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Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals

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Hi what do people think of the mythical golden ages of Greek and Indian cultures (or other cultures), in which mankind is said to have lived in peace and harmony ?
That is, is there a nugget of truth in it as a time before culture and a strong sense of self developed ?
Is there any real evidence to suggest that our ancestors experienced life the same way as awakened people do now, simply by virtue of the lack of mental content or self consciousness ?
Where they more or less emotionally intense, did they experience emotions in the same way as us or in a more direct way without the self reflection that plagues modern humans ?
What was the human mind like before the development of symbolism, or is symbolism a feature of all primates or even all life forms ?
Did the primates that we evolved from have a sense of self, and do our cousin primates have one too ?
Does progress along the contemplative path provide any insights into possible sates of consciousness of our distant ancestors ?

What do you think about these things ?

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 10:49 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Hi what do people think of the mythical golden ages of Greek and Indian cultures (or other cultures), in which mankind is said to have lived in peace and harmony ?
That is, is there a nugget of truth in it as a time before culture and a strong sense of self developed ?
Is there any real evidence to suggest that our ancestors experienced life the same way as awakened people do now, simply by virtue of the lack of mental content or self consciousness ?
Where they more or less emotionally intense, did they experience emotions in the same way as us or in a more direct way without the self reflection that plagues modern humans ?
What was the human mind like before the development of symbolism, or is symbolism a feature of all primates or even all life forms ?
Did the primates that we evolved from have a sense of self, and do our cousin primates have one too ?
Does progress along the contemplative path provide any insights into possible sates of consciousness of our distant ancestors ?

What do you think about these things ?
Fantastic questions. I've lived with indigenous cultures in the Amazon, and wrote about their society and how they experience consciousness in detail in my book "The Awakened Ape". I'll try and answer your questions one by one.

1. Our homo sapiens ancestors were not awakened, as in they had a sense of self, although it is possible that some shamans did reach enlightenment by accident through their training. 

2. Hunter-gatherers do experience something close to samatha, they are very mindful and live in the present moment. When I was in the Amazon, I was walking around lost in my own head when a tribe member stopped me, pointed to a slithering snake on the ground and said "Very very danger. Like cobra. die." If he hadn' t been so mindful of the surroundings and stopped me from potentially stepping on this snake, I may have died right there in the middle of the jungle, as I was days away from any medical attention. For them, mindfulness of their surroundings is a necessity to survival. Being lost in thought in the Amazon means death. 

3. They were way less emotionally intense. The Amazon tribe I visited was very stoic. I did not see a negative emotion the entire time I was there. They were very very chill.  Paradoxically, they could be incited to violence and murder easily. 

4. Not sure what you mean by symbolism? Perhaps you mean the ability to make abstract concepts?

5. Yes, I believe our cousin primates have a sense of self. They have primitive language, are aware of their standing in their social circles and familial relationships. All of these things would indicate having a sense of self. 

6. I think progress along the samatha path does show us what are ancestors consciousness was like. Our ancestors could even get into states of trance (similar, but perhaps not the same as jhana) through dances, chanting, drumming, etc., and do so very easily. This also shows that their baseline state is one of high concentration.  

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 12:28 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:

1. Our homo sapiens ancestors were not awakened, as in they had a sense of self, although it is possible that some shamans did reach enlightenment by accident through their training. 

2. Hunter-gatherers do experience something close to samatha, they are very mindful and live in the present moment. When I was in the Amazon, I was walking around lost in my own head when a tribe member stopped me, pointed to a slithering snake on the ground and said "Very very danger. Like cobra. die." If he hadn' t been so mindful of the surroundings and stopped me from potentially stepping on this snake, I may have died right there in the middle of the jungle, as I was days away from any medical attention. For them, mindfulness of their surroundings is a necessity to survival. Being lost in thought in the Amazon means death. 

6. I think progress along the samatha path does show us what are ancestors consciousness was like. Our ancestors could even get into states of trance (similar, but perhaps not the same as jhana) through dances, chanting, drumming, etc., and do so very easily. This also shows that their baseline state is one of high concentration.  

