Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Human/New Paradigm Preliminaries

Okay, I've got to get this post out of the way before I get into the nitty gritty of describing my personal forays into the new paradigm. Maybe I'm just stalling here since I sense I will be challenged to the limit trying to describe/paint a picture of a way of seeing and being that stands so far outside our normal modes of perception.

So this post is strictly a Mental post (see Envisioning the New Human if I'm losing you). My more Integral posts will follow soon (I hope).

The first preliminary is explaining why I think all of this new paradigm stuff is so important. It's important because we've already extracted all the benefits the current Mental phase of our evolution can provide, and staying here any longer becomes dysfunctional. We've exceeded our stay--we should have moved on long ago--but we've become entrapped by the flashy constructs and technologies this phase has given rise to. According to Gebser, each phase contains all previous phases, but the curious thing about the Mental phase is its vehement denial of the preceding phases. Not that the realities of those other phases don't live on in us, rather here in the Mental phase we've repressed and denigrated them, and in the process distorted their truths. All we acknowledge as "real" is what can rationally be perceived. Myth, magic, and instinct are beneath us, irrelevant in this world of superhighways and cyberspace and resource extraction and stock markets. Our richly nuanced world has been dumbed-down and we find ourselves asking, "Is this all there is?" No, it isn't, and it's time to move on because if we don't we're going to end up self-destructing.

The Mental phase is an extremely dangerous phase because in it we are (or perceive ourselves to be) completely separate from nature. As long as we stay in this phase we will continue to see the earth as a mere resource, something "out there" and "other", something to use and abuse without compunction.

Our only hope is to evolve into the next paradigm. And quickly. In the next phase, one of consciously reintegrating with all that's "out there" and "other", the earth will be recognized as the ground from which we spring, the matrix which births us and of which we are a part. We won't continue to rape and pillage the earth and those others who dwell here because it will be obvious we're not separate. To harm one part of the matrix is to bring harm to all, including ourselves. Obviously I'm stating this in a very Mental way--"the earth will be recognized as the ground from which we spring"--but understand that the lived experience is something else and something more entirely. To describe it in Mental terms is to miss the nuance, the richness, and the sheer beauty the next paradigm promises.

So we need to get there quickly. But is it overly idealistic for me to suggest such a feat might be possible? I'm not sure, but I know we need to try. I already see evidence that others are making forays into the new paradigm--it's something that seems to want to emerge--and I think there are developing conditions in our world that might help precipitate this change.

For me what has precipitated the change has been my deepening experience with voluntary simplicity. I've been giving up things, habits, and technologies--all of which were birthed in this Mental paradigm and all of which enforced a (false) sense of separation from the rest of creation. Freed from these flashy constructs and technologies I begin to live directly. Life is no longer mediated by these things--by machines, by bizarre mental constructs like the idea of perpetual growth, by office cubicles that shut out the natural world. Instead I start to have my own unmediated experiences. I act directly in the world, I interact directly in the world, I allow the world to directly act upon me. I give and receive in an unmediated fashion. And in this way I begin to have a direct perception of what Is. And that direct perception shows me a fluid, nuanced, unified world--one where it becomes difficult to discern where do I start and where do I leave off?

I think there's hope that many other people will have these experiences soon. Some voluntarily, like me, but more will be forced to adopt a simpler lifestyle--because of economic conditions, climate conditions, the end of the carbon era, etc. And whether by choice or by necessity, once people start to live more directly again, I believe they will begin to slip into the new paradigm (and out of, and into again, until it finally takes hold for good).

The other preliminary I want to cover is a distinction I need to make. In my upcoming posts I'll be making a case for a revival of myth and magic in the next paradigm. As Gebser states, each phase contains all previous phases. In the Mental phase, the previous phases were largely obscured. That won't be the case in the Integral phase. Myth and magic will live again. But I want to be clear, I won't be talking about mythical or magical thinking--all of that mythical, magical, religious explaining we did in earlier phases--I will be talking about real magic and real myth, underlying truths in this universe. Yes, myth and magic are real, just as reason is real too. We tend to think of these things as relics of our primitive past, misconceptions we've outgrown--and we're right if we're talking about mythical thinking, magical thinking, scientific thinking--but not if we're talking about myth, magic, and reason themselves. All of that thinking arose in our Conscious But Separate phase--when we were trying to make sense of what was "out there" and "other". But in the next phase we'll lose that sense of discreteness and so all of that theorizing and sense-making will be unnecessary. What we'll be left with is a direct, lived experience of the magical, mythical, mental creatures we are (and instinctual too--I tend to gloss over that).

We're evolving towards something fantastic. I don't believe we have the merest inkling of what powerful and marvelous beings we are--but we need to survive the death of the Mental phase first and that may prove to be an insurmountable challenge. I want to attempt to give voice to my experiences because I think we really need people to begin to paint a picture of what (potentially) lies ahead for us. The world needs my voice and countless other voices sharing our initial forays into this new realm. People need to know this isn't all there is!

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