The devastating impact of human civilisation on our planet is not accidental. Our exploitation of the environment is merely a tool, perhaps a need, for us humans to achieve something. Any serious attempt to address the current global crisis should first step back from the specific details of the problem and ask: what is the intended goal of this exploitation?
The Marxist answer (profit and wealth) is only partially satisfactory, since even money is only a tool (the tool of all tools). Especially today, when the amount of money seems to reach unimaginable heights, while at the same time it remains confined to the rather immaterial world of online bank accounts, it is necessary to find out what all this wealth is good for. So far, human beings are still involved at all levels of the capitalist system, and if those beings did not get something more concrete than numbers on a screen, they would probably be less greedy and passionate about defending their condition and role within that system.
The same caveat applies to Power. For as much as human beings have a talent for oppressing and dominating one another in all sorts of ways, sheer domination and exploitation is worth nothing if it does not bring concrete benefits and rewards.
So, what is all this good for? The answer is right in front of us, in our daily lives. We want food, shelter, sex, entertainment, health care, security. At least most of our time and resources end up being spent on these things, or on intermediary parts of the big clockwork that supports the provision of these things. When we tell ourselves that we’ve killed our civilisation and bought a ticket to extinction, we’re also thinking that we won’t be able to sustain our current way of consuming these things.
Why do we need them so badly? Because we seem to depend on external resources to survive, while consuming them contributes to consuming us and leaving us in need of repair. We need food, companionship and pleasure to feel good. But in order to obtain, protect and maintain this flow of goodness, we end up exploiting others (human and non-human), fighting, killing and hurting ourselves and the world around us. That is why we need hospitals, armies, laws and police to keep things under control.
But why do we look outside for resources? This is the fundamental question on which everything depends. The answer may seem bizarre at first, but it is true: when we look outside, we do not really understand what we are seeing. If we did, we would know that outside is us, and that what we are looking for there is not some form of energy to consume, but a form of beauty to express for its own sake.
Wait before you dismiss this as some weird mambo jumbo. Contemplative traditions around the world, in almost every human culture, have witnessed the possibility for human beings to tap into an inexhaustible well of energy by simply tuning into the source from which everything arises. But most contemplative traditions have been interested in finding ways of simply returning to that source and dissolving there, undoing all ties with the rest of the world. And even when a more integral view was developed, there was no particular urgency to uphold it, because humanity was just one of the many forms in which life happened.
Today, humanity is the main form through which life on this planet is on the verge of a radical change that could take the form of mass genocide. This is urgent enough to take a second look at what we knew but didn’t fully understand. We have access to an infinite reservoir of energy and joy, within us, around us, which is the same source from which everything originates, and which we blindly seek while exploiting external resources. In this sense, the energy problem is solved, or its solution is no longer theoretical, it is only practical—a matter of finding out how to access to this source of energy.
The problem is that as long as we remain attached to the old, ordinary, exploitative system that brought us here, we won’t be able to really tap into that source. This does not mean that we have to actively overthrow anything, just that we have to stop holding on to our own chains. The whole system is already collapsing under its own weight. It will be a foretold bloody tragedy, but it does not need any further push. All that is needed is for us to unbuckle our belts and not be dragged along by them.
The first and foremost way in which we keep our seatbelt fastened while the plane is crashing is by holding on to the need to do something for ‘ourselves’ (for ‘me’, for ‘myself’). Isn’t that something natural, intimate, private, normal? No, it is constructed, externally induced, blindfolded. As long as we want to solve and fix our own private problems first, it will take forever to get anywhere, because the same process of fixing will inevitably reveal new problems, and they are an inexhaustible legion. The only direct and quick way is to jump straight ahead, seek nothing but the Source and let it do the rest. Then, what really needs fixing will be fixed, and the rest won’t matter.
We don’t really know (we can’t know) the plan for the apocalypse. But we can do something that life always does: prepare for a reboot. It is unlikely (and it is so hard to say it) that everyone will be willing to cooperate and participate. But those who are willing need not be left out. A reboot does not need a majority, just a sufficient minority, coordinated enough to move in the same direction, anarchic enough to explore all possible ways of doing so.
What does this sufficient minority need to know? The first and most fundamental point is to rediscover how to live on an inner energy that is not only renewable but eternal. This, of course, reduces all the demands of external circumstances, expands immensely our flexibility and adaptability to all scenarios, and activates a form of intuitive ingenuity born of the ability to listen to our common source, which always speaks through us. If there is time left, we can reflect on what has been good in the past millennia of human endeavour and horror, and see what we want to learn from it. We do not necessarily need to bring anything with us, except perhaps some good lessons and some nice legends.
This is the reboot plan. It begins now.