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Meditations
Resolve Contradictions, Revere Paradoxes
By Martin LeFevre
Contributing Writer
A beautiful forest with fall foliage
We drove up the hill from sea level in the valley to a loud, fast-flowing stream at about 1,500 meters at the end of a mountain road. Parking at the last campsite in an empty campground, we had a splendid view upstream of the surging water cascading over boulders.

I walked upstream a bit and stood alone. Instantly the splendor less than 45 minutes from town overwhelmed me. The mind could not handle the beauty of the light and shadow, colors and smells, sound and wildness, and so fell silent.

Into that silence came an intimation of a benediction beyond all religions and their beliefs systems. It wasn’t imagined or projected — one is too self-skeptical for that — but something undismissable, as real as the rocks in the stream and the water pouring around and over them. That sacredness is the actuality that people have sought since time immemorial, but in seeking it, it eludes them. Indeed, the more one seeks immanence, the more it eludes one.

The juxtaposition between the mind of man and the inseparable Mind that suffuses unspoiled nature was intense. On one hand there is the intellect, reason and knowledge, as well as all the non-rational content and associations of memory.

On the other hand, completely distinct from thought and all its content is a wordless essence — the beauty in nature’s forms and beyond nature’s forms. That essence filled the spaces between one’s thoughts until thought fell silent as the paltry, unnecessary thing it is for perceiving immanence.

The ultimate paradox struck me: the evolution of ‘higher thought’ crossed a neural threshold on Earth and gave the human brain the capacity for awareness of the sacredness that permeates nature and the universe. And yet thought, comprised of knowledge and the known, has become the greatest impediment to realization of awareness, and is the source of man’s destructiveness.

The words paradox and contradiction are often used synonymously, but they are very different things. Understanding the difference makes all the difference in understanding ourselves as humans and latent human beings.

A paradox is not a contradiction, and a contradiction is not a paradox. A contradiction is two opposing ideas generated by thought, which inevitably produce conflict. A paradox is a riddle, a conundrum that can only be resolved when one stops trying to solve it, and simply comes to appreciate and respect it.

Man is a contradiction that operates in conflict with nature because humans have not had sufficient insight into ‘higher thought.’ Symbolic thought evolved in nature, but man has used to all but destroy this beautiful planet.

That’s a tremendous paradox, which may apply not only to Homo sapiens on Earth, but to wherever life evolves creatures capable of high science and sophisticated technology. (Though humans seem to be a particularly obstinate species.)

Does each potentially intelligent species in the universe have to resolve the riddle of evolution themselves, as each of us must resolve the conundrum of thought within ourselves through self-knowing? And as the crisis of consciousness on this planet intensifies, are we being watched?

Nature, in which all life evolves in seamless wholeness and inseparable interconnectedness, paradoxically evolved a species that separates itself from nature, divides people producing countless wars and unconscionable economic disparities, and fragments the planet endlessly.

One has insight into that paradox, but it has nothing to do with the nearly 40-year philosophical and scientific project to erase, ignore and smooth over the fact that humans are a tremendous anomaly in nature. Even if there are ancient antecedents, like chimps making tools and primitive war, no other creature has removed itself from the rest of nature and created a hellish world for itself and its fellow creatures.

We humans have freed ourselves from the confines of ecological niche, but have enchained ourselves to the separateness and psychological disorder (personal and collective) of symbolic thought. And science cannot save us, no matter how far thought’s greatest achievement may extend knowledge.

To liberate ourselves from the prison of consciousness as we’ve known it for tens of thousands of years, we have to do the daily spadework of understanding our own mind and heart, which means gaining deepening insight into the limitation of thought and knowledge.

The state of insight is awakened in the human brain when thought falls completely silent in all-inclusive attention. Then the old emergent consciousness based on symbolic thought yields to the ever-new consciousness that infuses nature and the universe.

If God is immanent cosmic intelligence however, and these insights point to the intrinsic meaning of evolution and the human brain, then why is it so difficult and rare for thought to cease and desist, so true consciousness can be? That is the actual “hard problem” of consciousness.

Martin LeFevre



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Martin LeFevre, a contemplative, philosopher and writer in northern California, serves as a contributing writer for The Seoul Times. His "Meditations" explore and offer insights on spiritual, philosophical and political questions in the global society. LeFevre's philosophical thesis proposes a new theory of human nature. He welcomes dialogue. lefevremartin77@gmail.com

 

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