HomeArticleHumanity Is Deciding If It Will Evolve Or Die

Humanity Is Deciding If It Will Evolve Or Die

I write a lot about consciousness, enlightenment and the potential humanity has to rise above its conditioned patterns, because if I only wrote about politics and media propaganda I’d be accomplishing nothing but helping the anti-establishment fringe feel good about itself while waiting for human extinction. I can’t do this thing honestly and sincerely without periodically pointing to the dangers on the horizon, and to what I perceive as the only off ramp in sight.

Human society is clearly at its most interesting point ever. Billions of human brains are now interconnected in real time by the internet, we’re realizing on mass scale that all the rules of society were invented by dead people long before any of us got here, and we’re seeing that we are free to re-write those rules in a way that benefits us. From popular grassroots examinations of socialist ideas, to cryptocurrencies and an evolving understanding of what money is, to redefining social institutions as ancient and ingrained as marriage and gender identity, more and more people are saying in effect, “Hmm, it looks like all those old thoughts we’ve been using to describe our reality are causing some problems. Let’s find new ones.” It could be described as a collective awakening to the fact that reality and our conceptual model for it are two very different things, and the model is as flexible as your ability to change your mind. We’ve never seen anything like this before as a species. We’ve literally never been here.

We are in uncharted, unprecedented territory. When you’re in uncharted, unprecedented territory, there’s no valid basis for ruling out any conceivable possibility. Stodgy intellectuals may say “Hurr, yes, this is very similar to the Bulgarian Wheat Rebellions of 1809, so this will likely turn out the same” or whatever, but they’re wrong, because it isn’t. The past can be a useful tool for predicting future outcomes, but in an entirely unprecedented situation, that is not the case. Anything is possible.

But we are also facing an unprecedented set of challenges. Our planet is currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction that is entirely the result of human ecocide. More than half the world’s wildlife has vanished in forty years and the worldwide insect population has plummeted by as much as 90 percent, so the very ecosystemic context in which we evolved is dying, and every few weeks there are new reports that anthropogenic climate change is progressing more rapidly than previously anticipated. There are self-reinforcing warming effects called “feedback loops” which, once set off, can continue warming the atmosphere further and further regardless of human behavior, meaning that a chain of events can conceivably be set off tipping us rapidly into climate chaos and making industrial farming impossible, causing global starvation.

If we dodge that bullet, we’ve got steadily mounting new cold war escalations between the world’s two nuclear superpowers imperiling us more and more with every moronic increase in nuclear tensions. There’s also the looming and seemingly inevitable invention of artificial superintelligence, which could end us in any number of completely unpredictable ways. If we manage to dodge all of those bullets in the next few decades, we’re still headed straight toward an Orwellian global empire which controls all access to information and ideas using AI-controlled censorship and propaganda. Serving out the remainder of our existence as a sanitized, homogenized and propagandized servile class for sociopathic elites would be a kind of extinction in itself, and arguably a worse fate.

So we’re at a pretty significant juncture here. Our present situation could accurately be described as a question that we are collectively being asked as a species: do we want to (A) live on and find out what the future holds for us, or do we want to (B) go the way of the dinosaur?

Whenever I bring this subject up I encounter proponents of both answers. Though they never frame it as such, the people who show up in my social media notifications proclaiming that it is naive to think humans will ever cease their destructive patterns are very much on the side of Answer B. They insist that turning away from our ecocidal, omnicidal trajectory is impossible, and apparently their plan is to sit back and feel smugly vindicated when the world burns. They are choosing extinction, and their prize is that they get to be right and feel good about that if it happens.

Answer A is less sexy. Less egoically satisfying. You don’t get to feel smug and superior with Answer A, because Answer A involves changing. It involves waking up from that same ego structure which gets so much pleasure out of being right and knowing better.

