11. Your conscious time frames
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Richard Dawkins, in his book "The God Delusion", urges again and again
to "raise your consciousness". I totally
agree with him, except that I prefer to use the words "expand your awareness". This to me reflects
something multi-dimensional, rather than an (inferred) vertical only "raising". Perhaps
this partly reflects my introvert nature which prefers to "feel" things all around me rather
than observe them.
I think of my awareness as something that stretches out in different directions and on various time scales.
As a former geologist the time dimension has of course always been with me an
important element. I try to be aware of four different time dimensions in which
I place myself.
- my own life span
- my ancestors, going back as far as the 400 year old records allow
- Western Civilisation, especially as preserved in Europe
- geological life span of the earth and further back to the birth of our
My forthcoming trip to Germany and Europe is especially aimed at nurturing my
awareness of levels 2 and 3. My ancestors (as I mentioned before) were originally foresters in
Austria and South Germany, and I want to connect with their past environment and
spirit through walks in the Black Forest, Bavaria and Austria.
My travels through Europe will of course also immerse me in the wider
Western Civilisation through its architecture, arts and ancient
Living in Europe however (I suspect and feel when I am there) can be a
bit of an awareness trap. You virtually live within a time box, its walls
consisting of the extend of Western culture, only a few millennia old. I find it
very hard to think beyond these dimensions on that Continent, and therefore largely miss the 4th
level of my awareness when I am there.
For this I need to travel through
Australia, not along its coastal fringes, but deep into the interior. Here I
find the elements which bring me closest to the earliest times of the earth's
existence and which give me a sense of awareness beyond this point to the earlier and wider
What are these elements ? It are the vastness and millions of
years old mature flat land forms, which make one feel to be on a different
planet altogether. This is (more often than not) over span by a very dry cloudless
bright light blue sky which appears to reach far up into the Universe.
One can reach even further back into the past when travelling through the outback of Western Australia,
through the so called (geological) Greenstone belt (rich in gold, nickel,
copper, etc.), which stretches NW and SE from the main mining town Kalgoorlie.
Within this belt the
timeless land surface is a patch work, rich in colours - consisting of low ridges of black and purple ironstone band formations, flanked by greenstones, punctuated by sparkling white quarz blows, with flat regions in between of dark red soils, white salt lakes and low green and grey bushes.
These rock exposures and the surrounding rubble represent some of the oldest rocks on earth, up to 3.6
billion years old. To hold such a single bit of rock in your hand is, to the aware person, an awesome experience.
For anybody who has not had the experience and comparison of both the European
and Outback Australian environments it may be hard to imagine what it feels
The best metaphor to think of is perhaps the difference between being
inside your home and outside in your garden or on a walk through
nature. Inside you are surrounded by furniture, photos, decorations, etc. Apart
from the pot plants and flowers all man made. But as soon as you go outside, surrounded by
nature's environment you feel entirely different.
So come outside, to outback
Australia, and get a sense of the early earth and Universe we live in. Or, if
you have done that already, go inside, to Europe, and experience the rich
culture of Western Civilisation. The two experiences complement one another and
will substantially enhance and broaden your awareness.
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You may of course add or substitute any other human civilisation to the "level 3" awareness I listed above. That is a personal choice one should make. But being a European myself and mindful of its dominant role in shaping all aspects of the human society we have today I consider the Western Civilisation crucial to focus on.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner