Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Human Hill

Scott Bradley


I have often made reference to the human hive or the human ant hill. This has many implications but the primary idea is to get a glimpse of humanity as if from the outside — as if we were not in fact human, not absorbed in our own self-importance, not immersed in our own sectarian biases. This exercise provides a sense of what it is to take the view from Dao. Suddenly, all these issues, personal and societal, seem inconsequential. They are so incredibly petty, why did we invest so much time and energy, distress and worry, in them?

Observe an ant hill. Is not humanity very much the same? For the ants, it's all about, only about, ants. Yet we, being of a more expansive consciousness, see them as of little consequence. Remarkable, yes; the center of the universe, no. Are we not like the ants?

Ants build intricate homes, manipulate things to further their purposes. Humans build cities and smart phones; is there really that much difference between us? Ants fight wars, red against black, black against small, small against large. Looking down upon them, we find this curious, take no side. Could we likewise observe our own folly, find it curious and take no side?

The view from Dao equalizes all things. All things are wondrous; yet no one thing is more wondrous than another. Things arise; things pass. Universes most likely arise and pass. Each is a momentary expression of an ever-emergent, ever-unfolding Dao. As such, every thing is special. Every thing is worthy of honor and respect.

Observe your own heart. Is something there that is affirmable beyond every other consideration, beyond dependence on any prerequisite conditions? This is also how it is with the ants, though they do not 'know' it. The view from Dao sees it in all things and invites us to do likewise.

Moses went up the mountain, met his god, and though he descended the mountain only to find a golden calf, he was never the same. Informed by the view from Dao, we continue to live in our hill, take part in its struggles, work for more peace, more justice, more happiness for all, yet because we have experienced a wider view, in all our seriousness, we understand that it is not so serious after all. And this, paradoxically, is what makes our non-seriousness the most effective seriousness of all.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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