the human quest

a reflection on the human search for the superhuman
supernatural
for space!
At present you can choose in Munich approximately between 10 different Buddhist groups, at least 20 different schools with a Hindu or Yoga background, some Sufi people, some resident and a lot of visiting Satsang teachers, shamanic practitioners and lots of syncretic groups, which are combining various traditions. Many of them are promising you immediate results or quick help that make you feel better, without really exploring deeper into your original quest. Add the hotchpotch of offers from the media and you will get a confusing variety of possibilities, where the danger of getting sidetracked is immanent.
Says the Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and writer Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche in an article on his facebook page "...Even more dangerous are the self-made gurus who use mindfulness and other Buddhist practices to turn the essence of the Buddhist path into techniques for increasing our love of samsara. By doing so, they utterly destroy the entire purpose of the Buddhadharma, which is to liberate suffering beings from samsara. If this perversion of the Buddha’s teachings is not demonic—the ‘devil incarnate,’ as Christians might say—what is?"
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that “liberation from samsara” is the good solution and “ increasing your love of samsara” the bad one. But these two approaches are indeed often opposed to each other and it's easy to get lost. One has to chose, which direction to take. Trying to follow both directions simultaneously will get you into frustration and confusion, no matter how noble your causes may be. For example, if you have a desire for world peace, you can take an action or pray for it. You might achieve something temporarily and it may give a meaning to your life, but you are still caught in a subject - object duality, which distracts you from the realization of your transcendental nature - always present without any purpose or projections of future achievement. Perhaps your meditation has positive effects on your health or on your environment, so I'm not saying that meditation can't lead to improvement. But that positive side effect is not guaranteed and would disturb the meditation rather than support it, if it would become the main purpose. It's often a subtle difference, whether you are trying to improve samsara or be liberated from it. Not seeing the difference clearly, has a long history within the human quest, because leaders often benefit from the lack of clarity of their followers.
This reflection on the human quest attempts to show, how the two currently predominant approaches "liberation from samsara", which is the essence of the non dual matrix, and "improvement within samsara", which is the priority of the Abrahamic matrix, have taken form and consequently shaped the history of mankind and our present situation. I'm not recommending any choices for you. But by looking at the "bigger picture" you might be able to find out yourself, what your choices are today.
First we look at the historical development of the human quest with its various transformations in time and space. Later we shall try to get an overview of the present situation and finally we are looking to the future.
Misunderstandings are in the nature of our subject, as we are talking with a mind of limited possibilities about the realms beyond mind and language. You are welcome to ask any questions to the author via e-mail: Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.

1. overview

A diagram displaying the development of the matrices and systems, which shaped the basic principles of the human quest:

flowchart

We are dividing the various approaches into matrices, which are defined by some common fundamental concepts. Within a matrix there are certain systems and within the systems we are talking about subsystems, movements or streams. As an example: the Abrahamic matrix divides into three main systems, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and within Christianity there are Catholics, Protestants and so on as subsystems.
Animistic and shamanic matrix: we are looking at a time from about 100000 years ago to about 10000 BC. This period is widely regarded as part of the stone age and humans were living as hunter/gatherers. Naturally the quest of our ancestors from this period was very practical. It is highly unlikely that a person from this period would find the time to think about some hidden meaning of life, when you had to be constantly on the lookout, whether something edible came within your reach, or another living being came along, who might classify you as edible for them. Besides, a consideration of the meaning of life would require a language with abstract terms, which from all we can guess only slowly develops during this period. But certainly the search for entities existing beyond the sensual perceptions starts during stone age and the ideas of spirits, ghosts and other supernatural entities are passed on verbally from generation to generation. The step from animistic to shamanistic practice happens, when some humans develop the ability to see and contact these entities and manage to influence them in favor of their tribe or members of their tribe. These people become specialised as healers, mediators, spiritual leaders and general advisors. Originally shaman was their name only in Siberia, but today the term is used globally.
Polytheism: When some nomadic tribal bands form larger groups and settle in groups, human interaction is getting more organized for practical reasons. In these early cultures the first forms of organized religion with emperors and priests creating their own polytheistic pantheon with special local protective gods emerge.
Abrahamic matrix: While the majority of humans in the Middle East worship either shamanic or polytheistic deities a rebellious shepherd in Mesopotamia called Abraham introduces a new concept with a single almighty god and moves with his small tribe to Judaea. Henceforth the system created by him and his descendants is called Judaism. Later this system is reformed by a son of a Jewish carpenter into Christianity and another six hundred years later it is further developed by an Arabic camel caretaker into Islam. All three religions are built on a monotheistic belief system based on the mythological events from the Old Testament. In their practical implementations there are big differences between the three and within their fold there are often contradictory and competing subsystems. Countless wars have been fought between the three main groups, but also amongst the subgroups there are lots of conflicts.
Non-dual matrix: In various areas in Eurasia a few exceptional individuals start searching within themselves and reach upon a realization beyond the borders of individual happiness. In some cases they decide to share their realization. Some impress their fellow human beings so much through their extraordinary radiance, that they attract large followings and devotees. In case of Mahavir, Buddha, Lao Tzu and others their talks where memorized and later written down as sacred revelations, but the emphasis has been and still is the nonverbal transmission from the master to the disciple. I've only included the three biggest groups in the non-dual matrix in the illustration to keep it simple, but there are other systems like Jainism, Sikhism and Yungdrung Bön, which are also part of the non-dual matrix.

