"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, July 4, 2011

Gaia and the Evolution of Consciousness

"The psychology of any epoch must be at the same stage of advance as its economics and physics. Our perennial challenge has been that our working psychology is always a whole epoch behind our physico-economic state."

-- Gerald Heard --
("Pain, Sex and Time")
In the attached five-part video lecture, pioneering and iconic climate scientist James Lovelock - who first proposed the theory that the Earth is itself a self-regulating bio-organism (and dubbed it "Gaia Theory") - delivers a sobering lecture on the impact of global warming, a lecture that amply demonstrates that the physico-economic model that is sustaining our civilization is, in fact, unsustainable.

In his book, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning," Lovelock observes:
"Our contemporary industrial civilization is hopelessly unfitted to survive on an overpopulated and under-resourced planet, deluded by the thought that clever inventions and progress will provide the shoehorn that fits us into our imaginary niche. I think it is better if we accept and understand how poor is the chance of our personal survival, but take hope from the fact that our species is unusually tough, has survived seven major climate catastrophes in the last million years, and is unlikely to go extinct in the coming climate catastrophe. Geneticists, interested in the evolution of humans, have observed that at one time in the last million years we passed through a genetic bottleneck in which our ancestors might have been as few as 2,000. Gaia, fortunately, is much tougher and as a living planet has survived for over a quarter of the age of the cosmos."
Lovelock has, in past lectures, noted that it is now far too late to halt or reverse global warming - a possibility if we had recognized and understood the damage we were doing to the environment 150 years ago - and that our collective task is now to forge a consensus to ameliorate the damage we have done while adapting to the much hotter and drier world to come.

"Perhaps the saddest thing," says Lovelock in concluding his lecture (below), "is that if we fail altogether and humans go extinct, Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. For not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems vanish along with us, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not just a disease on the planet, we have through our intelligence and communication become the planetary equivalent of a nervous system."

"It has taken Gaia at least three-and-a-half billion years to evolve an intelligent, partly social animal species. . . . We have to be patient while we slowly evolve to become an integral part of what could be an intelligent planet."

What Gerald Heard (above) and many other contemporary spiritual teachers and philosophers have pointed out, however, is that if our continuing evolution is to be sustained there will not be a next physiological evolutionary leap, but rather there will have to be a psychical evolution in our individual and collective consciousness. If we are to evolve as the nervous system of Gaia that Lovelock contends we are, then we ourselves will need to deliberately and consciously evolve to a new state of consciousness and being.

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