A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage)
(biology) the sequence of events involved in the evolutionary development of a species or taxonomic group of organisms
Group of organisms
There will always be an ongoing argument between religions and scientists as to whether humans evolved from simple organisms, over several billion years, or indeed whether they were created, just as they look now, by a supernatural all powerful god. I do not want to start this discussion by agreeing or disagreeing with the theory of evolution and natural selection; everyone has their own opinion, and you would find yourselves closed to this discussion if you were on the opposite side of my opinion! I do not want to talk about whether darwin, or the creationists were right. I wish to go much deeper into our conditioned minds, and explore with you how we came to arrive at our opinions, and then use our creative minds to move forward; to advance our minds. To shift our thinking.
I have not studied religion or the theories of evolution in any great detail, but I have not blindly accepted or rejected either; rather, I have investigated it with my own mind to find out the truth. I do not believe in absolutes, and so, if the mind is to remain open, there can be no absolute truth.
With both accounts of how we humans arrived here, the evolutionists and the creationists will show overwhelming evidence to support their findings. And although it is important to know where we came from, for us to understand the origins of life, (whether created by a god or whether simple organisms evolved into complex ones), the fact remains that even if one is proved “true,” there will always be someone who firmly believes the other.
It is this firm belief by people who have not investigated it themselves that concerns us here, not whether life was created in seven days or four billion years.
If I told you I had investigated it, and have concluded that evolution was how man was created, what would you say if you believed that god was the creator? Your conditioned mind would instantly jump in and shout, “Nonsense! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Do you find it strange that so many people just blindly believe what they’ve been told? And not only believe it, but actively share their opinion with others, as if it is their own discovery? Why do we do that? We are the most intelligent species on the planet. We have the capacity for learning and discovering, yet we consistently just accept the writings of one “learned” man, or accept the teachings of professors as absolute truths.
There may be more physical evidence that man evolved from simple organisms, but who is to say that there isn’t one super-intelligent supernatural being who whimsically created life on earth? The key here is belief. The blind belief that what someone says or writes must be true because it has been accepted.
Many brilliant scientists who were revered over the ages, have been proved wrong, again and again, because someone else investigated it themselves at a later date. Einstein proved some of isaac newton’s theories incorrect; and who knows, maybe in the next hundred years, or maybe even tomorrow, someone will come up with a new theory that supercedes einstein’s.
Investigation, not blind belief, will help us evolve psychologically. Blind belief in science, or in religion cannot advance us. Only by allowing ourselves to be open to the possibilities of what could be, can we truly advance our minds.
In the years since man has populated this planet, we have constantly evolved, not so much physically in the last few thousand years, but psychologically. We have used our brains to develop into a more advanced civilisation – albeit rapidly – in the last two hundred years. Scientific discoveries have lead to the invention of the motor car, the aeroplane, computers, telecommunication systems, space travel, skyscrapers, and electricity for all. You only have to look around you to see the marvellous discoveries we humans have made.
And whether through engineering, chemistry, mathematics, physics or biology, progress has only been possible through the ingenuity of man, and his willingness to experiment, to investigate, and to not believe everything he has been told before. This is what separates us from the animal kingdom – our ability to use our imaginations; to imagine, possibilities.
So please can you tell me why we constantly fight for the supreme position of knowledge of the creation of life on earth? Why do we try to control human minds, to make them accept that one story is true or not. Why would you try to tell someone that life was created in seven days, and not as a long difficult process, when you have not investigated the truth of it yourself? Is that helping us advance, by limiting the minds of our children, by making them blindly believe?
We must allow everyone to investigate for themselves, not to condition their minds with our opinions. Please think about this carefully, and watch your mind as you are reading this. If you instantly jump in with a “this is nonsense, everyone knows that evolution is how we got here,” it is as worthless as “only god could have created this earth.” We must find out for ourselves.
