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credible complexity, furious activity, and vast scientific knowledge of our 

civilization be merely, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “a sound and a fury, 

signifying nothing”? Following my intuition to the contrary, in Chapter 

Eight I describe what I believe to be the cosmic purpose of our “ascent” 

to the furthest reaches of separation. Drawing on religious, mythological, 

and cosmological metaphors, Chapter Eight puts the tides of separation 

and reunion into a vast context in which none of our efforts to create a 

world of wholeness and beauty, however doomed they seem right now, 

are futile, foolish, or insignificant.

Even in the darkest days, everyone senses a higher possibility, a world 

that was meant to be, life as we were meant to live it. Glimpses of this 

world of wholeness and beauty have inspired idealists for thousands of 

years, and echo in our collective psyche as notions of Heaven, an Age of 

Aquarius, or Eden: a once and future Golden Age. As mystics have 

taught throughout the ages, such a world is closer than close, “within us 

and among us”. Yet as well it is impossibly far off, forever inaccessible to 

any effort arising from our present self-conception. To reach it, our pre- 

sent self-conception and the relationship to the world it implies must 

collapse, so that we might discover our true selves, and therefore our true 

role, function, and relationship to the universe.

This book exposes the futility, the fraudulence, and ultimately the 

baselessness of the program to control the world, to label it and number 

it, to categorize it and own it, to transcend nature and human nature. 

Thus exposed, that program will loosen its grip on us, so that we may let 

go of it before it consumes every last vestige of life and beauty on earth. 

The extensive scientific chapters are there to persuade you that the 

mechanistic, objective world of the discrete and separate self is not reality 

but a projection, merely the image of our own confusion.

The Ascent of Humanity is not merely another critique of modern soci- 

ety, and the solutions I explore are not along the lines of “we should do 

this” and “we shouldn’t do that.” Who the hell is “we”? You and I are 

just you and I. That is why so much political discourse (about what “we” 

must do) is so disheartening; that is why so many activists experience 

such despair, such despondency. You and I, no matter how much we 

agree with each other, are not the “we” of collective action, as in “we 

need to live more sustainably” or “we need to pursue diplomatic op- 

tions.” I find many people resonating with my intuition of a wrongness 

about life and the world as we know it, but their response is not em- 

powered indignation, it is despair, helplessness, impotence. What can one

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