Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and he was right.
The only way we can learn anything is by first wanting to learn it. It’s a very simple formula: when we want something, we do what it takes to get it. We make the time, muster the energy, and develop the necessary skills. It turns out that the engine of change is desire.
The way our desires evolve both defines and designs the entire history of humanity. As humankind’s desires developed, they urged people to study their environment so they could fulfill their wishes. Unlike minerals, plants, and animals, people constantly evolve. For every generation, and for each person, desires grow stronger and stronger.
This engine of change—desire—is made of five levels, zero through four. About 5,000 years ago, the will to receive was at level zero. Today, as you might have guessed, we are at level four—the most intense level. But in the early days when the will to receive was at level zero, desires were not strong enough to separate us from nature and from each other. In those days, this oneness with nature was the natural way of life. People didn’t know any other way. They didn’t even know that they could be separated from nature, nor did they want to be.
In fact, in those days, humanity’s communication with nature and with each other flowed so seamlessly, words were not even necessary; instead, people communicated by thought, much like telepathy. It was a time of unity, and the whole of humanity was like a single nation.
But while still in Mesopotamia, a change occurred: people’s desires started to grow and they became more egoistic. People began to want to change nature and use it for themselves. Instead of wanting to adapt themselves to nature, they began wanting to change nature to fit theirneeds. They grew detached from nature, separated and alienated from it and from each other. Today, many centuries later, we are discovering that this was not a good idea. It simply doesn’t work.
Wanting to be in control
Naturally, as people began to place themselves in opposition to their environment and their societies, they no longer related to others as kin and to Nature as home. Hatred replaced love, and people grew apart and became detached from one another. In consequence, the single nation of the ancient world was divided. It first split into two groups that drifted to the east and to the west. The two groups continued to divide and splinter, eventually forming the multitude of nations we have today.
Ever since that split—when our desires grew from level zero to level one—we have been confronting nature. Instead of correcting the ever-growing egoism to remain as one with nature, we have built a mechanical, technological shield to protect us from it. The initial reason we developed science and technology was to secure our shielded existence away from nature’s elements. It turns out, however, that whether we are aware of it or not, we are actually trying to control nature and take over the driver’s seat.
Seeking but not finding
The level of egoism in humanity has kept growing, with each level driving us farther away from nature. The distance is not measured in inches or yards; it’s measured in qualities. Nature’s quality is wholeness, connectedness, and giving, but it is only possible to feel it when we share these qualities. If I am self-centered, there is no way I can connect to anything as whole and altruistic as nature. It would be like trying to see another person when we are standing back to back.
Because we are standing back to back with nature and because we still want to control it, clearly, the more we try, the more frustrated we become. Certainly, we cannot control something we can’t see or even feel. This desire can never be filled unless we make a U-turn, look in the opposite direction.
Moving to true health and happiness
Many people are already growing tired of technology’s broken promises of wealth, health, and most important, safe tomorrows. Too few people have attained all these today, and even if they did, they cannot be certain they will still have them tomorrow. But the benefit of this state is that it forces us to reexamine our direction and ask, “Is it possible we’ve been treading the wrong path all along?”
Particularly today, as we acknowledge the crisis and the impasse we are facing, we can openly admit that the path we’ve chosen is a dead-end street. Instead of compensating for our self-centered oppositeness from nature by choosing technology, we should have changed our egoism to altruism, and consequently to unity with nature.
To realize our oppositeness from nature means that we must acknowledge the split that occurred among us (human beings) five thousand years ago. This is called “the recognition of evil.” It is not easy, but it is the first step to true health and happiness.