Behold, I will do a new thing.
We have continuously throughout our history on this planet been challenged by the need to change, to evolve and to adapt as individuals and in our various collective cultural configurations such as tribes, clans or nations. The process of change for an individual seeking an experience of Simple Reality has been studied by Ken Wilber and he has stated that shifts in consciousness are difficult. “In order to advance to a higher stage of development you need to “die” to the worldview of the previous one. At the early stages, this happens more or less automatically. But the more conscious you become, the more frightening it is to let go of what you’ve already got—your sense of self—however inadequate or limited it may be.”
The greatest burden in life is to have a great potential.
Charlie Brown, Peanuts cartoon
Fear and resistance are not the only problems when considering a paradigm shift. What if we are not aware that change is possible? A Sunday school teacher asked the children just before she dismissed them to join the congregation for the service. “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?’ Annie replied, “Because people are sleeping.” Annie had been very observant and had noticed that many in the congregation were not in a
condition to receive the spiritual message coming from the pulpit. What will motivate us to change if we are unaware of any alternatives, if we are sleeping?
The only person who welcomes change is a wet baby.
Harriet Tubman faced this problem in seeking candidates for her “underground railroad” which escorted slaves to freedom in the North from the ante-bellum South prior to the Civil War. After freeing herself, she led over 1000 other slaves following the “drinking gourd” in the night-time sky to freedom in “free” states. Many times when she received praise for her success and compassion, she would remark that she could have freed many
more had they but known that they were slaves. What Tubman found was that the perception of bondage is the prerequisite to freedom. It is very difficult to see reality when we are immersed in a culture that defines reality in a way that admits no other possibilities. Not only individuals, but entire cultures can become so convinced of the
inevitability of the formed patterns that they view them as absolute. “Group-think” which totalitarian governments have depended on throughout history is still alive and well in P-B.
A faint heart never filled a flush.
If we are paralyzed by fear, and most of us are to some degree, we cannot make healthy choices that will empower us to avoid the oncoming catastrophe inherent in P-B. Since we are generally expressing our false-self identities in P-B most of our choices are bad choices. Although we are continually changing and often seem to be making “progress,” our choices are predominately made between one or more unhealthy alternatives that result in suffering and dissatisfaction.
A healthy choice with an authentic change must be made consciously within the context of Simple Reality with an empowered identity. Herman Melville in his superbly written short story entitled Bartleby the Scrivener, created a protagonist who is virtually paralyzed by fear, unable to make healthy choices and is therefore unable to change. Humanity has for the most part reached the “Bartleby” stage of evolution and sits on the precipice of meaningful change. It’s time for us to make better choices and when it comes to change, “I prefer not to” is not an acceptable reply.
References and notes are available for this essay.