A friend of mine is interviewing me within a couple of weeks to determine my level of maturity or adult development…! It’s part of his certification using the work of Robert Keegan.
It made me reflect a bit on what my worldview is. In some ways, it hasn’t changed much since the dust had settled from the initial opening in my mid-teens. And in other ways, more in the details, it must have changed – or matured – some. Here are some essays I wrote which reflect my teens/early twenties view on – or rather experience of – the world.
Here are some highlights of how I experience/view the world these days.
Lila. Life is existence expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Or we could call it God, Brahman, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Spirit, Allah, or whatever word you prefer for the divine, or life, or existence. It’s all the play of the divine.
I experienced it this way very clearly in the initial opening, and many years later learned it’s called Lila in sanscrit. There is nothing new under the sun, at least not when it comes to our perception or understanding of basic reality.
Integral view. When it comes to maps, I have been drawn to Ken Wilber’s integral maps and framework for understanding the world. It makes a lot of sense of me, and did even back in my teens and early twenties. I typically don’t refer to it explicitly, but it’s there informing how I mentally map things.
View and perspectives. These are ways to mentally understand and map the world. In the best case, they help us navigate and function in the world. And the drawback is that it’s easy for us to take them as some absolute and final truth, and that tends to create stress and distress.
A thought is the same as a view or perspective, and there is some truth to just about all of them – if we look for it. The type of validity or truth may vary, and it’s helpful to learn to sort these as best and honestly as we can.
Physical matter. Matter is – to us – an experience. It’s sensory input with an overlay of thought telling us what it is. As anything else, it’s “unfindable” in any final or absolute sense. We can say it’s an experience in awareness which is awareness itself, and awareness too is really “unfindable”.
And yet, ideas of matter and awareness can be very helpful in helping us orient and function in the world. If they are recognized as ideas and held lightly, they are even more helpful.
Awareness. Any content of experience is happening within and as awareness, or awakeness, or consciousness, or Spirit. It’s what we are expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. It’s real in that it’s a real experience. At the same time, it may not be as real or substantial as it initially appears.
Physical senses. The diversity of lifeforms – perhaps including life other places in the universe – allows life to express, explore, and experience itself in a rich and always changing and evolving way.
The different Earth species is Earth and life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in a rich and changing way, through different physical senses and different perceptions.
Earth. Earth is a living and evolving system. Everything “on” Earth is part of the living Earth and this living system, including humans – and our consciousness, culture, society, technology, hopes and dreams, and everything else that’s part of human experience.
We are a part of Earth, we are the Earth’s local eyes, ears, senses, and awareness (to paraphrase Carl Sagan). Our experience is, in a literal sense, the local experience of Earth. And the local experience of the universe, and life, and Existence, and Spirit.
Society. I sometimes use an evolutionary view to understand psychology, culture, and society. For instance, it seems important and valuable that we have a mix of inclinations and perspectives. It’s built into us at a genetic level.
The spectra we find ourselves on include liberal to conservative, radical to mainstream, free spirited and exploring to following convention and caretaking what we have, tolerance to intolerance, violent to mild mannered, extrovert to introvert, anxious to calm, and so on.
That we each are at different places on all the different spectra is vital for our survival as a species and a society. We need this diversity. We all fulfill different roles and contribute different things.
And we all move along each spectrum over situations and time.
This is not (just) some liberal preference for inclusivity. It has to do with our survival in a very real sense. This is what we are as a species and society, and there is an evolutionary reason for it.
Consensus reality. Science based and consensus reality views are very helpful so we have a common ground to operate from. They are still provisional, and nowhere near any final or absolute truth. But in a practical sense, they are very helpful. They help society and individuals orient and function as a society.
As an aside: These days, Trump and others break down elements of this consensus reality – including social agreements for how a democracy and society should function – which can be quite dangerous. It damages the deeper fabric of society and the shared norms, values, and views vital for a society to function. It can lead to social breakdown. (In this case, perhaps not if the Republican party put some breaks on Trump.)
Preferences. We all have preferences. And although the larger context may be that all is the play of the divine, and that our inherent diversity is essential to our survival, we can still value and act on our preferences. For instance, I have a strong preference for creating a deeply sustainable (regenerative, thriving) society and culture. One that’s guided by big picture and long term thinking. One that deeply values all forms of life. And I act on it, at least to some extent, while keeping the larger picture in mind.
I also have a preference for a good life as I understand it, so I try to be a good steward of my own life. That’s not only kind to me but also to those around me, and to society. It allows me to feel safe and flourish, which – at least in most cases – benefits everyone.
Bias. We all have an inherent bias in how we perceive and experience the world. This bias comes from our history and the systems we are embedded in. It comes from the evolution, structures, and dynamics of the universe, Earth, and humans, from our society and culture, and from our families and personal experience. My perception and experience of the world is just that, my perception and experience. It’s filtered in so many ways, through and through. And it’s what I have and what I live from. Practically, it’s a reminder to hold my perceptions, views, and preferences lightly.
Provisional. All of these views and perspectives are biased, constructed, and a product of my personal history, my culture and society, the history of humanity, the evolution of the human species and that of Earth as a whole, and the evolution of the universe. They are all one particular perspective and framework, and it’s all provisional. These views and perspectives are stepping stones. There is nothing final or absolute about it. And that goes for all views and perspectives.
If I live another year, or a few decades, or if humans lived for centuries, the way I look at things now will seem a bit outdated and also charming and very understandable. This is how I have to make sense of things now based on my background, history, and embeddedness.
Fluidity. I find it helpful – and much more interesting – to hold views and perspectives lightly and move among them somewhat fluidly. When I look at things from different perspectives, I can find the particular kind of validity inherent in each one. Similarly, the guidelines I use in different situations may vary, depending on the situation. Nothing is fixed apart from aiming to live from kindness and keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Projections. I have written a lot about projections earlier on this site. The essence is that any qualities or characteristics I see “out there” in the wider world is also “in here” in me and how I perceive and live my life. That means it’s much easier to have an inclusive and lightly held identity for my human self. This human self has in it everything and anything I see in the wider world.
Of course, sometimes trauma and wounds are triggered and then it may be difficult to fully admit and embrace it, or at least see the gifts and value in it. And that’s a reminder to – when things cool down a bit – look at what’s going on and allow even that bit to be included in the crazily inclusive identity of this human self.
Tragedies. On the one hand, everything is the play of the divine and happens within and as awareness. On the other hand, conventional views still have some validity. There are tragedies from the perspective of species and individuals, and there are human tragedies at a social and individual scale.
For instance, when species go instinct it’s a tragedy for that species and – to some extent – the ecosystem they were a part of. At the same time, they leave a gap for other species to step into and evolve within that new niche. For humans, it would be a great tragedy if there is a mass catastrophe that eliminates most or all of our species. And yet, for the Earth as a whole it would just mean a new gap for other species to fill and evolve within.
Similarly, tragedies happen to individual humans. And here too, we can fully acknowledge and take in the tragedy. And also realize that our stories about it do not have any final or absolute truth to them, and that other perspectives – for instance finding genuine gifts in it – do have some validity.
There is a lot more I could write, but I’ll end here.