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Samsara and Human Extinction

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Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/20/20 6:18 PM
Hi all, 

Recently, I have been reading into Tony Orb's work who is a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford and has recently released a new book on Existential Risk. I was led to his work after thinking more and more about climate change and catastrophe. Anyway, he calculates the 'total existential risk' that we face in the next 100 years (i.e., risk that in the next 100 years, at least one catastrophic global event (e.g., AI, climate, nuclear) will occur that wipes out human existence). His calculation is that we face a 1 in 6 chance of extinction. 

Leaving aside the number itself (i.e., how accurate or inaccurate we take this figure to be), this certainly made me reflect deeply on my practice and, in that sense, has been most beneficial in arousing energy, urgency, and one-pointedness for liberation. 

It also left me wondering about how the destruction of this human realm would work in terms of samsara and rebirth. I know very little about Buddhist cosmology aside from a cursory understanding of the various realms. The prospect of the Deva realms does not excite me in the least as they, too, are impermenant and, based on my minor understanding, are less conducive to working on full liberation than the human realm. 

Of course, I am aware that too much attention to metaphysics/cosomology is a distraction; however, if there is a real chance of losing this realm, I feel that this is a valid concern. 

Many thanks! 
Sam 

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/21/20 9:53 AM as a reply to Sam M.
Why do you think this Earth is the ONLY human realm in this endless Universe? emoticon Is there a possibility that Human Realm could be on numerous planets in the universe? I mean sooner rather than later we will likely inhabit both Earth and Mars emoticon If Universe is endless then surely human realm could be spread throughout no? I'm open to this idea.

It's good that you practice. What is your practice btw? 

Welcome to DhO. 

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/22/20 12:57 AM as a reply to Sam M.
Just for the sake of conversation and for different perspectives to clash beneficially, I consider this calculation to be utter nonsense. Nothing much about the future is calculable by humans, because we live in the most complex of complex systems. There's exactly one "computer" capable of figuring out the future, and it's called the entire universe, and it computes the future at exactly one second per second. Nothing less than the entire thing can do it, since the entire thing is the input to the next state.

Another way to look at it: choose any hundred metrics of human well-being you like. Odds are extremely good that they will all be the best they've ever been, and getting better faster than they ever have. There's some quote I was unable to locate that goes something like "what reasoning is it that makes us think that, despite vast progress behind us, catastrophe lies ahead?"

But if it's useful for your practice to think you could die at any time, cool. That does seem true and could help give urgency to your practice.

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/22/20 5:38 AM as a reply to Brian.
(Nota bene : Brian holds positions which seem to qualify him for the title of climate change denier)

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/22/20 5:39 AM as a reply to Sam M.
On another note Sam M, you might be interested in checking out a thread called "uncharted territory" started by Chris Marti a while back about the corona thing. It morphed into a very detailed discussion of this topic, except we didn't really cover the realms thing.

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/23/20 2:07 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Why would humans wiping themselves off the face of the earth be a bad thing? Might turn out very nicely for the others here, once the dust has settled...

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/23/20 5:09 AM as a reply to Peter S.
True enough ! But we might just be cunning enough to manage to kill every other living thing off before we go emoticon

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/24/20 3:18 PM as a reply to Peter S.
Exactly, we humans and all life on earth today are the result of many mass extinction events going all the way to the beginning ... just because we don't survive doesn't mean the earth won't survive.

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/24/20 3:56 PM as a reply to J W.
Are you guys seriously saying you don't mind if humans go extinct, though ?

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/24/20 4:22 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
Are you guys seriously saying you don't mind if humans go extinct, though ?

No, it would be horrible.

RE: Samsara and Human Extinction
Answer
9/28/20 5:50 PM as a reply to J W.
J W:
Exactly, we humans and all life on earth today are the result of many mass extinction events going all the way to the beginning ... just because we don't survive doesn't mean the earth won't survive.

    The permian mass extinction 250 million years ago was triggered by global warming. The basis of the web of life is ocean plankton; the permian ended with the destruction of 97% of all marine life, and was by far the worst mass extinction of the five, excepting perhaps the current one.

   We are heating the globe 500 times faster than it heated in the permian. Climate change is upon us and will get only get more radical. Humans may survive underground.

   It's not only that climate change is irreversible, but also that it is accelerated beyond anything seen in the last 3.5 billion years. Nature took thousands of years to lay down the ancient forests we burn every day.

   I have come to realize that it is not your politics that is the essence of current debate, but whether you deny science, truth and common sense.

   We are faced with the spectacle of virtually all the wealthy individuals and corporations funding poisonous conspiracy theories in order to undermine public trust and keep people too confused to take the obvious steps to mitigate current threats to human existence. Pointless to name names, it is all of them, the entire capitalist class, lined up against science, sense and human survival. Greed over human life becomes naked in the pandemic, but it is climate change that will kill the oceans and potentially all multicellular life. 

   Can we get great masses of people to demand conservation and material sacrifice? I think we could with proper leadership. Conversely, poor leadership has accelerated the world over the cliff.

   At this poiht simply articulating a sane and sensible view of reality, without interpretation or opinion, seems all one can do. If we want mass extinction, species suicide and political turmoil we need only maintain the status quo.

terry



THE SECOND COMING
(w b yeats)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?