This millennium came in with great expectation. Many people thought it was a new age that would usher in the age of Aquarius, the water bearer and the bearer of spirituality. As a result of this transformation the foundational western belief, dualism, would be shaken and give way to a more holistic approach to living. Spirituality would be available to everyone experientially and we would all be enlightened. Perhaps this will happen, but when we take a look around the world right now it's obvious that it really hasn't happened yet.
We have a new age, but an old humanity. We look to the teachers, religious leaders, various gurus quite a bit, not realizing that our greatest teacher is right outside of our front door. One of the greatest teachers has always been nature, especially before we were warned of its evils and told that it was cursed. We can learn a great deal looking at different animals, insects, flowers and natural phenomenon, if we're open to such practices. Consider the squirrel, for example.
There is a bible verse where Solomon (reported to be the wisest man in the world at that time) says that we should consider the ant to model our lifestyles after. We should look at the way the ant stores up thing for the winter during times of abundance and how the ant builds a strong, healthy community. When you really take a close look at ants, however, their lives don't seem that pleasant. They live in a very hierarchical, dutiful system. The ones at the bottom often work themselves to death and then are eaten when they drop dead. They are also one of the few species, other than human beings, that go to war with their own species and that take other ants as slaves.
They get lot accomplished, but who wants to live like that? Their quality of life seems almost miserable. They are very good at attaining quantity and security. As for quality of life--their world seems like little more than one of bruits and slaves. They might like living like that, but I think that I would hate it. When we examine the communities of ants more closely, instead of just on the surface, something strange happens. They begin to look like the most fascist, human societies that have ever existed. We human beings have climbed to the stars, have built dams, satellite communication and just about every other thing, but what to we really have to show for it? We have sufficient quantity too, but what of the quality of life, not measured in quantity? How many people are more happy?
If we are to model our lives after another species, I would suggest the squirrel. Squirrels are very interesting. They don't run in giant groups like ants and don't act with machine like efficiency, even though they seem to have families and friends. They even take time to play sometimes. In the autumn, when winter is nearing, they begin to collect nuts and acorns and bury them.
They bury them all over the place so that any squirrel that needs food can find them. Instead of building their own little treasure chest, they are actually building storehouses all over the area for any squirrel who goes out in the snow, digs through the hard earth and finds it. This makes the squirrel fun loving, generous, independent, yet having strong family ties. They're not lazy, because they work like crazy during autumn, but they aren't taking slaves or non of that nonsense. The ant seems to be the peak of what we were moving toward during the last millennium. As we look as the squirrel we see what many of us would like to become.
I hope that the age of enlightenment comes soon. Perhaps one day love and spirituality will be pouring from our hearts. Until then it is important to learn to live together in peace and to create loving communities and relationships that foster peace. Machine like production centered communities don't do that. Communities where people are flesh and blood with meaningful lives, lives where they are considered more valuable than the things that they produce, are the ones that foster peace.
Next time that you go out in the autumn take a look around you and take a lesson from the squirrel. Observing the squirrel, like observing nature, can teach us how we can begin to heal our communities and usher in a world of peace.