Posted by Carpefeline in Palau tales – http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/carpefeline/1/1261606856/tpod.html
Throughout the history of humanity, within every culture, and among all levels of society within those cultures, some variation of acknowledgement of a transcendent aspect to existence has appeared in the writings, art, mythologies, and narratives, relevant to the particular culture. In the modern world, we take our awareness of our cultural heritage for granted, and most young adults with a reasonably typical level of education are generally versed in the traditional stories within their cultures. We sometimes forget that this was not always the case. For the earliest human societies, there was no previously constructed and well established cultural foundation of the sort we enjoy today, particularly when humanity was only just beginning to develop what could be described as clearly useful cognitive talents.
© NASA / JPL-Caltech
Ancient humans, at some point, finally possessed an adequate cognitive capacity to devise not only sophisticated means of enhancing their ability to flourish in the ancient world, but also to combine these enhanced abilities with useful memories of success and failure, methods of acquiring and exploiting available resources, and ultimately with ways of communicating meaningful associations and lessons to their descendents. Ever since the hominid brain evolved sufficiently to provide modern humans with an adequate degree of cognitive talent, the blossoming of conscious awareness slowly provided Homo sapiens with the ability to not only be aware that they exist, but to utilize this new ability deliberately and with purpose.
Human cognitive capacities and functions, while clearly dependent upon the architecture and electrochemical processes of the human brain, have not only provided us with a distinct survival advantage, but also with a degree and quality of consciousness that transcends all other known varieties on Earth. Our awareness of a richly-textured “inner experience,” and the ubiquitous cultural acknowledgement of some sort of existence beyond the temporal or corporeal sort, while also mitigated by our degree and quality of cognitive ability, at the very least, points toward the possibility that our experience of consciousness may involve influences and energies that exist beyond what we recognize as the temporal.
While these early humans may not have recognized what was transpiring in a comprehensive sense, the gradual accumulation of experience and memory eventually began to coalesce into a primitive self-awareness, and with it, the beginning of wonder and awe at the expansion of that awareness. It must have been both exhilarating and confusing for our hominid ancestors to experience this gradual ability to begin to comprehend the world in a more meaningful way, as well as to slowly grow more “conscious” of their own identities and roles as individual living creatures who “knew” they existed. We can only imagine what it must have been like for those first truly “self-aware” human beings to look up at the night sky and ponder the sight of millions of shimmering points of light, trying to comprehend the spectacle, and how it made them feel.
It is only in the remotest regions of my inner silence that I seem to be able to connect to the core matter which occupies my whole being these many years. It is far away from the experience of everyday life, and recently, I have been struggling a fair amount just to arrive in that place. In my aloneness, in the stillness of my inner self, I approach the gates only briefly it seems before I must reluctantly return to the surface. When in those rare moments I have been able to connect to this inner space, I have flung open the doors of my soul and welcomed those moments joyfully, hoping to illuminate the world which I can feel blossoming within me. There are many ways to avoid these connections, but at some point, if we are to move forward in our understanding, we must attempt to engage them fully. Life on the physical plane is only a shadow of the fullness of our existence, a manifestation of a much deeper and richer completeness. Overcoming the illusions of life in the physical universe requires a leap toward the spirit.
Even as 21st century humans, we can still experience a sense of awe when we turn our gaze to the panorama of stars on a crisp, clear winter night, but unlike our ancient ancestors, most of us are fully aware of what we see when we observe the night sky. In spite of our more comprehensive awareness of the world, and our place in the expanding universe, we still have a sense of something beyond what we can discern with our senses. In many ways, it is precisely because we have a greater comprehension of our temporal existence that the persistent sense of “something more” behind it all continues to engage us. A strictly materialist view of existence may be as comforting to the empiricist as this sense of “something more” can be to those who embrace the idea of the “human spirit,” but to deny its existence completely in the face of the extraordinary history and literature of humanity through the millennia, and in consideration of every possible avenue of exploration we currently possess seems, at best, short-sighted.