I was sad to hear, this week, that Africa’s western black rhino was declared extinct. It is disheartening the fact that our species take so many things for granted that most of us do not even give much thought to the signs of decline or suffering within our civilization. In the days of internet communication we are bombarded with information from every angle, and yet we seem to have been desensitized to the point of an utter disconnect between our lives and those of many around us. How much longer will it take for us to connect the dots and realize what’s really at stake when we fail to make the necessary changes to save the very system we depend on?

It is appalling to see that a YouTube video showing the conservationists methods to save animals from extinction has a puny number of views compared to other more popular videos depicting a nonsensical and egotistical verbiage, or lewd acts of insanity which attract viewers, and grant the individual who posted it, a celebrity status. At some level this shallow aspect of pop culture has always existed, but the internet and social platforms only augmented it and made it exponentially more visible.

As much as there is an increasing fertile ground of awareness and mindfulness in the globe, we are still a far cry from the kind of sophisticated society we hoped technology would bring to us. Poaching is the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals. This practice is observed all over the world, up to the present, for commercial purposes. It goes to show that there is still an overall lack of mindfulness in the planet that pervades every aspect of our social fabric. This lack of mindfulness eventually reproduces the models of existence and culture that we have been struggling so hard to change.

Mindfulness is a state of mind that will define how we make our choices on a day-to-day basis. It is the awareness that gives the individuals the necessary tools to observe their thoughts, words and actions. It is through these components – thoughts, words and actions – that we become co-creators of our reality and the reality we share with others.

The nature of everything in the physical realm of existence is dualistic and the opposites need to be integrated in order for a state of balance to become present in our lives. Everywhere we look we see signs of suffering and decay, and yet we tend to delude ourselves by creating an illusion of a glossy and immutable world, despite the elements of impermanence and change denying this view altogether. We create an immense amount of stress trying to create a reality that does not change; a reality that needs to stay intact and flawless so that we can control it. Our culture offers us this reality every day through advertisements, TV programs, movies, and the media in general that cater to the identities that we have created, but which contradict the essence of who we are. No wonder our external appearances improve and sparkle, but our faces show an emptiness and that elusive lack of something else that we do not seem to be able to grasp.

Our society has become increasingly addictive, and we all seem to live our lives by the dictates of the consumerist ideology governing our behavior. It is time we all shifted our consciousness towards more awareness. Only with awareness can we be within every situation on a level that we are able to consider our options and make choices that are not emotionally hindered, but rather, harmonically centered with the needed response.

Only in the present moment we experience life at a cellular level. All our experiences point towards that. Our interconnectedness goes beyond the schmaltzy expressions of brotherhood/sisterhood and the unity of all beings and events. We are intrinsically reflecting one another and everything else. Without awareness we cannot connect those dots, and the idea of separateness puts us in trouble. The illusion is created in the mind. When we observe the mind thinking, the illusion eventually dissipates and we are able to see.

We are always living our lives in such a haste, as if we need to get somewhere at a certain time. We are often imposing rules of conduct, limitations, beliefs and whatnot, on ourselves. We are setting ourselves up for failure and suffering. There is an immanent quality of trust and surrender to the natural mechanism of life. We must do our part and then leave it to the universe as we unfold as a whole. The level of consciousness needs to be lifted every single day. There are no miracle pills or magical formulas. As much as we differentiate, we are part of every particle in the universe, and it lives through us and in us.

The world can seem chaotic and doomed to failure, but there is nothing really wrong with it. It is a reflection of everything else. This world is breathing together and this energy makes up the reality we see. Children die every day of starvation, underdeveloped country workers are continually exploited, women and children are constantly abused, religion promotes suffering in the name of a vengeful God, wars break out in such numbers that we don’t even care so much, if we are not involved; so much misery surrounding us, and yet we are unable to see the connection, the need for inclusion, and the necessary shift on how we look at each other.

Then, there are the black rhinos. They became extinct because of our own need to use their horns. Should we feel so lucky that there is not a culture (at least yet) that would hunt us down and keep us in captivity to extract our nails because they are a valuable item coveted by many? It’s all about perspective and perspectives change, like everything else.

We are the black rhinos looking ourselves in the eye. We are the ones contemplating ourselves on the swirling pool of our desires. The universe, this world, our lives is the greatest koan humanity has ever contemplated. Look in the eye of each being, look at everything around you and they will look back at you. This is it.

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