The true purpose of human existence is to ensure the conscious and creative evolution of the earth and all that it contains, living and non-living. The task is a prodigious one and its fulfilment should be the chief glory of mankind. There are many who have seen that, if evolution is to continue, it must be with the conscious co-operation of mankind, but few have seen the task as a whole and what it implies….
Gurdjieff’s scheme shows us what this implies. The points of responsibility, the earth’s crust and its minerals, the soil, the vegetable kingdom on land and in the seas, the invertebrates and animals and man himself, are just those very situations that are now causing great anxiety on the score of depletion of resources, of soil impoverishment, disease, over-population, famine and war. When Gurdjieff propounded his scheme sixty years ago, these anxieties seemed remote. Now they are urgent….
This is the task to which Gurdjieff called us and for which he prepared people in the last period of his life….
Most of all it calls for a fundamental change in values which will consist in putting Nature first and man second. This is a bitter medicine to swallow, but unless we take it we shall perish. There is a little time left, but not very much. By the end of this century the New Epoch must have been established in the sight of all.
~J.G. Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, copyright 1973.
Writing in 2013, I have grave doubts about whether this New Epoch, based on the doctrine of reciprocal maintenance, has been established in the sight of all. But in a way, it doesn’t matter. The survival of humankind and our planet and all it contains will very likely continue beyond my lifetime. But in what kind of shape?
Meanwhile, I choose to live my life with as much intelligence and compassion and wisdom as I can muster, continually awakening as to how I can live more in harmony with the planet. This weekend it meant air-drying freshly washed clothes instead of using the dryer.
I see few institutions to guide us, but it doesn’t mean giving up on institutions entirely. Prod them in the right direction at every chance! It’s better than denial or apathy and way more fun.
We all owe our very existence to the planet, which entirely sustains us, and I’m not sure we can ever fully reciprocate: give back to Nature what Nature has given us. We can be as kind as possible, though. Kinder, even.