Nature evolves to fill a gap or overcome a challenge. Sustainability dictates that nature does not over-evolve. However, human language and reasoning capacity is probably 10x over-evolved than is necessary to find food, mate and survive. What problem was the human brain evolved to solve? What is this power that has been created? What is the danger?
Evolve To Survive
Pronghorn of western North American (Antilocapra americana) can run at a top speed of 60-mph. This is much faster than is needed to outrun predators, such as cougars and gray wolves. Who is the pronghorn running from then? Answer: Ghosts.
Pronghorn are evolved to run from the extinct American cheetah (Miracinonyx). The American cheetah weighed between 150 to 200 lbs. Two species commonly identified are M. inexpectatus and M. trumani. The pronghorn’s speed is not over-evolved. Pronghorn evolved with the cheetah and are just fast enough to survive. Image: Roman Yevseyev.
Beyond The Primate Plateau
Primates, such as the gorilla, chimpanzee and monkey, have all of the skills they need to survive in their native ecosystems. What caused the Homo genus to evolve humans (H. sapiens) and neanderthals (Homo H. neanderthalensis)? Why evolve past the chimpanzee; our closet primate relative?
My guess is that the Homo genus evolved to compete within itself or between Homo subspecies. Neanderthals lived in Eurasia until rapidly becoming extinct 40,000 years ago. Humans and neanderthals coexisted for hundreds of thousands of years and even interbred. Humans today share about 1–2 percent DNA in with neanderthals.
Neanderthal brains are actually larger than human brains. Competition between the Homo subspecies may explain why human brain language and reasoning centers are larger than primates. But how did humans overtake neanderthals?
Stanford scientists link Neanderthal extinction to human diseases. In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, Gili Greenbaum and his colleagues propose that complex disease transmission patterns can explain not only how modern humans were able to wipe out Neanderthals in Europe and Asia in just a few thousand years.
There may be something in our prehistory that we do not know that pressured evolution to keep growing the capacity of the human brain. It is not because we wondered about or needed to identify our plants. Birds and animals migrate great distances. Every animal knows its food. What is missing in our history?
Language is Big
All forms of life communicate one way or another using chemicals, gestures, or sounds. Human language is more complex than the language of other species in depth of vocabulary, time, geometry, and abstract thought. A human can say, “Bring me two cases of tomatoes to the market tomorrow.” The other human can understand you and shows up with the tomatoes. This complex human language statement includes quantity, place, and time.
It is interesting though, that modern civilized language is not more complex than recent indigenous languages. Several Native American languages have more words for snow than we do in English. The major innovation of civilized languages is writing.
Speaking and hearing, reading and writing language, plus the sciences is so complex that this could account for enlargement of human brain capacity. But the timing is wrong. Humans developed the capacity to do all of these before we used them. Civilization has only existed since the advent of agriculture 6000 to 10000 years ago. The human Cerebral cortex did not start expanding during the agricultural revolution. It grew 100,000 or 200,000 thousand years ago. There is something very significant that we do not know about our own evolution.
To Be, To Not To Be, That is The Question
Native Americans chose to be indigenous instead of “civilized”. The last statement is important. Indigenous peoples had the the capacity to be civilized, but chose to live in harmony with all life. They chose not to domesticate it.
The greatness of a society is not measured by what it takes, but by what it leaves. What if we could see North America as indigenous peoples did in the 1300s: old growth forests from sea to shining sea; herds and flocks in the millions; prairies as tall as a man on a horse; clean, flowing water teaming with life?
What is Abstraction?
When one consumes Amazonian hallucinogenic plant medicine, one can actually see the other major differences between human and primate brains: abstraction. In our “normal state” we cannot see abstraction, we can only think it: 2 + 2 = 4.
Abstraction is not science, design, music or language. Abstraction is the unending river of fractal thought that flows unseen in the background of the human brain.
Our fractal mind exists in the neocortex working in conjunction with the other areas of our brain. Vast networks and hierarchical relationships orchestrate 14 to 16 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex which houses our neocortex.
Entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development or sacred use. The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs. This is a lousy definition. Whoever wrote it does not want to get Wikipedia in trouble. I would include additional explanations of psychedelics and hallucinogenics for their spiritual uses.