All belief systems do include various concepts and patterns as guidance to their followers, just like a doctor would temporarily offer a stick to a patient, who is slowly regaining his eyesight. The systems of the animistic matrix have in most cases no explicit pointer towards the beyond, but the possibility to dissolve into the unknown is not ruled out. The Abrahamic matrix negates officially any possibility of transcending the god versus sentient beings duality and only in the non-dual variant there is a possibility of transcending the concepts of the matrix and to achieve liberation from samsara. If one decides to take that path, one has to go beyond all concepts (like morale and ethics) and beliefs to realize the unspeakable and unthinkable truth.

2. early movements

Chart of the early human migrations between 100000 and 10000 BC.

migration

Even though our knowledge about this period is based solely on archeological and genetic researches, which are sometimes contradictory, we need to start by looking at the origins of our quest. Even without written testimonies we can certainly say that the first ideas about an existence of a transcendental reality beyond the material phenomena occur in this period and these ideas find their expression in the original forms of animism and shamanism.
The scientific estimate for the whole world population around 10000 BCE is between one and ten million, which is about a thousandth part of todays population of 7.5 billion. These few millions, which could be squeezed into the area of Paris or Berlin nowadays, were spread over all continents. People live as hunters and gatherers. Movement happens for various reasons: climate changes, overpopulation and the migration of the prey are likely motives. The map only shows some of the main moves, but a lot more movement happens in reality. .
Migrations out of Africa across the Sinai peninsula occur definitely a few times and perhaps quite frequently. There are also traces of reverse movements back into Africa. .
Also the crossing of the Bering Strait is done more than once.
The central Eurasian steppes offer great possibilities for hunting, so many nomadic tribes move around between today's Ukraine and the Lake Baikal region.
Some transcontinental sea journeys take place, even though we do not know exactly how and when. Our main consideration here is that a lot of migrations happen in the paleolithic period. When tribes or groups of tribes move, they take their knowledge and habits with them, so by 10000 BCE animistic practice is spread over all continents.
Myths about the creation of the world, the creation of gods and their relationship with each other and humans are formulated and passed on by word of mouth. So within a few generations the contents of a myth might be changing gradually according to the inaccuracies of oral transmission, but commonly used themes and simple symbols (circle, triangle etc.) are spreading globally. Ritual practice, chanting, dancing and the use of psychedelic substances are developing in the tribal communities and are evoking trance states amongst the members. The trances are primarily used for practical purposes like healing diseases, influencing natural deities like the sun, the winds or the water for environmental changes, talking to ancestors and preparing warfare. In short, the functions of the human mind, which distinguish its capacities from other mammals, start to evolve. Humans learn to manipulate themselves and others and the environment.
In some indigenous cultures, which have survived until today, there is the concept of a supreme divine principle. which is the cause of everything that exists. I.e. the Lakotas of North America speek of Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit) and the Mongolians are talking about Munkh Khukh Tengri (Eternal Blue Sky), which both are precursors to concepts within the non-dual matrix like Brahman, Nirvana or the Tao. All these terms describe the Eternal or Ultimate, which was and is and will be always there. But we cannot find out, if these super-concepts were termed in the stone age already, or if they were named later. There might have been some individuals aspiring for and realizing a unification with the supreme principle, even though it wasn't named in those days. There are no reliable testimonies available, as there was no writing in the Paleolithic. But some of the deities, which have been and sometimes still are venerated in polytheistic or non-dual systems, might go back to prehistoric and legendary awakened humans, which later became deified through the embellishment of oral transmissions. That might apply to Shiva and Krishna from the Hindu pantheon, Hercules from the Greek myth, Osiris from Egypt, Inanna from the Babylonian tradition and others. Even less certain we can be about how often such awakenings might have occurred within the animistic communities.

