The only door we have left open to ourselves as a species is a mass-scale awakening.
Zen Buddhism is full of stories about practitioners staring death in the face in order to cut through their mental habits and force a direct confrontation with the fundamental matter. Monks doing zazen on a cliff’s edge to keep themselves alert, rōshis telling frustrated students to kill themselves if they cannot achieve satori by next sunrise, students taking death vows if they fail to awaken within a given period of time, etc.
In a very real sense, I think this is kind of what humanity is collectively doing to itself right now.
It’s fascinating, really. Somehow, some way, we’ve managed to trick ourselves into a situation where the only way for us to avert extinction is to realize on a mass scale the potential that sages have been pointing to for millennia. We’ve managed to perfectly troll ourselves into evolve-or-die time.
As if guided by some strange, deep wisdom, humanity has walked itself into a situation where it is holding the knife in one hand and the incense in the other, vowing to kill itself if it cannot attain collective enlightenment by the time the incense burns out.
We didn’t do it on purpose. We didn’t do it because our egos found it to be a gratifying crisis to put ourselves in. We just wound up here, by some bizarre miracle, completely out of left field. Something deep within us has put us in a position where we must necessarily rise to our full potential as a species or go the way of the dinosaur.
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