If we are deeply interested to know how we got here, we must not accept what we are told, or pass our opinions on to other people, as if they are absolute truths. We must use our minds to investigate, and in that deep investigation, we may find what we are looking for.
Life is small steps
Life is not absolute. Life is a process.
I wrote in the introduction to the book that nothing I write is absolute truth nor to be blindly followed; and that this book is not the final word in being human. In the process that is my life, I have reached a stage where I want to make my small contribution to the future, and it may be that in several years, or even tomorrow, someone will write a book that is more advanced than I could ever hope or dream to be. That is evolution; that is the advancement of our human civilisation. Taking small steps, progressing in every way.
According to evolutionary theorists, the state of the world today may well be addressed sometime in the future, by natural selection, and that all the wrongs will be righted, by mother nature herself. And for the creation theorists, it may well be that god has a grand design for everything, happy to let the world carry on as it is, until he feels it is time to intervene. But if you believed either of them, you wouldn’t be You. You wouldn’t be the magnificent, amazing collection of atoms that you are. You wouldn’t be human. Because man now has control of his own destiny, and that of the planet.
We have the power in our minds, to create or to destroy.
Although it would be nice to think that god, or nature, will make it all better, and we will all start being gradually nice to each other over the next 250,000 years, I think we have to face facts, that although small steps are what has allowed us to progress to where we are today, we have come to a crucial stage in our development as a human race, where we can’t wait for evolution or god to help.
We need to intervene. We need to take a big step, and that step, I would like to call a shift. A shift in thinking. And with that shift comes action: Immediate action. We don’t have to wait to see the results in ten years or fifty years. We will start to see the changes filter through the world immediately. Can you imagine it? A more compassionate, loving, sustainable world for all who live here. For me and you and for all future generations…
I’m sure most of you reading this might say, “Well, it would be nice if something good happened, and there is suddenly no more hate, greed, poverty, hunger, or war, but it’s not going to happen, these problems have been around long before me, and will probably be around for thousands of years after me. It’s just human nature; you’ve just got to do the best you can.” And there are millions who would agree with you. “We don’t want the world to be a bad place to live in, but what can we do?”
Most people see the problems of the world as too huge to take on and deal with, but the problems are not with the world, they are rooted firmly in the minds of the individual. Each and everyone of us. Me, you, the thief, the warlord, the soldier, the politician, the factory worker, the office manager, the florist, the green grocer, the supermarket shelf stacker, the serial killer, the arsonist, the teacher, the parent and the child. We are all individuals, with individual thinking, able to change.
We all talk of wanting to change something about ourselves, but we see it as a long process, not as something that is effective immediately. It’s not the change itself which takes time, it is the time we take to get to the point of wanting to change! It is by starting to notice things about ourselves we do not particularly like or want to improve, that gives us the impetus to change.
A shift in thinking
Let’s go into this a little more deeply together, shall we? We have said that change in the individual mind is an instantaneous process, after we have made the decision to change something about ourselves. Right now, many of you will be saying “I’d like to, but it’s difficult” or “why should I change,” but it is only the mind’s resistance to the change that is making it difficult.
Take driving to work as an easy example. You inform yourself about the harm the motor car is doing to the planet, and you decide not to use the car every day to go to work. Instead, for one day a week, you use public transport, cycle or walk. It’s a nice idea. It gets you out in the fresh air, you are responsible for less pollution, less petroleum consumption, less traffic, less stress. Hey! You’re really doing a great thing! That is until the helpful brain steps in.
“What if it’s raining? I’ll get wet, and it’s a real pain walking to the bus stop, and it’s quite expensive, and the car is much more comfortable, and I feel safer in my car, and I don’t have to share my car with hundreds of people, and anyway I like my car, I can listen to music…”
Blah, blah, blah… You see, the brain doesn’t like change too much, it gets used to its comfort and doesn’t like to be troubled too much by all this talk of change.
