We all share a common psychological environment that many of us, most of the time, take for granted. We often underestimate, or even neglect, the power of destructive thought and “mental pollution” upon the sensitive and responsive human membrane that constitutes our “social biosphere.” How we are taught (or conditioned) to think will affect how our species manages cultural development and the culture’s subsequent intervention into Earth’s living systems.
It can be stated that, for the most part, humanity unknowingly participates within a cultural hypnosis. From early childhood, our experiences are established to conform to our specific cultural norm — any anomalies are usually corrected, and the corrections then reinforced through various socializing processes, such as family, school, friends and such. Thus, our “world” is often given to us through the medium of particular cultural filters, and so each of us is literally hypnotized from infancy to perceive the world in the same way that people in our culture perceive it.
This is a very powerful behavioral and perceptual socializing mechanism. To break from this indoctrinated perceptual environment is extremely difficult and often beset with many personal problems arising from peer pressure and ties to friends and family. A shock is often necessary in order to catalyze one’s own change of mind.
For a new mind to emerge during the times ahead it will be necessary for people to take power back into their own perceptual mechanisms, to empower themselves by withholding legitimacy regarding old and outdated modes of thinking. Social philosopher Willis Harman has described this by stating, “By deliberately changing their internal images of reality, people can change the world.” This change, then, requires us to take back our rightful legitimacy unto ourselves, to decide carefully what we think, how we think and which beliefs we choose to adopt.
This also concerns our opinions, agreements and support, which we have previously been all too ready to give away. Our beliefs, perceptions and state of mind are crucial for how we understand the world around us. Thus, giving away our right over the power to choose how we wish to perceive the world serves to empower others over us. This, in essence, is the crux of social control, and this mechanism belongs to the paradigm of the old world and will have no place in a post-transition world.
Many of us are unsuspecting as to the degree of insecurity that governs our perceptive abilities. We focus on the immediate and seemingly ignore the long term, despite the long term having the greater urgency in scale. Our social institutions and media continue to reinforce the immediate and short term, thus strengthening our social myopia.
Our early history equipped us to live in relatively stable environments within small communities. Challenges were in the short term and nearby. The human mind thus evolved to deal with low-impact, short-term changes. The world that made our mind is now gone, and the world we have created around us is a new world; paradoxically, it is a world that we have developed limited capacity to comprehend.
It is fair to say that we now have a mismatch between the human mind we possess and the world we inhabit. Most of the momentous changes in our cultural history have taken place in the past 100 years. These days, we don’t have that luxury of time as events (with long-term consequences) are rapidly changing around us, before human cultural evolution has had time to readapt.
Cultural evolution has worked more or less well until the present century; now, it finds itself hampered by an outdated human perceptual system. Contemporary society still relies too heavily — and unconsciously — on ancient modes of thought and ancient styles of thinking. This begs the question: Can a collective and rapid change of mind occur on this planet? In the words of neurologist Robert Ornstein, “Conscious evolution needs to take the place of unconscious cultural evolution.”
Our old mind was set up to be on the lookout for insecurities and fear-inducing situations — it was our survival apparatus. Yet this apparatus has continued to be reinforced through social conditioning. What is required now is a reinvigoration of vision: Everything that we have culturally achieved has been the result of human vision. The human imagination is a primary force; it allows the intervention of energies and guidance. It is both creative and destructive, and through it we are able to manifest the world we envision.
We now need to upgrade our visionary capacity, to open up more fully to inspired thoughts and guidance. To fail to do so will be a great loss for our species, as these are critical times for the instinctive perceptual faculties, and we need to bring these new organs of perception into being. In Masnavi, a three-volume work of mystical poetry, the revered Persian poet Jalalludin Rumi writes:
New organs of perception come into being as a result of necessity.
Therefore, O man, increase your necessity, so that you may
Increase your perception.
Every change requires a change in consciousness — this has always been the case. The 21st century will not be a place for business as usual; it will be a new epoch, and as such, it deserves a corresponding consciousness.