planet and its life. Rigid in a dynamic environment, we are still captivated by the horizontalities of our insecure existence, all which conditioned our lower laying brain foundations throughout our 2-million-year long hominid history.
Anthropology usually differentiates homo sapiens (as an early, primitive hominine/homo) from homo sapiens sapiens (advanced, modern man). By relating our species to its ability to extract and consume calories with the help of different anthropotechniques (presently called technologies), we may roughly divide the hominid’s evolution in the following way:
(i) 2 million years/100.000/50.000 – 10.000 years ago: a low-energy-consumption (conservative-solar techniques) driven human race;
(ii) 10.000 – 200 years ago: a medium-energy-consumption (hydraulic-agrarian, advanced-solar techniques) driven human race;
(iii) 200 years ago (the event of the so-called industrial revolution) – nowadays: high-energy-consumption (hydrocarbon techniques) driven human race.
Nevertheless, by observing the dynamics within the human culture and ability of such a civilization to maintain a natural equilibrium with the organic and inorganic surroundings, we can make the following classification of history of our race:
a) barbarians without technology (early humans) – no-to-moderate disturbance of the animalistic civilization, and then;
b) ‘mobilized/progressed’ barbarians with interfering ‘technology’ (the so-called modern men) – excessive disturbance of the acultural civilization.
The irreversible extraction of crude that we falsely call ‘production’ of ‘black gold’ is simply a fallacy of myopic, lethal addiction. The anthropotechnique which is exclusively fixated on tapping a tiny portion of the lithosphere in search of fossil remains – and then combusting those remains to convert them into our prime energy source (with loads of collateral waste), is a barbarism per se. It can only be marked as ‘technology’.
Yet, the scope, depth and endurance of our anti-intellectual limbic ignorance and reptilian greed is so fascinating, as it is our fixation with the locality, with the territorial animal inside of us. Homo lupus ergo sum. Our cerebral cortex (big, upper brain) is still a hostage of the reptilian (lower part of our) complex. It keeps us in a disastrous and obsessive captivity of the lower brain-determined, linear, instinctive reflex to acquire ever large possessions of resources on the given territory. This here-us-now matrix deprives us of any ability to enlarge the perspective and to grant it relief of the coherent, consciousness-based, cognitive time-space dimension.
Hence, no wonder that we are paying a heavy endpoint price while still singing the self-assuring lullaby: save the environment! It is simply a misstatement: the environment will survive, we will be eliminated.
“Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…” – the Tao wisdom lost
That is how and where we set our obscure priorities: Ever perpetuated competition that keeps us in barbaric, reptilian confrontation over scarce resources. All this with the ‘technology’ which unstoppably emits greenhouse gasses, turning our earth into a planetary gas-chamber, on the way to a self-prepared global holocaust. Technology is not a state of arts (or science); technology is a state of mind! It is not a linear progression in mastering the natural science disciplines (alienating conservation), but rather acquiring a coherent cognitive and emphatic critical insight (liberating exploration). This ‘technology’ will turn into actual technology when –or better say– if our conscious, a self-actualizing, nonlinear, multidimensional and cluster-thinking capacitated upper brain finally takes a firm command over the reptilian, insecure, territorial, assertive, an eat-multiply-survive reflex/instinct-induced lower brain.
Following the outbreak of the still unsettled financial crisis, there is a growing anti-neoliberal sentiment. But, do not blame economy or (the dogmatic exegesis of) the credit institutions. It is yet another anthropotechnique enveloped in the human conscripts, in the codes of conducts devised on our long, indecisive and inconclusive evolutionary march. What is wrong is our perception, or better say the observer’s consideration spot, our cognitive departure point.
Why are we persistently projecting the circumstances that environmentally conditioned us two million years ago? Finite and depletable resources are something that our reptilian complex has gotten accustomed to in the lasting course of evolution. All our subsequent socio-economic fabrics, customs and normative orders, and politico-military constructs have been emotionally charged. Architectured around an emotional attachment, they have been the creation of a deep psychologization based on a fearful dependency over the horizontal and finite. We are the fear of scarcity– obsessed culture.
Adequate social cohesion and mobilization as well as our overall comprehension of the infinite, renewable and inexhaustible, would require cognition. This –in turn– would mark an end of domination to the reptilian brain’s binary-mechanical and instinctively- imposed and maintained securitization and control.
So far, control itself remained the central solidifier of our civilizational vertical in managing the unpredictable and instable human (group or individual) dynamics. Fixation on finite resources and their consummation in controlled space and controlled time are the ties that bind the human culture – a social construct of psychologized securitization we conceive as comprehensible and permissible, therefore possible. Infinity eliminates the premium of control, and of mechanically-imposed and externally-induced coercive cohesion based on ever perpetuated competition and confrontation. An antidote to anxieties and seeds of fear, infinity eventually de-psychologizes and demonopolizes the reptilian command over our cognitivity.