1.  I don't know if it's fair to say 'by accident'.  From what I have read about indigenous cultures, especially the Lakota, although much of their spirituality seems based on ceremonies and such, these ceremonies, such as the sundance and most obviously vision quests, far from being overly religious or 'dogmatic' seem based in producing a spiritual experience, most often through exposure to extreme conditions, i.e. dancing in the sun for three days with no water and a stake through your skin, or sweat lodge + retreat + fasting.  I get the impression that native spirituality is rooted in direct experience, and rituals are designed to bring this on, so spiritual insight gained as such seems very much by design rather than accident.

Maybe you can speak more to this having lived with an Amazonion tribe, which itself is incredibly cool!  What was their spirituality like? 

2/ 6.  From personal experience, the way your state of mind changes after backpacking for a few days is always awesome and remarkable - basically a heightened state of perception.  Generally I think this comes from just being out in nature 24 hrs a day and being exposed to the constant natural sensory input - much different than hanging out in your walled off appartment with all ammenties a step away, electronics..  Factor in that our ancestors lived in this environment 24/7 with no alrtificial implements (shoes, clothes, tents), experiencing extremely literal interconnectedness via hunting, water supply - surely their base conciousness differed from ours somewhat, and it's cool that being outdoors for a few days we can quickly begin to step back into that.

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 1:39 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Hi what do people think of the mythical golden ages of Greek and Indian cultures (or other cultures), in which mankind is said to have lived in peace and harmony ? 

Bullshit.

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 2:01 PM as a reply to T DC.
  I get the impression that native spirituality is rooted in direct experience, and rituals are designed to bring this on, so spiritual insight gained as such seems very much by design rather than accident. 

You are right, their spiritual experience is very much by design. But their design isn't to reach Buddhist enlightenment -- the cessation of craving. But their own culturally based spiritual quests. Different tribes had different goals, be it hallucenagenic states to access what they believe to be the spirit world in order to ask different spiritual beings for advice.  Or even states of high concentration and trance. The shamans in the tribe I visited had the ability to turn into a jaguar. Now, obviously I don't believe they turned into jaguars. But that they hallucinated that they did through the use of ayuhuasca or simply by being schizoid.

Other than the taking of ayuhuasca, the tribe was not very spiritual. There are no religious ceremonies or anything like that.



RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 4:40 PM as a reply to neko.
Bullshit.

 I second that!

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 5:51 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
A super interesting (albeit speculative) book on  the structure of our ancestors' consious experience is The Origin of Consiousness in the Break-down of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes.

In it he posits that consiousness of self only arose around the time of Classical Greece. He points to textual elements of the Iliad as evidence of how before this period, the Greeks had no conception of introspection or agency and acted totally reactively. He then tries to explain how we only became consious and started seeing the world in symbolic terms as a result of the rising complexities of social and political life a few thousand years ago.

I found it to be a fascinating read: http://www.rational.org/pdf_files/originsjj.pdf

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/2/17 10:08 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
You are right, their spiritual experience is very much by design. But their design isn't to reach Buddhist enlightenment -- the cessation of craving. But their own culturally based spiritual quests. Different tribes had different goals, be it hallucenagenic states to access what they believe to be the spirit world in order to ask different spiritual beings for advice.  Or even states of high concentration and trance. The shamans in the tribe I visited had the ability to turn into a jaguar. Now, obviously I don't believe they turned into jaguars. But that they hallucinated that they did through the use of ayuhuasca or simply by being schizoid.

Other than the taking of ayuhuasca, the tribe was not very spiritual. There are no religious ceremonies or anything like that.



Right, culturally based spiritual quests..  I think it's always interesting to look at similarities in religions - I think you're absolutely right that idigenuos religion was not a Buddhism type quest, but I have read accounts which seem to point to the same type of goal.  Obviously there was a ton of variation in native religions, from more plant based trips to extreme expereinces designed to produce a breakthrough, and often having visions or such was closely related to gaining powers to heal or be used in war, but what similarities there are are very interesting. 

What got me interested in Buddhism to begin with was a glimpse of enlightenment experience, which I have seen referenced in all type of literature from all sorts of religions, and Native American religion is no exception.  The idea that the same peak experience provides at least some kind of basis for all types of religions makes much sense, especially when we consider that that experience is fundamental to the human condition, and religion merely allows us to access it.  Buddhism itself provides a remakable, coherant path, but I think the idea of accessing such an expereince, at least as a glimpse, through Native American type ceremonies is also very valuble.  Just to say that the gifts of other religions may be complementary to Buddhism in some respects, especially one as stripped down to the basics as the vision quest.

