I am saying that the individual self must become consciously aware of far more reality; that it must allow its recognition of identity to expand so that it includes previously unconscious knowledge. To do this you must understand, again, that man must move beyond the concepts of one god, one self, one body, one world, as these ideas are currently understood. You are now poised, in your terms, upon a threshold from which the race can go many ways. There are species of consciousness. Your species is in a time of change. There are potentials within the body’s mechanisms, in your terms not as yet used. Developed, they can immeasurably enrich the race, and bring it to levels of spiritual and psychic and physical fulfillment. If some changes are not made, the race as such will not endure. — Seth, The Unknown Reality
Let us for the moment focus on this paragraph, excerpted from a longer statement, to unwrap its fuller implications and significance. The warning, uttered almost half a century ago, may have sounded strange then. Today, it shouldn’t strike us as being all that odd.
There is, in an ironic way, a sense that Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis is true — just not in the way Fukuyama understood it. Certain sensitive individuals have intuited it otherwise as “Judgement Day”, if you want to put it like that. Apocalyptic scenarios are pretty common in film and literature. It’s the expressed mood of the times. I have also just finished reading Chris Hedges’ Wages of Rebellion, which freely expresses his own fears for “human extinction” and planetary “self-destruction”. The sense of an impending global catastrophe haunts the contemporary imagination, including, now, even fear of asteroids.
To suggest that all this anxiety and Angst might be connected with the passing away of a particular species of human being — homo sapiens — is pretty audacious, isn’t it? Not just a “paradigm shift”, or a change of ideas or a change of consciousness, but species mutation might be considered well over the top, as I suggested in the last post on “Planetary Man, Global Soul”. But to ask the question, what type of human being must it take to really embody “planetary consciousness” — not just as an “idea” but as a lived reality — is not so far-fetched.
The signs that we are in a time of species change, as anticipated by Seth’s remarks, have become fairly evident. Confusion about the meaning of “human” has become rampant, signifying that homo sapiens is no longer the consensus self-understanding. Confusion about the human essence is revealed in the proliferation of definitions — homo sapiens, homo faber, homo ludens, homo oeconomicus, homo grammaticus, and so on. It reminds of the old parable of the five blind scholars and the elephant. They all pretend to have discovered the true essence of the human form in some specialist activity — thinking, tool-making, making a living, playing, worshiping, speaking, and so on. All, of course, reflect a partial truth — a partial truth that pretends to be the whole truth. But the confusion about the human really points to the fact that it has become indeterminate. There is no longer any consensus understanding of the meaning of “human”.
As such, Seth is profoundly right. We are in a time in which the race can, and perhaps will, go many ways, and some of those ways are even now being tried — cyborgism or man-machine hybrids, even, or dubious genetic tinkerers — many of which will prove to be dead ends, or worse. That is already reflected in the proliferation of definitions of the “human”. But much of the strife and contention is, presently, the result of these different “probable human” types competing for species hegemony.
“Many things are about to be born”, wrote Jean Gebser. The corollary to that is that many things are about to die, too. Homo sapiens, as such, is also in the process of passing away, for all these competing definitions of the human are simply reflections of the contemporary disintegration of the human form and its self-understanding. The type “homo sapiens” has gone about as far as it can go, though, and is no longer the fitting form or vessel to embody emergent “planetary consciousness”.
So, before us all stands a fateful choice. How we imagine the possible human is how we will become. If we get it wrong, we’re finished. That’s the conclusion of the last sentence of Seth’s warning. It is also Nietzsche’s. Homo sapiens must now transcend itself or perish. Behind Nietzsche’s “Become what you are!” and “Be true to the Earth!” there is an evolutionary demand for a new species of human being that can adequately embody “planetary consciousness”. We have simply called that new species homo integralis. If that is something you find needful and desirable, that need and that desire alone will also set in motion the forces which will attempt to activate and realise it. Far too little attention is paid to internal factors such as passion and desire, or the imagination, in the evolutionary process. This deficiency has become completely unacceptable at a time when even physics is grappling with the role of consciousness in reality formation and determination. Exuberance, inspiration, creativity, the Dionysian “divine madness” — these things count for something in the evolutionary process.
Of course, it follows that if the new consciousness also requires physiological changes (“potentials within the body’s mechanisms” not yet used, as Seth puts it) then we are talking about species change, and not just a change in consciousness or ideas or mental models alone. Notable changes in the physical form are mutations. The changes foreseen involve the whole man or whole woman — mind, body, soul, and spirit.
All I can think of at the moment, in this respect, is to leave you with one of Rumi’s remarkable poems “When was I less by dying?”
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’