“It’s much too difficult you see. I’d like to, but I knew it would be too difficult, and anyway, everyone else is using their cars, so why should I stop using mine? I paid quite a lot of money for my car, and anyway, I thought having a car was progress, I don’t see it as great progress if I have to start walking again. My grandfather didn’t have a car, and his life was difficult, I don’t see why I should make my life more difficult. Anyway what difference would it make if it’s just me not using my car for one day be? It all seems kind of pointless to me.”
And there it is. The lazy brain wins, no question about it.
Now that example was just about not taking the car to work for one day. Imagine if the example had been switching to a meat free diet, turning your back on a consumer lifestyle, not watching tv each night, doing a job that helped others around the world progress, not just you, understanding and transcending anger, being compassionate to all, or not working for any company that had anything to do with making or selling guns or military weapons; and you start to see that it becomes almost an impossible task on the face of it.
If you can’t get over using your car for just one day, how are you going to deal with the big stuff? Well, it’s all big stuff, but all we can do is deal with it on an individual basis. The only way to deal with any problem is to break it down to manageable pieces. We all have different lives, although we are all connected. Some poor, some rich, some happy, some sad, some violent, some peaceful. But the one thing that makes us all the same, is we all have the capacity for change.
Big steps – Big shift
“Why should I do it? I’m quite happy the way I am!”
No one is forcing you to change; no change can come from outside of you. You can apply pressure all you want, but in the end, it is the individual mind that must change. If you apply pressure to your prime minister to stop sending troops to a foreign country, and he eventually decides to stop it, it is not that he has given in, it is that he has processed the information available, and made the change in his mind. Remember, that change can only be in the individual mind.
We may act as a group, but that group is just a collective of individual minds, all able to change the way they think, instantaneously. If you are part of a gang of thugs, and the group decides to beat up an old man, you as an individual have the power not to be a part of it. You are making a choice to join the group, to kick and punch the old man as he’s lying on the ground. If you make a choice to stop in your mind, the change is instantaneous, is it not?
Many of you reading this will still be saying “Ok, but I can’t see how changing will do any good, after all it’s just me changing; if everyone else is still doing the same thing, what good will it do?” and I can see your point. On the surface, it looks hopeless if it’s only you changing, but imagine if you were a street robber and through understanding yourself more and starting to feel compassion for other people, you decided again never to rob anyone in the street. That would have a big effect, wouldn’t it?
When I decided to take a big step and become vegetarian, many of my friends said, “Why are you bothering, they are just going to kill the animals anyway, so it doesn’t matter if I eat them, or someone else eats them.” Unfortunately, this is the kind of defeatist attitude that is so prevalent in the world today. They are going to do it anyway, so I may as well join them, there’s nothing I can do…
I will tell you why I became a vegetarian.
For nearly thirty years, I happily chewed my way through hundreds of sirloin, rump and fillet steaks. I ate pork chops, chicken breasts, bacon, and loved sausages. In fact, I ate every kind of meat there was. I never considered it wrong to be doing so.
My parents – whom I respected – provided me with food on the table, and as it tasted pretty good, I ate it. If anyone had ever told me not to eat it, I would probably have been annoyed and told them “man is a meat eater, and I can eat whatever I like!”
The first vegetarian I met was someone I later married, and although I couldn’t understand why she was a vegetarian, I respected her, so didn’t question her about it. She did take a lot of stick for being a non-meat eater (and a non-drinker/non-smoker), and because she was my girlfriend, stuck up for her (even though I thought it was pointless being a vegetarian).
For a couple of years, I kept eating meat and she never asked me to stop, until one day, whilst cutting up a huge piece of meat at a pub we were working, I suddenly realised that what I was cutting up used to be alive, and this was flesh, the same as mine. The blood that was all over the sink was just like mine, and I was treating this (now dead) animal as merely a tasty steak.
I started to imagine it alive, grazing in the fields, then I imagined it being killed. Just another cow, in a long line of cows to be killed, that day and every day. At that moment, I felt compassion.
