eisenstein writes that ‘[separation means that] nature, and human nature, is hostile, uncaring, neither sacred nor innately purposeful [–the implication being that reunion is the opposite]’–but isn’t nature, and all existence, purposeless, according to buddhism? furthermore, isn’t purposeless the logical conclusion of existentialism?
what does eisenstein mean by ‘purpose’? he asks, ‘Could there after all be a purpose, a transformational significance to the crescendo of violence that engulfs the planet today?’ he goes on to say that purposeless has allowed us to treat the world as inert. but is there a purpose, or does eisenstein invent one? he speculates the planet earth is alive–gaia–and about to give birth; he speculates, but he doesn’t know.
assuming there is a purpose to all this madness, he wonders, ‘in its modern form: what is the ultimate purpose of the descent of humanity “from a place of enchantment, understanding and wholeness” to the separation, alienation, and ruin of the present day?’
right now, ’round midnight, i just don’t know. i think eisenstein has some good points about self and purpose, but i’m wary that one of us has spent too much time in his head. i’m also wary that i may not be up to the task, at least in this lifetime. like the csny lyric, i just want to lay my burden down. that may be *my* purpose, even in these horrific times.
eisenstein: ‘we may take solace in the further observation that the War Against Heaven is itself not outside the divine plan, but part of it. In parallel, the ascent of humanity, the ascent of technology and separation, is not a wrong turn or a blunder but a necessary part of a process. In fact, to believe it a purposeless wrong turn is to reinforce the very assumptions that give it rise. It is to believe ourselves an exception to the rule of Nature described in Chapter Six: no trait evolves accidentally but only in fulfillment of an environmental purpose.Our separation from nature, our war against nature, our ambition to transcend nature forever is actually in accord with nature’s purposes, an evolutionary step not just of the human species, but of the planet as a whole. Our apparent separation is actually a step toward wholeness at a higher level of complexity, a stage in the extension of nature to a new realm. A mythological narrative can help illustrate this process. Once upon a time there was unity: God but no creation; in Taoism the undifferentiated hundun, the original formlessness; in Buddhism the non-dualistic original mind. Then after an eternal interval, this unity decided to experience separation from itself. In other words, God split Godself into trillions of little pieces, which gradually forgot who they were. The reason was to experience what that is like, and eventually to come back together again at a higher level of consciousness. We could even see Lucifer as the first heroic volunteer. “Who shall go?” a voice thundered to itself, and finally part of that voice split off, separated, and therefore descended into Hell, presaging the deepening hell that we find ourselves in when we maintain and widen our separation from nature, other people, and the divine. The mounting crises of today’s world are none other than this.Perhaps separation is not an evil, but rather an adventure of self-discovery. Perhaps technology is an exploration of the illusion of separateness, that the Whole may come to better know itself, achieving Reunion, yes, but at a higher level than before. In other words, there is a purpose to the Fall and thus a purpose to the whole course of Separation that is reaching its apogee at the present time. For this purpose to be fulfilled, it is necessary that Separation run its full course, to the very extreme we are experiencing today….The necessity of exploring the furthest reaches of separation means that none of the long history of separation was an error. Even the Scientific Revolution of Galileo, Newton, Descartes and the rest, which launched the current, most extreme alienation of ourselves from the universe, was a necessity. We had to go through it; it was implicit in everything that came before it. The only error would be to fail to learn from that experience. On an individual level too….Let us hope we do not wait until the last extreme, the utter ruin of life and world. Let ugliness and wrongness become intolerable before then. Anything you do to spread the knowledge that life is meant to be beautiful and meaningful, anything you do to convince people not to settle for less, will lower our tolerance for ruination and raise the “bottom” from which our addicted society will renew. I think the best way to spread this message is for us not to settle for less ourselves. I have often been inspired by those who, as Gandhi enjoined, “refuse to participate in anything humiliating,” or who dedicate their lives to creating beautiful things, or who are deeply attuned to plants and animals, or who live free of the mentality of what they can afford to do, or who bring people together through the force of their love, who are generous without effort or stint, who see right through me and love me anyway, knowing I am good. These people show us our birthright, what life is meant to be. Seeing their joy, passion, love, generosity, and creativity, we no longer will tolerate a system and an ideology that creates the opposite. Life can be better than this!’….’The same dynamic [of the individual] applies to the collective development of the human species. We are poised at the edge of transcendence, having fully developed—to the utmost extreme—the world of the rational ego self. We have fulfilled that stage, in which we are meant to consummate our individuation as separate beings, or in the collective case, as an entity, “Man”, separate and distinct from Nature. While we may lament the vast suffering that separation has rendered, another way to look at it is that we are growing up. This process of individuation is necessary to discover who we really are, collectively, as a species.’….’if we are to believe in a purposeful universe, we must look elsewhere for an answer. The answer I offer you is that all of the people, cultures, species, and ecosystems that we have destroyed constitute, together, a medicine for the great disease of our civilization, the disease named Separation…. The cultures, species, and people we have extirpated have delivered to us a teaching and a medicine.’….’the healing power of nature, the wild, the inherent purposefulness of the universe… our highest purpose is to actualize unmanifest realms of beauty…The human gifts … are not intrinsically evil, demonic powers to be spurned, but are, in the end, sacred means to take the creation of beauty to a new level. The problem is that we have not respected them as sacred. We have … held [our] Newtonian ontology, which itself is just the culminating articulation of separation…. the purpose of technology is to take nature and the creation of beauty to the next level…. Every industrial process, every social institution, every relationship of our lives is a suitable object of our art. Humanity’s turning to art is not the hobby of a retiree, it is the fusion of life and art, art and work, work and play….to understand, appreciate, and participate in nature’s ongoing creation of new realms of beauty, and how do we do that? It is through play….’
my purpose is sleep