by Chas Danner
“Is it not possible that rocks, hills and mountains, and the great physical body of the Earth itself may enjoy a sentience, a form of consciousness which we humans cannot perceive only because of the vastly different time scales involved? For example the mind of a mountain may be as powerful and profound as that of a Buddha, Plato, Spinoza, Whitehead and Einstein. Say that a mountain takes 5,000,000 of our human or solar years to complete a single thought. But what a grand thought that single thought must be. If only we could tune in on it. The classic philosophers of both east and west have tried for 5,000 years more or less to convince us that Mind is the basic reality, maybe the only reality and that our bodies, the Earth and the entire universe is no more than a thought in the mind of God. But consider an alternative hypothesis. That Buddha, Plato, Einstein and we are all thoughts in the minds of mountains, or that humanity is a long, long thought in the mind of the Earth. That we are the means by which the Earth, and perhaps the universe becomes conscious of itself. I tell you that God, if there is a god, may be the end, not the origin of this process. If so, then our relationship to Earth is something like that of our minds to our bodies. They are interdependent. We cannot exploit or abuse our bodies without peril to our mental health and our survival. We have definitely seen some mindless bodies dancing around us, but we have yet to observe a disembodied mind. At least I haven’t seen any. And as mind is to body, so is humanity to Earth. We cannot dishonor one without dishonoring and destroying ourselves.” – Edward Abbey, from his 1975 lecture “In Defense of Wilderness” given at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and later transcribed and published by Jack Loeffler in his book, Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of Abbey.
(Photo: Caineville Reef, Utah by Andrew Smith. This image has been slightly cropped.)