3. the emergence of polytheistic systems

Within the first larger human civilisations various polytheistic pantheons come into existence at different times and locations

migration

The world population estimate at the time of Christ is about 150 to 300 million, that is about fifty to hundred times more than 10000 years earlier. In certain areas with favorable living conditions people become sedentary and form bigger settlements, new forms of social organization evolve, and food production and livestock breeding are replacing hunting and gathering of plants. The newly arising states are organized very hierarchically. The ruling elites enjoy their status and start to exploit the commoners, who sometimes even become the property of the aristocracy. Communication with the metaphysical world is changing as well, as the deities are now used to control and manipulate people.
Generally speaking the term "polytheistic" applies also to the shamanic matrix, as it simply means "with many gods", but we are using the term here especially for polytheistic systems, which include deities created by humans and having human appearances with special powers and abilities. The animistic deities like sun gods, moon gods or animal spirits are still worshipped, but new gods, like Isis in Egypt, Indra in India or Zeus in Greece, come into being and gain superior influence. Some shamans are turning into priests and oracles, who are mediating between gods and humans. Cities and empires often have their own special protector gods and sometimes kings claim to be of divine origin to justify their leadership. Around the year 1 the polytheist religions were dominant in most densely populated areas around the globe. Only India had turned Buddhist after emperor Ashoka the Great converted to Buddhism in 258 BC.
On the esoteric level wise man and women establish the first mystery schools like Pythagoras in Greece, but also in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Rituals, dance, chanting and other practices are adopted from the animistic matrix. We do not know, if the liberation from samsara occurred in some of these mystery schools, as we don't have any written testimonies about awakened people from those days.
While the areas, where cultures developed, look like isolated islands on the map, in reality there has been a lot of intermingling happening, a flow of ideas and interaction, which has been going on throughout history. Even back in the days of the creation of our myth there are some interesting similarities, which hint to a connection between far distant areas, for example:
- The storyline of the Ramayana and the Iliad is about a royal couple (Sita/Ram, Helena/Menelaos). In both cases another king or prince (Ravana, Paris) is kidnapping the women and takes her to a far away kingdom across the sea. The original husbands are gathering large armies to rescue their spouses. They besiege the capitals of the foreign kingdom (Lanka, Troy), fight a long war, conquer the cities at last and take their spouses back.
- The wife of the biblical A-BRAH-am is called SARAh, while in Hindu mythology the creator deity is called BRAHma and his wife is SARAswati.
So perhaps even in the ancient days there were connections between very different cultures. Later, in the days of the Achamaenid empire and Alexander the Great, we know with certainty that the Zoroastrian Persians were influenced by Jewish pundits, Buddhist monks and Greek philosophers. Around 250 AD the Iranian visionary Mani founded a new movement, which combined Christian, Zoroastrian and Buddhist elements. Manichaeism spread quickly as far as North Africa, Italy and China. The meeting of Christian values with Celtic traditions leads to the myth of the Holy Grail. Indian Buddhism is transformed into Vajrayana Buddhism through the meeting with the Tibetan Bön tradition. In Japan Buddhist mystics meet Shinto Shamans and Zen Buddhism is created. In India Islam and Hinduism are competing since centuries, but mystics like Guru Nanak and Kabir are combining and transcending the old traditions. In Central and South America, where Christian missionaries had met with animistic systems earlier, slave trade leads to unique new syncretic combinations.
As you can see in the wake of wandering nomads, conquering armies and busy traders often religious traditions meet and inspire the creation of new systems.

