Remember when reading history books at school, looking at medival illustrations or Victorian photographs – how backward and simple people of times gone by appeared? How you laughed at their ridiculous superstitions, dog like dogma, thinking the world was flat, or the inanity of sacrificing their cherished lizard before some all mighty deity in the skies.
Well I like to imagine the future. Let’s say 2125, in some sort of futuristic history lesson (where perhaps the teacher is a robotic porcupine) with children looking back at videos or some sort of reconstructed reality, laughing with maniacal abandonment at the backward and simpleton beliefs of the early 21st Century.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that in just a few decades from now, people will look back at our time now and think “what a load of dumbasses, they still believed …”. Much of what humanity believes to be irrevocable truth now, will turn out to be a load of codswallop in the fullness of time.
So what can one do with this realisation? It may make sense intellectually, but I say unless it leads to change then it’s a useless a 1980′s robotic dog. I think we need to go into this a little deeper, to get to a place from where change will arise.
Lots of different worlds, but all still flat
As a “hobo CEO”, one has the benefits of moving around the world is a more objective view of society and beliefs. I’ve worked amongst diligent Japanese in a coworking space, lunched with bankers in London City, danced at techno fueled protests on the streets of Berlin, Kite surfed with the locals in Hawaii, played bass in a Zimbabwean band, stayed with an indian family in Goa and have many different friends from many different countries. My mind has been through a mincer of many different cultures, behaviors and beliefs. The net result of all this is that I have become a little abstracted from society and its traditions, even the one I initially was born into.
So it seems to me that each society/culture/tradition has its own flavour, but all practice the same system – coercing it’s people into a certain set of beliefs i.e. conditioning. Whilst there’s no doubt that human beliefs have changed over time and differ in different places, the system has changed little.
Essentially the world is still flat.
in 600BC the world was actually flat
Imagine you are a young Greek farmer in 600BC. The world is flat, you look around yourself and it’s flat, even if you climb a mountain it still looks flat as far as you can see. Also your parents thought it was flat, as their parents did too. Everyone else around you, including scientists also say it is flat. Of course there might be conjecture as to other aspects of the world – does it have an edge/end? what was underneath? was it perched on the back of pile of giant turtles and the like? But still there is little question about it being flat, it is intuitive and normal to think this, anyone suggesting otherwise would probably be seen as a little weird, or one of those crazies.
The world is still flat
And it’s still essentially the same now, ideas, thinking and behaviour that are divergent from the norm are still often viewed with suspicion, contempt and disgust. Of course some people are kranks, some people are very clever kranks (perhaps I’m one of them) with compelling arguments behind nonsense, but and this really is the big but – with the fullness of time some of our current “truths” now will also turn out to be nonsense.
Thankfully some progress has been made, one can hold radically different views from society with less risk of being brutally murdered. But I say it’s still just an incremental change – society and most people’s view of the world is static and practically unmovable.
Your own mind is flat
This sounds like a problem with society and tradition, and in a way it is, but to find the real source we have to go deeper down the rabbit hole.
Society has already defined how your own mind works – since an early age you’ve been coerced by those around you to see the world in a specific way. Society, the people around you and your thinking are deeply intertwined – can you even know what thoughts in the mind are your own or planted there by someone else – your schooling, parents, peers etc?
The real limiting beliefs are already instilled within your own mind *and you are not aware of them*.
You may even think you have an open mind – perhaps you ask lots of searching questions, “are the christians wrong, did buddha get it right?” or, “if we end the constant desire for more, can man live in peace?”, or even “if I gave up my IT career and became a free range butcher instead would I be truly happy?”.
But we are basically in the same boat as the Greek farmer in the 6th century BC, perhaps he too had his own questions and ponderings, but he took without question the false assumption that the world was flat. The real limiting beliefs are amongst the objective, unquestionable “facts”, the things that you simply take for granted.
In what way is your world still flat?
- Will Your body will start to decay as you get older?
- Do you need to eat a balanced diet to be healthy?
- If you jump from a 33rd story window will you likely die or be seriously injured when you hit the bottom? (don’t try this – if you do then don’t blame me if you are injured).
- Nothing can go faster than C the speed of light?
- You cannot pass through solid objects?
- All men are bastards?
- Chickens are secretly in control of the earth?
Perhaps some of these “truths” are not truths at all, could some be perhaps only relative truths to the way you have been conditioned to view the world? How would know?
You may think these are unquestionable facts, and quite likely they are BUT it is amongst the “facts” that you assume to be try that you will find the limiting beliefs.
As Descartes reasoned in back in the day, the only thing he could assume with any certainty was that he existed – which lead to the infamous “I think, therefore I am“.
Bending the world into a square
So this is all very interesting, splendid. But still I doubt that reading this blog post has made any change whatsoever to your reality – doh!
But at least you may be interested to find and breach those walls within your own mind, the limiting beliefs. This is true thinking outside the box and something I hope you will do.
Of course if someone comes along and proves that the world isn’t flat, or is square, or the chickens aren’t in control of the world after all, then your reality may well adjust. But in the absence of any apparent “external” change, you have to take it in to your own hands.
Some suggestions for homework:
- Look at the sun in the sky, try and get the sense that the earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun.
- Find a situation where you consistently react quite strongly/emotionally (nothing too severe), as an experiment make your focus in the situation watching your feelings. Take this further and make your purpose staying calm and relaxed in the situation – take no interest in anything else. This for example could mean you not saying what you think you should say, being wrong, feeling like you’ve lost the argument etc.
- Entertain the possibility that you might be like Neo when he was still floating in jelly and plugged into the matrix.
- Be honest with yourself as to what our limiting beliefs are, start with the fundamentals (like I need oxygen to breath) and work outwards to the more grey areas, like religious or moral beliefs and then your own self image, “I am special because xxx”. The first step of changing beliefs is to be aware of them in the first place. You might not be ready now to let go of your view of reality, but if you keep an eye on what it is you believe, then one day you might catch yourself holding on to something that you should really let go of.
- Look for beliefs you hold and defend particularly strongly, examine why you feel strongly about them, also try to focus purely on the feelings that arise.
For further reading I’d suggest Carlos Castenada and Krishnamurti, be careful of course not to hold on to any beliefs you might get out of reading them too.
Cheers for now, I’ll be back next time with something shorter.
And no cheating looking up the answers for your homework on wikipedia!