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OUR PEOPLE: culture, perspective, future by niklas spitz
On his way back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced a radical transformation in perspective and thus consciousness. As he approached our planet from beyond it’s sphere of influence, “he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he'd ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system, harmonious and whole— and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, ‘in a universe of consciousness.’”
Namit Arora suggests that: Perceptions of culture, history, and identity are necessarily subjective and selective. There's no impartial and omniscient chronicler of events, no 'scientific' history. Facts are one thing, their interpretation another.1 Accepting this idea, really screws things up however, as it implies everything learned in school and early adulthood, about oneself and the world, might have been through the skewed collective lens of a society that could not possibly see beyond it’s own ideological identity. Hence imperialism and the notion it is right to educate ourselves, and the people of lands we “influence” to fit our model (particularly if those lands happen to be rich in spice, oil, tantalum or any other resource that “feeds” us.) We know what’s best for them and we reign by virtue of superior technology. Thus only the technology and commensurate resource has changed since the earliest times. We continue to globally garner what we believe we have a right and a need for, not to mention the moral authority to impose over (human resources, land, mineral and water rights, you know the story by now, along with incumbent environmental and human rights degradation.) You might ask who is this “we” you are talking about? Quite simply, the consumer in any capitalist system who avails them selves of products sourced elsewhere. That’s the bottom line – if it ain’t local, it’s because it’s profitable to exploit elsewhere – the economies of supply and demand. And this bottom line does not account for a factor more serious than we seem able to grasp collectively - natural capitalism2 and the capacity for our environment to continue supplying us with clean air, water, earth and ocean resources. I digress. Accepting the truth of subjectivity on a cultural scale, has in fact been a gradual but tremendous liberation for me, as I recognised my people, the city, the country, the English speaking world, are not necessarily better. There are of course no “chosen” people anywhere and indeed, my spiritual beliefs are equal to any other aspirant of the divine whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pantheist, Shamanic cosmologist, or astronomer on the road to awe.
When Evon Peter, a young Indigenous “Elder,” spoke at a Bioneers3 conference in Northern California, he suggested that we as “European Americans” have an illness and are out of balance. I recognized he had a point and that not only was he right given his perspective of our civilization, but that the rampant life of the mind, intellect and ego are indeed an imbalanced state of being, as without being rooted in the heart, the mind untethered by feeling and compassion - that which elevates humanity from rapacious self aggrandizement at the expense of disenfranchised minorities and species everywhere – knows no bounds. It’s not acceptable for me to take what is being conveniently offered whilst turning a blind eye to what it actually costs to deliver. The Earth is not ours for the taking, as we are recalcitrantly beginning to embody in our understanding. This consumptive behaviour is perhaps a remnant of the survival of the fittest – a genetic impulse worthy of a virus or primitive tribe at best, but humanity, a self-styled “intelligent” species? I am more inclined to regard us as being at a self-destructive adolescent stage of evolution. We remain divisive, competitive and combative, as distinct from mutually supportive of a single, phenomenal, flourishing planet of diverse life form and culture. However, the truly wise one encounters, make choices based on a balance of the faculties of heart, mind and an experiential sense of the divine. They operate from what I perceive as true intelligence. (These people are almost never in office or positions of hierarchy - wrong paradigm - and so we say, “Don’t vote. It only encourages the bastards.”) Actually, what Evon was saying felt true because I recognised that the injury in me was as fresh today as when I was 5 or 6 and first inculcated by the notion that to feel, to allow the expression of sensitivity and vulnerability is a “girly“ thing to do in the school yard of our male dominated culture. This denies us of our childhood and humanity and is of course where homophobia begins. So what is the sickness of a culture that is inclined to dominate, coerce, manipulate and profit to get to the top. Could it be a sickness of the mind, or ego, isolated from the truly divine and therefore one and other? A disenchantment? My point really is, that in order to elevate ourselves to our highest potential as human beings, with the courage to love one another instead of destroy that which we fear threatens us… We need perspective. On his way back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced a radical transformation in perspective and thus consciousness. As he approached our planet from beyond it’s sphere of influence, “he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he'd ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system,
harmonious and whole—and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, ‘in a universe of consciousness.’” This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science's superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself.4 My own experiences, though I have not yet made it to the moon, did lead me out of the sphere of influence of my family, mentors and peers by turns, out of England and Europe. It was then, looking back, that I was able to see myself, and the culture that formed me, with any perspective at all. Eventually I made it to the East and the radically different cultural precepts of the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist worlds. And finally, to the Americas and North America – at once the requisitioned homeland of the puritans who first settled the East coast, and the purported cutting edge in the evolution of consciousness towards the West. Indeed, it has been suggested that the direction of the migration of consciousness is westward– and ostensibly, what brought me here to the progressive coast of northern California. Whether this is true or transitory is not important, but change itself is and surely necessary for us (are you with me?) to continue to grow or else stagnate in the dis-eased state of the empire of the mind. There is only one other faculty that can harmonize our selves and our planet that takes so much more courage than being right, using force and getting rich. Yep, that would be Love. To be perfectly honest, it scares the crap out of me because that’s how I, as a man, have been conditioned – to fear being emotionally vulnerable. It’s not safe in a man eat man world. It’s easier to just keep moving, run with the pack in the consensus socio-political and economic “reality.” Yet I believe it is our intrinsic nature to feel deeply and act accordingly and we don’t have to go to the moon to re-cognise this. We only have to be still for a moment, away from the insistence of media, peer and vested influence, and listen deeply. I believe that there are but two fundamental forces in the universe - love and fear and that in each and every moment and encounter, we choose which to lean towards. As Confucius explains: To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. As our thoughts - intention and action, originate from the measurable yet intuitive wisdom of the heart5, as we feel and act with integrity and appreciation for all of life, as we see the world around us without being limited by a particular point of view, then I believe, we might begin to represent mankind as an intelligent species as perceived say, by onlookers from another world. Of course, we only know of one – be a shame to fuck it up.
niklas spitz intothedialectic.com
And love is a yearning of the One for the One And beauty is a sweet difference of the Same And oneness is the soul of the multitude6 1 shunya.net 2 natural capitalism 3 bioneers.org / evon peter 4 noetic.org / edgar mitchell 5 heartmath 6 from savitri -‐ sri aurobindo.
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