GAIA - Our Conscious Living Earth
THERE is a growing awareness within Western society that a deeper meaning underlies humanity's relationship to nature than was previously supposed. This awareness is best expressed by an ancient concept which suggests that our planet is itself a giant, conscious, living being. Although alien to western industrial society's belief paradigm, there is, currently a revival in interest in this so called primitive view of reality.
This ancient view expresses the notion that humanity, and all the animals and plants on the Earth are cells in the body of the planet. It supposes that the consciousnesses of each of these individual creatures helps to build the consciousness of the planetry being. In mythology the being was known as GAIA, or the Earth Goddess. It is of course as impossible for an individual such as you or me, to comprehend the totality of the reality of GAIA, as it is for a cell in your body to comprehend the totality of your human reality. This is because, no matter how hard it may try, the consciousness of a part can never encompass the consciousness of the whole.
Beliefs and Reality
WE ALL have beliefs concerning the nature of existence and our place in the scheme of things. Sometimes our beliefs reflect reality, at other times they are simply figments of our imagination. In either case they very much effect the way in which we behave. Most western people seem to base their beliefs on the few fundamental tenets that underlie western civilisation. These we ingest with our mother's milk, they become unconscious and then are seldom questioned.
Those with a religious outlook tend to accept the Christian dogma which says that life was created by the will of some all powerful God, a being of pure Spirit who has an existence separate from the rest of His creation. Such dogma claims that mankind is God's special creation and was made in His image. It tells us that our true home is not the Earth, but some heaven or hell to which we are transported after death, our destination being dependant upon whether we have been good or bad in this life.
Those who distain religion but worship science tend to accept the scientific dogma that life came into existence in a dead universe through the chance combination of inert matter. They hold that Darwin knew the truth when he taught that life has evolved by means a process he termed "the natural selection of the fittest". They also suppose that humanity is at the pinnacle of evolution of life on this planet and believe that despite the obvious limitations of the human mind and consciousness, mankind is capable of comprehending the workings of the entire universe.
Life and Matter Separate?
Whether or not they are religious, many people are sure that Life is something somehow separate from, and simply inhabiting inert matter. They also believe that human life, especially their own life, is different from and more important than any other form of life. Such beliefs have led them to the point of thinking that it is not important what they do to the world about them, because plants and animals are not intelligent and so are of little significance, and the rest of it is only inert matter anyway.
Changing Our Beliefs
EVEN though science, psychology and mythology, continually tell us more about the Universe in which we live, we quite often do not modify our beliefs in line with our new knowledge.
The Integrated Hierarchy
For instance we now know that the universe is a continuum which is best understood by the human mind when we describe it as an Integrated Hierarchy. Thus if we look at it from the bottom up, we find that atoms build molecules; and molecules build cells. Cells build animals and plants; animals and plants, etc. build planets. Planets form solar systems; and so on.
We now know that by means of a process philosophy terms Emergence, new properties apparently 'emerge' at each level of the Integrated Hierarchy. Thus at the atomic level, atoms of hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water, however, the properties of the water molecule which "emerges" from the union of these atoms are entirely different from those of either hydrogen or oxygen. In a similar manner different molecules combine to form cells, and from this combination a new property "emerges" which we call 'Life'.
Higher Life Qualities
As we progress up the Integrated Hierarchy, and the unit we are considering becomes more complex, we discover further properties "emerge", properties which we call Consciousness, Freewill, Thought, Feeling, Sensation etc. There is no reason to suppose that this process stops with us, and in consequence we might well wonder what properties "emerge" as we go yet higher up the Integrated Hierarchy, up to those levels which exist above us, and of which we are simply a small part. The Earth. The Solar System. The Galaxy. The Universe.
Our Concept of Life
IF WE expand our concept of life both upwards and downwards, then it is quite reasonable to suggest that every sub level of the Integrated Hierarchy of existence has its own form of life and consciousness, and that each level receives its qualities from the levels below it, and contributes to the qualities of the levels above it. Or, perhaps it really happens the other way around and everything is continually and freshly unfolded downwards from the more to the less complex. From the higher to the lower as outlined in the Principles of Wholism. Either way we can claim that we inhabit and are part of an integrated living, rather than a chaotic dead, universe.
The Living Universe
UNDER such a paradigm all the plants and animals, and so called inanimate matter on our planet, could be seen as cells in the body of the Earth, and the Earth seen as an organ in the Being we call the Solar System, which in its turn is a sub Being in the body of the Galaxy etc.
If the foregoing is the case and the hierarchical progression continues to occur in much the same way that cells in your body make up your organs which make up you, then, the being of the Solar System is as much beyond humankind's comprehension, as our being is beyond the comprehension of the individual cells which make up our bodies.
Even so, the experiences of these cells make up the totality of our physical experience, albeit in a form modified by the fact that we sit at the top of the integrated hierarchy that is our body. For instance when light falls upon the retinas of our eyes the cells which compose those retinas experience the light, and this experience is transmitted to us by way of our nervous system and brain. Our interpretation of this light, however, is totally different to that of the retina cells. We see an object in the external world which has meaning to us, whereas they perhaps experience the sensation of some kind of chemical change within their body which might well have some distinct meaning to them.