4. the emergence of the non dual matrix

the first awakenings are documented and change the gestalt of the human quest:

migration

Besides the rise (and fall) of civilizations and their countless gods, we have testimonies of special beings, who leave a lasting impact on their fellow human beings. We don't know, if all of them really existed or if some are completely or partially myth. Most likely additional legends were attributed to each of them. Yet we can safely presume, that starting from the iron age there were humans at various places, who had extraordinary realisations, which gave their appearance a special radiance. In some cultures they were called mystics, in Greece philosophers and in India rishis or yogis. Probably not all of them went public and many were probably forgotten soon after their physical disappearance, but a few like Buddha or Lao Tzu started big traditions, which still are practiced widely today. Similar to the shamanic traditions there are men and women likewise, who are questioning the common beliefs and explore beyond the common grounds. In the eastern half of Eurasia the focus of these wise people is on the inner search. After having profound realizations individuals like Mahavir, Chuang Tzu or Shenrab Miwoche start to share their wisdom through words or nonverbal transmissions. Their sayings and life stories are memorized by some of their followers and become the substratum for the systems within the non dual matrix, like Taoism, Jainism or Buddhism. While various techniques and methods (which have developed into many different schools) can be practiced, the realization is always happening through dissolving into the divine. Each individual has the potential to have the same realization like Buddha or Lao Tzu. Gods and deities can be worshipped, but they are incarnations or symbols of an impersonal divine isness.

5. the emergence of the abrahamic matrix

The Fertile Crescent and the surrounding Middle East deserve some special attention as all three Abrahamic religions originate there:

migration

The area between Egypt and modern day Iraq can be seen as the area of the first traffic jams in human history, as all of the early migrations out of and back into Africa had to pass through this area. Additionally this region , which is called the Fertile Crescent because of its shape and natural richness, offered excellent conditions for domestication of animals and cultivation of plants for food production. So it is not surprising, that the first bigger human settlements and empires are developing here . Since the early days until today the area has been highly disputed between various religious and ethnic groups, who are all claiming these lands as their ancient homelands. While the ethnic heritage is still present with the present populations, the ancient religious traditions have been swept away by three men of low descent, who rebelled in their respective times against the established belief systems.
Abraham: According to the bible Abraham originally lived in the area of Ur, which was one of the ancient fortified cities. He is a simple shepard and apparently not happy with his environment. From Ur in Chaldea he is leading his small tribe to Haran in modern day Southeast Turkey and later to the land of Canaan in modern day Israel. According to the Koran he rebels against Nimrod, a legendary Assyrian king, in Urfa, which is close to Haran. He is frequently instructed by a heavenly being, who claims to be the supreme god. Abraham convinces his people to worship this god, which they do after god performs some miracles for them. As we don’t have any other sources besides the Old Testament and the Koran he might just be a myth and perhaps he never existed as single physical being. But nevertheless he stands out as the original symbol and the main inventor of monotheism and the main founder of Judaism.
Jesus of Nazareth: Some centuries later, when the Jewish people are quite unhappy with the Roman occupying forces, Jesus is born to a carpenter's family, claims to be god's son and attempts to reform the Jewish belief system. His message is widely rejected in his homeland, but after his death the new faith is spreading to Asia Minor and a becomes the state religion of the Roman empire a few hundred years later. From Rome and Constantinople Christianity spreads to central and western Europe and Russia and from there with the colonization of America to all areas of the new world.
Muhammad: Around 600 AD in Mecca on the Arabian peninsula a new prophet appears , who claims to get direct messages from god. His proper name is Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, but to the world he becomes known as Muhammad. He, too, is initially not very popular with his fellow citizens. But already during his lifetime he gains a big following and unifies Arabia. Within 150 years his successors conquer a huge empire from Spain to Kyrgyzstan and spread the new religion to South East Asia, Central Asia, parts of Africa and Europe.

