Trees do not grow to the sky
This is a quote by Stephen Jay Gould, a famous evolutionary biologist, who thought that in nature there is no clear evolution towards complexity or larger organisms, a theory which is somewhat still discussed in science.
I would like to borrow it for my own purposes, to instead discuss the value of the “Middle Way”, a valuable Buddhist concept that helps reconcile Nihilism and Eternalism.
Nothing matters, all matters. There is no meaning in the world. Everything has meaning.
The middle way recognises that both are true at the same time. It is the reconciliation of Newtonian and Quantum Physics. At a simple level you can see the effects of the law of cause and effect.
Tit for tat. If you do something you can except something else to happen in return.
But when the numbers become too big and the connections too many, you need to enter the quantum realm.
You can try to control few variables, but it is impossible when you have too many.
At this level, things are literally out of control.
Effort and letting go, as some meditation teachers would say.
It is easy to see how anything brought to the extreme becomes impractical and often a parody of itself.
Opposing vision of the world that become so extreme they collapse.
Communism and Capitalism, for example.
Two contrasting views of how society should be organised.
Power to the state, power to the individual.
By looking at history, it is clear that Communism has failed, collapsing on itself. This big threat that America felt, and for which we almost had a third world war, just melted away like ice in the sun.
When power and possibilities are taken away from the individual, the human spirit dies.
I saw this in my few visits to Ukraine, an ex-communist country. No more sparkle in people’s eye.
Capitalism is an experiment too, and an extreme in itself. When making money is the main purpose of a society (capital-ism) and the “freedom” to accumulate as much as you want an individual right and for some, an obligation, other things come second place.
Natural resources, human health, human rights, etc... are expendable.
It is plain to see how for example the United States of America is going too far in this direction. When everything is privatised and when war, prisons, and health, for example, become for profit, there is always going to be an interest in having more wars, more crime, and more sick people.
It is a question of offer and demand.
But sooner or later this system will collapse too, as all extremes do.
It would be wise, as humans, to find a compromise. To search for a middle ground, before the system becomes so auto-referential that it would rather see its own demise than change.
The power of attachment, of pure ego, seeing just one side of the coin, will completely take over?
Only time will tell.
On a lighter note, I have seen some extreme and funny forms of identifications during the Mindfultrail.
For the last couple of months have been caught in the stream of backpackers crossing Central America, in my case heading South.
Most in their 20's, following the same routes, staying in the same hostel, looking for the best deal, going on the same tours, exchanging tips for the best deal and on what to see, always talking about how long they have been on the road, how long will they be, etc... etc…
A tribe in perpetual motion.
Almost like a continuos stream of consciousness reliving the same experience, over and over again.
Have you done that? Have you seen that?
They are divided in two broad categories: the party people and the neo-hippy people.
Hostels are also so divided, according to what kind of travellers they want to attract.
I have hanged out in both. Funny to se the different stereotypes.
In one you compete for how much you were wasted last night on cheap booze and the amount of swear words you can include in sentence, in the other is all about the attitude and the "aura" you project.
It seems that in an effort to run away from societal conformity, you end up conforming to even a more strict code: either of speech, behaviour, or look.
It is all about the way you talk, the funky coordinated shoes, pants, shirt, bags, hairdos, tattoos, and sometimes very black feet soles.
The party people looks like still being really angry with their parents, the hippy people probably missing having real ones.
Do you need to conform to this, if you are backpacking through central America?
Of course not.
You can be yourself no matter where you go.
And it does not even matter if you travel or not.
What matters is just one question: can you be here now?
If you can do that, does not matter what you do, or where you go.
If you work in an office 9 to 5 you can do that, if you are backpacking through central America you can do that as well.
There is only one moment, and that moment is you.
Here and now.