It's also interesting to consider the conditions in which these religions formed.  Buddhism formed in a social context in which a meditative path was common, and socieity was stable enough to have developed writing, and nation state structure.  Native American religion in contrast (sweeping generalization) occured in an unstable context of waring tribes in which a much more immediate approach to religion made more sense.  Yes, Buddhism posits to free all from suffering, but this is only realistically achievable for the very few, and society on the whole may not have a deep spiritual connection.  However, the interrelation of spirituality and leadership as well as success - in war, social prestige - in Native American religion (example - leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse both sought and were guided by visions) suggests an incredible interelationship of society and genuine - expereince based - spirituality.

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/3/17 2:15 AM as a reply to O'lorin.
O'lorin:
A super interesting (albeit speculative) book on  the structure of our ancestors' consious experience is The Origin of Consiousness in the Break-down of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes.

In it he posits that consiousness of self only arose around the time of Classical Greece. He points to textual elements of the Iliad as evidence of how before this period, the Greeks had no conception of introspection or agency and acted totally reactively. He then tries to explain how we only became consious and started seeing the world in symbolic terms as a result of the rising complexities of social and political life a few thousand years ago.

I found it to be a fascinating read: http://www.rational.org/pdf_files/originsjj.pdf

I used to read a lot of Colin Wilson and he referenced this book a lot. Picked it up a few times but didn't get into it, I'm not up on classics.

For development of bicameral consciousness there's another take postulating brain malfunction due to our ancestors leaving the forest too quickly, the radical change of diet - https://www.amazon.com/Return-Brain-Eden-Neurochemistry-Consciousness/dp/1620552515

But then if you want to think more about the ancient Greeks this is a good read - about Greek philosophers going into caves on contemplative quests - http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548569.001.0001/acprof-9780199548569

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/3/17 2:10 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Entertaining a more secularized view, I suppose I'd be pretty agnostic about whether the Buddha was the first enlightened person in the world. Enlightenment seems universally available and it seems to be a low-probability event that only the Buddha would discover it

For all we know his gran got there before him but never let on.

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/3/17 2:27 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
So, do we think that there was a sudden radical change in self-consciousness from primate to human, or is there a continuum from simpler organisms gradually going from dim proto-emotions and internal imagery all the way up to where we are now ?

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/7/17 6:40 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Hi what do people think of the mythical golden ages of Greek and Indian cultures (or other cultures), in which mankind is said to have lived in peace and harmony ?
That is, is there a nugget of truth in it as a time before culture and a strong sense of self developed ?
Is there any real evidence to suggest that our ancestors experienced life the same way as awakened people do now, simply by virtue of the lack of mental content or self consciousness ?
Where they more or less emotionally intense, did they experience emotions in the same way as us or in a more direct way without the self reflection that plagues modern humans ?
What was the human mind like before the development of symbolism, or is symbolism a feature of all primates or even all life forms ?
Did the primates that we evolved from have a sense of self, and do our cousin primates have one too ?
Does progress along the contemplative path provide any insights into possible sates of consciousness of our distant ancestors ?

What do you think about these things ?


   A noble and generous question, enough to make me join the forum and attempt a response. 
    
   To begin, what is the value of history, if any? I recently read nietzsche's "untimely meditation" called "on the use and abuse of history for life." He gives three categories of history, if you will bear wth me: "monumental," in which the historian seizes on inspiring individuals and events and tells stories about them; "ahistorical," in which we live entirely in the Now, in the present and have no on-going concept of linear historical time; and then the plodding collection of facts for their own sake, more or less leading nowhere and wasting time in a muddle of mediocrity. We here, I presume, have use mainly for either the inspiring stories of the past, or what is the goal of most spiritual practice, the achievement of an ahisorical perspective, identifying with the timeless, the dimensionless.

