The encampment of the young ones on the banks of the river is abuzz with colorful excitement. Shorter days, which usually meant traveling to the other side of the valley, now means that dusk comes earlier and dawn later. Rather than prompting early dormancy, the family of young botanicus responds with yet another innovation. By eating seasonal nuts and berries at the end of the day, their energy stores are higher, and they retire later. In the dimmer light, they discover pseudo-bioluminescence, and begin to use it to communicate in near darkness.
This new adaptation is not true bioluminescence; rather, it is a shift to purely voluntary color shifting of bright yellow and white, as an adjunct to the involuntary, customary color shifting of emotion. As such, this new ability provides a longer-range method of contact with each other, and yet another way to play games. Botanicus games become their dominant activity, both exercising their creativity and group cohesion. Until the fall of complete darkness, the group is in constant contact using vocal and visual cues. Where darkness used to beckon the chirps and calls of insects and animals, it now calls forth the diverse vocalizations and visual gymnastics of botanicus, both Homo botanicus and pig.
Their vocal-visual system is much faster than communication through words, and more informative. Thus it is that the use of spoken words almost disappears, reserved for some ritual use and when danger presents itself, like the arrival of natural events like rock falls, flash floods, and lightning storms. Their sensitivity to the environment is exquisite, and the smell of rain fifty miles away can be detected in the wind. Ripe red berries can be seen from a great distance, and the sound of nuts dropping on stones from across the valley is like a tap on the shoulder.
All these sensory perceptions present themselves in color shifts and bursts, and a nearly continuous chatter of sounds. To an observer, the behavior of this tribe of green-skinned beings would appear the way squirrels once appeared: busy, noisy, socially active but not displaying higher intelligence or great self-awareness. This, of course, would be incorrect; what appears as simply mindless play is actually life lived in total synchrony with nature. Although their self-awareness is not immediately obvious, it underlies all activities, albeit not individualistic. In botanicus, self-and-other subordinates to a great unity of being, felt in both social relationships and their relationship to the natural world.
Ironically, the Buddhism of Leonard Gittleman, which he passed on to his son, Pierre, was largely focused on the artificiality of self-and-other. Many Buddhist practices employed techniques intended to dissolve this dichotomy, to bring the mind into the present moment and deemphasize what modern, and now almost extinct, Homo sapiens society called ego. An emphasis on selflessness, sometimes explained as emptiness or samadhi, was elevated as an ideal, a realization of the interconnectedness and mutual dependency of all things, animate and inanimate.
Despite its insights, techniques and views, Buddhism had not solved humanity’s problems. Partly because of misunderstanding, the idea of emptiness produced nihilistic views in some people, becoming objectified as a ‘thing’ rather than emblematic of a process. For others, it was an excuse to disengage from the world in a schizoid manner. From Pierre’s perspective, people remained the ‘hungry ghosts’ portrayed in the Wheel of Karma, beings unable to satisfy their insatiable hunger and desire, thereby propagating their Samsaric cycle of suffering. Through his understanding of desire, hunger, and aggression as the penultimate driver of Homo sapiens behavior, Pierre’s creation of botanicus was a bold and visionary experiment. The selflessness of Buddhism became the core of Homo botanicus.
By establishing the superiority of right hemisphere functioning, and its increased inhibition of left hemisphere abstraction and representation of the world, Pierre effectively rebalanced the human experience of being. Over hundreds of thousands of years Homo sapiens culture had elevated the creative abstraction and word-based reality of the left hemisphere, erecting a rational, although deficient, framework of belief, thoughts, and behaviors that ultimately placed humanity in opposition to nature rather than in a cooperative relationship. The intellectual abilities of the left hemisphere, mirrored in the creation of an industrial, utilitarian society that literally consumed and dramatically altered nature, doomed Homo sapiens to extinction. Botanicus, the result of Pierre Gittleman’s clear realization, returned humanity and animal life to the world as a partner, not an opponent, and broke the predatory chain of Samsara that had bound humanity to the continuity of suffering.
If any description of botanicus suffices, the word ‘joyful’ comes closest. Not tortured by narcissistic or solipsistic inclinations, their senses fully attuned to the present moment and the totality of being, botanicus minds are free to experience the world as it is. When not engaged in social interaction with each other, they often sit still for hours, basking in sunlight while experiencing the awesomeness of the world’s continuity, change, and transformation. They do not try to stop the moment, to resist the flow of time or redirect it. Rather, they join with it and revel in the great unity of being, their minds absorbing and reflecting all they see, hear and feel. And what they feel is joy.
Their joy is revealed as they reflect the flow of the natural world around them. Each experience, each realization is accompanied by visible color change and vocalizations. Their exquisite sensitivity anticipates and telegraphs the coming of rain, the subtlety of temperature change, shifting seasonal winds, changes in odor, anticipated births, or deaths, even events taking place at the quantum level. Without striving, without boredom, undistracted by fantasy and endless questions, botanicus is filled instead with love and a sense of wonder as the colors, sounds and smells of nature shift and change. The world provides all the structure and sustenance they need, the cycles and the seasons interspersed with the variables of chance an endless source of comfort and pleasure. In a world grievously transformed by the effects of greed, aggression and ignorance, the profound illumination of botanicus, brings humanity contentment.