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21st century myth
Eden Wang, Ph.D
Once upon a time, there was a group of people living in a beautiful village. They were living a very happy life. One day a visitor came to the village. He looked just like everyone else in the village, but his eyes were beaming with pure compassion and his voice sounded like the thunder in spring. He said: “My fellow beings, your village and all villages along this road will soon encounter a great danger, since the air will soon be permeated with a new and unfamiliar element. Although the new element itself is good for the body, without first undergoing adjustment to such a new air element, your present bodies will not know how to utilize it. However, this process will take more time than we actually have. To help you to undergo such a great change, I have devised a special cave, which upon entrance will give everyone the needed time to go through the adjustment. When you emerge from such a cave, your body will be all-mighty and powerful enough to withstand the change, and you will also gain the skills to guide future villagers through similar difficulties.” Upon hearing his words, some villagers distrusted him, and some doubted him. But the villagers with very pure hearts and very deep concerns for future villagers took his words to heart and expressed their wishes to follow him. He warned them with the following words: “ The cave is vast and deep, and each step in the cave will be taken amid dangerous traps. Keep your righteous thoughts, a compassionate heart, and a strong will to return. Remember why you enter the cave.”
As soon as the villagers entered the cave, they instantly fell. In what seemed to last for ages, they fell all the way down into a dark abyss. Down at the bottom of the cave, their eyes could not discern color, but could only vaguely trace the outline of strangely shaped things. Their bodies felt so heavy that they could barely move. Their ears were filled with disturbing noises that cut through their familiar inner peace. They tried to speak or yell, but what came out from their mouths was like the voice of a sad kitten. They felt totally helpless and frustrated. Tears streamed from their eyes. During those early times in the cave, everyone was overwhelmed by frustration and despair. The feeling of being trapped was intense, and the memories of loved ones and the world outside of the cave were so vivid. What became clear to them was that now they needed to struggle to survive. To keep memories of the outside world fresh, they wrote down stories about that that world. They also painted pictures of that world from their memories, which became the source of motivation for them to continue living. When they felt sad, they invented some games to play. They also gradually recognized that to return to their home outside of the cave, they had to first gain more knowledge of the cave itself; they also needed to find the resources inside of the cave and to learn how to use them for survival. Day in and day out, the former villagers, now cavemen and cavewomen, struggled in the darkness and continued to explore the cave. At the very beginning, since survival was an issue, their goal was focused on the resources of the cave. In the darkness, they managed to find enough food and gradually learned the most efficient ways to gather food. Gradually, hunger was no longer an issue. Tools were developed to compensate for the physical limitations of people and made exploration more rapid and efficient. Those who were very good at devising the tools were respected and honored. Based upon the abilities of each person, the group was divided into several teams. One group was in charge of keeping a record of the experience of the fall and the location of the exit, and also took the responsibility of waiting for the arrival of the master inside the cave and for other rescuers from outside the cave. They also reminded everyone in the cave not to forget the outside world. This group was called the Religion Group. One was in charge of keeping a record of the entire experience in the cave to let future generations know what happened so that they could learn their lessons from past failures (History); one was responsible for gathering food (Agriculture); one was responsible for developing tools using the resources inside the cave (Industry); one was responsible for taking care of the injured and the sick by gathering herbs from the cave (Medicine); one was responsible for keeping everyone in a healthy state of emotion (Arts and Entertainment); one was responsible for collecting and spreading new knowledge among all (Education); and one was fascinated by the cave and wished to observe and study the structure of the cave (Science and Philosophy). During those early phases, everyone was confident that a rescue team would arrive and save them. There were several times when signals from outside arrived and stirred up a lot of excitement. There were even several times that several people who stayed very close to the exit were taken out of the cave by outside rescue efforts, when others were busy with matters of the cave. The Religion Group therefore stated that everyone should move closer to the exit for the next round of rescue efforts. They said that it was not wise to wander around in the cave and miss the opportunity for the next round of rescue. But some could not tolerate the hunger; some could not resist the temptation of exploring more of the cave; some liked to join their teams to continue doing what they were very good at; some even did not believe that the rescue really happened and thought that it might be a scheme set up by the Religion Group. Within the Religion Group, there were major debates regarding who made the cave, how to exit, who came to rescue, and how everyone in the cave should behave for the rescue to occur again. Since different people believed in different leaders of the Religion Group, major fights also occurred.