   When we speak of a "golden age," we seek inspiration from history. the notion of a golden age originates with hinduism, where there are posed four ages, namely the golden age, in which god as rama walked the earth as king of men; the silver age, in which god walked the earth as passerby and bystander, if full of advice, as krishna the charioteer and sometime cowherd; the bronze age, as we know it from history; and kali yuga, the iron age, from the invention of mass slaughter to our current era, still going on.

   Even in antiquity, "golden ages" were regarded as being far in the past, or possibly in the future. You mention indians and greeks and other cultures. Karl Jaspers offered the notion, taken up by many others since, that the period of fifty or a hundred years around 500 BC initiated the "axial age," where there was a worldwide alteration in consciousness, initiating a new dependence by the human race on rationality, and the recognition of spirit as such, and the soul. Specifically, in india, china, greece and israel. I'll try to be brief in attributing "golden age" to these four societies in this period.

   In china, there arose taoism, chuang tzu and lao tzu, at almost the same time, give or take. Chuang tzu wrote about the natural human being, the true "man" (no gender in chinese). He pointed to the eel, the deer, the duck, how they lived and how well adapted they were to their environments, knowing just what to do. He pointed to contemporary humanity, in their confusion, often perplexed. He then visualized a golden age in which the true man was as naturally adapted to the planet as the animals are. And like the kingdom of heaven, this golden age is present within, wherever people are natural and true to themselves. Lao tzu describes the true man as ancient in historical time:

15

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.

and goes on to describe a future golden age, in terms that cannot be surpassed in any historical sense:

80.
If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don't waste time inventing
labor-saving machines.
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren't interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don't go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.

As I see it, the taoists looked to the origins of humankind as a species and found the natural man prefigured in every generation, from earliest, to now, to the latest; timeless. Golden in the past, golden in the future. The Great Way is not in time.

   As for the greeks, modern thinkers give them credit for the scientific point of view, but that just marks the descent into barbarism signified by kali yuga. Socrates was the prototypical christ (christos), the man whose death condemned and enlightened his condemners. Perhaps a digression on socrates: people think he was wise, but he claimed otherwise. He said he was a gadfly, and indeed, the man went around buttonholing politicians and authorities of all stripes, asking them questions. Do you know what truth is? Of course. What then? Well... Think about it, try to come up with an answer on the fly. Whatever you come up with, socrates cross-examines, reduces to absurdity, leaving you red-faced and spluttering. Socrates, like the buddha (who is next), insisted on submitting all expressed views to the light of reason, as exhibited in verbal confrontation - he not only never wrote a word, he insisted that verbalization and memorization were the heart of knowledge, and that writing vitiated thinking and speaking and knowing. ("Thus have I heard.") Ironically, all we know of socrates is what is written down by plato, who wrote voluminously. After his conviction on capital charges, before sentencing, the condemned man spoke his "apology," recorded by plato, in which he suggested his idea of what his "punishment" should be: he should be awarded free dinners for life, at public expense, for his services to the community as an exposer of pretensions. They gave him hemlock instead. From this we get "tragedy" - through hubris, athens destroys all her best leaders and seals her doom. The tragedies were, quite self-consciously, great art. In a brief period, a few decades, the greatest scupulpture ever created emerged, great art in every medium, philosophy, spirituality, drama. A silver age at least, if not a golden age. Imagine, if you will, living in a small city, maybe 100,000 people, perhaps 300,000 in all attica, where great ideas and great art rubbed shoulders and ate and played with each other in a vibrant public life in which all male citizens (perhaps 30,000) were encouraged to participate. The average resident was quite aware they were in the midst of an explosion of great art and thought, for which there were no precedents; they coined the word barbaros (barbarian) to describe non-greek speakers. We still today, at least in the west, mine this period for inspiration, perhaps more than any other. And they were just a handful of regular guys, hanging out.