If we’re going to pull away from catastrophe or dystopia and survive, we’re going to have to take full advantage of the unprecedented situation in which we now find ourselves. We’re going to have to make a miracle happen. We’re going to have to evolve beyond our current relationship with thought. We’re going to have to wake up.

Throughout recorded history and across all cultures around the world, there have been individuals testifying that it is possible to undergo a transformation in the way one relates to the world, experiencing life as it actually is instead of filtered through unconscious conditioned thought patterns. After such a transformation, thought becomes the useful tool it’s supposed to be instead of the writer, director and star of the whole show.

If such a transformation is possible on an individual level, it is possible on a collective level as well. With a shift in our relationship with thought and ego, we would become impossible to propagandize, and therefore able to determine a course of action that isn’t selected for us by plutocratic manipulators. We can awaken from the old patterns of fear and greed and need to control which are constantly used to manipulate us, and begin working in harmony with each other and our environment instead.

This as near as I can tell is the only way to avert catastrophe. All the other exits we’ve tried are bolted shut; political attempts at solutions are shut down with plutocratic manipulations, activism is shut down with media propaganda and corporate censorship, and violent revolution just puts the same problems into different hands. The deck is stacked to keep funneling the momentum toward the agendas of the ruling elites. Our only option is to change ourselves.

Such a collective transformation has always been possible, and everyone from Buddha to the hippies of the 1960s has pointed to it and insisted that it is possible. The difference now is that we are in unprecedented times, and that we now have no other choice.

But it isn’t sexy. It is, in fact, in the exact opposite direction of egoic gratification. On a collective level, it means giving up on barking and snarling at the Russians or the libtards or the Muslims or the Trump supporters and relinquishing the notion of your pet political, religious or social faction ever being proven right and vindicated over the others. On an individual level, it means letting go of everything you’ve built your identity on. It means realizing and fully understanding that you’ve been basically wrong about everything your entire life as mental narratives are seen for the babbling nonsense they are. It means forgiving yourself for your mistakes and forgiving your mother for hers. It means the ultimate humility of taking everything you’ve held yourself to be and unceremoniously discarding it like an old piece of gum.

It means examining everything you think you are and seeing it for the story it is. All the babbling thoughts that go on in your head about who you are, what you like, what you think, they are all just re-runs of old stories playing in the TV of your mind, and they all need fresh eyes and a critical appraisal. Put together, these thoughts create the impression of the thing that you call “me”, but they’re as arbitrary as snippets from a cutting room floor. The more meaning you imbue into them, the more fascinating you’ll find the re-runs, the more you’re glued to the screen and the less attention you pay to real life. These stories also create hooks by which you can be trolled and manipulated. Take a step back and watch your thoughts like old television, and they’ll be no less noisy but much less interesting, and eventually the noise disappears into the background and you can begin engaging with life as it really is.

This personal inventory has messy consequences. It means facing your fear of death to the point where it no longer controls every decision you make so you will be free to live right now. It means resolving to hand your desire over to the highest interest, not just when it suits you but every time. It means giving up everything you ever do for anyone else’s approval, including your own. It means admitting to your own arrogance, your own violence, your own hypocrisies, your own projections, your own sneaky manipulations, your own sins, and tracing them back to the point in time where you created this little coping mechanism gone mad. It means forgiving others, but it also means forgiving yourself. It means applying love to your wounds until they heal and the pain of the scars doesn’t rule you anymore. It means getting playful and curious and unafraid to jump down rabbit holes. It means letting the intelligence of your animal body purge your stuck emotions and dormant fears. You might look silly sometimes. That’s okay.

Then, in the relative quiet of your mind-cave with the TV no longer dominating your attention, a silent inner voice emerges and rather than allowing the ghosts of the past to dictate your every move, a greater wisdom will get a chance to inform your choices. In many ways, this is when it gets harder. This means doing what’s in the highest interest even when it’s scary and everyone you love is trying to stop you. It means you will have a much clearer idea of what’s your responsibility and what’s not, but it means taking responsibility. It means having a much better idea of where you stop and where others begin, but that means ceasing to lean in on other’s sovereign boundaries to manipulate them for your own perceived safety, and it also means getting up the guts to throw out the predators that you suddenly realize have been in your sovereign space this whole time. It means becoming fearless.