Speed of Consciousness
ONE major assumption we all make about the universe is that the time scale at which we experience events is the absolute time scale. Few consider that the world that we inhabit is defined by the speed at which our consciousness operates; and yet we have all seen time lapse photography of a flower opening, or slow motion replays of processes that occur in a fraction of a second.
Have you ever wondered what the world view might be of a creature whose consciousness registers events occurring at a rate a hundred times faster than human perception; or what the world view might be of a creature which perceives events a hundred times slower than we do?
Speed of consciousness appears to be related to the mass of the body with which the consciousness is associated. There would for instance be little point in humans perceiving events that occur in a billionth of a second as the inertia of our bodies would make reaction to the events impossible.
Position In Hierarchy
Within the context of the scenario outlined here, the mass of a being is related to its position in the Integrated Hierarchy. Thus we might assume that the consciousness of a molecule operates at a far greater speed than our own, whilst the consciousness of a planetary system operates at a much lesser speed.
The forgoing tends to suggest that the subjective life period of any being at any level of the Integrated Hierarchy is the same.
UNDER this new way of thinking God must be the ultimate pinnacle of the hierarchy, and as such is the sum total of everything, including ourselves.
Now since we are only a tiny part of that Whole, it should be obvious that we are incapable of understanding how It all came into being, or how or why It maintains Itself even though we contribute towards the experience It has of Itself. Hence we might claim that the "Physical Body of God" is the universe that we perceive about us through our pitifully inadequate senses and for us the most important part of the Body is the planet which nurtures us.
Everything is God
Of course the wonder of it all is that everything is God to the levels of being which exist below it on the Integrated Hierarchy. You are God to the cells and organs which make up your body. How you treat them, what love and consideration you give them will be repaid by them in how efficiently your body operates, what illnesses you suffer etc.
A New Vision
WE might now ask how this scenario impacts the basic tenets of science and religion outlined previously. Firstly we have to say that life as described under our old restricted definition was never 'created' in the sense which that definition implies, because the definition is wrong.
Life and God are One
The new paradigm demonstrates that life has existed as long as the Universe, or God, has existed, because they are one. Ultimately God is all inclusive of time and no time, existence and non existence.
If we were able to perceive the world from the next level of consciousness up from us on the ladder of the Integrated Hierarchy, we would see that the questions or statements we are able to ask or make about creation are not relevant at that level, anymore than questions or statements asked or made by microbes would be relevant to us. The only questions and answers that are appropriate, are those which refer to levels below that at which the question is asked; questions which for us can be asked and answered by means of language mediated by the logical mind. Further development of this line of discussion is dependant upon a deeper understanding of the qualities and capabilities of the consciousness of humankind.
The new paradigm demonstrates that what Darwinists claim is evolution, is in fact the process of the Solar System growing through its life cycle. It shows that the changes that take place in the animal and plant life on the Earth are no more due to "development through the natural selection of the fittest", than are the changes that take place in the cells in the body of an animal as it matures from egg to full adult hood due to that mechanism.
Since, rather than being a lump of inert matter, the Earth now appears to be an integrated living organism with its own consciousness, albeit in a form we cannot begin to comprehend; and since humanity is a part of the Earth, rather than something separate from it; it would appear that as long as our planet lives, each individual person lives, and is perhaps capable of being reborn in the body of our Mother the Earth in much the same way the cells in a person's body are continually reborn whilst the person is alive.
However, planets can, like you, get sick and our industrial society and its belief systems appear to be a sickness in the body of the planet. Hence, if industrial society does not stop its wanton destruction of the animals and plants around us we will quite possibly kill the living being of which we are a part in the manner that a person with cancer will die when that cancer has destroyed too many essential cells. At the very least we will cause the planet to modify its nature in a manner that will make the continuation of the human species a very difficult task. Climate change could very quickly bring about the end of our civilization and human life as we know it.
Planet Centred Spirituality
Industrial societies must, therefore, change the belief system that has encouraged them to "develop" Mother Earth to the state in which we have placed her, we must instead "develop" a new consciousness, a new spirituality, one which is planet rather than person centred.
We must also understand we can never realise God whilst surrounded by the works of humanity; therefore, the wilderness experience, in which we are surrounded only by the works of God, is essential to the healthy growth of our spirits, souls, minds and bodies. This healthy growth will also permit the expansion of our consciousness to its full potential.
We must learn humility and realise that since we are only a tiny dependant part of the Whole, we can never conquer or control It, or even understand It, we can only love and revere the "God" which is so much greater than us.
THE new paradigm also gives us an insight into the operation of our normal every day identity-consciousness, as well as those states known as super-consciousness, sub-consciousness, and un-consciousness. In broad terms we can say that normal human identity-consciousness occurs at the human level of the hierarchy, whereas what is termed super-consciousness occurs at the next level up from us, and what is termed sub-consciousness occurs at levels below. Thus our normal identity consciousness exists within the mundane reality of everyday life operating at the speed which is appropriate to it.
The experience of states of super-consciousness and sub-consciousness which many individuals report, however, tend to suggest that our consciousness is capable of entering levels of the hierarchy other than those at which human awareness usually exists. These states also appear to bring a distortion in the time sense. An experience of sub-consciousness lasts for no perceived time at all, whereas an experience of super-consciousness seems to be timeless.