4.6 Our Rapid Awakening

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When the cultural stories that rule our daily lives don't match reality, that's a sure sign that we have become truly disconnected from our core Dharma. In their book, The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness[39],” the psychologists, Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer, explore the mental processes that lead to this disconnection and show that other animals can become equally disconnected from their core Dharma when subjected to the same types of stimuli that modern humans experience. The authors begin with the age-old observation that we're born with the sensations of pleasure and displeasure to indicate which of our acts are in harmony with Nature (Dharma) and which acts aren't (Adharma). All beings are infused with the drive to conserve energy, which is to minimize the energy that we expend for each of our actions. Thus an elephant would experience pleasure while eating jackfruits, would experience displeasure if she ever ventured to eat deer flesh and would invariably reach for the nearest available jackfruit in order to conserve her energies instead of seeking one from far away. Likewise, we humans experience pleasure while petting an animal, displeasure while watching an animal being tortured and will reach for the nearest animal to pet, to conserve our energies.

The "Pleasure Trap" arises when we stop using the sensations of pleasure and displeasure as indicator signals from Nature regarding our Dharma and instead use our tremendous tool-building skills to create artificial scenarios, seek out manufactured pleasures and get addicted to them. For instance, processed foods are specifically formulated to maximize our pleasure sensations far beyond that which can be obtained from foods in Nature. As a result, we begin to find Nature's foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to be less pleasurable and consume the processed foods instead. The distortion of our core Dharma and consequent disconnection from Nature intensifies. Over time, this disconnection has become more and more pronounced until many modern humans suffer from isolation, depression and so-called Nature Deficit Disorder[40].  

Our story is that this disconnection from Creation occurred deliberately in order to help us develop our tools and technologies and build out a globally connected presence for a global purpose, but as part of an inexorable process towards transformation and reconnection with Creation. Humanity has experienced the Caterpillar phase over the first 200,000 years of its existence and it is currently in the cocoon of disconnection, pondering and awaiting the emergence of the Butterfly phase. Consider any projections of our current course and we will find unbelievable predictions about our near future, meaning that we will inevitably break out of the exponential growth, Caterpillar phase that we're on. For example, if current trends continue unabated, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is predicting that 3.3 billion people around the world would be overweight or obese in 2030 compared to the 1.3 billion people in 2005, with Americans leading the pack with close to 100% of adults being obese or overweight[41]! If current trends continue unabated, half the children in America are going to be autistic by 2025[42]! If current trends continue unabated, the world economy would be quadruple its current size by 2050, even though it is already 60% larger than the Earth’s biological capacity today[43]!

As Paul Gilding points out in his book, The Great Disruption[44], all such predictions are truly worthless, since planetary feedback alarm signals such as the climate, extreme weather events, wildfires, famines, floods and droughts will be getting stronger and stronger to force a structural sea-change in the way humans interact with each other and with the Earth. Even if many people willfully ignore these signals today, as time progresses, it will become virtually impossible to ignore them and continue business as usual in the next couple of decades.

Therefore, all the feedback signals from Nature are indicating that the Caterpillar phase of humanity will end within the next decade as we transition from fear of death as the driving force of our civilization to love of life as the driving force. I define the Butterfly era to have begun when half of all Americans self-report to be vegan. By that definition, we can calculate that the Butterfly era will begin within the next decade. A Hartman Group Research report revealed that as of 2010, in the United States, 12% of millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, 4% of Gen-X’ers and 1% of Baby boomers self-reported to be vegan[45]. As to be expected, the younger generation was leading the transformation!   Furthermore, since 2010, the Google trend for the search term, “Vegan,” has been increasing exponentially and it has tripled to overtake that for a common item like “Coca Cola[46]”. The trend is highest in affluent nations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, implying that this is a lasting trend that will inexorably sweep the world. If that exponential growth trend continues, then within the next 6 years, all Millennials will self-report to be vegan and within the next 12 years, all Gen-X’ers and even 27% of Baby boomers will self-report to be vegan!

In Carbon Dharma, I referred to the Millennial generation as the Most Important Generation to ever Live on Earth (MIGLE) as they have to lead this human evolution towards the Butterfly phase[47]. Members of this generation are the “Miglets.” I prefer this term to the nondescript “Millennials.”

It is truly thrilling to see this amazing generation of Miglets lead our human metamorphosis into the Butterfly phase!


[39] Lisle, Doug and Goldhamer, Alan, The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness, Healthy Living Publications, Mar 2006, ISBN-13: 978-1570671975, http://amzn.to/1TyavHp

[40] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder

[41] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18607383/

[42] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a52vAx9HaCI

[43] Based on GDP growth projections by PriceWaterhouse Coopers with respect to 2015: http://pwc.to/1MEl8UJ

[44] Gilding, Paul, The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World, Bloomsbury Press, March 2011, ISBN-13: 978-1608192236, http://amzn.to/1W8jqlf

[45] http://store.hartman-group.com/culture-of-millennials-2011/

[46] https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=vegan

[47] Rao, Sailesh, Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies, Climate Healers, ISBN-13: 9781467928458, Oct. 2011. http://www.carbondharma.org