How Do You Make Sense Of The World?
If you’re like most folks … you don’t.
Sorry to be so blunt but them’s the simple facts.
Most folks just “accept” the world as it’s presented to them, and don’t do much about trying to establish how they are perceiving what they experience or from what position they are experiencing it from either.
I’ve been reviewing where my clients report getting the most benefit from the work we do together, and I think more importantly where the evidence is that they have made some kind of significant positive changes as a result of the work we’ve done.
It seems it boils down to just a few simple things we do …
- Establishing a very clear perception of the patterns they are living from and their personal myth/story
(i.e.: the autobiographical narrative that contains their personal myth/story)
- Developing the ability to “read” the Signals in the System to decipher the narrative that’s present
(i.e.: patterns in the information they are exposed to, as well as reading between the lines for information that’s missing)
- Recognizing the narrative that others are operating from and the patterns of their behavior
(i.e.: noticing for how others make decisions and take action, and the ways that differs from person to person)
- Gaining the ability to act on one’s own independently and to communicate with others effectively
(i.e.: making things happen on one’s own and with others, including the ability to effectively set boundaries and influence others)
When these few things happen in the work I do with others some amazing things happen as a result.
Again, keeping it simple, what everyone wants from the work I do with them is some variation on number four above …
Gaining the ability to act on one’s own independently
and to communicate with others effectively
However, getting the ability to do so requires that 1, 2 and 3 are in place as well.
Living The Narrative
And, in the same way we might speculate that fish don’t think much about the water they’re swimming in, except when they are challenged by it in some extraordinary way … say encountering highly polluted seas, lakes, rivers or streams … we too don’t much notice our culture.
We might also extend the speculation to those particular fish who are apt to on occasion breach the surface and escape the ever present ubiquitousness of the water they dwell in to notice that there’s something beyond what they experience as ordinary and normal, in this case the entirety of the sky above the surface of the waters that contain them.
I’d go so far as to suggest that fish are more likely to breach the surface of the water than we are to breach the boundaries of our culture …
And there’s the rub …
To get more specific the “ocean of culture” we swim in is bounded by the narrative that contains it. In the same way the ponds and lakes have edges, rivers and streams have banks, and oceans have shores cultures are limited by they narratives that define them.
The challenge for most people is that the narrative has become what is real …
it is their reality in the same way the water is reality for a fish.
Okay, I’d agree with anyone who says that we can’t be without a narrative of some kind. It seems the dilemma of humanity that we are capable to both recognizing that we are living within a narrative, and noticing that the narrative is just made up … a creation of our collective agreement and imagination.
Reconciling the dilemma that the narrative is both “real” and “unreal” at the same time without giving into it is a bit more challenging.
- The narrative is “real” in that it sets the frame for how we interpret what is happening and in turn what to do about it.
- The narrative is “unreal” in that it is simply one one of an infinite number of ways to interpret what what is happening.
So what are we left to do about it then?
Escaping The Charybdis
Charybdis was a whirlpool that devoured ships foolish enough to dare to sail too close. The option for a ship captain was to dare the Scylla, a dangerous rocky shoal that would tear ships to pieces instead.
The ancient Greeks described both of these originally as sea monsters that would attacks unwary captains, annihilating their ships and their crew.
In our current world we too run the risk of being devoured if we dare to venture too close perceptual reality versus the cultural narrative we’ve been led to believe as what is real … yet like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, we must endure this very challenge if we intend to realize the possibility of awakening beyond the illusions of culture.
Left unchallenged the filter of culture determines how we will interpret the entirety of our life experiences and the meaning we make of them.
The collective agreements of culture are designed not only to inform us about reality, but also to shape how we perceive all the events and information we encounter.
One of the most pervasive and “essential” truths we learn within the culture of modernity assumes that we are informed because we are literate and educated … beyond this we often make the leap to the further assumption that this means we are also intelligent, when the evidence gathered from how we most often go about our lives and the current state of the world seems to suggest that nothing could be further from the truth.
