we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

Two Buddhas Dance, Part-1: Different Tempos

The Whole of Essay Seventeen in Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice:  The story of Old Buddha ends (for the moment) and the story of Young Buddha begins.

I tell you: one must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. —Friedrich Nietzsche [1]

The final lesson to take from our evolution-as-intelligence analogy is not the lesson of Lovelock’s Gaia, which simply shifts preconceived mechanisms to a higher plane (https://www.extremophilechoice.com/2022/04/25/two-buddhas-part-1/); it’s that Nature gets creative only by transcending the fixed trajectories and mortal cycles of its reproductions. Even on the largest scale, life’s only sure direction, ever-unforeseeable in the details, is outward: out of the sea, above the frost-line, into the skies. And lately it seems to be reaching above the atmosphere itself. Except that here the transcendence takes on a more radical meaning: today’s structures are not always gene-built, for the inter-gene-rational dance of selection has been reformatted to new inorganic media, and to a tempo the Old Tree of life (https://www.extremophilechoice.com/2022/06/01/old-buddha-part-4-the-tree-of-life-conceptualizes-its-own-form/) can no longer step to. The causes and consequences of this, and our projections for a tree of knowledge branching at escape-velocity, its spray of cultural tapestries now merging under the influence of a shared technology, are… well, just another story.

I know it can be difficult to stand fearless upon the brink of an unknowable future, but the model of intelligence presented here, an evolutionary flowering that unfolds naturally from primordial awareness, can help us with our smaller fears as well as with our fear for the fate of a big planet. Contemplating the deep past can sometimes help me to realize, directly, the deep nature of my own humanity: if this moment, when I see its wonders and don’t get caught up in its confusions, is the result of seven hundred million years of good luck, then good will is surely at the centre of my being. Furthermore, whatever intelligence the future holds, it can never be wholly unfamiliar, for this is what I am even now. So I hope you’ll find my story, my sequel to both Darwin and Dogen, useful. There is no “final lesson” after all.

This is the last essay from PART II in the book: Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice: Fifty Short Essays on What it Means to be Human in the Natural World


  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2009 [1891] Thomas Common, trans., Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Blacksbug VA: Wilder Publications, Thrifty Books. p. 5.

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