Ergo, the grand mistake of our evolution is not an emergence of the cerebral cortex. Our cent-ral problem is that the upper brain has developed to service and aid the reptilian complex with anthropotechniques (to be enslaved by it), not vice versa. For such a new evolutionary arrival, admittedly our species developed fast– as (limbic drive is possessive and) the reptilian binary-instinctive brain is highly efficient. Though efficient, it is not as far-reaching! Thus, yesterday in Rio or Paris, as 45 years ago in Stockholm or 25 in the 1st Rio summit, we do face similar unsolvable dilemmas and grave, ever mounting, problems.
Nowadays, we seemingly understand the obstacle– limits to growth. However, our limit is not (solely) territorial or linear, it is substantively cognitive. Living in a limbo of our unfinished evolution and our own denial of it: We overused all life-contents around us that we plainly borrowed from the future past, while we overlook all the time what we do have (with us) in our past future. Simply, there is far more to learn about ourselves from our long unrecorded chapters of history then from the times we started to keep records.
“Tomorrow Never Dies”
In his famous speech of 1944, Max Planck spelled out something that philosophy, religion, astronomy and physics were indicating ever since the classic Greeks (or to be precise, since the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts). It laid down the foundation, not only of quantum physics but also, of the so-called Unified Theory of Everything (TOE) as well as the (Coherent key to) Secrets of Creation. Moreover, it rejuvenated and reaffirmed many of the Buddhist Tantric perspectives, especially the metaphysical visions contained within the Yogacara, as well as one of paticcasamuppada – the so-called interdependent non-directional origination.
Hence, if one of the newest TOEs postulated by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow is correct – that the quantum universe, as a self-excited circuit, tends to create meaning and that the observers are part of the system – than the cosmos self-actualizes itself. It concludes that, as the universe evolves, enabling organization to emerge, our consciousness creates the universe/multiverse. If so, it leads to a self-actualization of us in cosmos too, as then the fundamental nature of reality should be a comprehensive and coherent self-perception.
This TOE would then suppose our constant mastering of arts, which is not a ‘technology’ that preserves status quo, but is a technology that opens, liberates and expands. How can the carbon–addicted culture of fragile and insecure, but here-us-now assertive and corrosive bipeds, whose overall dynamics are largely determined by the binary (fight-flight, consume-abandon) actions of the reptilian complex consciously project an intelligent universe predominantly composed of helium and hydrogen in all its immensity?
The answer is easier than it seems at first glance. It goes back to one of the most intriguing questions of both philosophy and astronomy: Is there any life out there?
Neither the very peripheral position of our solar system within the stellar cluster of the Milky Way, nor a remote place of our galaxy in the known cosmos would indicate any centrality, any exclusivity of and monopoly over conscious life to us. Ergo, if such a periphery can sustain a variety (constancy) of life forms and development of cognitive brains, then the rest of the universe must simply flourish in intelligent life – this is the only logical explanation.
While being everyone and having everything, all the rest of the immense cosmic intelligence self-actualizes and projects the solar equilibrium, a coherent helium-hydrogen-manifested and as such illuminated universe. It is simply waiting for us – to succeed or fail in departing from the self-imposed asymmetries, scarcities, convulsions, disharmonies and imbalances created by having fossilized fuel – in our attempt to return back to our pre-carbon, solar Tao future.
“If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ Say to them, ‘We came from the [solar] light, the place where the light came into being of its own accord’” The beauty of this passage from the Gospel of Thomas is that it is equally accurate for both science and for spirituality.
Mankind will either combust itself to death or finally comprehend the inevitability of the obvious – of our cosmic being, as there is no having without being, and there is no being without or against universe. After all, there is no world of things without or on expenses of cosmos of life. This requires a resolute departure from the primordial hunter-gatherer attitude, and decisive deployment of our cognitivity. Chaos or cosmos – a simple choice.
Epilogue, not far away from Rio
“…Deep in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Achuar and the Huaorani Indians are assembled for their daily ritual. Every morning, each member of the tribe awakens before dawn, and once gathered together in that twilight hour, as the world explodes into light, they share their dreams. This is not simply an interesting pastime, an opportunity for storytelling: to the Achuar and the Huaorani, the dream is owned not by the dreamer alone, but collectively by the group, and the individual dreamer is simply the vessel the dream decided to borrow to have a conversation with the whole tribe.
The tribes view the dream as a map for their wakening hours. It is a forecaster of what is to come for all of them. In dreams they connect with their ancestors and the rest of the universe. The dream is what is real. It is their waking life that is a falsehood…” Wisdom is technique to wake up.