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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Evolving or Devolving?

Heart of a Mystic

Each of us is called to be a mystic. To be a human being means that we are invited into the possibility of transcendental life and experience. We are not here simply to pursue a profane existence spent plotting the course of our human happiness...We are meant for greater things.”
Wayne Teasdale (The Mystic Heart, p. 120)

My friend, Rebecca, and I had a conversation last night about the course of human evolution. Having just watched our President elbow his way to the front of the line, shoving other Presidents of other countries out of the way, brought the subject of human evolution, or more aptly, devolution, to the forefront of our consciousness. We talked about what makes humans different from other animals—if, in fact, we are different. We spoke of the curiosity factor—we're not content to let things be, we need always to know more. Beginning at about two years of age, we ask a billion questions about everything under the sun. But all animals are curious. My dog, Liza, pokes her nose into all manner of things. My back yard is a virtual mine field of holes dug to unearth voles and chipmunks.

We spoke of the creativity factor—our ability to make things, even very complex and multifaceted things. But other animals create too—they make nests and burrows. I have watched nuthatches gathering spider webs to bind their nests together. We cited our advanced ability to communicate thoughts and ideas—though we know for a fact that whales and dolphins, and even crows have complex and meaningful communication. Maybe it's our ability to plot and plan, our capacity, that is, for “strategery.” Ann and Ellen's standard poodle, Ace, has that. He sees a loaf of bread on a counter top, and has the good sense to watch and wait. As soon as no one is looking, he grabs it and heads for the dog door. Maybe humans are not so special after all.

One unique thing we do seem to have is the capacity to connect with the mystery of life. We are able to transcend our instincts, and experience being, seeing, presence, and openness to that mystery. Unlike other animals, we can choose to live differently from our predecessors. We have the capacity to not only care for our own species, but to take care of other species, as well. We are able to add to our knowledge base at an accelerated pace. The evolutionary question for humanity is this: Will we maximize those capacities, or not? Will we shove our way to the front of the line, elbowing all others out of our path, or will we bring everyone, all of creation, with us?

                                                            In the Spirit,

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