- The general condition of body and mind
I think it’s fair to say, that as a species, we generally tend to be living a lot longer than we used to. Gone are the days when many women died in childbirth, or infants died in the first year of life. All over the world men and women are living into their eightieth year and beyond. We can attribute this to many causes including improved sanitation and living conditions, availability of fresh fruit and vegetables but most of all, we have the development of modern medicine to thank.
Sure we still get sick, but these days (especially in the developed world), we just go down to the doctor or go into hospital, and we are either given wonder drugs, or operated on. We are saving more people than ever before. People with weak immune systems, bad genes, unhealthy lifestyles or just those who engage in dangerous activities, are taken into hospital and saved! It’s a miracle!
People can go on eating what they want, driving too fast, smoking, taking drugs, and drinking too much and there is always somebody there to drive you in an ambulance to the hospital. No longer do we just leave people to die, we can do something to help them, and for that we must thank the doctors and nurses all over the world. We even have veterinary hospitals to save our beloved pets from death and suffering. Everyone can be saved!
Well, not everyone, but we have a damn good go at it, and although the doctors tell us about curbing our unhealthy activities, we can just smile and carry on what we we’re doing knowing full well that if we get sick again, they will have to treat us.
Hey, you may drink two litres of whisky every day, but if it gets really bad, they will always transplant a new liver into you courtesy of some dead guy. We also engage in potentially lethal sports knowing that help is just a mobile call away.
Life sure is different to even a hundred years ago. We don’t have to worry about the risks of what we are doing at all. We can be absolved of all personal responsibility, and place it firmly in the hands of people who studied for years, just so they could help us.
We get involved in street fights and brawls, we even get shot sometimes; and although the doctors can’t guarantee they can save us, the chances of living are much higher than if we were just left on the side of the road. The healthcare system is truly the compassionate side of the human race! Armies go to war knowing full well that there will be a team of doctors ready to help the soldiers fight another day, so let’s face it, what would we do with out them? Well for one thing, the population would probably get smaller, and perhaps, even perhaps, people might take a little more personal responsibility for themselves and their actions.
- A group of organisms of the same species inhabiting a given area
- The people who inhabit a territory or state
I was astounded to read recently that the population of the world only forty years ago, was about half what it is now. Only three billion versus today’s estimate of approximately six billion. That’s right, six billion of us and growing! It’s a frightening number of people, and still, people exercise their biological right to have more, and more children; driven in the knowledge that with modern medicine, they all have a good chance of surviving.
Some scientists have put the number of people that the earth can sustain at a good standard of living at about five hundred million, that’s one-twelfth of the population we have now. Now, I don’t know whether to believe these figures, but that’s not what concerns us here, what I want to know is how the population keeps getting bigger beyond that which nature itself can sustain.
There is one reason. We keep saving people! I know that sounds harsh but it’s true.
Gone are the days when nature would send along a good plague and wipe out a number of people; or a harvest would fail and a whole country would go hungry (as happened in ireland). Now we have inoculations against all the nasty viruses that used to wipe out humans, and no longer will people starve to death, as we have modern agriculture and distribution methods.
No one must suffer, we must save everyone!
You may think I have lost my compassion for all beings, but isn’t that precisely what is happening in countries like africa? For many reasons, including over-population, modern economics, corrupt inefficient governments, war, and the weather; the africans in some countries are finding fast that they do not have enough to eat. But instead of letting nature take its course, we intervene and we ship millions of tons of food to them every year.
Now, it is not that I don’t have compassion for the africans, they have endured much suffering over the last several hundred years, especially at the hands of the rich, powerful westerners who came to enslave them and rob their country of all its natural resources. But as a people, they have managed to live happily with nature for many thousands of years without international aid. So we know something happened to change the delicate balance between Man and nature.
Greed, the building of western style cities, and the adoption of a consumer lifestyle (added together with many years of civil wars) have all contributed to the suffering they are enduring now. But what I want to understand is what would happen if the international aid and the medicine was not forthcoming?
Thanks to the wonders of modern media, we would see people starving and thirsty and ultimately dying. The big charities around the world like to make a play of this and regularly advertise for more and more donations to “help the children” etc. But perhaps once again we are doing what we do best, interfering in nature.
I can hear most of you shouting at me now, up in arms that I would suggest such a thing, but if we are to understand the true nature of what is happening in the world, we must put our conditioned thinking aside, at least for the moment.
