This video, From Amazon To Garden State, perfectly exemplifies observations I’ve made on civilization over the last few decades. To be clear, I’m not pro or anti civilization; I simply wish to comprehend its full impact on humanity. Despite the obvious downsides of civilization, we’re never going to turn back the clock. I wouldn’t want to even if I could, so I am not romanticizing our ‘noble savage’ past. Indeed, I see chapter 80’s call to ‘Enable the people to again use the knotted rope‘ as a kind of Taoist pipedream calling for a return to Eden, so to speak.
Nevertheless, chapter 80 addresses a few of civilization’s downsides. The downsides in the following will be more obvious if you consider these lines from a Symptom’s Point Of View.
Excerpt from chapter 80… Small country, few people.
Enable the existence of various tools, yet never need them.
Enable the people attach importance to death, yet not travel around.
Although there exists boats and carriages, there is no place to ride them.
Although there exists weapons, there is no place to deploy them…
Someday we need to admit that civilization is not God’s gift to humanity, but instead an imperfect means that evolved to enable a tribal species (us) to co-exist relatively peacefully in abnormally large populations. A realistic and non-apologetic view of the negative consequences of civilization should help us understand and manage civilization better, or at a minimum, not make matters worse by ignorantly blaming scapegoats.
In my view, humanity is a natural experiment. Indeed, evolution is a work-in-progress experiment for every species on the planet — period. Buddha said, “Life is suffering”. (i.e., “I have taught one thing and one thing only, dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.”) He could have just as easily said, “Life is work”. I mean, keeping entropy at bay takes work for all living things. Work is both pleasurable in the life meaning it offers and painful in the demands it entails. ‘Suffering’ is just the painful aspects of ‘work’ from which we seek relief.
In Taoist terms, I see Buddha’s teaching on the cessation of suffering (dukkha) more in the light of chapter 71’s, Realizing I don’t’ know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. Man alone faults this disease; this so as not to be ill. We aggravate our life-work through ‘wrong understanding’; the ensuing cognitive certainty creates a “disease” unique to our species alone apparently.
This “disease” of cognitive conviction, assisted by civilization, is the root cause of so-called evil, not a devil or whatever scapegoat we seize upon. Just look around; do you see anything in the natural world that you could call evil? So does that mean humanity is not part of the natural world? Nope, but we certainly strive hard to shield ourselves from the less benevolent aspects of the natural world. Alas, in shielding ourselves in some ways we increase our burden in other ways. No one escapes the universe; as chapter 5 say, The universe is not benevolent, and all things serve as grass dogs (‘sacrificial lambs’) That takes some cognitive courage to accept. At least “realizing I don’t know” is a step in the right direction.
For those who watched the video From Amazon To Garden State.
I noticed some inconsistencies when comparing the video story of David Good and his Amazon mother’s first hand account / interview, with these articles.
“Colleagues accused him of exaggerating the violence, even of imagining it — a projection of his aggressive personality.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?