Even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam emphasize very different laws and rules, they share a lot of concepts and refer to a similar past, which is written down in their holy books. That's why they are often called "the book religions" or "Abrahamic religions". The Abrahamic matrix is also called Semitic matrix, as all three main founders originated from Semitic ethnicities and spoke Semitic languages. The basic theme of this matrix is the relation between god and the human beings, who were created by him, but never can become god themselves. That's why we are talking about dual systems here. As god is the stronger part in the partnership and decides about an individual's joyful or horrible afterlife, humans are striving for god's appreciation. The principles of life are outlined in the respective holy books, which cannot be questioned by the followers of the system.
In each tradition mystic schools are developing, the Hasids in Judaism, the Sufis in Islam, and the Christian mystics, who are overcoming the fundamental duality of the Abrahamic matrix. But they are small minorities and often suppressed by the mainstream organisations within their traditions. The priests and leaders within the Abrahamic matrix tend to be very controlling and strictly sticking to their monotheistic principles.

6. the main differences between the matrices

Great Spirit Prayer by Big Thunder (late 19th century Algonquin): Give us hearts to understand; Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give; never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed; never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty; never to take from her what we cannot use.
Bible, Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them [human beings]. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 29: Those who would take over the earth and shape it to their will never, I notice, succeed. The earth is like a vessel so sacred that at the mere approach of the profane it is marred. And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.

The fundamental concepts of the three main matrices (animistic, Abrahamic and non dual) about who we are, what life and the universe is all about and how to achieve lasting happiness, vary considerably. We will start looking at the common ground and from there look into the differences: In most systems, that have been known, there is a basic three tier model:
- the below, which is deep in the ocean or under the surface of the earth, often called the underworld. Demons and other mostly unfriendly creatures are living there.
- the above, which is high in the sky on or some unreachable mountains, sometimes called heaven. Mostly deities are living there.
- the surface of the earth, on which the humans and animals are dwelling, is in the middle.
I selected five illustrations from various cultures and areas as an example, a systematic description from the Middle East, a drawing from the Chumash Indians, the Nordic universe, a Christian variation by Dutch painter Frans Francken and an Inca version:

Humans as the inhabitants of the middle region are facing challenges from the superior forces from above and below and have to find practical solutions for survival and successful procreation in the middle area. In indigenous societies, which are mostly within the animistic matrix, the basic patterns of life have been established after the creation and are continuously repeated, unless there are environmental changes. Each generation repeats the tasks of their ancestors, no evolutionary impulses originate from the societies within. Major climate changes or natural disasters may lead to migration and rearrangement of a group's life style. Shamans have the task to communicate with the spirits of the ancestors and the celestial beings. After death you might get promoted to a comfortable place in the sky or downgraded to hell for a while, but all souls remain in a repetitive cycle.
With the evolving of the Abrahamic matrix the model remains the same, but life becomes a one time only adventure. After death you are punished with eternal hell or rewarded with eternal heaven, depending on your sins and merits.
The cosmic models of the non dual matrix have a similar three-tier or multi-tier structure. One example is the Wheel of Life from the Buddhist and Bön system, which can be seen as a mural or Thanka in many monasteries in Tibet and Central Asia. It includes the three realms of the universe as in the above pictures and three more realms are added. The different worlds are arranged in a circle (that's, why it's called "The Wheel of Life" or in Sanskrit "Bhavachakra"). The whole drama is tightly controlled by Yama, the Lord of the Underworld, who makes sure that nobody escapes from the wheel .