If everyone who is capable took these steps, the world will change at a miraculous pace. Individually we will become ungovernable from the outside, and guided from within, and as a group, our clarion call will siren each other into quietly taking the actions we need to take to avoid extinction. Inspired, fearless individual actions will harmoniously and wordlessly collaborate with others in a way that will look like magical rolling coincidences but is really just as mundane and natural as the daily work of an ant colony. With the babble of ego turned all the way down, we will start behaving in concert with each other like a marvelous improv troupe, taking cues and accepting offers and intuitively building something more beautiful together than our individual thinker brain could ever hope to even glimpse.

The journey out of egoic consciousness isn’t something that can be undertaken lightly. Relinquishing everything that has made up your inner world your entire life is not something you can do as a casual pastime. You need to plunge into it with the intensity of someone fighting for their life, and what we have working in our favor today is the fact that now we collectively are fighting for our lives. This has never happened before. It’s scary, but it’s also a time of unprecedented potential.

It’s all here. We have all the parts right here and ready to go. All we need now is to individually get humble and do the work to quiet the mind. We just need to set our intention to mute the babble of ego to give us the space to let something extraordinary create itself through us. There is nothing stopping us except the concept of ourselves that we hold, and surely we all must be getting bored of that by now. Besides, what choice do we have? Sit around and wait to die, or sit down and do the work and see what happens when we’ve thrown off our brain boxes and we can dance with each other naked?

Get naked with me. You know you want to. Come on. Let’s see what’s on the other side of this thing. I’m pretty sure it’s more beautiful than we can possibly imagine. I want to know. Don’t you?

_____________________

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Latest comments

  • every species goes extinct eventually. homo sap. will not be the exception. this is not a bad thing. no one is holding any vigils or lighting candles for homo erectus, homo neanderthalis or any of the millions of other species now gone. when we exit stage right we may be replaced by highly evolved cockroaches, ascendant cephalopods or cackling corvii. i am sure they will raise no monuments to us. nor should they.

    these issues are so much clearer when you let go of your anthropocentrism. enjoy the ride.

  • I fear that I have heard this story in many variants my whole life. When I peek out from the places these come from I see a world little changed by them, seemingly even worse for the passage of time. I’d like to have that optimism but an honest look at the world, at human history, at our collective behaviors tells me “nice pie in the sky.” I’d think, perhaps in a few relatively rare cases some people can arrive at a personally calm and – hate the word and ones like it, “enlightened” state. But collectively, socially, all our human history says resoundingly “no.” There have been a good many civilizations on this planet since we emerged, and many auto-deleted themselves in a very similar manner to what we are doing. I sincerely don’t think we are some magical exception, and in truth everything we are doing suggests we will not only delete ourselves, but most of the living things with which we share this planet. And soon. In my 21 year old daughter’s life-time.

    • I totally agree with you, Jon. I’ve heard this “change in human consciousness” stuff for much of my life, and it’s always indulged in by bourgeois people who cannot imagine life going on without them (I’m not implying this is true of Johnstone, just the people I’ve been hearing spout this nonsense for decades). An honest look at the world is very difficult for most people because it requires intense emotional maturity to deal with reality, and I fully accept that people do not have the stomach to look at reality — which means looking at human history and all the horrors we have perpetrated.

      • I’ve often thought that these beliefs (and organized religion in general) is like Dumbo’s magic feather: people have something to cling to because to strip away the comforting myths and face the world fearlessly is too much for most people to do.

