Essay Consciousness

Borders of Our Perception

Here we are then, you and I,
having left the cave
and tamed the animals,
having sown the seed
and grown
from village tribe, to city state,
to a world of warring nations.
Now we wait at the borders of our perception,
waiting for the vision
to go beyond the nation,
to be one human family on this earth

A few centuries ago, we woke up to the fact that the world was not flat, but a sphere; and we realized the earth had always been a sphere, even while we had thought it flat. So now we are awakening to the realization that humanity is one whole society, one global economy, one family of beings in a shared environment.

No matter how cunningly we divide ourselves, between good and evil, or Republican and Democrat, or black and white, or Christian, Muslim, or Jew, our divisions are imposed on an already existing unity. This fundamental condition that we share—our human spirit—is unchangeable by religion or government, or by any authority whatsoever.

Our ancestors designed the systems and built the institutions that we’ve inherited, with each generation modifying the social structure according to the priorities of the time. When the American colonies threw out the British and constituted a new government, they kept one very important ingredient of British rule passed down from William the Conqueror—the idea that the ruling power, whether by king or government, wields absolute power over every person, and may force its laws, punishments, and wars, on all.

In the United States, we’re still subject to that power in the form of a national government that recognizes no greater authority that its own, and sustains its power by the compulsory “rule of law.” Each person must submit to an adversarial legal and political system that requires that we struggle with each other for justice, and for power.

We have been taught to struggle as a way of thought, and as a way of life.
This condition pervades every aspect of the culture enforced by an absolute authority over all.

Our predicament: we’ve inherited a social system that works well for a society of opponents and adversaries. So long as we divide ourselves between friends and enemies, and winners and losers, then the present order of society is workable. However, if our vision is of a more harmonious social order in which human society is perceived as a whole, and in which human conflict is seen as a condition to be avoided, or healed, then the present system won’t get us there.

Today we inhabit a new age—a global age—that includes all the races, all the religions, and every nation. We are living together here, sharing the same origins, the same conditions, and the same destiny; and yet, all around the planet, we are stuck in the mode of man against man, nation against nation.

Many of us see the absurdity and the tragedy of man against man as a way of life, but feel powerless to intervene. Human self-destruction is sponsored by national governments that recognize no other authority than their own, and condoned by religious institutions that recognize no other morality than their own. None of these governments serves humanity as a whole, but each pursues its own supposed national interests regardless of its effect on the rest of the human family.

There have been radical changes in the human experience over the past few centuries but our governmental, political, and legal systems have not kept pace. Our social institutions were designed and built many years ago by warriors for warriors with ideals of dominance, and conquest, and defeating the opposition. Now our need is for a new generation of institutions that function for the benefit of the individual person and the whole human family, and, in fact, the whole planet.

There is an ancient truth that humanity has known forever but which remains a secret to this civilization. We are directed from a source beyond our reasoning. This source is not in the legislatures, not in the seats of power, and not in temples or churches. It’s not outside of us. The source is within our selves.

We are possessed by an unconscious intelligence that somehow has arranged our moving parts into a living whole, that does what it is doing whether or not we think, whether or not we legislate. This intelligence is the pilot of this life, using the mind as one tool, one sense in a symphony of sensations. This intelligence is at work within each one of us, and throughout humanity.

Just as our individual bodies comprise billions of cells mysteriously unified by the living intelligence into one whole being, so humanity comprises billions of beings mysteriously collected into one whole existence. We’re already connected by this intelligence on wavelengths beyond our reasoning, beyond our wildest dreams.

Our ability to separate ourselves from each other is taking precedence over our connectedness. Our spiritual wholeness is being ignored in favor of ideologies that divide us and keep us apart.

How are we to transcend the organized conflict of man against man?

If we continue to join the conflict, if we pick sides and fight for what we believe and compete for power over others, our personal, social, and environmental problems will remain unresolved. Man against man is not the answer. Man against man is the problem.

Our quest for a more harmonious social order is not to be achieved by conflict with each other, but by the acceptance of ourselves individually and collectively as a whole. Rather than working against each other, our need is to work with each other. We can more easily work together for shared benefits than against each other for shared suffering.

If we can free ourselves from the compulsion to struggle, we can then perceive the wholeness of our condition and our inclusion within an already existing unity. The way we think is within our personal power. The healing of human conflict is an inside job.

By focusing on transactions and relationships where a mutual benefit can be accomplished, where agreement is the goal, the mood of our relationships is transformed. We become creative and caring, rather than defensive and greedy. By concentrating on what is mutually beneficial we are happier in our family, and more successful and productive in our community.

Our difficulty is that the requirements of our culture distract us from fulfilling our deepest needs. If the mind is chattering on, hoping for this, fearing that, then any perception of oneself as a whole is excluded.

In order to heal our divided selves we must first notice, then pay complete attention to our inner dialogue, the ongoing chatter of our personal mind. This is the first step on an inner journey.

The purpose of the journey is not to correct oneself. The purpose is to accept oneself, to know one’s own mind and to face the actualities of the life being lived. The inner dialogue reveals our confusion as we try to adapt to the requirements and relationships of an authoritarian and adversarial social system. As we journey beyond the chatter, there are hidden emotions waiting to be felt, inhibited hopes and stifled fears waiting to be expressed.

When we allow ourselves to be who we naturally are, to feel our own sensations and love who we love, we are free to contribute our own special talents to the world. The realization of the personal freedom is also the awakening of the soul and the acceptance of who we actually are, rather than who we should be and who we should not be. The realization is that the self is whole and has always been whole, even while we had thought it divided.

When we dissolve the riddles of our inner world and accept our indivisible selves as a whole without judgment, then the soul can be itself and do its own work for the benefit of the human family. When the mind is rested, and the dualisms are quieted, the awakened person might hear the music of the earth, might step into the eternal moment and realize the absolute freedom of the soul. Such freedom cannot be granted by another, cannot be given or taken away by the rule of law; such freedom cannot be taught or studied or judged, but occurs according to an inner realization unique to the person.

We share a common condition as human beings on Planet Earth. Each of us has a unique path, directed, if we allow ourselves to feel it, by the mysterious intelligence of the living soul within us. This indivisible soul is alive now in its original innocence, here in this place, at this time, being itself, including what we know of ourselves and also what we don’t know.

Our love, our work, our joyful task is to fulfill the one within. This is the satisfaction we seek. Each of us can do this.

The truths of our existence are beyond governance. No amount of force, no amount of legislation or punishment can solve or remove our differences. Nor will we achieve a more harmonious way of life through revolution, or competitive elections and disputed acts of government. The truths of our existence are within us and within our personal power.


Notes from the West Pole is the spiritual manifesto of a worldly man who loves this life and its vigorous challenges. Peter Wells offers us the narrative of his odyssey of discovery. Poetry and song, personal anecdotes, graceful line drawings, and lush photographs of the Mendocino Coast are juxtaposed with short, efficient disquisitions on history, government, and religion. You can open this book anywhere, dip in, and find solace, entertainment, or food for deep thought.

About Peter Wells

Peter Wells is a playwright, story-teller, and composer. Born in London, England, he spent his early years under the bombings of the German Blitz during WWII. He left England at the age of 20, and embarked on a journey in search of personal freedom and fulfillment. After traveling around the world, he settled in the rural hills of Northern California. Peter now lives in the coastal village of Mendocino, where he is a successful business owner, as well as a father of seven children (and eight grandchildren), and where he continues to pursue his passion for creating a harmonious way of life. Visit:

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