- A deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering
- The humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
I knew that over thousands of years, man has been hunting animals for food. In the beginning they had no idea about agriculture, they merely hunted animals, and gathered whatever else they could. I also knew, that according to evolutionary theorists, the reason man’s brain grew to its present size was possibly thanks to the proteins in meat. So if man hadn’t eaten meat it, the theory states that I would probably not be here with a brain big enough to have self-awareness and discuss compassion with you!
But that was yesterday. We are now in the position where we don’t need meat to survive, even if it is true that we did in the past. In fact we can get all the proteins we need from beans like soya amongst others, and we are able to produce vegetables in sufficient quantity that no one need go hungry. And in a moment, my mind changed from the hunter of 30,000 years ago to a man standing in a kitchen over a piece of a flesh that had been delivered in a van, wrapped in plastic and cut to size.
I realised I was no longer a hunter, merely a consumer of tasty meats. I knew in that instant that all the millions of animals being killed in the intense factory farming was not only wrong, it was inhuman. We had progressed throughout a bloodied history, fighting and killing for thousands of years to this point, and still we killed each other, and killed anything we could eat.
I decided to make a shift; a change that was immediate, required no thought, no mulling over, no long drawn out battles with my brain over the pros and cons of eating meat. I had no long discussions with my friends about whether killing animals was morally right or wrong, whether man was a carnivore, omnivore or herbivore – those things didn’t matter.
What mattered, was at the time, I felt compassion, and I shifted my thinking into that of one who feels compassion for all living animals (and by the same token, without consciously thinking about it, shifted my thinking into showing compassion for all humans on the planet; thereby making it highly unlikely I would ever hold a gun, go to war, or be responsible for the death of another). I understood what it is to be human, our ability to show compassion for another living being. Lions kill zebras because they do not have the capacity to choose whether to be carnivores or herbivores. We do.
Look at all those BIG things that came out of one SMALL shift!
I don’t miss eating meat. I made the shift and moved on. It doesn’t help to keep thinking “Maybe I should start eating meat again, maybe I’m missing out on something.” I don’t eat meat and that’s the end of it.
I am not suggesting you must stop eating meat, that was a personal shift for me, and me alone. I do not try to convince others to stop eating meat. Remember when we discussed that only an individual shift in thinking, will make a lasting difference?
People will always try something for a while, but inevitably go back to what they were doing before, as it’s more comfortable. Why? Because until you make a shift (which is comparable to moving up a gear in your car) your good old brain will try to offer you a way out of conflict (should I /shouldn’t I) by suggesting you go back to your old way of thinking, which results in action.
So instead of asking yourself the same old question “What is good for me?” Maybe we should be asking ourselves the question “Is what I am thinking or doing, helping to make the world a more compassionate, peaceful, sustainable place for me, and future generations of my family to live in? Or am I just living for today, getting what I can out of life for me; using people and the earth’s resources to give me an easier, more comfortable life?”
It is fair to say that man would not have got where he is today, without doing things which were not compassionate, but that is yesterday. We may liver longer, thanks to the availability of more healthy food and better medicine. We may be able to visit more places in the world, and travel often, thanks to the invention of technologies such as the car, train and plane. We may live in better housing thanks to better building techniques. We may be richer, thanks in part, to the industrial revolution. We may have better schools, and we may even be more humane than we were; but in our constant striving for progress, we have forgotten one thing – to show compassion and love for everything on our planet.
We live in a finely balanced world, which science is beginning to show has taken billions of years to evolve (whoever/whatever the original creator was, it doesn’t really matter), and still we fight with each other constantly. We destroy individuals, families and cities through war. We drink alcohol and take drugs to make us “relax.” We seek power and control over others. We hate, we waste, we kill, we envy, we are greedy, we are afraid. We may have progressed externally, but when you examine it carefully, it begins to look as if we have the brain of our cavemen ancestors in a twenty first century body.
As we discussed earlier, we are at a crucial stage in our development, where fear and violence is rife. We cannot wait for a third party (god/evolution) to step in. We must shift our thinking, one by one, country by country, continent by continent, until we allow compassion and love into our hearts.
