Getting Back to Paradise, part 2: Reading the Transition Signals
“The peasant doesn’t cross himself until he hears the thunder.”
In bringing this series to a conclusion with this and my next two blog posts, I will share excerpts from the closing chapters of Richard Heinberg’s MEMORIES and VISIONS of PARADISE. But before I do, I would like to share some uplifting words my friend and favorite poet Don Hynes sent to me a few days ago, as they resonate with the theme of my current considerations.
After the fall, which was a planetary solar progression as much as human, moving through a cloud where our current reality became possible, the Atlantean manipulations were fatal death-like steps for humanity and the planet. The trauma of those nightmares is in the genetic memory of the human race and the trajectory of that epoch was downward, from the downfall of the Lemurian priesthood through Atlantean science-abused wars to the caveman, cannibalism and the following centuries of darkness and struggle.
We Pass Through Nightmares
Don’s words are a clarion call to sanity and for an about-face retreat from our mad drive toward extinction — touchstone words to keep on hand as the transitional pressure gets more and more compressed, as it will. The birthing of a new world is in process and the contractions are beginning to be closer and more intense. It’s time to breathe deeply and exhale expectantly as we labor in love for the truth of life on our home among the stars.
READING THE SIGNALS
Richard Heinberg has been very active in the environmental movement since the 1980’s. He has written several books on climate and clean energy issues, including The Party is Over: Oil War and the Fate of Industrial Societies — AFTERBURN: Society Beyond Fossil Fuel — Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy — and his latest work The End of Growth, in which he examines how the expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.
In the following excerpt, Richard takes a hard and sobering look at the shadows cast by coming events, the symptoms of mankind’s abuse of the earth’s generosity. Keep in mind that this was written some forty years ago. Since then climate and energy issues have gained greater attention as the environment continues to deteriorate further and time runs out on the implementation of viable solutions. His and other authors’ warnings having gone unheeded, Richard’s optimism about our future has diminished considerably.
(For a rather sobering update on where we have come over the last several decades, you may wish to view — at a later time — Michael Moore’s recently-released film PLANET OF THE HUMANS, an hour-and-forty-minute documentary on the present state of our world and our ill-placed hope in biomass, wind turbans and solar panels; well worth watching.)
And now, without further ado, here’s an excerpt from chapter 12, “To Get Back to the Garden.“
Warnings from the Collective Unconscious
When we diverge from the way we were designed to function, Nature sends warning signals. For example, when we eat foods we are unable to digest, our stomachs rebel; when we use our limbs in ways in which they were not designed to be used, our muscles and bones protest. When we do such things habitually over time, we are likely to receive not only external signals in the form of pain, accidents, or disease, but we may also receive internal signals. Such signals may take the form of nightmares and premonitions through which the body’s own unconscious wisdom attempts to alert us and to influence our behavior.
If this is true for us individually, perhaps it is also true for human kind collectively — that is, if humanity is ignoring an innate paradisal design (by envisioning and working toward a world characterized by artificiality, separateness, and the suppression of Nature), then we should expect to be receiving both external and internal warnings. On the collective level, such external warning signs might take the form of war, environmental degradation, famine, or plague; internal warning signs might appear as widely occurring visions of apocalyptic events.
As Norman Cohn showed in The Pursuit of the Millennium, apocalyptic visions have tended to appear in profusion during historical periods of political and religious oppression, social upheaval, war, and pestilence. The Hebrew prophets lived in an age of defeat and captivity; Jesus lived at the height of the decadent and oppressive Roman Empire; and medieval millenarian movements seemed always to flourish in places and times of unusual hardship. We see the same association of apocalyptic vision with societal stress among tribal peoples: in North America, Africa, and the Pacific islands, new spiritual movements that have arisen during the last century in response to the onslaught of civilization have invariably been prophetic and millenarian in character.
There are many reasons for thinking that contemporary Western civilization is approaching a period of maximum divergence from the paradisal ideal. Instead of simplicity, innocence, and the ability to work in harmony with natural processes, industrial civilization values sophistication, abstraction, the concentration of wealth, and the complete subjugation of Nature. These values have not appeared suddenly or recently; rather, they can be traced back to the beginnings of civilization itself. But we do seem to be witnessing the culmination of their influence. And as we actualize the ultimate implications of long-term trends leading toward the centralization of social power, the technological domination of Nature, and the fragmentation of human consciousness, we find ourselves on what appears to be a collision course with a deeper reality.
We see external warning signals appearing everywhere around us. We hear, for example, of the death of thousands of lakes and forests from the effects of acid rain. As the thinning of the ozone layer creates an epidemic of skin cancer, we simultaneously discover that a greenhouse effect — created by the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels — is altering global weather patterns. We hear of the disappearance of tens of thousands of species as the result of the clear-cutting of rain forests, and of the loss of millions of tons of irreplaceable topsoil due to modern mechanized agricultural practices. These and other warning signals portend catastrophes of truly apocalyptic dimensions, catastrophes that can be averted only if immediate steps are taken to change our fundamental relationship with the natural environment.
At the same time, we are seeing an unprecedented eruption of what could be interpreted as internal, psychic warning signals. The past two decades have seen burgeoning numbers of people turn to millenarian fundamentalism for a sense of meaning and purpose. Christian fundamentalists look toward the imminent end of the world, the destruction of unbelievers, and the restoration of an earthly Paradise characterized by all the qualities of the original Eden — peace, happiness, and, above all, the opportunity to dwell in the immediate presence of the Lord.