    • Yes but no. Caitlin is pointing out that something really is different: we can talk to one-another in a way that was simply not possible when mass-media dominated the global conversation. So, yes, sure, 95% of the human population will not become “enlightened”, and suddenly start doing “the right thing”, whatever that is. But you and I and Caitlin together might be able to guide towards the better. Here’s the key:

      “A good many civilizations on this planet” … have never been able to comminicate at a mass social level like this before. And that changes everything. And that is what we’ve got to go for. Re-read her essay again.

  • To make the shift Caitlin advocates, children need to learn a method to access their life compass so they have a way of anchoring in what is authentic for them, as opposed to what happened to me and to most of us – being brainwashed into becoming a societal-cultural clone. I have worked for over forty years to develop such a method, Integral Deep Listening, which you (and children) can interview dream characters and the personifications of one’s life issues, such as back pain that is like a knife, or ecological exploitation that is like a vampire. It makes no claim to find The Truth or Reality, but it does anchor us – and our children – in our own unique and authentic emerging potentials. The interviewing protocols are here: https://www.integraldeeplistening.com/the-combined-idl-interviewing-protocol/ The entire program is laid out in “Waking up,” by Joseph Dillard

  • For some concepts related to Caitlin’s thought experiment:
    .
    The Fermi Paradox, Kardashev’s Scale of Civilizations, and the Final Filters:

    • No one sending us messages?? Have you seen the book “Crop Circles”?
      It shows increasingly complex geometric shapes and sizes which might well be a form of communication to show that the creators know advanced math.

  • 1 We’ll
    2 do both:
    3 We evolve
    4 and then we die,
    5 and then we learn that
    6 the past lives forever:
    7 what we were is what we are.
    8 Yes, evolve! It is fun to do!
    9 Leave traces of yourself everywhere!
    0 And love each naked atom of this world!

    What shall I call this poem? How about “Feeling our thoughts”? or “Eternal now”?

    Just want to tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your journalism, your honesty, your aversion to the anti-Russia hysteria, and your love for humanity.

    • Correction: Line 9 should read

      9 Leave traces of You everywhere!

  • I expect the vast majority of your readers already don’t have their attention dominated by TV. 🙂

  • Your basic thesis is one that I agree with I am 76 and of the generation that lived in fear after the Second World War. Preparing for disaster is part of our nature. However the access to people and other ideas on the internet is helping me to see that it is not necessary to live in this perpetual state. Indeed humanity’s propensity to manipulation by fear is one of our biggest and oldest collective weaknesses. I would love to be able to show you the reading list that has informed my opinions recently!
    Short answer: check out Anthony Watts’ website about the climate and allow yourself to relax from the unwarranted fear mongering of the AGW perspective.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/
    Thank you for all your brave writing.

  • This is really, really good. But long years as an editor force me to make one little cavil: please don’t use a future indicative construction “will,” when you’ve begun the paragraph with “If.” Either use subjunctive (“would”) throughout or, and I think better, start the paragraph with ‘When” instead of “If.”

  • Caitlin is absolutely right. Essentially we are blinded by narratives spinning around inside our heads that mostly came from the media. At the basis of it all we inherited narratives from our early upbringing. If we never turn around our consciousness to at least think about those media narratives then they are in control and act like unconscious complexes.

  • Caitlin:
    This is great.
    As a hippy from the 60’s, I agree. No one listened to us then, but you have an audience who has learned to trust your word.
    I remember having a discussion with a straight woman back then and telling her that we had to change, and she told me, “We can’t!” So I asked her where the buggy-whip makers and the high-top shoemakers were. When she didn’t get it, I told her that we had to change to get where we are, so we could change to get wherever we needed to be. She left unconvinced.
    Recently, a woman of approximately my age said that hippies were crazy.
    I’m beginning to wonder if Choice B isn’t better. I cringe at the thought to that the rich will plunder the Earth that is God-given and jet off to another planet to…do what?? Start the whole process all over again? While the rest of us die with the world?
    Will we – or at least the worst elements among us – spread out over the Universe like cockroaches? In that case, I hope that a more intelligent species will stop us in our tracks.
    As you say, we have all the tools we need to stop ourselves, except the will to do so.

    • Susan, I don’t know where to begin. Both Hippies and the moral majority were two sides of the same coin, both thought they had all the answers and they didn’t, they only had some, which were good, and some which were really bad. Which is why they did not quite work out. There are other alaternatives and ways of doing things. Best explained here: http://meaningness.com/countercultures you might like that. It sets recent human history in perspective.

  • Thank you Caitlin.

    Your thought, words and deeds resonate with the world crying out for peaceful transformation and it is very much possible. We are already hardwired for these momentous changes, and I have collated the evidence here that will empower us all to effect those changes from within and without that will help us individually and collectively co-create a better world our hearts know is possible.

    https://bsahely.com/2017/12/02/to-mobilise-or-to-immobilise-with-fear-or-love-that-is-the-question/

    After going into the neurobiology, here are the conclusions that may also benefit your readers:

    “As shown above, when we live in threatening environments, our physiology and behaviour are constrained in predictable but life-destabilising ways, and the range of fields of life value of thought, felt side of being and actions are severely constrained in a life-enslaving MATRIX of fight and flight and when life-threatening freezing and fainting. Within this false MATRIX of egotistical self-maximizing competitiveness, the “shapeshifting reptilian” and “predatory mammalian” neural circuits subvert from within the better angels of ourselves. As a result those who inherit these toxic and threatening environments and lifestyles will become in thought, felt side of being and action bloodline “shapeshifting lizards” with diminished empathic altruistic selves, as they subvert from without our narrative, laws and credit creation rules that structurally and culturally violate and terrorizes “the other” in their insecure schemes. This is in order to maintain their privilege, wealth, power and control. As a result, their life capacity for security is undermined and their capacity for social engagement and communal imagination is severely compromised.

    As a result, they constantly mobilise with fear, via wars of all kind, from global wars, manufacturing false flag terrorist operations, police states, surveillance states, moving us from crisis to crisis of destabilisations at the level of the individual, family, community, institutions and the planetary life-support systems. In order to maintain this dominant ranking system, we are programmed to immobilise with fear, and our range of thoughts, felt sides of being and actions are also comprimised by our parenting styles, socialisation, educational indoctrinations, work ethics, addictions, and rampant medicalisation of normal adaptations to the abnormal toxic environments and lifestyles that are unnatural. These machinations are not conducive to collaborative and co-creative imagination that is the biological imperative of our social engagement neural circuits which have been gifted to us by evolutionary design.

    However, we can transform our unnatural dehumanizing social structural and cultural memetic constructs so as to optimise our social engagement and life flourishing. In this scenario, we can now mobilise with love, as we reconnect with each other and with our Mother Earth. By focusing on provisioning of the universal human life necessities for all of humanity via an ecology of life-enabling vocations life-grounded in the civil commons of our social and planetary life-supporting systems, we can as a species not only create sustainable abundance for ourselves, but also for all of our evolutionary cousins, not only for now, but for the future to come. We can now non-violently work altruistically as a social immune system to prevent the free-riding narcissistic egotistic carcinogenic “shapeshifting lizards” from subverting from within our senses and sensibilities and invading and metastasizing to destabilise every domain and level of life organisation.

    It is only by not squandering our energies and resources and by not depleting and polluting our life supporting systems will we be able to solve all of our global problems from climate destabilisation, nuclear Armageddon, to the pressing problems of social, political and financial instabilites.

    And finally it is when we immobilise with love and become intimate with each other, at the individual and collective levels, when we pray, sing, dance and meditate, with our babies and children, our friends, our students, and all of our loved ones, and when we reflect and commune with the Almighty Father Cosmos and the Divine Mother Earth, then and only then, will we produce in unconditional love, bountiful offsprings of flourishing life. We will then discover what is good, beautiful and true, we will know what is right, fair and just, and we will for once and for all and for one and all live life in peace and in harmony with each other and Mother Earth in truth with an open mind, heart, soul and spirit.”

