The Survival of Life on Earth
by John Stahl
In this essay, I want to repeat a number of ideas I have expressed elsewhere – in fact, here will be found many of the common themes that I have been working with lately, as I try to understand the world and any possible future for the phenomenon of Life. But Life is kind of important to me. I really love the stuff. Life excites me. The important essence of God will surely be found more readily in Life than anywhere else, except Love, which is really just another view of the same phenomenon. So if readers of any of my other articles find that this one is just more of the same old stuff, my excuse is that Life is important enough to be worth the treatment of reviewing many of my old ideas here once again, with specific reference to the possibility of the survival of Life on earth.
I say the “possibility of the survival of Life on earth,” because it is presently in very serious jeopardy! The earth is dying, and the time during which it may yet be possible to reverse this slide into the grave may rapidly be running out, so it is imperative to address this problem immediately and take it very, very seriously! There was a time when doomsayers would worry that the earth would be ruined for future generations, but the future is now – we are at the point where the earth is already showing the very clear signs of decay, and the stench of death is in the air – life on earth could very well be in its very last phase, and people alive right now are dying because of the diminishing health of our biological environment. A great many of the problems facing the planet are coming to a head right now, during the time of the present generation.
But instead of all hands on deck working long hours to try to reverse this slide into oblivion and darkness, we see everything going on “business as usual” as everyone goes on trying to swindle and steal another dollar before the curtain falls. The reason for this is that the change has been very gradual. All through the Industrial Revolution, the earth – its land, its rivers, its air, its oceans, and its people – has been in a state of gradual decline. Of course, this decline has been going on for longer than that – but the past hundred and fifty years have seen such an incredible acceleration of the process of destruction that we might as well look at this as a contemporary problem.
I do not propose here to go through the whole catalog of ruin and destruction – there are plenty of doomsayers who are shouting themselves hoarse warning of the dangers of everything from nuclear power and global warming to the destruction of the Ancient Forest. My purpose is more abstract – I want to look at this from an objective point abstracted out of the context of the current problem. Just suppose that our little world is being studied by the scientists of a civilization from a star like Alpha Centauri, many light years away. They may have been studying it for hundreds or thousands of years, and suddenly they see that this green and fertile earth has been rapidly withering and turning brown. It is clearly dying. It is as obvious as it would be to a horticulturist who watches his pots of greenery – one of his plants has been wilting, and the leaves are turning yellow and brown and falling off one by one. As Dylan says, “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” Either the plants are green and vibrant and glowing with energy, growing in good health, or they are limp and feeble and wilting and drooping, losing their leaves as they lose vitality.
When a plant is in a state of decline like that, it is necessary to take immediate steps to discover the problem and to make such changes as will be needed to restore the plant to health. Perhaps there is not enough water, or perhaps too much. Perhaps the soil is depleted and worthless, or perhaps there are some toxic elements in the soil. Maybe there is not enough sun, or perhaps the air is stale and toxic.
The point is that there may be a brief window of time during which it may be possible to reverse the decline of the living plant – if it is left for too long, then the plant will just die off, even if, too late, you make desperate changes, trying to revive the plant.
The Earth is a single living organism (“Gaia”). The “Gaia hypothesis” seems so obvious and self-evident to me, that it hardly seems that it needs to be explained or discussed, but for those who may perhaps never think about such things, let me just say that all living systems are occupying the same space. Just as every atom is composed of a nucleus at the center surrounded by a field of energy that extends far out, so that pattern follows for all of life. A human being is not just confined to the simple body which you may see sitting in a chair – his field of energy extends to the outermost reaches of the cosmos, but certainly at least it covers all of the region surrounding the planet Earth. What this means is that, in some very important sense, everyone on earth is occupying the same space. What’s more, all living things – plants, animals, trees, beetles, and people, are all in this together. Over the evolutionary course of many millions of years, all of these energy streams have evolved into more or less sustainable living systems that are inextricably intertwined.
