Yes, humanity has, generally, become over-indulgent physically: obesity though over-eating; rampant consumerism because we rely too heavily on things to make us happy. But there’s an even worse obsession, which probably underlies these two:
We (in the west at least) have a strong tendency of over-indulging our rational mind.
Stop and reflect on this for a moment if you can. Are we not obsessed with order, structure, theories and, worse of all, being in control? We’ve allowed our normal ‘thinking’ mind so much power and influence that it now totally dominates our waking (and probably sleeping) consciousness. What happens when something in our life doesn’t fit into a neat little box or can’t be categorized or predicted? We get anxious. We’ll get worried whether the bus will arrive on time to make our appointment; we’ll become afraid of getting ill from a banana with a few black spots on it, and so on. Then, in order to counter the anxiety, we become even more controlling: we’ll invest in the latest gadget to monitor x, y, or z automatically and warn us that we’re getting anxious!
It’s a vicious circle which will only ever get more frantic and frenetic. There has to be, and is, another, better way.
Let’s look at and learn from nature. Is the natural world predictable? No! How many times has the weather not matched the forecast? Are droughts and famines predictable? Not even to our latest scientific thinking and advanced technology. And yet, at least until we humans came along (and disrupted their natural habitats) most other creatures of this planet were perfectly capable of tuning into the vagaries of the weather and their environment and living within the natural order, finding their natural place in a balanced community of creatures and planetary systems.
If they can do it, then so can we!
The natural order of things is far deeper than any theorem can hope to describe. My experience is that (and as Zen and Tao approaches demonstrate) the more I’m able to rise above the rational mind’s insistence on an explanation the easier life flows. When I, instead, allow my consciousness to tune-into whatever the situation is that I need to progress with, so I see new perspectives that logic just wouldn’t have considered. For example, I’m struggling to get an app (or computer programme as we used to call them) to do something for me, I’ll take a few minutes reflection break, watch the clouds go by, perhaps. Then, when I go back to my PC I find a new, aware, connected, thought there: ‘you don’t need to do this!’ for example. Taking a step back had shown me the bigger picture and a way forward that avoided this bit of technology all together!
To consciously evolve is to recognise when we’re over-indulging our conditioned rationality and step back from it. And deep down, we know this is a better way. Why else has contemplative or reflective practice, and mindfulness become so welcome these days? Because we KNOW that our rational minds need a break!
Image: Meerkats at Chester Zoo: they don’t need an app to tell them when danger is on the horizon!