   In india, there existed in 500bc a very religious culture, an emerging amalgamation of the original agrarian inhabitants of the subcontinent who were peaceful meditators, with the invading pastoral nomads from the north, the aryans, bringing their imposition of rigid castes and their liking for bloody animal sacrifice. The buddha took the best elements of meditative culture and combined them with prevailing beliefs in metempsychosis. Like the greek philosophers, he insisted on submitting all ideas to reason, to one's own best, considered judgment, rejecting all authority, even his own. The "blessed one" was no Lord. In the pali canon, he would speak to "hundreds" of people about the dhamma, then find himself a comfortable seat in the curl of a tree root, "set up mindfulness before him," and return to solitary meditation.  He was an itinerant preacher of the dhamma or gospel for 45 years in north india, and the collection of his oral teachings runs to thousands of pages. He speaks quite simply to every stage of develoment, laying to rest every doubt. Lao tzu famously said "those who speak do not know; those who know do not speak" in a book of five thousand characters. The quintessential expression of the transmission of enlightenment from Mind to Mind is symbolized by the buddha holding up a flower, at which gesture mahakasyapa smiled faintly. The pali canon shows us a culture in which men and women who drop out of society for the sake of living the vita contempliva are venerated, fed and provided with medical requisites, as a holy duty, by laypeople. (There is a subtext, unstated, in which elders were encouraged for financial reasons to "take to the holy life" and were then provided with the minimums necessary by relatives and sympathizers. Might be something our culture could find useful. Put us out to pasture cheaply by appealing to our spirituality. Could beat an old folks home as we know them.) The buddha was considered "golden" in many respects, and his images are often gilded. He claimed a timeless wisdom and a way of life that could never be surpassed by any perishable "improvements," fifth and sixth jhanas notwithstanding. Out of time, a "middle way" impossible to exceed: this was a golden age, when "the blessed one" as teacher of the way to supreme "knowledge" (nibbana, the ahistorical "extinction" of conceptual thought), lived and preached to all comers. His teachings were spread to the four corners of the earth and influenced every later thinker on spirituality.

   Last but not least, at the same time we have the hebrew prophets, abraham, joseph, moses, amos, micah, isaiah one and two, jeremiah, to name a few favorites. These people invented history, as a narrative of how god related to his people over time, from day one. The only history worth recounting, in yours truly's most humble opinion. Moses spoke with god, face to face, and also with surrogates. The prophets, one way or another, knew "god's will." Prophecies were not about predicting the future, as martin buber tells us, but about making clear the consequences of choices: keep god's commandments, as the community has promised to do, and god will be beneficient; break them and there will be hell to pay, you will be made an example "before the nations" (goyim). When the jews escaped egypt in the exodus, they brought with them a god box, the "holy of holies," ark of the covenant, supposedly containing joseph's mummy. After wandering about in a small area for forty years, they were encouraged by yhwh to kill the inhabitants of canaan and take the land for themselves (and Him). Initially, yhwh refused them weapons, insisting that they simply carry the god box in front of the host, and that he would do the rest. Amazingly, this worked for awhile. Eventually, the god box was captured and defiled, though it caused the captors so much trouble they wanted the jews to take it back. The prophets threatened over and over destruction at the hands of the goyim if they did not observe the covenant more strictly, and have faith in god. Lack of material success was attributed by the prophets to a lack of faithfulness. To this day jews look to biblical history to justify their occupation and conquests, past, current and future. Despite the intense historical nature of the material here, there is a golden age embedded in the words of the prophets. Best described by Isaiah:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Imagine, if you will, a past, or future, golden age, where a vegetarian culture lived in harmony with non-domesticated animals, who were not exploited by humans in any way. Indeed, people went out of their way to assist animals, treating the sick and injured in animal hopitals, feeding the hungry ones and comforting the lonely and lost. And the animals, in turn, shared their productions, and their affections, with their human relatives. If we treated animals that way, how much more would we be kind and compassionate to our own sick and injured, our children and old folks, and each other.

   So... in spiritual terms, a golden age is not about competitive heros fighting and sweating; quite the contrary. The golden age of greece was epitomized by socrates' - the man - transcendence of death, while athens - the community of all souls - ensured it own destruction by condemning him. In india, the buddha indicated for all time an unsurpassable example of the way human beings can live as true, entirely evolved and mature human beings, for whom no further development can be contemplated. The golden one, the blessed one, the perfected human being, teaching and moving among us; one who cannot be defeated or denied. Taoism shows us the Way, beyond being and non-being, non-dual, ahistorical. A way in which the fully evolved human being, "the uncarved block," does not "seek fulfillment." A golden age, unsurpassable, beyond time, enfolds such Human Beings.