Additionally there is something extra, which is missing in the other models: There is a background, on which the Bhavachakra is taking place. The leaders and founders of religions within the non dual matrix have found that background to be our true nature and every human has the potential to realize the true nature and attain liberation from the wheel. There are beings like the Buddha, who have managed to escape from Yama's grip through Self realization. For an individual it is possible to attain the realization with the support of a Buddha. But the solution cannot be found within the wheel, which is symbolizing samsara. All our actions without exception keep the roller coaster going. The clue is to detach from the ego and the dissolving of the I thought is liberation from samsara. The disappearance of the "I" is the realization that you are unlimited and eternal consciousness. You are the screen, on which the universe is reflected.
For the vast majority of believers in the abrahamic matrix the existence of the background is unknown and only rarely in secret schools it might be found. The Abrahamic systems don't acknowledge a beyond. They remain completely in the illusionary realms and illusionary promises. Everything is based on the belief that the phenomena within the wheel are real. This actually applies to atheist systems like communism as well. They deny the existence of the realms of the gods and the demons. But they still declare humans and animals as separate from the rest of existence, so they are caught in the same illusionary bubble just like Jews, Christians and Mohammedans.
"In Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism, however, the personality of the divinity is taught to be final—which makes it comparatively difficult for the members of these communions to understand how one may go beyond the limitations of their own anthropomorphic divinity. The result has been, on the one hand, a general obfuscation of the symbols, and on the other, a god-ridden bigotry such as is unmatched elsewhere in the history of religion." (J.Campbell, The Hero with a thousand Faces).
If any of the three founders, Abraham, Jesus and Mohammad, would show up in Europe or North America today and say the things, they are reported to have said, I presume, they'd be sent to mental institutions pretty soon. But in their own eras they found some followers, who regarded them as outstanding charismatic leaders. Abraham's group stayed comparatively small until today, because Judaism was designed for and stayed confined to Jewish tribes. Yet the Jews created the fundamental concepts, which where later adopted by Christians and Muslims, and spread them all over the world. Christians and Muslims took over large parts of the world in later times, often fighting against each other, but nevertheless they converted millions of animistic worshippers to their respective beliefs. How could the Abrahamic matrix be so successful? Certainly many factors have contributed to this development, I will just outline a few prominent ones:
- a clearly defined meaning of life
- motivation for improvement of life circumstances
- strong beliefs
- the idea that your own beliefs are superior to others
Looking at them, we can see the strength and weakness of the Abrahamic matrix simultaneously: following Abrahamic belief systems people are focused on practical solutions for life. The Abrahamic concepts for life are excellent strategies for survival and improvement of living conditions and offer great consolation in case of failure. The monotheistic myth provides great motivation to tackle earthly matters.
So in terms of the human evolution the Abrahamic matrix has proved to be superior to the other matrices, but as a tool for Self realization the Abrahamic systems are very limiting. Regarding the transcendental realms we are dealing with pure fantasy. Nobody has ever witnessed the salvation, which supposedly happens after death, and nobody has ever seen hell from inside. It's only speculation, which creates a certain insecurity in people, which in turn creates fanaticism and extra effort in the believers. Ironically options like "Know Thyself" (Socrates) or "Be a Light unto Yourself" (Buddha), have not been missed much, because the majority has not even heard of the idea of liberation or awakening. The world has seen quite a few Christian mystics, but they are rather seen as a weird deviation from the mainstream beliefs. "A direct encounter with absolute truth, then, appears to be impossible for normal non-mystical consciousness. We cannot know the reality, or even prove the existence, of the simplest object: though this is a limitation which few people realize acutely and most would deny. But there persists in the race a type of personality which does realize this limitation: and cannot be content with the sham realities that furnish the universe of normal men. (p.14)...Further, there is no trustworthy standard by which we can separate the “real” from the “unreal” aspects of phenomena. Such standards as exist are conventional: and correspond to convenience, not to truth. It is no argument to say that most men see the world in much the same way, and that this “way” is the true standard of reality: though for practical purposes we have agreed that sanity consists in sharing the hallucinations of our neighbors. (p.16) " (Christian mystic Evelyn Underhill in "Mysticism - A Study in the Nature and Development of Consciousness")
On the other hand within the non-dual matrix awakening has been commonly known as the supreme fulfillment of a human life. So it is not surprising that in the East many more individuals have been focusing towards the transcendental realms and regard earthly matters as secondary. "Emptiness is the essence of all entities. This means that the most fundamental truth of things and beings is that they have no essential identity. Entities conventionally exist as conceptual designations but their identity is not intrinsic; it is situational and transitory. As conditions supporting an identity pass away and new conditions arise, the identity changes. A tree is set alight and becomes fire, then ash; eventually no trace of the tree can be found. Where did the tree go? Even our subjective sense of self is conditional, conceptually designated, changeable, and impermanent."(Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Healing with Form, Energy, and Light...).
"Know Thyself" (Socrates) or "Be a Light unto Yourself" (Buddha) have been taken as the major challenge for every human being and many more liberated beings can be found within the non-dual matrix, yet it is not against or in denial of the earthly existence. There is no intrinsic connection between realization and moral or ethical values, even though this is a widespread misunderstanding particularly in the west. Ethical conduct, kindness, empathy and compassion might be used as stepping stones for realisation, but they are not the ultimate goal.
"… in Buddhism the realization of the Absolute is called Nirvana, literally the `going out' or `becoming extinct,' since from the standpoint of the separate self it means the end of all things, though from the standpoint of reality it means the beginning of all things. Nirvana is the extinction of the craving to be the relative thing and thereby the extinction of the relative as such in the realization of the Absolute. (p. 58)The Absolute is its own explanation, its own cause, its own fulfillment and its own realization. It is That." (J.J. Van der Leeuw, Conquest of Illusion).
Some realized beings are very compassionate, but others are happy to stay in solitude or live a normal house holder's life. If compassion arises, it is not for material concerns, but for awakening. Or in other words: real compassion seeks to terminate the cause of suffering.

