Like the turtle’s shell, the sense of self serves as a shield against stimulation and as a burden which limits mobility into possibly dangerous areas. The turtle rarely has to think about what’s on the other side of his shell; whatever it is, it can’t hurt him, can’t even touch him. So, too, adults insist on the shell of a consistent self for themselves and their children and appreciate turtles for friends; they wish to be protected from being hurt or touched or confused or having to think. If a man can rely on consistency, he can afford not to notice people after the first few times. But I imagined a world in which each individual might be about to play the lover, the benefactor, the sponger, the attacker, the friend: and once known as one of these the next day he might yet be anything. Would we pay attention to this person? Would life be boring? Would life be livable? I saw then clearly for the first time that the fear of failure keeps us huddled in the cave of self – a group of behavior patterns we have mastered and have no intention of risking failure by abandoning.
We ask ourselves all kinds of questions, such as why does a peacock have such beautiful feathers, and we may answer that he needs the feathers to impress a female peacock, but then we ask ourselves, and why is there a peacock? And then we ask, why is there anything living? And then we ask, why is there anything at all? And if you tell some advocate of scientism that the answer is a secret, he will go white hot and write a book. But it is a secret. And the experience of living with the secret and thinking about it is in itself a kind of faith.
People today have forgotten they’re really just a part of nature. Yet, they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don’t understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. Yet they’re so proud of their inventions. What’s worse, most people are, too. They view them as if they were miracles. They worship them. They don’t know it, but they’re losing nature. They don’t see that they’re going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.