As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be (?): Wisdom vs. The beast.
Notice, it's not institutional religion or establishment politics vs. The Beast, since both are egregiously more part of the problem than the solution.
No, the human species needs something incalculably more profound than murder in the name of God religions or political puppets of the elites to deal with The Beast.
First, let's define our terms. "The Beast" is a composite of mentally ill religious fanatics, the barbarian lunatic right wing fringe of every country on the Earth, and parasitical, vampire elites.
In short, The Beast is humanity at its worst.
Conversely, humanity at its best is incarnate wisdom.
And wisdom is what? Lot's of answers to this, but here's two good ones. Wisdom is what transcends human delusion. Another (and equivalent) definition is that wisdom is "being in touch with reality".
One wonders if this "battle of principalities" is in some sense hard wired into the cutting edge of evolution. Or more specifically, is this conflict an inevitable rite of passage for any "advanced species? Of course, here we can only speculate since each life form (extraterrestrial or otherwise) evokes their own unique reality and survival challenges.
Naturally, there are far too many aspects of this conflict than can be explored in a short paper, but let's examine a few of them.
First, please notice that things like evil are less "defeated" by wisdom than "precluded" by it. In short, where wisdom reigns, evil is simply absent. "Warring" with evil is a secondary phenomenon and a symptom that collective wisdom is fragile and impotent.
Another way to say this is that "moral imperatives" are a kind of holding action to compensate for the relative absence of wisdom. No one lives by "should's" when their lives are grounded in wisdom. Where morality is King, evil too is usually King. Only defective life forms obsess about morality.
The same is even truer for the "stupidity" explanation of human chaos or misery. This mutual exclusion is more obvious since authentic wisdom is necessarily consummated intelligence. Indeed, wisdom and intelligence are virtually synonyms -- even though intelligence can "specialize" itself away from wisdom.
This is why science, for all it value and challenge, does not now and never has been a force for wisdom.
"Transcendence" however, is symptom of wisdom, since it can mean transcending the collective human mind set. Said differently, it’s transcending the arbitrary and socially conditioned mind set of our species. This is approximately what the Hindu/Buddhist tradition calls "Maya" (the world illusion). Another turn of phrase is "consensus reality", since it's the "unexamined living our lives from place" for around six billion Homo sapiens.
Notice again this doesn’t have to conflict with the responsible explorations of science, even though wisdom is grounded in profoundly different dimensions.
The First Noble Truth of the Buddha (perhaps somewhat arbitrarily assigned to him after his death) is that life is Dukha, and dealing with Dukha is where wisdom begins. Dukha basically means anguish or suffering; thus for the Buddha, beginning where you are, means beginning with anguish and suffering.
However, before jumping to the conclusion that this is too much "doom and gloom", we should stay open to the possibility that this is indeed the bottom line human existence if we have to courage to be absolutely realistic.
In any case (leaving out vast intermediary dynamics), his Fourth (and last) Noble Truth is that coming to terms with Dukah (or Samsara -- basically vicious circle living), is a sublime transcendence called Nirvana (one root meaning of which is the blowing out of the ego/personality flame).
The catch 22 in all of this is that ONLY to the degree we dare to begin were we are (i.e., Dukha) is the consummated 4th Noble Truth of Liberation possible.
In short, things like repression, avoidance, denial don't merely keep us in the box or cage of human chaos or misery; THEY ARE THE CAGE/BOX of human chaos or misery. They are the "walls" of our prison which exist only to the degree we are slaves to fear.
Of course, a tragically predictable and simplistic response to the above is to discount it as mere intellectualizing and "impractical" theory. But this is the same strategy of trying to repress death. "Oh, it's nothing to be concerned about since I am the only life form in this galaxy who/what has solved the problem of death."
Oh really? Thinking that means believing the repression of death is the same as "eliminating" death, but this is merely the most common philosophical psychosis of our species.
No, our lives are grounded in a Himalayan Mountain range of repression, denial, and fear, and to the precise degree this is the case, NOTHING of ultimate value or liberation is possible for the human race.
A sort of final example of how this wisdom journey his it’s own "spiritual process", is the following way of experiencing Nirvana. However, this potential consummation for almost every human being alive is NOT a "consummation devoutly to be wished" (kudos to Shakespeare). Rather, it will probably sound like the ultimate fear, the ultimate failure, and a fate worse than death -- even though it is just such fearful thinking that traps us in Dukha.
So, here's a glimpse of the end of the wisdom journey:
It's not that the dreamer finally wakes up from the dream (e.g., the world illusion); rather, it's that SOMETHING MORE REAL THAN THE DREAMER wakes up from the dreamer.
Said differently, it's not that "I's", "you's", "me's", and "we's" are the problem solvers. Rather it's that "I's", "you's", "me's", and "we's" ARE the problem.
And an "advanced species" that doesn't in some sense collectively KNOW this, is doomed to act out delusion, i.e., become extinct.
So, immediately behind business as usual human chaos and misery (e.g., murder-in-the-name-of-God genocide, spirit and health crushing poverty, the Have and Have Not hell on Earth, etc., etc.), is The Beast. But The Beast is only made possible by the core, projected fears of billions of human beings.
Will we humans get through this rite of passage and find the courage and intelligence to stop "projecting" our own terrors and cowardice? In short, as a species (not just a few rare individuals) will we "wake up" in time to avoid the cosmic waterfall of extinction?
CAN this be done? Ironically, the answer is yes, yes, and yes, since the perennial paradox is that the more profound the truth, the more it is self evident. In short, an ultimate challenge is looking each of us directly in the eye as we speak. Indeed, it never ceases to do this.
All we have to do is make eye contact with the real. From this comes everything. From not doing this comes nothing.
So, forget the future. Forget the strategies and "means to an end". Things like religion and politics are so irrelevant we don't even have words for the absoluteness of their irrelevance.
The heart/soul of it all is that ultimate realness is where we already are. An exquisite, ancient Chinese intuition for Nature (tzu-jan) is “that which is so of itself”. Thus, living is the of itself so-ing of that which is so of itself. This is the thought-transcending perfection of spontaneous immediacy and no “higher powers” or “separate selves” need apply, since spontaneous immediacy is the “being myself” of ultimate realness.
Whether it’s said in Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, or Tibetan, the equation is: Nowing = Selfing = Realitying. This realization is vaster than delusion, transcendent to death, and infinitely more real than the resigned, groveling existence of most of the entire human race.
W. Christopher Epler (Bill)
ps: To discount the above as merely conceptual theorizing or impractical intellectualizing is like spending your entire life “killing time” in a filthy, lonely cage . . . with one wall permanently open. The alternative is whistling in a dark that’s not listening.