This is not something your government will help you with, nor your friends, nor your religion (many hundreds of wars have been started in the name of god). This is something you must do, for the benefit of yourself and your fellow earth dwellers.
The key to this shift in thinking is in stepping out of the “me” for a while; allowing yourself to watch how you think for a moment, and reaching deep inside, to feel just two things: Compassion and love. They are both qualities that are within all of us, which some of you may have already found but others need to find. We have discussed this in more detail in separate topics, but without them we are less than human.
Shift 1 Learning to observe yourself in action in your environment.
Shift 2 Learning to love yourself and show compassion to all around you.
Shift 3 Identifying one thing you feel passionate about and make a shift. Don’t wait.
Change is contagious. You will be amazed at how one small shift in thinking can cause a ripple effect that can be felt everywhere. It may not be apparent at first, but slowly, the compassion and love you feel for others, will filter through society (which is you and me), your family and your friends.
Imagine if you shifted your thinking on just one thing!
For example, stopping using supermarkets and only buying local organic produce. Think of the ripple effect worldwide. There will be some upheaval, but anyone who tells you to think of the job losses around the world and the chaos, doesn’t know much about the amazing adaptability of the human mind. What will concern you more, is that massive amounts of food will not be available to you 24 hours a day. “Where will I do my shopping? I’m too busy to go to different shops. It’s so inconvenient!” But don’t let that worry you for now, you have forgotten how amazing you are. You are a survivor. Your genes have successfully been passed from generation to generation through war, famine, disease, and hunger. I’m sure you will think of something!
Let’s look together at how this small shift in thinking affects the world, because that’s all it is, thinking, and look at the dramatic effects this has in action, in reality. Buying organic food means no harmful pesticides are used, and if you don’t buy food that have been sprayed with chemicals, there will be no need to make pesticides anymore. It also means that no one has genetically modified your food, thereby eliminating the need to have companies doing weird things to your tomatoes; after all, the tomato has been around for a long time and got on pretty well without having its genes modified.
Sure, genetic modification supposedly makes plants resistant to some diseases, but are the – so far – unquantifiable benefits to the human race worth the unknown cost of fiddling with the genes in our food? Especially when we don’t know how this affects the planet’s global ecology. Farmers using only organic pest treatment will learn to work with nature to combat disease. We have the skills and technology to do this already. Buying locally means you are helping to keep agriculture local, buying products that are grown by local farmers, for the local community. If you live in a modern city, this may mean purchasing products that have been transported countrywide due to the space available.
Food grown for the domestic market will be fresher and have to travel less. At the moment, it is possible to go into your local supermarket and find very few items of fresh produce that have been grown in your local area, let alone the same country you live in. The current trend of importing fresh produce means you may be buying a lettuce which may have been grown five thousand kilometres from where you live, and transported via truck, aeroplane, and then another truck to get it to your supermarket.
Imagine the amount of fuel (an unsustainable resource) being used in the transportation of your lettuce. The pollution caused by emissions. The water used in growing and washing your lettuce in a country where land has been converted to grow food for export and may face its own water shortages. You may even buy too much and end up throwing some of it away. The benefits to all local communities would be huge by just choosing local produce. Maybe not financially in the short term, but as responsible citizens, shouldn’t we be looking at the long term?
You may also choose to grow some of your own fruit and vegetables, if you have a spare piece of land. Just imagine the satisfaction of having your own potatoes, strawberries, or carrots, fresh from your garden. It may seem time consuming, but if you dedicate time and energy to this, you will think less about wasting any, something that happens on a massive scale every day in western industrialised countries. Food is cheap and always available, and we have become blasé, happy to buy two boxes of strawberries from across the globe and throw one away because it went off as you bought too much. Easy come easy go…
When you buy local organic produce, you know you are buying seasonal produce as well and you will look forward to this year’s new apples or strawberries when it is their season, and not just expect that everything be available all year round just because you want it. You learn to wait and then appreciate the seasonal produce.
