To meditate on one’s own mortality is not always an easy thing to do—but it is very necessary in order to live life fully and gratefully. To meditate on our own species’ possible extinction is even harder to do—but probably even more necessary.
It is not an easy meditation to undertake. But it may reap dividends. I used to tell my students to add one year to your age and then meditate on that year, the time that preceded your existence, the time before you were born–when you were nothing. Meditate on your pre-existence when you were not yet.
Meister Eckhart urges us to return to our “unborn selves” to recover our freedom when we were not yet and that we can do this by way of meditation and letting go.
One meditation on our extinction would be to project ahead to a time when humans are no longer on the earth. That time will come eventually. What can it tell us about how to live now, while we are still here and thereby prolong our time as a species?
Even if we stumble through our current crises by hook or by crook, still there will come a time eventually we know when the earth will no longer be hospitable to the animals, plants and biosphere that makes our living possible. Five or six billion years from now and our earth will be turned to a crisp by the sun we are told.
So some might say, “well, whether we last a billion years or five billion or a million years or just a few hundred years, what’s the difference? What’s it all about anyway?”
All those questions are worth considering in a meditation on the future nothingness of our species. Can we look back and ask, “Might we have done things differently? How might we have responded to the teachings of a Jesus or Buddha or Isaiah or Mohammad or Black Elk differently? More generously? With greater gratitude for our existence after 13.8 billion years of gestation on the part of the universe?”
Might compassion, for example, which all the spiritual traditions we have inherited urge us to practice, have been woven more deeply into the fabric of our communities and cultures, our education, law, science, business, economics, politics, media and religion? What if we had lived lives more committed to compassion and to justice? How would human cultures evolved if that were the case? Might we have prolonged the lifetime of our species?
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity. “Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register