Over the past few years in the uk, we have seen diseases like foot and mouth (acute contagious disease of cloven-footed animals marked by ulcers in the mouth and around the hoofs), which isn’t in itself fatal to the animals, resulting in thousands of cows being killed and their carcases thrown on large fires and burned. A simple inoculation would have cured them, but for economic reasons, unsurprisingly wasn’t offered! The emergence of bird flu (a highly contagious type of influenza found in birds) has also meant that millions of chickens have been killed to stop it from spreading but you wouldn’t see that happening in the human world. No sir. We must save everyone from disease and death, whatever the cost (to the planet).
You see, there is a grave problem in africa (the continent) and other parts of the world with starvation and disease, but because we are talking about humans, as opposed to our less intelligent brothers, the animals, we can’t just round them all up and say: “Sorry about this, but you are all diseased, and for the benefit of everyone else, we are going to have to kill you and stack your bodies high on funeral pyres.”
That would be madness! We would be murderers, and would be considered inhuman by all, but it’s ok to kill animals and birds that are diseased, because, they’re animals!
The human is the most important species on the planet. The most intelligent being. And so we do everything in our power to save them. I fail to see the difference between murdering animals and murdering humans, but maybe I’m just stupid.
What I want to convey to you is, that although I do not believe that nature (a causal agent creating and controlling things in the universe) has a grand plan for us all, it seems to have kept the world in balance for many billions of years. There has of course been much disease and death, but if you believe we are all a part of the universe, then the idea of death will not trouble you so much. Birth, death, rebirth is just a part of the movement of nature. There is no beginning and no end.
But humans don’t see it like that, do we? We see our birth as the time we leave our mothers womb and death as when we are laid into the ground, and in between, we do everything to “survive,” but what are we trying to survive? If we are part of the eternal (continuing forever or indefinitely), which is the universe, then what do we have to worry about! But we digress.
I want you to try to look at this differently then; I want you to see the problems of disease, hunger and suffering from a different perspective. When we consider the situation in africa from a human point of view, we see it as something terrible, something that must be altered or fixed (presumably as we know it was our doing in the first place), but I don’t see it as terrible, I just see it as it is.
They fight with each other for control and domination. The weather has not been kind. The mass agricultural system built around the movement of people to cities has contributed to the crops failure, and lack of water. They continue to have children. They continue to aspire to a western lifestyle. The politicians are incompetent. Shall I continue?
Nature has provided everything. All that is required is already here. Do you understand? There was enough water, and there was enough food. But something happened. Man has tried to control nature, and as with everything Man tries to do, has caused an imbalance. Suffering, disease, and starvation are the result of that imbalance (this doesn’t just apply to africa).
I keep thinking back to when the lands of africa were able to sustain the people, and why they are not able to now. The imbalance is not their fault, nor anyone persons fault, but imbalance it is, make no mistake about it. The lack of food, or rain, could be the result of another country’s greed and desire in another part of the world. It could be the agricultural and social policies of a country ten thousand miles away which has caused the imbalance.
But the common denominator is our good friend Man, mr homo sapiens – which shouldn’t surprise you really!
We blame global warming, or some other idea for the disasters we see around the world, but global warming, or even over-population isn’t the problem; it’s Man’s thinking that has caused the misery we can see now. His desire to be rich and powerful, and have more food than he needs; to expand his empires, to acquire more land and more possessions.
The world is truly imbalanced. But unfortunately, the do-gooders of the world think the solution to the perceived inequality between the “have’s” and the “have not’s” is that everyone should have more!
Hopefully they will start to see that ensuring everyone has more is usually going to mean that someone else will have less, and that won’t be the humans if they can help it. It will be the animals, and the birds, and the grass, and the trees. In fact, the whole planet is going to suffer, just so “one child never has to know the terrible pain of suffering.” But it’s not going to work. Man is no match for nature.
Let nature be
So, cruel as it may sound, what would happen if we didn’t provide emergency food aid and medicines to africa? What if we just let nature take its course? What would happen? Would, as we predict, have the deaths of millions of peoples on our hands? That, I’m afraid, is a distinct possibility.
Would it bring nature back into balance as we hoped it would when we killed millions of chickens to prevent the spread of avian flu?
Would the cities crumble, and the desire for a powerful life full of riches dissolve? What do you think? You see, Man is good at controlling other men and helpless animals, but he has no control over the big stuff. The sun, the rain, the wind. All that is nature’s domain.
We build our beautiful cities with intelligent cultured people. We work hard and we build our beautiful homes and give birth to wonderful children. We go to concerts and we create great learning institutions for the next generation. We create works of art and we go into politics. We print money and we keep it in the bank. Then one day a great earthquake comes and flattens the city, the buildings, the houses, the parks, the culture, the learning, all gone, under the tons of rubble that are left. People are left for dead wherever we look. Nature has spoken.