As their stay in the cave was prolonged, the record of history and the events of rescue from outside started to be viewed as a fairytale. Fewer and fewer people believed that there was a world outside of the cave, since the cave itself was quite large. In the meantime, with the progress made in the cave, life in the cave gradually became quite livable. New progress made by the Industry Group eventually made work in the cave much easier. Everyone had plenty to eat and a comfortable place to live. Some even started to feel that the cave was really not such a bad place to stay forever. Some religious people also left their positions to join the rest to enjoy the comfort. The wish to leave the cave was fading gradually among the people. People’s ability to manage the living conditions inside the cave increased, and fewer and fewer people paid attention to the Religion Group. There were several things about the cave that made people lose interest in leaving: 1) the amazing beauty of the cave itself; 2) new relationships, some of which would not to be allowed outside the cave; and 3) various new comforts uniquely associated with the cave.
One day one member of the Religion Group whose name was Darwin joined the Science Group to explore some part of the cave, and he found that the cave actually was not the same as described by the Religion Group. According to the record left by the Religion Group, a high-level Master created the cave; it was assumed to be the perfect cave that would remain the same forever. However, Darwin found several places that clearly indicated a process of improvement, which he called evolution. Using this evidence, he challenged the record of creation. He reasoned: if the cave went through changes and was becoming better, then the cave was likely not created by a creator. He reasoned further: if there is no creator for the cave, then how did the cave come into being? He then raised the following theory: 1) there was no cave at the beginning, nor higher beings; 2) due to random natural force, some matter of the cave first formed, a process that requires lightening and heat; 3) the original cave matter somehow had random interactions and after a long, long time started to form more complicated matter; 4) the matter, again through random interactions, started to form a structure that looks like a cave but is very primitive; 5) sometimes, from random chance, for example, the wind may blow stronger causing some caves to remain while others were destroyed; 6) as time went on, the random milder changes introduced some modifications to those remaining caves, which withstood the wind better and thus remained; and 7) the cave now remained is resulted from such a long history of selection by the force of the wind. Although it was only a theory, many people believed it to be true, since after several generations, most people doubted whether there was truly a world outside of the cave. In addition, his finding truly challenged the record by the Religion Group that the cave was created by a Master and was made perfect and non-changeable. Most importantly, this idea supported the group of people who believed that the most important mission in the cave was to make the cave more comfortable.
This was a hard hit for the Religion Group; eventually, most of the people did not believe the record made by the Religion Group. “If the cave was all we were given, let us find better ways to live inside it.” Since those who developed tools were most helpful in making life inside the cave easier, these people naturally were considered to be honorable and powerful. The Science Group was also highly regarded in the cave, since it was considered the only group that would provide a better answer for the origin of the cave, and the only group that could figure out the details of the cave’s structure. Most importantly, since the cave was viewed as all there was, people were very much concerned about when the cave showed some signs of cracking. At the very beginning, when they first saw such signs, they had their own way of understanding it and tried to patch it. But the Science Group became very powerful and asked everyone to only accept science’s way of explaining the cause of the crack, since people in the sciences had fancy tools and were considered the most reliable. People established the habit of going to the Science Group for explanations of everything they did not understand. After a while, the people in the Science Group became so proud of themselves that they thought they were the highest beings in the cave. Anyone who disagreed with them was not given a job, and was considered laughable. Through the combined efforts of the Industry and Science Groups, resources in the cave quickly became consumable by cavemen. Since people did not need to work so hard anymore, many became lazy. Since there were so many goods that were easily available, many people became wasteful. With a lot of extra time, many people became bored. Some decided to work harder so that they constantly had new stimulation; some enjoyed collecting things; some enjoyed talking nonsense; some enjoyed all kinds of toys; some liked to daydream. Those who had accumulated most of the goods were considered most capable and had the most convenience to do what they wanted to. This encouraged people to compete with one another for more goods, which thus encouraged them to make more goods from the materials inside the cave. Technology based upon science eventually allowed people to travel to many very remote areas in the cave. This made the cave people very proud. According to the Religion Group, the exit was now high in the sky. But when they flew very high in the cave using their new flying machines, they still could not find anything, and this further strengthened their belief that there was no world beyond the cave.
