The Issue of Human Consciousness

Prairie Dog

Praririe Dog, (cc) Matthias Trautsch

by Linda Brink
[The opinions expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the position of ARAUNY.]

Bryan Graczyk recently posted these extraordinarily interesting quotes on AR-Global:

Navajo warning: “If you kill off the prairie dogs there will be no one to cry for rain.”

Hopi Elder: “Water under the ground has much to do with rain clouds. If you take the water from under the ground, the land will dry up.”

Bill Mollison, PERMACULTURE: “Amused scientists, knowing that there was no conceivable relationship between prairie dogs and rain, recommended the extermination of all burrowing animals in some desert areas planted to rangelands in the 1950s “in order to protect the sparse desert grasses.” Today the area (not far from Chilchinbito, Arizona) has become a virtual wasteland.

Stephen Harrod Buhner: “Burrowing creatures, such as prairie dogs, open millions upon millions of tubes in the soil of Earth. As Mollison notes, these ‘burrows of spiders, gophers, and worms are to the soil what the alveoli of our lungs are to our body.’ As the moon passes overhead the underground aquifers rise and fall and Earth breathes out moisture-laden air. This exhalation of negative-ion-charged air through the many fissures and tubes opened by the burrowing creatures helps create rain. How could indigenous peoples have known this? By all our standards of scientific knowledge they could not. We have neglected to realize that indigenous peoples have always had access to the finest probe ever conceived, one that makes scientific instruments coarse in comparison, one that all human beings in all places and times have had access to: the focused power of human consciousness.”

I found this assortment of informative quotes utterly fascinating. However, the concluding statement referring to human consciousness as “the finest probe ever conceived” simply heralds, to me, an astonishing misconception fueled by our species equally incredible arrogance–though I do get Buhner’s point.

In fact, we have both a very limited and very internally-focused intelligence guided by what has become a power of perception that can only be rated somewhere below poor. Living with the land, rather than off the land, past populations of humans were clearly more attuned to what was required for their colony of humble beings to survive. Now a vast and bloated infestation spanning the entire globe, we are evolving impaired to the point where our ability to even scent the air for rain has become lost in a cloud of pollution, pesticides, drought, debris, and a reliance on The Weather Channel. All of this is the consequence of our relentless progress toward obtaining an existence of unparalleled convenience, extended longevity of human life, and the protection, at all costs, of what we perceive as Our Territory. The last two being rather a contradiction of terms, though perhaps a contradiction of terms is what does best describe our species.

I’m fairly sure a pandemic, rather than weather change, will be the force of nature that finally restores balance to the depleted, struggling network our fine planet has now, because of our existence, become–essentially due to our glaring, historically notable lack of The Finest Probe Ever Conceived. More to the point, The Focused Power of Human Consciousness mentioned above is rarely brought to bear on anything but Our Needs. Or more accurately, Our Wants. In any case, after the axe drops, one can reasonably assume there’s a moderately good chance of continued existence for the strongest of all surviving species once the homo sapien blight is both reduced and contained. And of course, those humans who endure will again be dependent upon the exquisitely logical, incomparably beautiful configurations determined by endlessly wise forces of nature we truly will never understand or appropriately respect. And for a while, one can imagine, all will once again be fittingly functional on the planet. The scales will be leveled.

It’s occurred to me that whatever energy configurations conspired to create this lovely Mother Earth, these wondrous forces will always vigorously protect her more important secrets from the likes of us. Nature is so impeccably logical, this just makes sense. Because of our relentless drive to greedily and heartlessly manipulate everything, no matter what the consequence to other species or our shared environment, we’ve quite possibly been locked into an invisible room with no doors through which to safely escape to a higher level of perception—for the good of all. Our further enlightenment is simply too high a risk for the rest of creation to ever seriously contemplate. Similar to a convicted criminal, we are allowed reprieves from time to time, perhaps with the hope that we will, just this once, more positively evolve. But always at some point, I dare conjecture, we will be mostly eradicated by the side effects of our own gluttonous grasping and gulping of every available resource until, for the good of all life forms, we are yet one more time safely contained.

Observing the fauna who live within the communities that exist both inside and outside of my home, I see their focus is, above all else, rooted to the challenges of basic survival. They are forever on the alert; they are forever involved in simply surviving one more moment rather than one more day. With undeniable focus, they go about their lives, second by second–the prey animals, the predators, the insects, the nematodes, the reptiles, the avian species. Deer and coyote, vole and worm, spider and robin: few are fat; all are in a state of constant motion. All understand they are vulnerable. Before a storm, many call and rush about, then silently disappear. Not tuned in, and thus unaware, I curiously watch their frenzied preparations. Peering through a window in a place separate from fauna and foliage, in a house environmentally controlled by machines, I’m startled to realize, in truth, I’ve lost the ability to properly perceive and thus, prepare. I miss the sounds and scents that guide and warn non-humans. I wouldn’t know an impending tsunami from a car backfiring. From a boom box. But they do. They know. They get it.

Observing the human population, I see our focus has become rooted to things that mostly lead to a state of pleasure. Also for pleasure, a drive to gather much more per individual than will ever be needed seems to have infectiously spread throughout the world’s human population, even in poor areas. The vast majority of people have lost the ability to appreciate the basic features of the earth, I fear—things such as fresh air, the warmth of sunshine, the invigoration of cold. The wonder of silence. Rather, we appreciate wealth. We appreciate possessions. And thus hobbled, we will indeed eventually lose our way along the narrow ribbon path that would take us on to the next level. On to another plateau of enlightenment and thus closer—rather than more distant—to those ethereal structures that stretch so far beyond the restrictions of our limited human imagination. The foundations of the Universes are and will remain, always, safely beyond homo sapiens abilities of perception. Failing to progress in a positive direction, we have in fact become the planet’s biggest recurring nightmare. We are the monster at the door.

Now, inhaling, the planet braces herself for yet another devastating cleansing; another catastrophic correction. Even as I write this, forces are gathering. Vastly powerful, they pace, caged within the land, the air, the seas, perhaps the solar system and beyond; others lurk within their hosts, endlessly mutating, microscopically sly. All are roiling toward an epic moment of release in order to fulfill our self-imposed self-destruction. Our imminent mass demise. And as the human cries spiral down into sparse whimpers, the rest of the world will exhale a long-held sigh of relief, and once again know peace.

Linda Brink, Director of Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary, Warwick, NY