We are a species hovering on the edge of destruction … not only of ourselves, but seemingly threatening the entire basis of life in the biosphere … and yet we continue unabated with the same patterns of action that brought us here.
The first thing we must agree to accept, if we intend to do anything about this state of affairs personally and collectively is …
The current narrative is broken!
The story we are living our lives from no longer supports life as the basis upon which it rests. Instead we are living from a story that has its foundations in fear and greed, built on the assumption that the only way to have enough is to get more.
We seem to desire a life worth living, filled with deep meaning and purpose attached and connected to others in meaningful and caring, if not loving, relationships.
But such a life has been supplanted by a life organized around earning a living that exceeds what we need to survive and prosper in the service of productivity and consumption.
- We are fed lies that support a system where the majority of people live in servitude to a micro minority elites who run a corrupt and rigged system.
- We have been led to believe that we have a say in the way that society is organized and managed, yet most of our laws are designed to improve the quality of life of the very few at the top, while minimally allowing those at the bottom merely to survive.
- We buy into this system of lies and misinformed beliefs after more than a decade of compulsory education followed by up to another decade of voluntary education that we’ve been told is “the great equalizer” when the evidence is that some of the most privileged in our society only became that way after dropping out and opting out of the very system we’ve were led to believe would be our salvation if we just stayed the course.
When we navigate the narrative based on the evidence we find that the very systems we’ve are told will save us actually enslave us … one of the most unforgiving being the schooling we received that conditioned us to perform at the bequest of the experts and masters like trained circus animals performing on demand …
The “Gold Star” effect spanning the time from the first encounter in school with the teacher acting as overlord in the classroom, handing out rewards for good performance, to the time we either awaken, retire or die in the hands of a system that teaches us first and then tells us for the remainder of our lives … Be Good and Fit In.
Yet this narrative has been so cleverly woven that the majority living under its cloak of deception fail to see it as other than reality itself.
However, immediate escape is available to anyone who simply recognizes the narrative for what it is … a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
That choice is ready at hand to anyone who wants it and opens the way to beginning to notice and perceive the signals in the system for what they are and not what we are told to believe they are … learning to trust ourselves above the overlords who would have us believe that without them and their guidance we would be lost.
The Gateways Of Perception
The beginning of the transformation from being the good boy or girl who has learned to fit in starts when we reject the veneer of truth spewed forth from the media, the politicians and the educators who swear to keep us informed and educated posing as the whole truth, when in fact it is nothing more than the tidbits they are willing to share that continue to support the story that enslaves us if we let it.
You do have a choice … accept that you are living within a perceptual position that continues to allow you to perceive and see the yourself, the world around you and your place in it as you do from that position … and that your perception isn’t what’s necessarily real.
While you may not be able to escape the human condition of living from a perceptual position you have choices about what position you choose to inhabit at any given moment in time and space.
One of the great “truths” that has been thrust upon us from those who have spent lifetimes exploring the development of what it means to be fully human suggests that we are capable of accessing and holding multiple perceptual positions.
Each one of these perceptual positions acts like a distinct gateway to perception and shapes what you experience and the meaning you give to your experience.
Change your perceptual position and another gateway opens for you to an alternative future with a multitude of alternative possibilities.
This has become the essence of the work I offer to those I work with individually and organizationally … exploring with them the scope of possibilities that appear when another gateway of perception is chosen.
While I focus on eight primary gateways of perception that have been the most fully explored and are most readily accessible, recognized and understood, I accept that the potential number of gateways humans are possible of accessing may be infinite.
What may be most useful in beginning the quest to decipher the narrative is simply the willingness to release the death grip on a singular perspective and gain access to the choice of standing at the gateways of perception that most serve the outcomes you desire.
Having read this far it’s likely you’ve already taken the first step …
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D.
New Hope, PA