There’s something else quite vital to consider when discussing the cognition of ancient man. He lived in three worlds, not the one world we live in today. In fact, we've only very recently started to live in one world – those of us, that is, who have rejected the Christian three dimensional cosmological model.
So it’s worth pausing for just a couple of seconds to consider the implications of that in terms of the evolution of human thinking – and wondering whether it was a step too far, too fast. Can human cognition really 'evolve' that quickly on such a fundamental level and still be immune from Future Shock?
In rejecting the Christian model in its totality, the words ‘babies’ and ‘bathwater’ come to my mind.
As far back into mythology as we can get, man lived in three worlds. The three worlds are found in the ancient cultures of Egypt, India, China, Greece and Mesopotamia, and they also made up the cosmologies of the primitive tribes of Asia, America and Africa.
To ancient man, this earth was in the middle of the three worlds – the others being the Upper World above and Lower World or Underworld below. Running through them all, at the centre, is a sacred mountain on whose summit live the gods.
In central Asia, this mountain was called Sumbur, Sumer or Sumur. In India, it was called Sumeru. In Greece, it was Mount Olympus. The Persians had Haraberezaiti (Elbruz). To the Germans (Teutonics) it was Himingbjorg; the Saxons had Irminusul (the universal column that sustains everything), the Norse had Asgard and the Chinese had Mount Khun-Lan.
Then the Christian religion came along. The 4th century synods, possibly realising that they could not uproot an idea so deeply embedded in our psychologies, changed the three worlds into Heaven, Earth and Hell. In recent years, many have rejected this idea, not least because of our insistence on only recognising what we see through Newtonian blinkers. We quite correctly identified that the astronomers haven't found any angels with harps or a Devil presiding over a bubbling inferno in the four per cent of reality available to us.
But reconsider these three worlds – obviously without the heavenly harps and hellish pitchforks! – in the light of what we now know about the quantum. Perhaps then we can see how ancient man lived in a much more richly textured and multi-dimensional universe than we do today. And with his relationship to the gods (the spirits of the quantum, I believe) he felt supported and cared for within the greater scheme of things. He had context.
Today, we don’t give our young people any context. By insisting on only living within a Newtonian reality, we have gradually shut down all our options - and theirs - and cut ourselves off from the sort of diversity and richness of existence that we have evolved mentally to expect - and are designed for.
We live in a very flat world one, now – more flat than anyone experienced pre-Columbus. We perceive ourselves on this one layer floating in a huge dark cavern of a universe that we barely understand and in which we feel that we are alone – which is why we search so frantically for signs of life on other planets.
We no longer know how to commune with our ancestors in the Underworld. So instead, we use our Newtonian tools to go off in search of the common ancestor.
We have moved from cyclical thinking to linear thinking. Man no longer sees himself as one with the great totality of all things. We just see ourselves walking a straight line, from a pointless birth to a pointless death.
From a Newtonian perspective, we know exactly how small we are ... like a grain of sand that could be easily blown away. But because we've lost our quantum perpective, we also cannot see how huge and beautiful we are at the same time.
We tell our young people that they should be happy and grateful because of all the technological advancements we've made. We shower them with iPods, iTunes, iPhones, iMacs and iSkypes – because everything now is about i. That’s all there is for them – the i. They stand alone, i-solated, in the middle of nothingness. They have endless ways to communicate with one another, but nothing really to say.
No wonder so many of them feel so alienated.
Time for a change ....