But while fundamentalist millenarianism draws upon apocalyptic scriptural visions from eras past, we are also surrounded by fresh and original prophetic utterances. The classic apocalyptic scenario — a final battle between the forces of good and evil, followed by the advent of a restored condition of peace and beatitude — appears, for example, in numerous science-fiction plots and in the psychic predictions of Edgar Cayce and the “channelers” of the 1980s. Moreover, near-death experiences are making their own contribution to what amounts to a contemporary explosion of apocalyptic prophecy.
While conducting his NDE studies, Kenneth Ring began to hear reports of prophetic visions (PVs) of humanity’s future, and he decided to collect and compare them. Ring found that PVs seem to occur most frequently during core NDEs, and that there is an “impressive similarity” among the visions. In Heading toward Omega, Ring summarizes the common elements of the classic PV:
There is, first of all, a sense of having total knowledge, but specifically one is aware of seeing the entirety of the earth’s evolution and history, from the beginning to the end of time. The future scenario, however, is usually of short duration, seldom extending much beyond the beginning of the twenty-first century. The individuals report that in this decade there will be an increasing incidence of earthquakes, volcanic activity, and generally massive geophysical changes. There will be resultant disturbances in weather patterns and food supplies. The world economic system will collapse, and the possibility of nuclear war or accident is very great (respondents are not agreed on whether a nuclear catastrophe will occur). All of these events are transitional rather than ultimate, however, and they will be followed by a new era in human history marked by human brotherhood, universal love, and world peace. Though many will die, the earth will live.
Ring then quotes several PV reports. The following is from a woman whose near-death experience occurred in 1967:
The vision of the future I received during my near-death experience was one of tremendous upheaval in the world as a result of our general ignorance of the “true” reality. I was informed that mankind was breaking the laws of the universe and as a result of this would suffer. This suffering was not due to the vengeance of an indignant God but rather like the pain one might suffer as a result of arrogantly defying the law of gravity. It was to be an inevitable educational cleansing of the earth that would creep up on its inhabitants, who would try to hide blindly in the institutions of law, science, and religion. Mankind, I was told, was being consumed by the cancers of arrogance, materialism, racism, chauvinism, and separatist thinking. I saw sense turning to nonsense, and calamity, in the end, turning to providence.
At the end of this general period of transition, mankind was to be “born anew,” with a new sense of its place in the universe. The birth process, however, as in all the kingdoms, was exquisitely painful. Mankind would emerge humbled yet educated, peaceful, and, at last, unified.
Ring attempted to find a rational explanation for the remarkably consistent patterns of imagery in the PVs he had collected. Could these experiences be projections of unconscious fears? Or, perhaps, do individuals who perceive themselves as dying somehow generalize the experience as being “the death of the world”? Ring found both of these explanations unconvincing: Why not a greater variety of global-future scenarios? The PVs are just too consistent to be personal projections. Could they, then, be eruptions of unconscious Jungian archetypes?
Ring found this explanation more plausible, but he was still uncomfortable with the specificity and paranormal character of PVs. After examining all of the explanations he could devise, Ring found himself left with the interpretation the NDErs themselves insist upon: that PV’s are in fact exactly what they seem to be: inspired prophecies of future events.
If this is the case, why is humanity propelling itself toward a cataclysmic day of reckoning? Ring invokes a sobering metaphor: he suggests that humanity is approaching — and subconsciously preparing for — a collective near-death experience. As we noted earlier, NDErs almost invariably undergo a sudden and radical restructuring of values. A typical comment is this: “My interest in material wealth and greed for possessions was replaced by a thirst for spiritual understanding and a passionate desire to see world conditions improve.”
Throughout history, moral reformers have sought to inspire humanity to change its collective values and to regain its sense of the sacred. Despite occasional and temporary successes, such exhortations have generally been ignored. We seem convinced that greed and aggression are constants, restrainable only by the force of law. But Ring’s hypothesis implies that human nature, when it comes face to face with annihilation, may dissolve to reveal a deeper and more profound nature, one that has been hidden for millennia behind the veil of the human ego.
The Russians have a saying: “The peasant doesn’t cross himself until he hears the thunder.” That is, people tend to make basic changes in attitude and behavior only when their backs are to the wall. This observation seems as true for society as a whole as it is for individuals. Often, only a crisis will awaken us to the results of a destructive habit. In the case of late-twentieth-century humanity, the habitual behavior (and the potential awakening) is at a critical level and underlies all of our social, economic, scientific, and political realities. This crisis amounts to far more than just a serious inconvenience, or even a catastrophe on the scale of the Great Depression or the two world wars. Religious prophets and scientific futurists alike envision what amounts to the end of our entire way of life, and, conceivably — in the event of an all-out nuclear conflict or the irreversible destruction of the environment — the death of the human race itself.
We recall the prophecies of the tribal peoples concerning a Great Purification, which will cleanse the world of human depravity but will also reunite Heaven and Earth, ushering in a new age of spirituality and light. Is this what we are all unconsciously laboring to bring about?
Yes — and with a large “critical mass” of humanity, that labor is conscious and deliberate, done with joy and a sense of mission and purpose; truly a labor of love. Apocalypse means revelation. Every death is an apocalypse of light — only the light is revealed in the invisible realms. What is needed is an apocalypse of light in the visible realms — as above so below — on earth as it is in heaven. I see this occurring as this pandemic brings out the best of the human spirit. May it continue long after the crisis is over.
I leave you with this tidbit of common-sense wisdom: “Like the proverbial bar of soap when squeezed, looking downward we go down; looking upward we go up.” So, remember to look up when the squeeze is on. Until my next post,
Be love. Be loved
I think you will find solace in this video clip. “Death is not an end-point. It’s a transformation moment.”