Let’s focus on a particular medicine: Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is an entheogenic brew made out of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients. The brew is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin dating back to at least 1000 A.D. This powerful vine contains several alkaloids that act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Another common ingredient in Ayahuasca is the shrub Psychotria viridis which contains the primary psychoactive, dimethyltryptamine (DMT). MAOIs are required for DMT to be orally active.
Each entheogenic medicine has a different affect and purpose. The river of our mind’s abstraction flows throughout our lives, but we cannot see it. With Ayahuasca, however, we can see it briefly when we stop input to our Visual cortex by closing our eyes. As soon as we open our eyes, visual input begins again and we cannot see the river.
Contrary to some writing, plant medicines are not giving us messages. They are pulling back the curtain to show us what is there inside us. Or, they temporarily accentuate different processes of the brain. Entheogens do not show us god; we are not god. They reveal us to ourselves.
Ayahuasca may be where the term Psychedelic came from. The river is a flow of the most complex moving fractals and spirals one can imagine. The colors are beyond what you have ever seen. Shapes like “The Mother” appear and disappear. You finally see it, you see your mind!
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
During an Ayahuasca journey, our Neocortex lights up like a Christmas tree. Neuroregeneration occurs at a fantastic rate. People can experience clarity and calm for 2 to 3 weeks after.
Entheogenic “research” should be considered for spiritual journeys of the soul. Our brains do more than we can normally perceive. The life we are given without Entheogenic training is like living life in a cave, seeing in black and white, with mono hearing. Within a civilized life, we only know what is downloaded into our BioRobot brains.
Human Abstraction is The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth
Abstraction is not natural. It exists no where in nature. What we see when we close our eyes on a journey is what the human mind “creates”. Anything the human mind creates is not of nature. It is literally a mathematical, geometric construct like The Matrix.
Civilization makes humans a violent and dangerous species.
You open your eyes and look out the window and hopefully you see nature, forest, water, life. When you close your eyes you see the mind’s fractals. The contrast between the human-created Matrix or slow vs. the natural world is stark.
Unless one has journeyed multiple times with Ayahuasca, it may be challenging to comprehend this. Ayahuasca is not like other hallucinogenics or deep meditation. The plain of all consciousness may briefly be seen with Ayahuasca, but that is not the main experience. Seeing vs. just imagining all consciousness is a mind opener.
The danger of human abstract thought or reasoning is that what the human mind creates everyday is completely alien and separate from the environment. The human abstract flow is not “of this world.” It does not exist; it is not natural. Human reasoning imagines and imposes what does not exist onto The Earth.
There is no zero-point for field where the human body and mind meet. The human mind is in and fed by a human body, but its abstract thoughts are completely separate from the environment. An empathetic mind’s thoughts may be influenced by the natural world, but we do not have anything in our head other than thoughts.
I disagree with philosophers who believe all consciousness is connected in the ether. There is no great mind control or connection. All animals, though, are some level of independent programmable BioRobots. Read more here.
Sit still for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine the drive or walk to somewhere you go frequently. You cannot see images of the trip in your head. You can only see crude metaphors or the navigation sequence you make to get there. Nothing is in your head, only abstraction. The flow of what you imagine or remember does not and will never exist in real life. Your body can go somewhere and perceive the environment with your senses. Memory is the abstraction of prior sensory input and bodily movement.
Human use of Abstraction is only limited by our choice. Civilization’s Control System hides this choice to make us feel as though we have no choice. Civilization tells us we must overpopulate, domesticate, spend the sweat of our brown on death from stockyards to the military’s guns and bombs. The trick of civilization is to force humanity to be insane; to choose the dark side of abstraction that indigenous peoples forsake.
The power of a fractal is that you can build a metaphor on top of a metaphor to add infinite complexity. We move from stone tools, to mining metals, to physics, to the nuclear bomb. Because hierarchic fractals are unnatural, they always lead to death. Wise indigenous peoples stopped at fire; foolish civilized people build nuclear bombs.
The human mind has a weakness: there is no undo, no rewind, no do-no-harm. Our human weakness is that we do harm to be civilized. Any animal with the fraction of our brain cannot even choose to do unnecessary harm. The Cheetah only takes one Pronghorn. The rest go back to grazing because the Cheetah never takes more than it needs.
