When we look at life from the perspective of life being a text generated by a cosmic context, we can appreciate that the arrangements of life on the ‘micro-political’ end of the scale are outcomes of highly complex and elaborate totalising processes.
The ‘Neolithic’ transformation involved the insertion of a human agency into the reproduction process. It mapped the whole of creation onto the body and ascribed creative powers to the human figure and other forms of life (including plants).
No doubt this change was sold to people on the basis of the wonderful benefits which would flow as a consequence of moving from the proven life-design we know by the inane term of ‘Palaeolithic’.
Surprising as it may seem (since we operate with neolithic stereotypes) there is evidence that this mode of life understood that satisfying our requirements by taking the life of others entails an act of sacrifice rather than merely satisfying a gross form of appetite.
The question is “How was the shift from this mode of Being made possible?”
Promises of bodily immortality may have played a role, given the form of early Egyptian ‘civilisation’ rooted in neolithic practices.
Domestication of some life forms gave us categories of ‘human’ ‘animal’ and ‘plants’ – society, ‘husbandry’, horticulture – village life, farming of ‘animals’ and ‘gardening’ – ‘farming’ .
Over that time many different ways of conceptualising the reproductive process have been explored.
Domestication – which requires one part of life to change its self-image vis-a-vis the rest of life – involves shaping the lives of others to comply with and to satisfy human requirements.
That is, domestication reduces the existential Being of other life forms to those which suit our part of life – ‘humanity’.
And when it comes to expropriating the surplus energy of others, the domestication of people by people has been around for thousands of years.
Buddhism reminds us that the existential Being of other life forms – as sentient Beings – is greater than what we in the West commonly regard as “animal” (notable exceptions include actual interactive relations between people and other life-forms such as with pets and those who work with ‘animals’ on a Being to Being level – not mass production.)
Gene theory can be seen as part of the conceptual apparatus of this kind of manipulative life-formation (post neolithic transformation – in which ‘farming’ is regarded as ‘normal’ and not a distortion in life’s relationships).
Those who, in the ‘tradition’ of the relatively short history of domestication, now insert a finer means of human agency into the micro-politics of life at the genetic level make use of a highly abstract model of life.
They quite rightly point to several thousand years in which various forms of ‘genetic’ modification have been practiced by part of humanity.
Like all highly abstract models, a great deal has to be excluded – with the hope being that what is excluded does not include something of great importance.
Experience repeatedly demonstrates that highly abstract models are inherently unstable – they invariably leave out something which is of great importance.
If we could ‘objectively’ look at human life as an experiment, we would draw this conclusion without any real difficulty.
As things stand, mountains of vested interests ensure that we will see things in ways which maintain the privileges which vested interests have expropriated to themselves.
It does not suit their interests for us to take the view that genetic arrangements are outcomes of a totalising generative process, and not the actual building blocks of life.
The prediction has to be, as we are presently finding with the breeding of domestic dogs, that treating genes as playthings must result in new forms of chaos – irrespective of the claims modern magicians make each evening on the television news that wonderful new cures for disease are just around the corner.
The corporate culture mafia, meanwhile – and at the pointy end of what is really happening – are taking out patents on our lives. They have learnt the black arts of domestication well. We are the herd they seek to take surplus energy from.
A more useful understanding of life is to realise that we are each a single leaf on a greater tree of life – and, after the wonder of coming into Being – maturing in the glow of a nearby star – we too will fall – with our constituent bodily parts to be endlessly recycled as part of framework required for a more existential and subtle form of eternal life.
We are consistently being manipulated by those who play on the fear which comes from or limited understanding of life – we have to transcend this limitation if we are to reclaim our home planet for the well-being of all life.
Its fitting, in this respect, that at the end of the year which celebrates the birth of Darwin, and the 150 years of the publication of “The Origin of Species”, that the Dalai Lama will be speaking in Sydney – to remind us of messages about life on a higher level.
There is far more to understanding life than what is possible by biology alone.