All over the world, nature is communicating with us, telling us of the imbalance we are creating. From the sea great tidal waves come and great storms rage the ocean, and from the sky rains create great floods or lack of rain cause great drought. There is no thought behind this though. Nature is.
But the thing nature doesn’t count on, is Man’s ability to think creatively! Nature doesn’t know that Man has developed modern medicine, nor does it know that Man won’t just leave the sick and wounded to die, or that Man will rebuild his city exactly where the last earthquake hit! Nature doesn’t know that man cannot just leave another man to starve. And that’s where the problem lies. We are just too damn nice to each other!
We have compassion for others that goes way beyond the call of duty. That’s why, when we see our brother suffering in africa, or wherever it may be, we send aid. We try to help him so he will not suffer. We do not want to see the faces of dying children, as they could be our children, so we send money, we do anything to help.
We go to africa, we develop new water systems to irrigate the land, we bring medicine, engineers, farmers, machinery. We will help them, we say. We will save our brothers in africa. But still war ravages on, Men still desire power and riches, politicians are still incompetent, and the cities are expanded even more. Do you follow all this?
The land of africa was in balance. Man was in balance with the land.
Then thought arose. And then man was out of balance.
So what did Man do? He thought, and he thought, and he thought how to bring balance back to the land.
But it was too late. He didn’t know what balance was.
Try as we might to overcome nature with our medicine, and our operating theatres, and our worldwide food aid programs, we can no more stop the movement of nature, as we may try to stop the snows melting in the spring. And talking of spring, I sit here writing in the cellar of a house in northern scandinavia in the middle of january watching the temperature rise and the snows melt when once at this time of year it was freezing with several metres of snow. I can see the grass starting to appear where last week it was covered. Some people call this global warming. I just call it imbalance.
- A state of equilibrium
So what is this state of equilibrium we are talking about here?
Equilibrium (a stable situation in which forces cancel one another, or a chemical reaction and its reverse proceed at equal rates or Equality of distribution) is seen as something that man has control over, or at least has the ability to control, but to me it is something unseen, unobservable to the naked eye; something that goes on in the background, and foreground, forever monitoring and remedying where necessary.
It could be said that the universe, although constantly changing, is the ultimate balance machine. It is the scales of justice that order our world. And it is from this perspective that I would like to continue our discussion.
When the universe was born (or reborn), it has been said that out of chaos, came order, and with each passing year, so the earth became more ordered and more balanced. Just the right amount of worms for the birds to eat, just the right amount of mice for the owls to eat, just the right amount of trees for the birds to nest in, just the right amount of nuts and berries for the monkeys, and whenever one species became too populous or too dominant, there were natural controls in place to redress the balance.
Although we think we understand how the balancing machine works, we have never been able to say why there would be such a thing in the first place. Why did the universe bother? What was the point of all this? Was there a grand plan? Why is ours the only planet capable of sustaining life? Is there a creator? Who is he? Questions have been posed for many thousands of years (probably since we first started to think) but ultimately it doesn’t matter why. It just is.
So let’s try to accept that for a moment while we consider the building blocks of the universe. Whether we call them quarks ((physics) hypothetical truly fundamental particle in mesons and baryons; there are supposed to be six flavours of quarks (and their antiquarks), which come in pairs; each has an electric charge of +2/3 or -1/3) or atoms or some other name, it must all have come from somewhere, so there must have been a thought of how to order it, and how to maintain balance. But you see, where we all get caught up, is in thinking, and because thought is so limited, we imagine that there must have been thought behind its design! That’s just the way our minds think. Sorry if I’m confusing you, sometimes I confuse myself.
Underneath our nice houses, cars, ambitions, clothes and desires we are primarily all made up of carbon (atomic number 6) atoms (or perhaps something smaller and more fundamental) all charging around at huge speeds. Even women’s most cherished accessory, the diamond, comes from carbon. It is a non metallic element which occurs in all organic compounds. The coal we burn to create electricity and heat comes from carbonised vegetable matter.
Even the earth’s crust is primarily made up of carbon.
We think everything in the world is different, but underneath the physical disguise, the building blocks are the same.
Over the centuries, Man has discovered many of the elements that make up the universe, and as such a periodic table was created which details whether they are metallic, gases, or non metallic, and gives all known elements an atomic weight and number.
These are the building blocks of life.
Water, our most precious resource is just two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. There is no such thing as “water,” it is merely the bonding of two elements. And while we are on the subject of water, it is interesting to note that whilst approx seventy percent of the earth’s crust is covered in water, Man is also made of approx seventy percent water. Coincidence? Let’s not speculate.