Now, suddenly, in the past hundred and fifty years, the human race has exercised such an unprecedented influence upon this fragile biological environment that it is breaking down in many important ways.
I want to look at the health of the planet from the point of view of its “aura.” In one of my earlier articles (The Metaphysics of Sex), I detailed eight patterns of biological interaction, which represent, in very abstract form, the range of the potential of life. These patterns range from very negative patterns of aggression and hostility to loftier patterns of love and union. Of course, a review of that article would be useful here, but I want to look at my catalog of patterns mostly from the point of view of the colors of the aura associated with those patterns, and then consider the level of life energy in any living system by looking at those colors of the aura. We may liken the aura to a pattern of energy similar to a kind of a light, which expresses the quantity and quality of “vitality” or life force available or remaining in that organism. A plant or animal in good health will have a bright aura; a diseased or dying plant or animal will have a dark or muddy aura.
The colors of the patterns indicated in that article may be seen as accumulations – that is, at the bottom there is the color Black, which is the color of death – actually, it is the absence of color. Then, moving up the scale, there are the colors of Red and Violet, both of which represent aggressive colors – red is new energy just bursting onto the scene, and violet is the end of the range, just before it blinks out again. Above that, there is a mid range of Orange and Blue which represent more established levels of life energy. Above that, there are the higher levels of Yellow and Green, representing much higher developments of biological vitality. Finally, at the very top, is the color White, which is the accumulation of all colors, and it represents the highest level of vitality – Unity, Love, (the Creative, Heaven, from the I Ching – and the metal Gold from Alchemy).
So, while I am re-hashing all of my old ideas in this essay, let me mention one more that needs to be emphasized in this context – whenever something is in good health, all elements of the organism will be in a state of balance and harmony, and when an organism is not in good health, elements will be in a state of chaos and confusion. The closer the organism is to a state of balance and clarity and harmony, the healthier the organism. Conversely, when an organism exhibits extreme chaos and confusion, it is clear that the organism is in very bad health.
Thus, it is very clear that our world is in very deep trouble right about now! There have been times in history (Athens under Pericles, for example), when everything seemed to be right – art, music, literature, even architecture expressed the harmony and beauty of the age. All one has to do is contrast the glorious and joyful music of J. S. Bach with the awful and strident noise of contemporary “music” in order to realize that we are suffering a considerable decline of vital energy. Everywhere one looks today one sees violence, anger, hostility, death, and destruction. Any sweetness and light that timidly tries to appear is laughed off the stage with ridicule.
So now I come to my conclusions – it is necessary to recognize what is going on! If people were to see all of this clearly, then perhaps it might be possible to turn this around. What is needed is not just “a solution to the war in the Middle East, or Iraq” but a whole new spiritual consciousness. Everyone who wants life on earth to survive must work towards the goal of a renewal of spiritual consciousness. It doesn’t matter what specific theological ideas anyone may have – as I expressed in another article (Is Religion Good or Bad?), I have come to the conclusion that “religions” are just obstacles to spiritual consciousness. (See also How to Measure Spiritual Growth.)
We need to develop an all-encompassing spiritual consciousness that includes all of life – not just Moslems as well as Jews, but goldfish as well as blackberry brambles. If we can develop a critical mass of life to converge into a place of harmony and balance, it may be possible to reverse the slide of the planet towards an ultimate disintegration. Time is running out – let us make a specific goal of accomplishing this convergence by the year 2012 – an arbitrary time, perhaps, but a date by which many people have been looking for another high point in the “biorhythm” of the planet. We must make this convergence of harmony and balance powerful enough to carry the earth to a new Golden Age, because a failure to accumulate enough positive energy to reverse the direction back towards the center, towards Clarity, Balance, Peace, and Love, will probably mean that the ebb tide of life on earth will just cause Gaia to decay into the color Black for all the rest of eternity.
The Evanescent Press