Here’s an excerpt from an article I just wrote for a journal in India and it expresses what I’ve been thinking about…
“…It is not the nation state, nor the tribes and races of humanity, nor the religions and traditions of our world’s diverse cultures that must circumscribe the boundary of our identity in these times. An emerging planetary culture demands a new paradigm- a way of grasping the whole that both includes and transcends the differences. What is needed is an identification large enough to hold the magnitude and enormity of the world now emerging. In my parent’s generation we were taught that the world we inhabited was the size of a single galaxy. It was thought we might one day discover another galaxy- perhaps several. A few decades later we aimed our Hubble telescope on a part of the night sky that was dark and empty space and gazed with wonderment at thousands of galaxies dancing in one tiny aperture. “Who tells me Thou Art dark, oh my mother Divine? Thousands of Suns and Moons from Thy body do shine!” (Lyrics to a Bengali Chant) And as we peered into the microcosm our gaze penetrated further still, from atom to electron to quark until we plunged into a quantum foam of virtual particles popping into and out of existence. The world we live in has expanded by exponential proportions. So too must our worldview.
The paradigm fitting of the 21st century will begin with the necessity of a ‘post-modern meta-perspective’ but it will not be flattened by materialism. It will embrace diversity and complexity without abandoning meaning. In a more sophisticated comprehension of the relationship between systems of knowledge and truth itself, there will be a higher order integration of reason’s breadth with intuitions depth. The capacity to hold a meta- perspective that embraces multifarious viewpoints without losing the polestar of truth and meaning is, in my view, the most imperative demand of our times.”
Even more important than a new and better cultural narrative is our ability to hold a meta perspective to the story- and in a way that doesn’t flatten.
Love: “The capacity to hold a meta- perspective that embraces multifarious viewpoints without losing the polestar of truth”
I see it visually. The “multifarious viewpoints” is a brilliant diamond. It is “set” in “the polestar of truth”. The setting is not made of 14 karat gold, but rather silent space. Empty pure nothingness. Naked consciousness itself.
Can you visualize that sparkling diamond?
Then Turn that Inside Out….
Stay with me on this.
See the shining diamond everywhere and the center space filled with silent empty nothingness.
I see this as an integral perspective. Centered in pure spacious being-what you call “the polestar of truth” are we as individuals and a global family. Are we as the cosmos expanding its fingers of conscious awareness. The universe shining its glory as unfurls and then returns.
The shining space, silent and pure
liquid sky everywhere empty and full
the heart of God
throbbing in every heart
Yes, and even every thread of the garment
unfurling in the veil dance
THere is GOD! there is TRUTH!
Point with your finger
North, South, East, West,
trace the line of infinity
to the arc of eternity
always circling back
the kingdom of God
a pearl of great Price
a mustard seed
the still small voice
I am a little confused by the language of “flattening,” but I strongly agree with the basic thrust: We live in an incredibly complex world, and it’s crucial that we develop a narrative that holds respects that complexity and diversity.
“It will embrace diversity and complexity without abandoning meaning.” I think this is my favorite line in there.
I’m guessing that by “flattening,” you mean: “Pushing everything into one model or perspective.”
So, one question I have is: “What are some good examples of stories that show all the diversity and complexity, without abandoning meaning?”
Or perhaps I should ask: “How can we construct even just 1 story, that shows all the diversity and complexity, but that does not abandon meaning?”
The only good example I can think of (off the top of my head,) is, “The Tao that can be spoken of, is not the true Tao.” But it takes people a long time to figure out what that means.
Accepting (with a loong line of credit) that the premise of this post is TRUE, that the telling of this story IS indeed the primary demand of our zeitgeist, … how to follow through?
I think such a story would necessarily need to contain a “hole,” or an intentional “error.” That hole would point to the stories that were not / could not be contained in the story. That is, the story would have to be “humble” in some respect.
But surely, we need some more properties for such a story…
Oh Lion- great thoughts! What I mean by ‘flattening’ is in the vein of Ken Wilber’s work- which is a critique of the post modern aperspectival approach when it disallows any judgement of right , wrong, better, worse, true or false because ‘everything is relative’. I think we need the ‘vertical axis’ that includes holarchy (nested heirarchy where each emergent level transends and includes the previous level) and the ‘horizontal’ axis that includes diversity, difference and the appreciation that ‘everything is relative’, everything is contextualized. The ‘horizontal’ axis alone is a flatland. THe ‘vertical’ axis alone is tyranny.
