Paradigm shift coping with change Anxious about the future? Co-create it
Transformative experiences can promote “aha!” moments of awe: cognitive shifts that can affect values, attitudes and patterns of behavior underlying all are actions and omissions.
Where can we promote global paradigm change?
Transformative experiences can promote “aha!” moments of awe: cognitive shifts that can affect values, attitudes and patterns of behavior underlying all are actions and omissions. Such expansions of consciousness can inspire us to become agents of positive, structural change. We move to co-creation of a better future we know is possible, promoting global paradigm change, rather than being victimized by undesirable change.
In a recent article published in Yes! Magazine journalist Richard Schiffman defends that "we need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it." The article mentions a wonderful documentary called The Overview Effect, which features several astronauts who describe their awe-inspiring, paradigm-shifting explanatory experiences. Among them is the 6th man to land on the moon and Institute of Noetic Sciences co-founder, Dr. Edgar Mitchell. He describes a heightened state of awareness and interconnectedness triggered by the sight of the Earth from outer space.
As orbital tourism nears commercial feasibility, we can look forward to more and more people seeing the Earth as it is: a glistening blue, living space ship with an ultra-thin protective layer that shields us from the harshness of space. It is no wonder that, as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson posits, the ecological movement got a critical boost after the first images of Earth from outer space entered our collective consciousness.
The cognitive shift afforded by out-of-body experiences and the like can be just as impactful. It is similar in the way that we see our "home" from the outside and have the chance to reconsider it. It also broadens our sense of universalism and triggers serious questioning of reality and our place in it.Unlike the outdated view of the OBE as a dissociative or narcissistic experience, it is clearly quite the opposite. Both the "out of body" and "out of planet" experiences are profoundly integrative, expanding our sense of oneness and fellowship with fellow beings, indeed, with the very fabric of multidimensional Reality.
We tend to identify too much with this body and not enough with our life-sustaining planet. Projections shows us that while the fragile, mortal, breathing, walking, sleeping, hungry, hormonal, instinctual body is a precious vessel for us to evolve in this dimension, it is certainly not the entirety of who or what we are. In fact, we realize that we are much more vast and eternal than this useful scaffold meat suit: at least as cosmic as the physical cosmos that surrounds our Earth.
There are more and more voices inspired by such transformative experiences that promote a new story for humanity like Charles Eisenstein, a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. They envision new models based on insights from consciousness development. The International Academy of Consciousness, a non-profit for which I have volunteered since 2003, is also a part of this movement. In 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, former IAC president Wagner Alegretti delivered a speech at the United Nations' Earth Summit to elucidate the link between consciousness and ecology.
Underpinning our behavior is a worldview or paradigm, a story that we have internalized: the predominant paradigm that can be characterized as materialistic, mechanistic, or reductionist. In other words, we tend to understand humans, animals, trees, rivers, air, water, and the rest of the Earth as material things, or resources for material motivations.
It was not always that way. Throughout history, we have considered the spirit, soul, self, or mind a self-evident and fundamental part of Reality. The material realm was often regarded as less of a reality than consciousness, or at most an extension or reflection of it. With the progress of empirical science, however, a conflict developed with religious authorities. Scientists stayed clear and grew distant of the spiritual. After a reductionist detour of about two centuries, which did not explain away consciousness, the idea that it is real, fundamental, and irreducible is resurgent.
A consciousness-centric view, however, can demonstrate that Life is not a thing. We are not the body, ecological systems are not mere resources;and the experience of enjoying the sight of a beautiful mountain is not worthless, even if it is not tangible or monetized.
Why is this pathological, destructive paradigm so persistent? Our senses give us a false sense of solidity of matter and hide the fact that it is only the tip of the iceberg of a spectrum of consciousness realities revealed through transpersonal experiences. In other words, we do not react to things we know in theory the same way as things that we experience viscerally. We are moved by experiences, not data or facts. We are moved by the image of a single, beached refugee child, and not by statistics that we cannot comprehend. Consciousness science – but above all, consciousness practices – allows us to become more perceptive and achieve new levels of awareness, ethics and maturity.
Transformative experiences like near-death and out-of-body experiences allow us to look beyond the shadows of Plato’s Cave or the limits of Abbott’s Flatland. Experiencers tend to reduce their fear of death, to achieve a greater level of altruism, universalism, intuition, problem-solving, tranquility, introspection and sense of purpose. The expanded view helps us to realize we view reality through limiting and distorting filters. By doing so, we can see our lives from a multi-dimensional and integrative perspective.
By changing our worldview, we are compelled to become agents of positive change, helping to co-create the better future we know is possible, rather than being victimized by undesirable change. Even when we are faced with troubling personal or social situations, we the same integrative, multi-dimensional perspective based on personal experiences of insight beyond the material realm can give us strength. We can remain relatively positive and lucid so as not to succumb to and spread fear, hatred, self-loathing, or manipulation, remaining a voice for serenity.
When we return to our normal waking state, we bring a more consciousness-centered view into our relationships and our work. Consciousness may be described as an organizing intelligent principle that is in a continuous process of individual and inter-connected, collective evolution, over a number of existences with and without a body. Relationships and interactions with others provide the context and means for the evolution consciousness.
A view of consciousness emerges as the substrate of the factors from which civilization emerges. The ramifications touch and inform all of our challenges, because at the deepest levels, all human activity is rooted on our values, attitudes and patterns of behavior, which are in turn based on our state of consciousness. As such, our reality may be seen as an extension of the consciousness. As more people from different disciplines and aspects of civilization experience reality beyond the materialistic confines, from art and architecture to ethics and policy-making, our collective system begins to shift.
With this realization, we become more connected in a cosmic way to our fellow human beings and the priority becomes the well-being and development of individuals, communities, and the human family as a whole: human knowledge, abilities, intelligences, ethics, maturity, character, cooperation, and integral health. Well-being and development through cooperation take center-stage, rather than competitive accumulation or growth of material wealth.
Another major pseudo-scientific fallacy of contemporary systems is revealed: we seek to manage civilization on the basis of measurements like GDP and interest rates, while what matters most – such as love, happiness, personal growth, serenity, awe – simply cannot be reduced to such measures, which are themselves dependent on consciousness-related phenomena in the final analysis. For all the claims of scientism that the human essence does not exist, that we are must pieces of matter, it reaches such conclusions through experience and thought, which take place in the realm of consciousness. Only consciousness could be simultaneously this clever and unwise as to negate itself.
Until recently the future used to be an optimistic concept, but most people now live with anxiety regarding the future. We live in a world with accelerating technological change and its associated increasing unemployment, uncertain geopolitical scenarios, periodic financial crises, and more frequent and powerful ecological disasters. It is not that we necessarily lack technical solutions, but rather feel jaded about the generalized ineffectiveness of our so-called leaders to address our critical and most fundamental needs.
There is a growing awareness the challenges we face as citizens and as a species are not going to be solved by a given personality or political party. We face structural problems that cannot only be addressed by system change that comes from deep paradigm change. Lincoln is often credited with the saying that “the best way to predict the future is to to create it.” The Nobel laureate Dennis Gabor has said that “the future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” Indeed, we cannot look to the elites that perversely benefit from our sinking ship, but must rather find our leaders in the mirror.
As more individuals proactively change their own worldview and make healthy changes in their core, the more they promote change through their actions and collaborations, the more they “hack” the prevailing morphic field (noosphere, information field, zeitgeist, collective unconscious) - and the closer we get to a tipping point for regional and global change.