Culture & Assumptions

Human Bias

The universe is a seamless whole and everything is part of the same larger process: galaxies, our solar system, Earth, culture, our experiences. There is no separation.

The Universe can be seen as a holarchy: systems within systems, processes within processes. Everything is simultaneously a whole and a part.

Our experience of the inner/outer world is influenced by the holarchy we are embedded in.

  • The characteristics/processes/habits of the Universe as a whole
  • The characteristics of this solar system and the Earth
  • The evolution of the Earth and our ancestors (going back to the first organisms)
  • The evolution of humans
  • Our culture
  • Our personal experiences

Culture

Each human being is raised in a culture, and absorbs a large number of basic assumptions of the world. We then use these to survive and guide our choices in a complex world.

This is essential for our survival. And it can also cause problems if/when some of these assumptions are not appropriate for our current situation.

In the western world, we are still transmitting and operating from cultural assumptions that were developed hundreds or thousands of years ago, in a quite different situation from that we are in today. And a number of these assumptions are unquestioned and operate below awareness for many of us.

As we are facing an increasingly urgent need for deep culture change, it becomes increasingly more important to bring these assumptions into awareness, explore them and possibly develop alternative strategies.

What do they tell us about the world and our role in the world? How do they guide our choices and actions? What are their origins? How well do they serve us in our current situation? What may happen if we change them or replace them with other assumptions?

Some cultural assumption I am aware of and their consequences…

  • There is a discontinuity between humans and other species

    Through science, we understand the similarities and continuity between humans and the other species. But we are still stuck in a perception of separation between humans and other species in terms of ethics and how we relate to humans and other species.

  • There is a separation between egotism and altruism

    We do not expect there to be a congruence between what is good for oneself and the larger whole. This would change if we operate from an assumption of no separation.

  • We are separate from the larger whole

    We do not perceive ourselves as embedded in the Earth and the Universe. We may understand intellectually that there is no separation, while still experience the inner world (experiences, sensations, thoughts, emotions, etc) as discontinous with the outer world (plants, animals, rocks, clouds, stars, galaxies)

  • [many more]

Activity

I participated in an activity yesterday that again brought these issues up for me: In the Miwok creation story, Silver Fox is lonely and visions up Coyote. Together they dance, sing and vision up the whole world.

If this was our creation story, how would we experience the world? What would it mean for us?

Some possible answers: The world was created through visioning, play and joyfulness. So too can we create in our own lives. And animals are our partners and teachers, not below us or essentially different from ourselves.

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