So back to our building blocks. If our universe was created in a big bang, supposedly all the elements we find in life now would also be present, as they have not been created by man, but merely discovered through scientific enquiry. So how many of these building blocks were there? Were there a specific number for organic life forms, a specific number for water, gas or ice, a certain number for metallic compounds etc. or was it all just complete random?
Let us have an imaginary discussion for a moment. If only 100 of these building blocks were available at the start of our planet in order to retain balance throughout the rest of our universe, how do you think they were allocated? Would 70 be allocated for water, 20 for the earth’s crust and ten for organic life forms, or was it all so random that it was just luck that the earth was round (almost), that there was land to live on, and salt water to evaporate, fall as rain, form rivers and allow land based life to exist? The unlikeliness of the whole thing, is what leads us to believe that there must have been intelligent life that created it. And there was.
Order in the universe is held together by gravity ((physics) the force of attraction between all masses in the universe; especially the attraction of the earth’s mass for bodies near its surface). In all its seemingly random glory when we look at the stars at night from the earth, there is order. Universal order. Not created by thought.
It makes no sense to me that all this could exist if there was not also balance within the order. How could the universe exist at all if there were too many stars ((astronomy) a celestial body of hot gases that radiates energy derived from thermonuclear reactions in the interior), or too many planets within a given region? So all of this balance must be in some way fundamental, not only to the existence of the universe, but the existence of all living creatures on this earth, and finally to the star of the whole show. Me! The human being. King of the universe!
King of the universe?
Somehow all this postulating about us being so great and knowledgeable doesn’t quite ring true when we look at the mass of forces governing the universe. What do you think?
When we start to break down our massive egos to an element called carbon, we suddenly start to look a little foolish. And foolish we have been.
Through the development of the human brain, the development of “I” (I need, I want, I deserve, I think, I hate, I love), we have missed out on learning something interesting about ourselves as a species. One which all those who think we are (a) not part of the animal world, (b) come from an alien race of super beings, or (c) were created by the hand of god, seem to constantly deny.
Carbon is everywhere. It is in the earth, in the animals and in us. If we are based on the element carbon, we are as much a part of everything as it is of us. It is this constant denial that is causing us so many problems. Like the android (an automaton that resembles a human being) who so desperately wants to become a man, so we desperately want to be something more than human. We want to be special. But we already are, we have just forgotten.
Atomic number six come in. Your time is up.
Just as the sun will eventually use up all of its energy and start to expand, rapidly engulfing our planet, before finally exploding and creating the beginnings of a new star, so our time on earth will come to an end also.
But this is not about death or rebirth, just a change in state. You see, we are not really human; we are carbon atoms lent by the universe for a temporary period of time.
Before you think my mind has gone, this is not philosophy my friends, this is chemistry! Universal chemistry.
You see, in universal time, the human being is not important; in fact, all he seems to be is a nuisance! Nature is always having to clean up after him, always trying to bring everything back into balance wherever Man treads, or tries to help out. But we don’t know anything about ourselves, let alone balancing universes, so why do we keep interfering? I’ll just tell you one more time so I don’t bore you. Because we think too much!
We desperately cling to life, hoping we never die, hoping pets don’t die, or the people in africa or asia don’t die. We develop medicines, and send food parcels; pick up the pieces of road crash victims and put them back together again. We want to save the beautiful children who look at us in the tv ads with longing eyes. “Please help them” the ads say. But nature is at work. Sure, Man may have caused the suffering in the first place, because that is his life’s work, but nature will do its best to restore balance.
What is Man thinking? You may well ask. But we need to let go. We need to accept that people die, and let that be the end of it. It is not about a lack of compassion, it is about letting nature do its work. We cannot restore balance, no matter how hard we try. It isn’t the work of a simple carbon life form. All we are doing is creating a population so large that in the end, nature will have to resort to some extreme measures to bring the planet, and therefore the universe back into balance.
We also spend our time diverting rivers and creating dams, saving species from extinction (probably because Man drove them to extinction), moving species across continents so the new inhabitants would feel at home (as the british did when they colonised australia), killing natural predators of animals to preserve our livestock and income, cutting down forests, creating wastelands, and constantly urbanising the natural environment.
But just as some humans attempt to destroy everything, their opposites try to save everything. But in the end nature will have the last laugh, and it will be at our expense. You see, it’s really very simple. In order to understand nature, we don’t have to go to university to study it, and observe it. We are it. It’s time we started to observe ourselves and let nature just do its thing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to stop taking responsibility for our actions that throw it out of balance.
The universe is balance
Fear and violence is imbalance
Nature is balance
Thought and desire is imbalance
Birth and death is balance
Greed and hunger is imbalance
Get the picture?
By alan macmillan orr
“The Natural Mind – Waking Up”