A New Mindset. “But it must be asked if we can remove cultural value from one part of our lives without destroying it in the other parts. Can we justify secrecy, lying, and burglary in our so-called intelligence organizations and yet observe openness, honesty, and devotion to principle in the rest of our government? Can we subsidize mayhem in the military establishment and yet have peace, order, and respect for human life in the city streets?”
Thus writes Wendell Berry in The Unsettling of America; Culture and Agriculture. Human ills arise from some transgression of universal law, he says, and we must return to the proposition that good farming is both a cultural development and spiritual discipline. As a nation we have become estranged from the land – today’s global agribusiness has taken us from the intimate knowledge, love and care of the land in the mechanistic pursuit of profit and geopolitics. Berry continues:
“Can we degrade all forms of essential work and yet expect arts and grace to flourish on the weekends? And can we ignore all questions of value on the farm and yet have them answered affirmatively in the grocery store and the household?”
As I see it, those who hope for a better future must recognize that the inner science of self-control will be as necessary as our external conquest of Nature. Our times fairly scream for a healthy man-earth relationship which subjects fertility to some kind of moral will. Right now, I can just hear a chorus of readers thinking, “Good luck with that,” closely followed by “What do you mean by morality?”
“Morality describes the principles that govern one’s behavior. Without these principles in place, societies cannot survive for long. In today’s world, morality is frequently thought of as belonging to a particular religious point of view, but by definition, we see that this is not the case. Everyone adheres to a moral doctrine of some kind.” (From https://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/morality,htm)
To subject human fertility to a shared (non-coercive) cultural agreement requires a personal psychological discipline of some sort or other. Here, in the Christian-dominant ethos of the Ozarks, this might seem self-evident. But in the context of crony capitalism, economic and ecological harmony has never been the goal.
Man is a soul, and has a body. When the sense of identity is properly placed, we leave behind life’s compulsive patterns. That which is true for the individual holds doubly true for our materialistic culture. In Berry’s eloquent plea, when we corrupt agriculture we corrupt culture “for in nature and within invariable social necessities we are one body, and what afflicts the hand will afflict the brain.”
A new mindset is essential to curtailing man’s exile in delusion. This new mind-set, as the signature of personal responsibility to other forms of life, will stop using the life in the soil as if it were an extractable resource like gravel or coal. The development of organic farming, as a symptom of higher moral consciousness, marks the extension of greater moral and social responsibility.
To those who reject this as abstract stuff, it’s important to note that no one denies the individual of his free will. However, at the community consciousness level, the experiential dimension of “self” as a tiny island in an ocean of omniscience, is not socially redeeming. Transpersonal field energies – akin to what some call the Mind of man – create and sustain personal reality, not the individual consciousness.
In the last episode, transpersonal researcher Kaisa Puhakka said that the “self” dissolves in the moment of contact. Meaning, the moment when knower and known, or subject and object, merge. Becoming aware of that split second of merging, and the subsequent re-dividing of mental space (where the event is retained as memory), is the first step to bringing the process under our conscious control. It’s like finding a doorway leading to a state of on-going, self-education.
It may take a little time to get one’s teeth into the societal implications of this theory, not least because each of us is programmed with some very old assumptions about reality. Einstein’s theory of relativity, say, overthrew all kinds of “certainties” about the nature of reality because he focused on the way in which something comes to be understood as precedent to what must be understood.
It’s the same thing we’re going for here. Indeed, the static “facts” of the individual’s life will hold sway exactly to the degree we remain ignorant of how awareness directs its own ever-arising processes. Many possess “intuition,” a true gift which can function just fine without having a single clue as to how it works. We want to go beyond this to recognize the moment of the mind’s dissolving, or when it becomes permeable to new information in what we can call the “shift.” For those who’d like to try today’s following exercise these suggestions may help:
First, how’s our state of mental relaxation? This fluctuates in us all and can be generalized by the terms free identity (feeling relaxed) or closed identity (feeling armored). Once we can recognize our own stratagems of resistance we’ll see how easily we create against our own best interests without seeing it. Take, for example, an old habit which persists even after we want it to end.
A smoker might say, “I’ve tried quitting, but nothing works.” It’s not about will-power. One may, in fact, have a very powerful will that works against them with the unconscious belief “I’m not a quitter!” The smoker can then move from “quitting smoking” to self-mastery. When the mind sees what it is doing to itself, and then learns how to cut off the sustaining energy, that old habit will cease to exist.
Second, we can learn to recognize the shift in the moment it occurs. The pay-off is not just a marked increase in our personal vital energy and free attention, but has enormous cultural implications as well. The more we learn how to handle the basic patterns of resistance within ourselves, (as the raw and unconscious ‘game” of strategic separation), the more other people can fit in our lives.
Third, we must determine to live in a healthy lifestyle in a supportive environment, if not already doing so. This determination reflects a shift towards consciously grooming the ethical (external observances), moral (internal restraints) and life-affirming mental hygiene. Beyond the great personal benefits, all these things are prerequisite to the internalized moral and ethical perspectives of a trans culture.
Expansion Exercise: When we assume an ever larger sense of being, we cease to identify ourselves with a particular location. For example, though the body is composed of trillions of cells, we feel an integrated sense of the whole, certainly not receiving a management report from every cell. When we’re healthy, we don’t even feel the body itself unless we think to put our attention on it. By sus-pending our body-centered beliefs about reality – be it scientific, political, religious and experiential – we can directly apprehend something that lies beyond the mind itself.
Objective: To intuit a “larger-than-self” transpersonal dimension. The expected result is a shift in the body-based sense of one’s own self. This is a guided meditation and can be done with any number of participants. The guide, as a reader, should pause for about 10 seconds between each instruction. The entire meditation is repeated three times (three rounds). Instructions:
1) With your eyes closed and relaxed, get some impression of the space you occupy.
2) How far out does it extend?
3) Without resistance, allow yourself to extend into space in all directions.
4) Allow yourself to be everything and everyone.
5) Now get the impression this space sustains you and all your creations.
6) Feel where you come from.
“We tend to think of consciousness like a clearing in the wilderness. We don’t know what monsters are out there. We’ve made a place that’s comfortable and fortified, and we are very ambivalent about leaving this little clearing for even a moment.”
– C. Tart/Rheingold