The Chinese ideogram for "crisis"
is created using the characters that represent
"danger" and "opportunity."
The Godhead Puzzle
by Anthony Someone:
This essay, dedicated to the late mythologist Joseph
Campbell, is something of a companion piece to the
Paradigm Shifts Manifesto. It discusses my belief that
we all worship the same divinity. The faces may change,
but they're all the same.
The Political Candidate
by Catherine Kelley:
This poem, according to the author, explores the dichotomy of the "life of simplicity versus one lived
with the complications inherent in seeking fame."
Selections from Paradigm Shift by Tom Horn:
Tom Horn has written extensively about his
perspective on paradigm shifts. His work focuses on paradigm shifts at the personal level. He has written an e-book concerning his ideas that one can download for free from his Web site. The links above feature the first two parts of this e-book. Those interested in reading the rest can go to: http://www.angelfire.com/ab4/goldenflower/.
|A Paradigm Shifts Manifesto
I wrote the majority of what follows not long after starting college. It is very much inspired by physicist and systems theorist** Fritjof Capra's Turning Point. Indeed, it is really a kind of summary of that book. Since then, I have taken it upon myself to incorporate Capra's theories into my worldview, because they rung true to me. I sought to combine his wisdom with that of the mythologist Joseph Campbell, philosophers like Nitzsche and others, and thinkers in disciplines like sociology, religion, and anthropology. All of these studies have led me to believe firmly in an intricate web that connects all of these institutions of humanity.
The rise and fall of civilizations, rather than being regarded as a chaotic occurence, can be seen as being part of a discernable pattern. The theory of this pattern can be described thusly:
Humanity has a craving for order, an instinct for creating meaning in the world. Therefore, we externalize our internal world, creating the order we need to survive, and set loose our creation so that it may thrive. Like the Bible says, "go forth and multiply." Humanity then witnesses this creation, called civilization, taking on a life of its own. The trick is to see a civilization as a living thing. As time passes, it is this externalized world that becomes the creator in its own right. The society created by humanity "programs" the successive generations of human beings after the original founders have died. This society has a set of explanations for worldly phenomenon that keep the chaos of the unknown at bay. This includes religious and secular explanations (in theological terminology, religious explanations are called "theodicies", but that's a whole other conversation). Even things dubbed as "evil" fit into the cultural equation. After all, even "evil" things have an explanation. It is the things we cannot explain that are truly fearful and therefore of the chaos beyond the protective boundaries of society. As long as everything has its proper place, anomie can be avoided.
Now what if the society in question, for whatever reason, no longer functions properly? What if, after its initial burst of novelty and invention, it begins to stagnate, become static instead of dynamic? What if the explanations that once kept the people united now only serve to limit their creative spark? The young people in that society may begin to "rebel" in various ways, rejecting the old ways, questioning the aging society. In their realization that the old explanations and old ways of living are not as effective as they once were, they seek new answers to life's questions. The old society and its dominant reality no longer adapt well, and have become so set in their beliefs that they can no longer accept innovations or changes to their worldview. Changes necessary for its survival.
Enter what Fritjof Capra (in The Turning Point) calls the "creative minority." This group inevitably comes onto the scene during times of great cultural crisis. Capra uses the Chinese ideogram for "crisis" to illustrate his idea of the creative minority. The crisis ideogram is created using the Chinese characters for "danger" and "opportunity." The creative minority is the internal force within a civilization capable of reigniting the dynamicism of said civilization. What results from this rekindling of a culture's creative spark? A new civilization, which rises from the ashes of the old.
A stagnant civilization's old guard may see the creative minority as a negative force, however...a threat to a "sane" world. The creative minority often meets strong opposition from the defenders of the established order. The degree of resistance can very well be used to establish the severity of the civilization's stagnation. But time and again, civilizations have come to the point that calls for a "paradigm shift." Whether it has become too "sensate" (relying only on the five senses to map reality and ignoring the spirit) or "ideational" (extreme focus on the spirit world in favor of the material world), there is need for a change. Capra believes that civilizations throughout history have striven to reach what he calls an "idealistic" state, which balances the sensate and ideational ideologies.
Again, the majority is often reluctant to relinquish its hold on reality. It misunderstands that the minority is not trying to destroy reality but to keep it from falling apart, since the old society can no longer maintain it.
Today, our consensus reality and its science-driven core has caused the majority to withdraw too deeply into the sensate. The spirit is pushed aside in favor of purposeless material progress and stringently rational thought. According to Capra, we have the Newtonian worldview to thank for our current state, not to mention Descarte’s maxim “Cogito, ergo sum”…I think, therefore I am. We have forgotten that our modern sensate world is the result of an arbitrary, subjective system of beliefs. We misconstrue this pattern of reality as being full of universal truths. But we are wrong! This is not the only way to live! This is not the only way to impose order and meaningful structure to the world around us. A balance must be sought. The spirit is dying, making us feel unfulfilled. And a creative minority is out there, trying to open our eyes to what we are missing! The opportunity is there, despite the dangers of following a dynamic path. It is up to the individuals that make up civilization, like the cells of an organism, to push our cultural evolution into its next phase. Civilization does not necessarily have to crumble. It can shift gears…or rather, PARADIGMS!
**Concerning the term “systems theorist,” Capra has written the follow:
“The most appropriate theoretical framework for ecology is the theory of living systems. This theory is only now fully emerging but it has its roots in several scientific fields that were developed during the first half of the twentieth century—organismic biology, gestalt psychology, ecology, general systems theory, and cybernetics.
In all these fields scientists explored living systems, which means integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller parts. Although we can distinguish parts in any living system, the nature of the whole is always different from the mere sums of its parts.
Examples of living systems abound in nature. Every organism - animal, plant, microorganism, or human being - is an integrated whole, a living system. Parts of organisms - leaves or cells - are again living systems. Throughout the living world, we find systems nesting within other systems. And living systems also include communities of organisms. These may be social systems - a family, a school, a village - or ecosystems.
All these living systems are wholes whose specific structures arise from the interactions and interdependence of their parts. Systems theory tells us that all living systems share a set of common properties and principles of organization. This means that systems thinking can be applied to integrate academic disciplines and to discover similarities between phenomena at different levels of scale—the individual child, the classroom, the school, the district, and the surrounding human communities and ecosystems.”