    • I’m pretty cynical: I think we’ll be dead before then.

  • The blind French psychiatrist Hubert Benoit, a member of the French resistance tortured by the Nazis, understood that only humility can set us free. He was first a surgeon but his hands were broken so badly that after liberation he turned to psychiatry and wrote The Supreme Doctrine, Psycholigical Studies in Zen thought.
    His point was that humility can only deliver us in a negative sense. It is not a way. Every effort to achieve humility becomes a false humility from where I exact my ego. All I can do is less and less resist the instruction of things. I need to understand that my true well-being will be found, paradoxically where until now I have situated my pain.
    Once I understand that, I can feel myself humiliated without the reflex urge for fight or flight and I can remain there motionless, motivated by no other images, able to follow my true nature.

    • Ah, but does not Zen teach that there is no “true nature”? I mean, there is: its what you have left after getting a lobotomy. But as long as you can be rational and thoughtful, you can overcome “true nature”. You need rationality to master reflexive behaviors. Example: walking is reflexive, but its not a reflex we should fight. Fight or flight is a reflex: well, more of an urge to do something. Its an emergency signal, that says “you are in a bad place; get yourself out of it”. Ignoring that signal is not wise. Ego is also a signal, it says “you, the living being, is important” and that signal helps keep you alive and healthy, as well as encouraging lots of pathological behaviors that are harmful to you and to society. Well, yes, you *are* important. Just don’t be a stupid ass about it: be thoughtful, and if in doubt, be rational. However, being “true to yourself” is a useless, if not a down-right harmful concept. “Be smart” is a .. much better concept.

  • So we all need to become enlightened at once? I have heard that by freeing yourself, you help others to be free. Maybe there will be this wonderful 100th monkey-type mass liberation. How wonderful that would be, and as Caitlin says, the only other option is extinction. So might as well try, although I don’t clearly see how that plays out with things like, say, children being ripped away from parents at borders, or the overlords creating and selling scams like Russiagate. Or getting people to cut way down on flying, driving, and eating meat to reduce global warming. But I can see it will feel better, at least. I’m trying.

    • Don ‘t lose hope. Help is coming. And yes trying to enlighten your self helps immensely

    • Can we tell the difference between pure virtue signaling and having an actual effect?

  • I don’t know about you, but for me the best thing about recognizing that all the rules of society were invented by dead people long before any of us got here, and then realizing that we are now free to re-write those rules in a way that benefits us all, is that we live in a universe of “ontological anarchy”. There is no reason whatsoever for things to be the way they are – the world as it is could always be otherwise to the present order of things. Nothing is ever set in stone, there is no such thing as “human nature” or “the way things are”. So as the existing political order collapses in on itself and the world as we know it falls apart all around us, it will not be because of some deeper purpose or higher law “behind the scenes” that’s working all things out for the best in the long run (e.g. Salvation history, historical necessity, evolutionary progress, divine providence, the Singularity, the law of karma, etc.) The bottom drops out of the world as it is and the established order collapses by virtue of the absence of any firm foundations, or because of the failure of Being to ground itself or the lack of any deeper Order that can tell us who we are, why we are here and what it means to be human. And it is precisely this lack or absence of any Big Other guaranteeing in advance that all things are moving towards their end, where we feel our naked impoverishment before this open-ended venture into the unknown and the trembling in the depths of things that keeps the future open, that makes the wildly unpredictable, miraculous and radically unexpected emergence of new forms of human consciousness and creativity possible.

  • Caitlin you are a true rishi. In the tradition of aurobindo and all the sages and shamans of human history.

    • Well said

  • Thank you Caitlin.
    Your work is greatly appreciated and agreed with by me.

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