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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].
Climate Change, UFO's, and Human Evolution
Many may see this as a dystopian nightmare, and even the ultimate example of spiritual by-passing.
It is obvious what climate change has to do with human evolution. It is an adaptive challenge that we will either meet and transition to a sustainable post-fossil-fuel civilization, or knowingly and stupidly cook ourselves and many other species on the planet to death. But what does climate change have to due with UFO's?
Each moment contains its present, which is a sum of its past moments. But it also contains a set of possible futures, which are the quantum potentials of the present that never actually “collapse” or split off into the many worlds of its wave-function. Rather, each moment is, in actuality, a present reality from the past that also, right here and now, has its future possibilities existing right beside it as a possible actual (or adjacent possible) in the present moment. This means that right now, in this present moment, there exist the future possible presents of the human species in adjacent (and more distant) possible forms, in a super-position of the human species.
One such future possible form of the human species is burnt and roasting in a hell-fire straight out of the archetypal vision of a Christian hell, both created and fulfilled by Western civilization. Another future possible present is a garden paradise of ecological harmony and abundance sustainable for an eternity, or for as long as humanly possible. These have long been the archetypal visions of heaven and hell envisioned in the West as the fate of humanity, and now it is not merely mythically but literally the choice of realities we face collectively. The mythical story of apocalypse and redemption, it turns out, has been a prescient prophecy of the potential fates of humanity led by the West all along, an immanent structure in its cultural DNA.
But there is a third possibility for human fate with a fairly high probability that also has a long mythic and prophetic presence in religious traditions through-out the world, and that is a realm of the gods or super-natural beings. It is a future possible form of humans that is not so distantly adjacent to the present but is proximal, and it exists right now as a possible actual in the present moment. It is not an imaginary fantasy, nor is it a “mere possibility”, but is an actual possible that really exists side-by-side with our existing present. That is to say, it is one of the quantum potentials of the human wave-function that never collapsed and disappeared at some arbitrary point in human history, or split-off into one of many parallel universes never to be seen again, but really exists here and now in the present as one of our future possibilities. And we occasionally even see them as UFO's, or alien greys and little green men, previously perhaps as chariots in the sky and angels or demons of various sorts.
The UFO and the alien are the modern-day appearance of our present possibility that exists right now beside and along with our actual present form as a species. They exist as potential manifestations of our species, but as real potentials, not imaginary ones, which is precisely why they are able to break into our actual present reality on rare occasions. They are the actually existing possibility of a human form that adapts to climate change not by the sustainable garden of Eden route which prevents climate change, but by the technological route that changes human beings themselves through genetic engineering and other technological means, not to prevent climate change but to adjust/adapt to the environmental conditions and other social problems we have created.
This is why they are raceless, genderless, and classless in the sense that they are engineered to have equal levels of skill, functionality, appearance, and intelligence. They have heat and toxin resistant skin, and even a photosynthetic energy supply from their green complexion (they eat the sun's energy!). Unfortunately for UFO buffs, flying saucers are most probably not interstellar space-ships but merely automated drones, highly advanced forms of the primitive ones we have already developed, and whose future potentials we see in actuality rather than in imagination, but mistake as alien space-craft.
Many may see this as a dystopian nightmare, and even the ultimate example of spiritual by-passing. Genetic engineering as a substitute for developing compassion for suffering, the self-discipline of living in diversity, and within our ego limits?! No thanks. But consider the alternative possibilities of living in heaven or hell. A sustainable global commons is rapidly fading as a near possibility, or high probable outcome. Like addicts addicted to black gold, and that isn't even a metaphor but an actual reality, we're rapidly approaching our bottom from which many addicts never return, and are soon terminated. It's hard enough for a single highly motivated addict to save their own life, but much more unimaginably difficult for a global collectivity to do it. We simply don't have time to become “enlightened” and miraculously recover from our addiction on a planetary scale.
In the end, my bets aren't with the human species. But our actually existing potential to become a highly advanced post-human species free of the dominator hierarchies and stupidity of our lower nature might represent an authentic escape from our own self-imposed extinction from the fire-hell on earth looming on the horizon. The sightings of UFO's and the appearance of the image of the alien-green in global culture is telling us as much. We need to learn what the inherent potentialities in the tea leaves and sticks are telling us in their appearance as “apparitions in the sky”, and divine wisely who we will need to become in full cognizance of what form of ourselves we will need to leave behind in order to move upward and forward.