Only humans give meaning. My cat sees a pencil as an object with no use. Humans make objects and give them use. Indigenous peoples have limits to use. They only use objects in harmony with all life. Civilized people cannot stop creating objects that destroy life.
Some things about evolution of the human brain do not make sense. Why create this much power of abstraction when it is not necessary for human survival?
Why evolve a power that is so destructive?
Why have no way to turn it off?
Human abstract thought turns every non-indigenous human into a bomb to The Earth. Combined into a social organizational system, it is called “civilization”. Civilization combines billions of humans into one unified overwhelming destructive force capable of changing the weather and killing almost all wild life on Earth in just a couple hundred years. Human abstraction thought is greater than all nuclear bombs; it is armageddon.
Civilization makes humans a violent and dangerous species.
Human abstract thought is the most dangerous thing on Earth because it can imagine anything and it cannot be turned off until all humans choose to walk away from civilization to become indigenous.
Male Abstract Thought Is More Dangerous Than Women’s
Because women have the ability to give life, women are innately more empathetic, compassionate, nurturing, better listeners, better at multi-tasking, organization, teamwork. Women have abstract thought just as men, but they are able to control it and not let it get out of control. Men, on the other hand, are unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Men do not seem to see the big picture beyond their goals. With their penchant for wars, greed, and control, men’s abstract thought is more dangerous than women’s. Related reading, Women: Can Save The World.
Larger Brain: More Emotions, Bigger Ego
Humans alone have developed complex language because our brains are larger than other mammals, and primates. With language comes words. Words, combined with a larger limbic system create more emotions with a dialog attached to them. Humans are able to create stories to create and perpetuate emotions.
Three of the problems this creates for humans is that our minds constantly chatter, our emotions are greater, and our ego is also accentuated. We think too much, worry too much and think too much of ourselves. We think so much of ourselves, that we have attached words to our ego and call it a soul. Because we worry too much, we also imagine that despite our body dying, our soul does not.
Humans have emotions on scales that no other life does; some are dangerous: anger, resentment, prejudice, depression, and low self esteem. A mountain lion catches a rabbit with no emotion much like we go grocery shopping. A human however can become so angry that they can murder another human, and even go to war. Human emotions are compounded because we live in large populations of strangers created by civilization. Constantly interacting with unknown people is more stressful than living within a small interdependent community, and extended family.
Indigenous societies need no prisons, and no therapists because their life is less stressful than our civilized life. Native people’s have security with cradle-to-grave security, work less, and feel in balance with all life. Sure, Native peoples have emotions, but something about their lifestyle keeps them in check. And, love of family it common to all mammals.
The Way Forward Is Back
Our human brains cannot biologically evolve fast enough to create wisdom to temper our abstract thought and accentuated emotions. The only way forward to save Earth and ourselves is to go back to when things last worked, back to the social system that humans are evolved to live in: small interdependent communities: tribes. A wide variety of unique tribes with different customs, but a common respect for Earth, are proven to keep the human mind in balance.
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Chuck Burr is author of Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution. Revised Fourth Edition. 10th Anniversary.
Post Editor, Beth Brown — Beth is a lifestyle writer and former assistant news editor of the Easley Progress. She graduated from Columbia College with a focus on Writing and Public Affairs. She is also a singer/songwriter/musician, yogi, activist and Love Warrior for Mother Earth.
 Image. Science. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/11/humans-can-outlearn-chimps-thanks-more-flexible-brain-genetics. mason01/IStockPhoto
 Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_cheetah
 Image: Roman Yevseyev. https://m.vk.com/other_worlds_studio?_post=-98425303_435&_post_click_type=post_owner_link&_post_click_url=%2Fother_worlds_studio&z=photo-98425303_456239131%2Falbum-98425303_218596833%2Frev
 Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal
 The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/science/neanderthals-humans-brains-skulls.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article
 Standford | News. https://news.stanford.edu/2019/11/07/new-theory-neanderthal-extinction/
 Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_cortex
 Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogen
 Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayahuasca
 Seek medical and legal advice in your jurisdiction before using any Entheogenic substance.