    You might wonder about jesus, wasn't he "golden"? There is no historical jesus, so-called saint paul put him up as a strawman "christos" to sell a superficial rehash of socratic wisdom combined with a few throwaway "mystery" epigrams and parables as a new way of controlling the masses, suitable for use by the empire. The historian gibbons called jesus "An obscure political anarchist whose freakish survival of execution founded a world-wide cult." Pope theophilus, in 391, ordered the death of ten thousand monks for the heresy of origenism, out of acknowledged paranoia. He has also been credited with the destruction of the 300,000 hand copied volumes of the Alexandrian Library, since all a person needs to read is the expurgated christian bible, and approved tracts. (I would literally give a body part, perhaps  kidney, to have a copy of heraclitus' "on nature.") Still there are elements of egyptian mysteries (not to mention pre-islamic sufi and hindu stories) that got past the censors and ring true today, plus we now have forbidden gospels of superior value, such as the gospel of thomas. While jesus is associated with historical time, his contention that "my kingdom is not of this world" cannot be overlooked. His "other world" is ahistorical time, wherein the individual soul is "birthless" and "deathless," to use buddhist terms. The ahistorical "kingdom of god" is the same one in which "a little child shall lead them," where men no longer "hurt and destroy" and the spirit of god will inspire everyone "as the waters cover the sea." Thus, christianity is, like hinduism, an unholy combination of more or less incompatible visions, designed to be used to control people by undeserving elites. Not part of a golden age. Any religion which does not allow, even require, the individual to think for themselves is not "golden," in my view.

   I guess that's it, first rattle out of the bag.


aloha, braddahs and sistahs,
terry



   

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/8/17 11:42 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Sid:
Relatedly/funnily, this Ars Technica article came out today!

It's an idea that could transform our understanding of how humans went from small bands of hunter-gatherers to farmers and urbanites. Until recently, anthropologists believed cities and farms emerged about 9,000 years ago in the Mediterranean and Middle East. But now a team of interdisciplinary researchers has gathered evidence showing how civilization as we know it may have emerged at the equator, in tropical forests. Not only that, but people started farming about 30,000 years earlier than we thought.

. . . 

École française d'Extrême-Orient archaeologist Damian Evans, a co-author on the 
Nature paper, said that it wasn't until a recent conference brought international researchers together that they realized they'd discovered a global pattern. Very similar evidence for ancient farming could be seen in equatorial Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Later, people began building "garden cities" in these same regions, where they lived in low-density neighborhoods surrounded by cultivated land.

Stuff just keeps getting older.....
Funny how the further we go on in time the further back we see, the more time we grasp. It makes me wonder if the real task of consciousness is to recover (or even create) our past, and what seems like progress is actually a process of looking backwards.
I also have long suspected that archaeologists make grand hypotheses based on extremely tenuous data, given that so much of our past is buried under jungle, desert, ice and water.
(Also interesting that farming dates back so far, given the early anthropocene argument https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_anthropocene )

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/8/17 2:39 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
[quote=Stickman2
]Stuff just keeps getting older.....
Funny how the further we go on in time the further back we see, the more time we grasp. It makes me wonder if the real task of consciousness is to recover (or even create) our past, and what seems like progress is actually a process of looking backwards.

    Perhaps the "golden ages" of old were times when people made no history. One translation of the tao te ching verse 80 refers to a culture "returning to the knotted cords." Prior to the development of writing (and written, "history" is forced into linear form, the medium itself implying progress), people used knotted cords to "record" transactions and debts. (Like incan quipu.) At the end of every growing season, debts were cleared, and the cord was unknotted. Thus linear time was renewed every year, and people began their accounts over, conforming to the recurrent changing of the seasons; "The tao means return." Generations come and go in the comfortable patterns of their forbears. Peace leaves no traces. Like the track of a bird in the sky, or of a fish in the water.

terry

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/23/17 3:54 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Thanks for the long reply, and I watched the video which was interesting too. Way too much for me to fully reply to, but I do have a reading recommendation for ancient esotericists
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Caves-Ancient-Greek-Mind-Underground/dp/0199548560

RE: Paleoconsciousness - our distant ancestors and animals
Answer
8/23/17 3:56 PM as a reply to terry.
I enjoyed reading your comments thanks.