7. the present situation

A few considerations about the spreading of the matrices in our time, the distribution of the world population and our contemporary mystics:

migration

The countries in yellow are all predominantly influenced by the Abrahamic matrix, the red ones by the non dual matrix. The white parts are too sparsely populated to be taken into account. In many places shamanic and syncretic systems are practiced, mostly by indigenous people, but they are always in the minority compared to the followers of the main religions of a country. Countries that have been dominated by atheist systems for some time I am counting with the matrix, which was dominant during long periods of their history. So Russia with its ancient Christian tradition is colored yellow, while China with predominantly Taoist and Buddhist influences is colored red.
At first glance it looks quite surprising, how three rather absurd belief systems invented by three simple guys from the Middle East could spread around the whole planet, while the non dual matrix, offering a much more profound approach, is confined to a much smaller area (16 % of the inhabitable land), and people following the originally wide spread animistic and shamanic matrix have almost disappeared from the surface of the earth. However, as people from the shamanic systems have done almost no proselytizing, the non-dualists did a moderate bit of proselytizing, while Christians and Muslims have been the most zealous spreaders of their own beliefs, the map simply shows the result of varying intentions of the different matrices.

migration
53 % of the world population lives within the marked circle. The columns list the countries within the circle and their population. Comparing it with the first picture, we see that all of the area of the predominantly non-dual orientated countries are within the circle. While the Abramic matrix has gained the biggest influence geographically, in terms of population the distribution between Abramic influenced people and non-dual influenced people is almost equal. The centers of political and economic power are still outside of the circle, but some shifts are in the making and the distribution of those power centers might be moving into the circle soon.
The search for awakening and the occurence of awakened beings has been happening and acknowledged traditionally far more within the blue circle. But since about 150 years the non-dual approach is being "exported" from within the circle to the Western world.
Christianity and Islam have been managing for many centuries to maintain and extend their areas of influence in spite of many internal fights in Europe, Western Asia and Africa. Yet with improving travelling conditions at the beginning of the 19th century mutual influence through ideas and conversions between the Abrahamic and non-dual matrices is happening. Especially since the 1960s many teachings and teachers from the non-dual matrix have become very popular in the Western countries. But in order to become more acceptable to the Western mind the contents of the original teachings are often getting modified. The focus is shifting from accepting and understanding, who you are, to achieving and improving, who you should be. Thus, however, the non-dual approach is deflected into powerful tools for the evolutionary process and becomes devoid of its original meaning, which explains the situation described in the introduction above.
Everybody, who is operating within the Abrahamic matrix, is obsessed with improving themselves or the world, as if a permanent state of paradise, a final utopian dream could be reached. Even if you meditate to improve the conditions of your life, the life of your group or the life of the planet, you are bound to miss ultimate liberation, because you are focusing on the impermanent and not on the transcendent.

