All the realities are artificial. There is not anything to understand. Basically, human beings are born into extremely rich natural environments. There is a lot to explore. The seasons change. And new plants and animals appear not to mention the weather itself which is light part of the time and dark part of the time. Life is never ending exploration and discovery. The natural urge to explore has somewhere to go. The natural world is your backyard. Well, sort of. I mean, it should be, but even the use of the term backyard shocks us back into our urban reality of a government-controlled civic society run by phony politicians and soda-pop salesmen. Which one is more real?
At least when I was a kid you could rebel. That was late sixties, early seventies. But rebellion itself is another artifice. Rebellion is a controlled, marketed thing squeezed out of the tube in segments and plastered into the email. How awful! For that matter paper mail itself is full of this activism too. The soda-pop salesmen is replaced by the activism peddler. The rule?
It is that all that can be artificialized, will be. Something that is artificial is useful because it can be converted, again and again. Not enough kinds of Doritos? We can invent a new flavor, Guacamole, no worries. You never have to worry about getting new artificialities but natural things are a problem. I do not know why that should be but they seem to be a problem—for the zombies and the dead people.
And there isn't anything left to understand. Liquor sales are up. That's good for the liquor industry. Also for the regulators, and cops, and the kleptomaniac tax bureaus. We don't seem to have a problem with that. It is all controlled and owned and profits are culled out from it. Of course when I say profit I mean in the form of money. It is not in human happiness. But what is happiness?
Where does this experience of being alive actually get its tang and its vitality? It is because there are things to understand, and it is a struggle to understand them. We move a rock, and there are a bunch of bugs. It might be kind of unpleasant. But you learned something. Modern society says, "OK we're gonna streamline and channel everything now." Eventually, they do. There isn't anything mysterious now. Mysteries are there to be solved. But now, the mysteries are pre-treated. And they aren't there. This is the very simple premise of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" (Only we do not bother reading the actual book, in the original.) Knowledge can be useful only when it ends with a creative open space. What is the fun of exploring to the end of the universe if you do reach all the way to the end? In that case discovery of new facts kills the urge to explore. At the end of each life, according to not only Buddha but almost all other religions (I think), you have another life, to explore. According to the current wisdom after you die that is all there is. But that isn't enough for us. We will now be ending while alive! Some years ago, I read reports of a spate of girls who were reaching puberty early—at 11, instead of 13 or 14. Maybe if there was more mystery to life and access to natural things they would wait.
But liquor sales are still strong, and the Annhauser-Buschs or the Seagrams are having a wonderful time on their private island. Richard Bransom has an island, too. If you are rich today, mystery is another item and you can purchase that. I envy the rich which I think is a good and strong and healthy emotion. I'm normal after all.
When we say we want to understand something, what we really mean is that we want to have a mystery there. We really enjoy solving those mysteries. As long as it is also a mystery at the end it really does not matter what you understood because the mystery is still present but what happening is that we've been inundated with understanding and therefore the understanding has lost its juice and sap. This is because Western people have the wrong idea of understanding. They think understanding is science. Our most profound understanding is wordless and open-ended. Like a driver who intentionally turned up a dead-end alley, science seeks a closed end. Right. Whatever gets you off, but then you need an endless supply of one-way streets, with murals painted on the wall at the ends of the streets. Why not just drive the car the way GM intended it to be driven and drive it on the open road? What do we say about the problem of living in a world of poisonous propaganda? There is nothing wrong with things that are artificial, I do not think that is it. I think it to be a matter of something that is alive; I think a matter of liveliness, and liveliness is beyond knowledge. The world today saps us of our desire to explore nature and battle mystery. And it robs us of these inherently human qualities by continuously, ruthlessly, and nefariously giving us knowledge even when the kind of knowledge they are giving does not do us any good.