This blog concerns a topic that’s gnawed at me for decades: the next step in human evolution. With the advent of both the popular and academic expressions of evolutionary medicine and its successful epiphany as the Paleo movement, at last a cultural context has emerged in which some lingering, marginal ideas suddenly find themselves in a vital, robust environment to take on life and character.
Wisdom is given scant attention in the culture of modernity. Modernity fairly much assumes those times prior to Darwin were the age of superstition. With emergence of modernity in the latter 19th century, our bewitchment with the marvels of newly developing science disconnected us from wisdom traditions dating far back in history – and often remain confused with the inhibiting forces of religion. New research in the field of neuroscience is revalorizing wisdom of the past, reshaping our understanding of it as vital to reconnect with in order for a fuller blossoming of the dormant human innate within our genome to mature.
Great strides in scientific discovery have uncovered much of the story of our very long evolutionary history – from pre-biological evolution through millions of years of biological evolution. Nova and other science videos concerning the forces and processes constituting our lives behind the scenes reveal a miraculous complexity seemingly beyond belief. The lives we are given embody millions of years of evolution of complex, self-organizing intelligence – an intelligence so incredibly great as to bring about a sense of awe and the humbling recognition that those forces keeping us living are far greater than ability to comprehend them!
Physician Jonas Salk, developer of polio vaccine, held that we should be entering a new stage of evolution – one he called meta-biological evolution – and that the direction of evolution must become survival of the wisest. Our genius untempered by wisdom has created myriad tools threatening survival of the species, indeed of the living planet. While evolution has created an embodied human mind of incomprehensible potential, we have barely scratched the surface regarding its nature, uses, and directions for development as the humans we might become.
American and other industrial societies are plagued by a pandemic of chronic degenerative diseases. Those are non-communicable diseases. The new field of evolutionary medicine, developed by the meeting of anthropology and medicine, recognizes the diseases bankrupting our economy, bringing suffering and turmoil to families and individuals, and weakening the work force, are unique to Western civilization. They are diseases of civilization. They include sarcopenic obesity, type II diabetes, likely type III diabetes (Alzheimer’s disease), many forms of arthritis, hypertension, osteoporosis, and many others.
Wisdom traditions the world over hold that knowing reality has to be won: ordinary living is based in illusions, a kind of waking trance state. Such a journey is fraught with discomfort and disillusion: much of what we have learned and been conditioned to take for granted about the nature of life comes unglued. The normally fragmented nature of our personalities, however, shifts toward an integration of knowing, a sense of inner peace and contentment, with a corresponding lessening of stress. A new fitness for living gracefully emerges.
I’m using ‘trans-evolutionary fitness’ to call attention to the transpersonal and transcultural aspects of becoming fully human. The prefix ‘trans’ means going through and beyond. The trans-Atlantic cable provided telephone communication between the Western world and Europe by means of cabling laid beneath the ocean connecting those continents. A transpersonal journey may call into question various rules and taboos inhibiting fullest development of yourself. Transcultural liberation sets you free from dominant ideas of your cultural. Here’s an example:
Type II diabetes can be prevented, arrested, even reversed with a trans-evolutionary journey. In that journey you must call into question many habits, emotions, conditioned cravings, beliefs, and ‘knowledge’ about diet and activity. The principles of diet and activity supporting type II diabetes free living are ridiculously simple: they can be outlined on a single half page. Getting people to live them is a whole different matter. Our habits of emotional stagnation easily keep us in a state of denial. And that denial is precisely what prevents exercising the dormant capacities of your embodied brain in assuring a healthy, vibrant life. All too often we hear of persons that they “just don’t have time” for the dietary and activity changes needed – that’s tantamount to saying they do have the time to further destroy their vital reserves and prefer mismanaging themselves.
Trans-Evolutionary Fitness will regularly bring news and views of various dimensions of the evolutionary frontier supporting the next step in human evolution: survival of the wisest.
Copyrighted © 2011 by Ken O’Neill. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited: all rights reserved by copyright holder.