You will be cutting down on massive amounts of packaging that is necessary to carry your products thousands of miles, thereby saving our valuable resources – oil for plastics, metal for cans, and trees for paper and cardboard. You may realise that you don’t need to buy products just because they are for sale, and you will begin to eat more healthily, cutting down on processed foods that have been made in huge factories, and begin to learn the art of cooking again.
More local people will be encouraged to reopen local stores, who have been driven out of business by the huge supermarket chains. You will be free from the companies that control the world food supplies, by putting food production back into local community hands. I am not talking about businesses giving their food away cheaply to local people, indeed it may be more expensive than the supermarkets, but I can assure you that local food will taste better, and you will feel good about once again supporting local business in your community.
These are just some of the things that could happen if you just stopped going to your local supermarket and tried going back to local market shopping. If there isn’t a local market or food shops selling local produce, you could try talking to someone about starting it or opening your own!
But then again, that sounds a bit difficult, as you’ve had a hard day, you’re tired, and you just want something quick to eat. You can’t be bothered with all this nonsense, and it’s best to leave it to someone else to fix it, and anyway what good is it for you to sacrifice yourself, when everyone else is going to the supermarket, and come to think of it, you like the supermarket, it’s easy, convenient they always have what you want. It’s cheap, and you get points on your loyalty card. “No!” say you, ”I’m not going to change for anyone. It’s a free country and if I want to shop at the supermarket. I will!” Well maybe you’re not ready to shift your thinking, but if you don’t who will?
You may wonder what stopping shopping at a supermarket has to do with love, compassion and evolution. On the surface – nothing! Compassion and love are human. Supermarkets sell cucumbers. Until you look at the list again above.
If you love the world you live in, and want to show compassion, you have to think about the people who have to work for next to nothing in non-industrialised countries to provide you with your cheap produce. And because you demand lower prices every day, the supermarket drives down the price they are prepared to pay for the goods. When you win on price, somebody else loses.
For you, it’s just a bunch of cheap bananas, but for the person who works on the farm it’s his livelihood. You may argue that if we didn’t buy it he’d have even less, but as I have consistently discussed with you, the human being is the most intelligent being on the planet, he is resourceful and adaptable.
They say that nature is the survival of the fittest, and that may well be true, but it doesn’t mean we can exploit other human beings just so we can have cheap food we may or may not eat. If you show compassion and love, you also have to think about the planet we live on that we exploit every day. We use huge amounts of energy to power the machines that give you the consumer mass produced products; from sugary soft drinks, to biscuits; from cooking sauces to desserts; everything has been pre-made. We use plastics, water, oil, petroleum, wood, and metal, just so you can get a nice product, in a nice jar, with a nice label 24 hours a day, cheaper than you can make yourself, made a thousand kilometres away, that you use in five minutes, and then throw away the container.
Think about it with me for a moment.
In the time that man has been on earth – whether he evolved from a tadpole, or came fully formed as a human being – all the evidence points to the fact that we have had a pretty hard struggle to make it this far. Without counting violent acts we have committed against each other, we have had to fight ice ages, floods, famine, disease, earthquakes, and volcanoes, amongst other obstacles that nature herself has thrown up; and against all the odds, we have made it! You and me.
We’re alive, and we belong to the most intelligent species on earth. Homo sapiens, the human being. Whether we live in asia, africa, europe or the americas, don’t you think now is the time we give thanks to our ancestors who managed to stay alive, despite the odds against it, and give birth to us? We must use this opportunity of a lifetime to begin to advance in our thinking and start to give birth not only to new children, but to a new level of compassion for our fellow inhabitants of this planet, quietly spinning in space; and a new level of awareness both of ourselves, and of the impact we are having on the planet for future generations.
Our ancestors left it in pretty good shape for us. Let’s do the same for the next generation who come along.