And when you say ” the Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao” that is EXACTLY what we need to put at the center- the understanding that there absolutely is a real living truth that cannot ever be constrained by any doctrine or dogma, science or religion. THe flatland approach is to say it isn’t there, the tyranical approach is to say you captured it. It is always beyond words and systems, but it is a living reality and it can be intuited and experienced by the saints of many different cultures, time periods and traditions as well as glimpsed by anyone in a miraculous moment of epiphany. To me, the humility and ‘hole’ is this recognition front and center- the real knowing that the words and systems and the teachings, the doctrines and the dogmas- even the scientific methods- are all ways in which we grow ourselves and our own understanding of things- they are not ‘it’.
But the story…..I dont’ think there can be one story in that sense. What there could be is a common understanding of the reality that we weave our experience of the world through the stories we tell ourselves – AND that there are also different ‘stations’ of reality that we can choose to tune into.
In this sense I would hope for a growing movement that stirs the hearts of people everywhere to imagine a new world, with new ways of doing and being. The story I would want to put out to the collective then, is one that would inspire people of all paths & positions. I want the compelling visions we conjure to inspire and empower ‘rich white male republicans’ just as much as ‘poor black female democrats’- and be spacious enough to honor the insights of those diametric perspectives. I don’t want the villians to be ‘outside’- whether its Exxon or Cheney. I want the ‘villians’ to be the greed, indifference and selfishness that is inside every one of us. That is a humility I hope for in all the stories we seek to tell… the humility that knows each one of us has an ‘inner Nazi” right alongside our ‘inner child’- and that we need each other to inspire the good and noble within us.
Heh! I actually think that the greed, indifference, and selfishness inside every one of us is a critical player in the story, as well; NOT to be “the villain!”
Aristotle used to say, “Vice is a virtue taken too far,” and “The golden mean is the path between two virtues.”
“A world in perpetual process,” then, is going to be a critical part of the vision I’ll be communicating in stories.
If I were to construct a story right here, right now, I would envision something a little like this, then: A number of people in the world, from different angles, attempting to correct wrongs of the past, gathering the things that they want, serving different archetypes and visions. God would take the form of a living incarnation of the society and planet, both male and female, reforming, who is playing off elements of itself, to correct imbalances. There would be a pantheon of minor deities for cities (like in City Comes a Walkin’) and interests and ideas and natural animals and things, and so on; The world would basically be alive. The idea is to show a vision of the world *as process,* with both order and chaos at work. I’d want an element of Philip K Dick reality bending, with people all pursuing different agendas that work at different levels of the social organism.
One problem I find with “envisioning the world I want,” is that — most often — I find that these visions are *highly normalizing.* That is, when I’ve envisioned “a world I want,” or “a world we want,” I usually see visions of uniformity.
This sort of goes back to “the hole in the story,” that I’m looking for– places for interface with the stories of others. There’s going to be a yin to every yang– we can make things easier, if we include the holes in our stories, (I think.) Of course, there has to be defensive systems, so that stories are not subjugated to foreign stories…
Worlds that are “in process” are necessarily incomplete.
… I think that The Storycology Project is one of the best ways to construct such a story.
Shakespeare, eat your heart out.
What I personally feel the need for, then, is some more bone and muscle on this ghost and whisp of an idea.
I feel a growing structure, a growing form, — it’s just pretty fragile and delicate at this point.
I feel like I need to have this conversation some 30-100 more times, before it really gains in strength, develops its immune system, grows its body out, develops its nervous system, and so on, — …
Good thing we’re having a conference then, ..!
Lion, I agree with you. The whole field of our stories must be sufficient, so that we continue viable progress towards achieving our mission. I feel that previous resisters to domination have not had sufficient stories (or models of self and worlds). But, “we shall overcome” stories are insufficient, as peace is more than the absence of war.
I don’t believe that we, who are the most competent to compose new stories and models, are yet sufficiently competent. We can achieve these competencies, but only if we recognize what we yet lack. Our story field needs to include stories about evolving the story field. We need a viable system for the creation of stories, for sharing them with others, for increasing the audience – with participation, and for assisting others to live the stories. And, we need many variations of the same story themes to account for our vast individual differences. We need stories of past and contemporary exemplars, and stories of potential future action and living.