There are numerous theoretical reasons why we humans have strayed so far from a benign symbiotic relationship with the planet, and have instead taken on the visage, if not the behavior, of planetary pathogens. Human beings, like all living things on this planet, are inextricably intertwined with the elements of nature. We are threads in the tapestry of life. We constantly breathe the atmosphere that envelopes the planet; we drink the fluids that flow over the planet's surface; we eat the organisms that grow from the planet's skin. From the moment an egg and a sperm unite to spark our existence, each of us grows and develops from the elements provided by the Earth and sun. In essence, the soil, air, sun and water combine within our mother's womb to mold another living creature. Nine months later, another human being is born. That person is a separate entity, with an awareness of an individual self, an ego. That person is also totally a part of, and completely dependent upon, the surrounding natural world, the eco.
When the ego and the eco are balanced, the person lives in harmony with the planet. Such a balance can be considered to be the true meaning of spirituality, because the individual is a conscious part of, attuned to, and in harmony with a greater level of actual Being. When too much emphasis is placed on the self, the ego, an imbalance occurs and problems result, especially when that imbalance is collectively demonstrated by entire cultures. To suggest that these problems are only environmental and therefore not of great concern, is incorrect. Environmental problems (damage to the eco) ultimately affect all living things, as all living things derive their existence, livelihood and well-being from the planet. We cannot damage a thread in the web of life without the risk of fraying the entire tapestry.
When the ego gets blown out of proportion, we get thrown off balance in a variety of ways. Our educational institutions teach us to idolize the intellect, often at the expense of our moral, ethical, and spiritual development. Our economic institutions urge us to be consumers, and those who have gained the most material wealth are glorified. Our religious institutions often amount to little more than systems of human-worship where divinity is personified in human form and only human constructs (e.g., books and buildings) are considered sacred.
No discussion of a subject should be considered complete without an examination of its moral, philosophical and ethical considerations, as well as a review of the intellectual and scientific data. When we ignore the ethics behind a particular issue, and instead focus on intellectual achievements, it's great for our egos. We can pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves how smart we are. It deflates our egos, on the other hand, to realize that we are actually insignificant creatures on a speck of dust in a corner of the universe, and that we are only one of the millions of life forms on this speck, all of whom must live together.
In recent decades, an entire generation of western scientists, a formidable force of intelligence, focused much of its efforts on developing new ways to kill huge numbers of human beings all at once. This was the nuclear arms race of the 1950s which continues through the present day — a race that left us with environmental disasters yet to be cleaned up, a huge amount of natural materials gone to total waste (5.5 trillion dollars worth),1 a military death toll consisting of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over all of the peace-loving peoples of the world, even today. Surely this is an example of the collective ego run amok.
Religious movements that worship humans are ego-centered. It is ironic that a tiny, insignificant lifeform on a speck of dust at the edge of a galaxy lost somewhere in a corner of the universe would declare that the universe was created by one of their own kind. This would be a laughing matter if it were not taken so seriously by so many members of our culture who insist that the source of all life is a human-like creator deity named "God."
Many humans have matured enough to know that this is simply myth. We can't begin to comprehend the full nature of our existence, so we make up a story that works until we figure out something better. Unfortunately, human-worship breeds an imbalanced collective ego. When we actually believe the myth, that humans are the pinnacle of life and the entire universe was created by one of our own species, we stray too far from truth and wander lost, with no point of reference to take us back to a balanced spiritual perspective we need for our own long-term survival on this planet. We become like a person knee deep in his own excrement, not knowing how to free himself from his unfortunate position, staring blankly at a road map with a look of utter incomprehension.
Today, new perspectives are emerging regarding the nature of human existence. The Earth itself is becoming recognized as a living entity, a level of Being immensely greater than the human level. The galaxy and universe are seen as even higher levels of Being, with multiverses (multiple universes) theorized as existing at a higher level yet. All of these levels of Being are thought to be imbued with the energy of life, as well as with a form of consciousness which we cannot even begin to comprehend. As we humans expand our knowledge of ourselves and recognize our true place in the vast scheme of things, our egos must defer to reality. We must admit our absolute dependence upon the ecosystem we call Earth, and try to balance our egotistical feelings of self-importance with our need to live in harmony with the greater world around us.
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