People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore. Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. Life is available only in the present.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
We are a species who dreams, spinning stories with our imaginations. Then, we seem to get lost in those stories, both as a species and individuals. Wisdom arises as we learn to see more clearly, our imaginations balanced by careful observations and compassion.
Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh suggest that the way to wake up from our illusions is to practice mindfulness. To observe the Universe directly, with quiet minds. Receptive, like how an artist watches the world carefully, drinking in the beauty, seeing the interdependent details and seeds of potential that exist within and all around us.
The Potential for Destruction
Our species is extremely intelligent, loyal and innovative. With our technological knowledge, military powers and willingness to obey authority modern humans have conquered the world. But when not balanced by wisdom and love our powers of creativity, technology and imagination become predatory and destructive.
Most people in modern societies are lured and hypnotized by the spells of our cultural illusions and beliefs. Civilization’s leaders are those who excel at the art of mass marketing and propaganda, who are best able to sell deceptions and false promises. The illusion does not need to be true to gain power, leaders and those in positions of influence just need to sell it well, to appear confident of their lies, hide the truth and have enough people believe them.
Think of the Roman empire, the slave trade, Hitler, Monsanto, the Iraq War, Islamic State and the Wolves of Wall Street. Drunk on power, predatory human intelligence has been creating problems and instability since the dawn of human civilization, because our leaders always sought more wealth and power for themselves, not for the benefit of others.