Every society has a cognitive structure of permissible knowledge that is managed by an elite and forbidden knowledge that is distributed in black or shadow markets by cognitive outlaws, heretics, revolutionaries, or just plain crazies
William Irwin Thompson
Our human concepts of truth are always partial, always fragmentary and incomplete, for they are reflections of our own imperfections and incompleteness. Every culture creates its cosmology, its coherent world picture, and thus invariably creates its own limitations too. And those thinking patterns or ideas that do not fit in with the social consensus are labelled as heretical. These are artificial distinctions – the boundaries, parameters, and perimeters – erected by the human mind. The mind makes the world as we see it. Each culture considers its worldview superior. Just as each culture teaches its own history based on biased history texts, so does each society layer the mind with biased thinking. The modern worldview has taken it upon itself to believe that its view is the world, rather than a particular view of the world. The distinction may appear slight, yet its consequences are far reaching.
Our own attempts at personal transformation beyond our social conditioning will always be opposed by the consensus assumptions held by our particular society. To break from engrained patterns and conditioned viewpoints will always get you labelled as a ‘heretic.’ A heretic of the conscious mind is not a bad heretic to be – the evolution of human civilization has always been dependent upon such heretics. We can choose what type of narrative we wish to use to frame our perspective on life and reality – yet to not choose any narrative at all is not only not an option, it is also not possible.
The world we choose to see is our map of the world; and it is largely a projection of our own state of consciousness. Yet this can be a trap for us as much as liberation. We can become trapped inside the parameters of our mind’s models if we are not open to flexibility and variation. Likewise, societies also display an unwillingness to being open to such flexibility; and so innovative ideas and visionary minds often experience intimidation at the outset. Such cultural conservatism can be seen as a philosophy of small minds which prefer the safety and security of serving the status quo. Yet they are in danger of forgetting that the imperative of life is to continually change and transcend.
Many of our culturally biased perceptions are formed in accordance to seeing reality in a selective way. When we enlarge our capacity for conscious reflection, we enlarge our perspective upon the cosmos. Our capacity of mind is a window of perception – we either view through a small aperture or a larger one; like looking out from a room through either a small or a larger window. Yet the current cult of scientific reason has led us to believe that physics and mathematics is the only way to ‘read’ the universe. In other words, that any relationship or understanding with the cosmos and/or with any form of cosmic intelligence is through the power of equations. The world, the universe – our sense of meaning – may be little else to many of us than a set of complex equations. Naturally, we may ask the question – What makes us think that our way of seeing the world today is the right one? Or is our current understanding any better than alternative perspectives? Each of us bets our life on some picture of reality. We should therefore ask ourselves of this picture – Does it feel deeply, intuitively ‘right’? And does it continue to feel right as times goes on?
Our modern worldview may appear coherent to us; yet on the contrary it is fragmented, artificial, and lacking any sense of communion. It also lacks any deep sympathy and appreciation. The modern dominant perception, largely inherited from western science, is one that is lacking in the understanding of correspondence. We have been positioned into a dualism of ‘objective vs. subjective,’ where it has to be one or the other, yet cannot be a correspondence – a participation – involving both. In truth, neither absolutes exist – there is never one or the other (black or white; objective or subjective). These distinctions are the inventions of human thought models and as such are representative of our state of thinking rather than anything else. If reality is a jigsaw, then our over-active rational minds have just deliberately jumbled the pieces of this jigsaw.
Each system of knowledge that we adhere to and support is only a specific form of articulation according to time and place. No one form, or specific articulation, is absolute. From our articulations (our speculations or assumptions) we form our perceptions of reality. As part of our human experience we render reality in specific ways. We do this through our cultures, systems of philosophy, and systems of beliefs. We interpret reality according to patterns, and these patterns represent our states of thinking. For most people, it is almost impossible to comprehend beyond one’s limits of comprehension.
These models of interpreted reality have formed our philosophies and cosmologies over past epochs – from the Greek mind to the Renaissance – and yet we continue to lack a cosmology that grasps the core creative dynamics of the cosmos in which we exist. Each epoch in human civilization demands a corresponding cosmology in which to frame it; and which also guides its ethos. We are at the stage now, and have been for several decades, where we need a new framework of reality that better serves us as not only a planetary civilization but also as a rudimentary space faring one. The inadequacy of our current models has led us to a period of disruption and general confusion, dissatisfaction, and uncertainty. And in the end everything comes back to consciousness. As Terence McKenna once said – ‘We need to truly explore the problem of consciousness, because as human beings gain power they are becoming the defining factor on the planet. The questions that loom are, “Is man good?” and then, if the answer is yes, “What is man good for?”’