Dead End

DeadEndSignThere are four structural realities to be considered in this essay. Three are ephemeral and only one is real given that reality does not change, that is to say, that which changes is not real. In speaking of that which is real we are speaking of timeless and indestructible energy. This can all seem very abstract so now let’s enter into human history for concrete examples of what we are talking about.

The history of our species rests on a biological structure, the first and most basic of the physical structures that we will consider. Fundamental particles make nuclei, the nuclei join in atoms, the atoms join in molecules, the molecules join in bases, the bases direct the assembly of amino acids, and the amino acids join in proteins. This structure enabled evolution and the appearance of homo-sapiens on the planet. Voila, you and me.

The next structure to consider is the social structure where self-conscious humans enter the picture anxious and looking for security. A human enters life as part of a family, families are joined in kinship groups, kinship groups in clans, clans in tribes, and finally in modern times, tribes in nations. Alas, no security yet.

Architecture provides us with an example of the evolution of physical structures and their inherent physical limitations. The evolution of these physical structures will reveal a critical human characteristic that we are only dimly aware of.

A highly valued artist in the ancient world, the “architect” had started out building primitive shelters. The Greek architects were able to create beauty in their building using the simple post and lintel structure. The ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum in Southern Italy reveal one of the earliest and most beautiful of the ancient Greek buildings.

The Roman architects made the next major breakthrough, adding the power of the arch to create beautiful and practical structures. “Structurally the arch is simply a method of spanning space which does not load the centre more than the rest; the stress flows outward fairly equally throughout. But for this reason the arch can be made of parts: of separate blocks of stone which the load compresses. In this sense, the arch is a triumph of the intellectual method which takes apart and puts the pieces together in new and more powerful combinations.”

The analysis (taking apart) and synthesis (putting together) mentioned here are two aspects of our higher level thinking skills. The next building innovation depended less on the intellect and more on intuition. The builders of the Middle Age cathedrals did not understand mathematics well enough to calculate the stresses involved in the tall buildings that we find captivatingly beautiful today. They simply modified the Roman arch into the pointed Gothic arch. But what told them to do this?

The Gothic Cathedrals approached 150 feet in height and were filled with light. The common masons directed the stresses through the arch to the outside of the building. Then they were able to build even higher by using a “half arch” or flying buttress to add more support

J. Bronowski in his The Ascent of Man reveals a key ability that we rarely see today. “The construction of these huge, defiant monsters is a stunning achievement of human foresight—or rather, I ought to say, since they were built before any mathematician knew how to compute the forces in them, of human insight.”

This brings us to the last of our structures which lends itself to analysis and synthesis in that the key pieces are discovered, sequenced and assembled into a final and viable structure. To build this structure we must rely on our intuition as did the common masons of the Middle Ages. Indeed, we must turn away from the world of form, the intellect and conventional knowledge in order to leave room for our inner wisdom to emerge.

The insight called for is Oneness, the Great Insight wherein we realize that all of creation is fundamentally indestructible energy and therefore interrelated, interconnected and interdependent. The “key pieces” of our structure are worldview, identity and behavior.

The worldview of Oneness provides the foundation for the identity of the True self which in turn transforms human behavior into that of compassionate response. Using the Point of Power Practice choosing one building block (response) after another and refusing to use inferior materials (reactions) we can build a viable human community.

We have reached a dead end in human evolution. We must shift our paradigm from reliance on the intellect and the world of form to the realm of inner wisdom or we as a species will cease to exist. Unlike all other extinct species, however, our demise will be one of our own choosing.

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References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry:
Who Am I? The Second Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Where Am I?  The First Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Simple Reality: The Key to Serenity and Survival

 

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