Despite all the optimistic cheers in the cave to celebrate the new independence of cavemen, there were many problems inside the cave. One was that the resources where the group lived were gradually being depleted, and waste was piling up. So the Science Group began searching for additional resources from more remote areas of the cave. Pollution was becoming a very serious concern. The cave exhibited many strange and dangerous signs indicating a fundamental problem with the cave. The Science Group was urged to find a solution to patch up cracks that began to appear in the cave wall. As the problem became more serious, many people wanted to know more about the cave. So, after many years, the cave people truly looked at the cave. Of course, the advancement of technology allowed them to take a careful look at the cave. The purpose was to identify the causes of the cracks and to find ways to patch them using modern technology. They patched one place, but then another place cracked; when they patched that other place, new cracks appeared in other places. Every crack took longer to patch, and required more people’s effort. Some scientific-minded people, out of attachment to their egos, faked the material and pretended that they had a new way to patch the crack. Such fabrications led to the production of lots of useless matter, which ended up disturbing the structure of the cave fundamentally. Science’s methods for using the resources inside the cave also threatened the basic structure of the cave, since the stones of the cave were severely polluted by the changed cave chemistry, which was artificially introduced by the Science Group. Big holes appeared in some areas of the cave. Some people even fell into them and disappeared. Everyone started to feel worried and called for a better solution. There was a specialized group of scientific-minded people in the cave. They devoted all their time to studying the structure and composition of the cave. They were totally impressed by the perfection of the cave. They felt that such a perfect structure was impossible to be explained by the natural selection theory raised by Darwin. The more they studied the cave, the more they were convinced that the cave was MADE according to a law. They also noticed that the problems of the cave corresponded to the problems of the people inside the cave -- as if the cave were changing according to the way they behaved. They suddenly realized that this mysterious cave might not be made of stone, but was ALIVE! But most of them were afraid to speak up since they felt that the rest of the scientific-minded people would not listen to such statements and that they could lose their reputations or even jobs. Also, they spent all their time looking at the cave and developed a language known only among themselves. Many other people could not understand what they were studying and seldom heard them commenting on the worrisome situation in the cave.
Finally, when the cave was near destruction, one person stood up and said: “Do not forget you are all from a beautiful place. You chose to come here since you had a wish to save the villages. I am now ready to teach you the way.” He was the visitor who had led them into the cave! But almost no one could recognize him anymore. He told everyone the true story from a long time ago. He gave everyone a map with which everyone could return home, a place outside the cave that had already been totally renewed by him. The map contained the details of the structure of the cave. For a long time, the Science Group in the cave thought that it was simply a cave with three dimensions. But he explained the complexity of the cave, which was beyond the wildest imagination of the scientists. He also explained why the cave could not be patched, since all of the cracks in the cave were reflections of the wrong energies the cave people were accumulating via their wrongdoings, since the cave was ALIVE. In fact, the cave was a miniature of the renewed Universe. The master then also revealed the most profound Law of the Universe, or the fundamental nature of the Universe. The Master stated that only when a person totally assimilated his or her nature to the Universe’s characteristic would the door of the exit then open for this person. So the only way out was to cultivate the mind and heart.
But many people did not believe him. Most still thought that the Science Group should continue to find better ways to patch the cave. Some even proposed to make a new cave, according to the knowledge collected about the basic structure of the cave. Some claimed that they already knew how to make a new cave. Some scientists said that everyone could someday have a cave for himself and would no longer worry about what happened to the old cave. But then the visitor warned everyone that if scientists could make a new cave, this cave could also have a character of the anti-Universe, which would be the ultimate grave for whoever was trapped inside. Science was facing a crossroad. One way was to assist the exit of the people out of the cave, by showing evidence that there was a world outside of the cave, that the cave was alive, and that the only way to exit was to start cultivation and assimilate each person’s nature to that of the Universe. The other was to keep the dogma that the cave was made of stones and that we would know enough about the stones’ structure that we could devise new caves to solve all problems inside the current cave.
Currently we are writing a new chapter for 21st Century Myth.
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