It is a chilling concept to think of
our perception as incredibly narrow and shallow due to our inability to see
around the curtain or to tear it down. When
did the curtain go up? We put it up
ourselves, but increasingly we were also born into it.
Our separation from nature only accelerates for humanity as a whole, so
as "progress" marches on, the younger a person is the more invisible
and oppressive the curtain.
What we increasingly see and feel
normally is the
need for more money, modern housing, sex, entertainment, drugs,
jewelry, family attachment, escapism, etc. These valid wants, even if all
satisfied in moderation or excess, serve to impede our consciousness all the
more. Furthermore, many of us are drawn to building "an identity" of
social respect or power, whether as a gangsters, politicians, or super
The most one can usually grasp about
the limitations of todays alleged "real world" is in acknowledging
the spiritual dearth of todays modern living. Some will act on that sentiment
through meditation perhaps or, say, treesitting to protect an ancient forest.
Others may seek expanded awareness of the universe by creating art or using hallucinogenic drugs
to pierce the curtain, as in The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley.
But this does not mean the curtain has
been torn down by or for any of those seekers.
Science has run into unknowable realms
of the universe when physicists have demonstrated that the observer of a given
molecular or cosmic process helps determine outcome.
Society still strives to turn us into numbers that follow, like
sheep, the practical routes to material security and safety from law enforcement
or other unpleasantness. We are to have no self-determination except for
voting - almost always on false choices. The pervading mass passivity is a
domestication that probably began when
people moved to cities and lost their connections with their land. This
long process has all but blocked out a
universe interactive and awesome.
What happens when we block out the
universe or have it crowded out from our daily experience? Our reality is what
we create, and our perception or observation of the universe helps shape the
latter for us. We affect other
species (kill them off). But the overall effect of adhering to the grand
illusion takes another toll: on our mental health as we weaken the survival of
the planet as the source of life.
Matrix was close
I have not been influenced by The
Matrix in formulating my idea of todays perception as being limited to
socio-materialist reality. The film entertained me immensely as an allegorical expose on todays actual
regimentation and spiritually empty living.
"Life" is enforced, in both The Matrix and todays
society and our artificial environment, by the organized powers comprising and
maintaining government, business, and most aspects of our lives.
My decades of education on perception
and awareness have been influenced by Zen and living close to nature, as well as putting up with living
in Los Angeles. The illusion of making headway or "getting somewhere"
materially and forming an "identity" by finding fulfillment in
todays socioeconomic environment has been burst by some of my relationships and
observing the deteriorating state of community and of
the ecosystem in the U.S. and the world.
beyond the curtain
It is more like we dont have much of
an idea of what we dont know. The
amount of reality blocked from our view, I believe, turns out not to be 10%, 20%
or 50%, as some of us have suspected, but perhaps over 99%. That applies to
all of us who every day take so seriously the "real world" of the economy, law,
the written word, manufactured objects, and conventional social relations
propping up the status quo. With
all of this goes the modern tendency to relate to nature as something existing
separate from us: for example in parks instead of endless wilderness that we are one
People try to get a grip on the actual
world around them and their place in the cosmos without distracting thoughts or internal
dialogue through meditation.
But their efforts go nowhere to liberate them if they fool themselves
into thinking they are seeing beyond the curtain.
One cannot much see beyond it if one isnt living beyond
What it all suggests to me is that only
a complete cultural change may offer the hope of improving our perception or
occasional enhanced consciousness to
include everything beyond the curtain of materialist illusion.
What would life be like without the
curtain? Without billions of people living as materialists? Without todays
extreme social strife? Without war, terror, and ecocide?
Can we imagine doing without the boxed-in thinking as practiced by all
the alienated individuals coping with survival in noncommunity?
On the other side
Materialist culture put up a curtain
between itself and the Garden of Eden. The original garden of early history (if a place and not an
allegory) might have been bombed
in the Gulf Wars, despoiled forever by depleted uranium.
finding paradise on the other side of the curtain if we manage to get past it,
we may have our breath taken away by the awesome power of the universe as it may
exhibit only cold fury or hot hell.
Or if a form of Eden awaits us when the curtain crashes down, we
could look forward to living sustainably as we elevate love
to the highest social value.
Id like to think that besides appreciating the wonder of beauty and clarity provided by unspoiled nature and a recovered sense of cosmic awareness, we will act with the compassion of true wisdom implied in the name Homo sapiens sapiens.
- Next: Plan Puebla
Panama, the road/dam/maquiladora monstrosity related to NAFTA, will be explained
and trashed in the next Culture Change Letter (#40).
Jan Lundberg formerly ran Lundberg Survey Incorporated which once published "the bible of the oil industry." He has run the Sustainable Energy Institute since 1988. It can use your assistance and generous help.
- Feedback is wanted for our letters page.
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