Sunday, March 31, 2013

Belief and Vision

The stories that represent cultural worldviews create expectations that guide the mind’s perception of surroundings. Vision filters for what matches the inner model of reality constructed of personal experience and cultural/educational background. What doesn’t fit the model is often not seen at all. A persistent story told by science creates an image of the universe and everything in it as a machine that can be explained by its parts. That image first began its necessary breakdown when Michael Faraday envisioned the presence of magnetic fields and immaterial forces rose in scientific consciousness. Yet the machine model still directs the reality many people see.

The standards of so much of the modern world are based on hierarchical and mechanical models that fail to see deeper patterns. In the quest for more and more production and accumulation what’s seen as valuable is what will further those narrow goals. The earth is seen as a source of raw material to be exploited. The worldview of native cultures sees the earth as sacred, as all nature deserving respect, and is similar to Chinese Taoism in the emphasis on awareness and harmony with continual flow. The mechanical model makes laws that support the needs of the machine and private ownership though Lao Tzu pointed out that “as laws increase so do the number of rascals.” The enormous apparatus of modern media keeps attention on consumption and the illusion that having things is the source of satisfaction because it serves the purpose of materialist society. Not only is this not a sustainable attitude, it distracts from the satisfactions of being and centers attention outside the self. It promotes a competitive attitude toward others instead of connection through multiple networks in the larger system that supports us as part of the world body. Recognizing this imagery’s effect on what we see and shifting the underlying model is the only way to rescue the planet from the collapsing machine model and re-integrate all the talents and capabilities now relegated to the piles of parts that don’t fit.

Our inner picture of the world affects what we see. The accuracy of what we perceive is strongly influenced by what we already think about it. We may not see at all, what we can’t believe is there. The things we’ve heard in the past are part of the formation of this inner view, stories from the culture in which we’re raised create a bed of imagery we combine into new thoughts. What’s inconsistent with what we understand to be true of reality either is missed altogether or is perceived as a mistake of some kind.  It’s hard to make change when the underlying model still leaves so much out. Like Faraday we need to see the patterns of underlying influence, see how things link in systems within the organism that is ourselves and the larger organism of humanity. We could learn from ancient goddess cultures focusing on connectedness. Gaia has no hierarchy. The consciousness of the earth, like the body, moves toward balance.

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