8. our choices

the dynamics of change, our chances of influencing it and the only real alternative:
The Bhavachakra or Wheel of Life (see chapter 6) explains very well how change within the samsaric cycle is happening through the law of cause and effect. The intentional influence human beings can exert on these processes is limited, as we are part of the cycle and therefore governed by the law of cause and effect as well. But the evolutionary process powered by anger, ignorance and greed does a surprisingly good job. Contrary to common belief a lot of things are actually getting better on our planet. You can check on "our world in data", a website compiled by Oxfordian economist Max Roser. Many scientists are agreeing to these findings. In relation to the entire world population the percentage of people dying of violent deaths has been going down since the beginning of human history. The percentage of people, who don't have enough to eat, is smaller than ever before. Our leaders are actually finding better solutions for coexisting and people are having longer and better lives. However, the graph of improvement is often not rectilineal, but more like the flow of a river or the flow of the clouds in the sky. So, even though it sometimes looks like things are getting worse, it may just be the preparation for a new step with better conditions. The dynamics of change have a certain rhythm, but it is often difficult to understand or accept these dynamics. I will give you an example:

In most populations of a species there is a wavelike dynamic of growth and decline. It happens, for example in an area with lots of fish and birds, where the birds are feeding on the fish. Sometimes the bird populations are growing, because they get a lot of food. But naturally when the birds are eating so many fish that the fish are getting scarce, the bird population will diminish with a little time-delay, too. Once the birds are less, the fish have better conditions to reproduce and survive and the next round of the circle is starting and both species will alternately grow and diminish unless an outside influence will change the dynamics. This example also reveals another important aspect of the evolutionary process - the sacrificing of some elements of the process for the success of the whole. The evolutionary purpose of the fish is to sacrifice their lives for the well-being of the birds.

One of my favorite examples for the dynamics of change are the clouds above Lake Walchensee in the Bavarian Alps. For a period of three years I've been taking videos from cloud movements. Looking at them in real time hardly shows any movement, but in time-lapse mode the motion of the elements, which are constantly changing and transforming, is visible.



The people conditioned by the Abrahamic matrix are all part of a collective quest for improvement of the conditions of human life. Many of our efforts have been successful, but many achievements have unplanned side effects, which cause a new wave of movement in a different direction. So the actual outcome is mostly not the originally desired outcome and yet the overall outcome has brought fantastic results for humanity, as "our world in data" and other research show. Our present-day world is in many ways the best we've ever had. The reason is not that we have become better individuals in terms of ethics or moral, but because we have become more skilled in using greed, aggression and our manipulative abilities.
So, is all well and getting better automatically?
Yes and no, because there is one catch with the evolutionary processes, they are all finite.
Our lives are finite, the existence of humanity is finite, the existence of the planet is finite and our solar system is finite. Nobody knows exactly, when the end of a particular system or organism is coming and how much time is left. We might be able to prolong these processes for a limited period and we are certainly capable of shortening them. But eventually anything that has appeared will disappear. If you understand this basic law of transience, you will see the ultimate futility of all our attempts to change things for the better. All our dreams are finished at some point.
This is, where the quest of the Abrahamic matrix comes to an end and only the non-dual quest offers a solution as shown in the Wheel of Life. The mystics of the world found an answer, a unique paradigm shift beyond the concepts of the Abrahamic matrix, which is operating within the Wheel of Life.
It's called liberation from samsara or moksha or nirvana. If you really want to be liberated, you have to let go of all attachments. Disentanglement from the mind and non-biased observation of inner and outer processes - rather being empty-minded than mindful - are the keys to liberation. Perhaps the shift will not be noticeable from the outside. An ancient Zen saying describes this paradox: Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
Awakening is a non-evolutionary happening. The evolutionary process needs the desire for change, while moksha is independent from change. There is a popular belief within many spiritual and new age movements that meditation and awakening will transform the material conditions on the planet into a paradise of eternal dancing and singing, where milk and honey flow freely. It's just a trick to get you involved. When the identification with transient phenomena is lost, the body-mind-system loses its evolutionary momentum. More awakened beings on this planet will not necessarily make it a better functioning one. Societies with a high percentage of awakened beings like Tibet and Bhutan have been facing a lot of hunger, poverty and oppression in the past, because people had less collective motivation for social and technical improvement. So the emergence of more awakened beings might actually lead to an earlier exodus of humanity rather than a better world, like many new age gurus would like us to believe.
We have a classical case of "you can't eat your cake and have it" here, but we have the choice. And this choice is the only real choice we're having in life, choosing between focusing on the evolutionary quest and the non-dual liberation.