Archetype of the Paradigm

Archetype of the paradigm There is an archetype that millions of people are in the grip of in a way that controls them, imprisons them, and denies them their full potential. It is generally called the paradigm of the western mind. It could also be called the worldview or even the religion of most western people – religion because actually it is a belief system. However, if you asked most people in the streets of western cities about it they would not say they believed in what is being called a paradigm, they would insist it is reality.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a paradigm as – “A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.”

We could say, in regard to the western mind, that many of us share ‘assumptions, concepts, values’ and prejudices that are at the base of how we believe life to be, and that we consider to be reality. However, if we examine this ‘reality’ we see it is made up of a set of theories and beliefs that have become cultural and generally accepted. The imprisoning aspect of this is that we take these assumptions, these theories of what reality is, to be reality itself. We actually see and live in the world as if what are shifting theories is concretely real.

In its simplest form, the paradigm mentioned can be described as having arisen from the mechanistic ideas of Newtonian physics, in which the universe was seen as a huge mechanical device. As Newtonian physics developed, the fundamental particle of the universe was defined as the atom. Nothing in scientific research at the time could prove that anything existed beyond the atom, and the atom is a physical object. Therefore, nothing other than physical substance was ‘real’. This, so it appeared, disproved the possibility of personal awareness being anything other than some trick of chemicals, molecules and atoms in the brain and body. There could be no spirit or life after death because, after all, we are only atoms! Nothing in our consciousness can exist unless it is produced by the physical brain.

Recently a feature about near death experiences appeared in New Scientist – (issue 2573 of 17 October 2006, page 48-50). It examined the subject and attempted to explain it all by brain chemicals or REM dreaming, still seen in the light of physical brain activities. To remain in this narrow paradigm (set of beliefs or theories), it left out any phenomena such as people who were apparently without any brain activity, and so completely unconscious, being able to report events at a distance from their seemingly dead body. This is typical of how this paradigm limits individuals within its grasp. It literally controls personal perceptions so that the subject actually sees the world, experiences reality, exactly as it dictates reality to be.

Richard Tarnas, in his book Cosmos and Psyche, says of this paradigm of the western mind, “As with all powerful myths, we have been, and many perhaps remain, largely unconscious of this historical paradigm’s hold on our collective imagination. It animates the vast majority of contemporary books and essays, editorial columns, book reviews, science articles, research papers, and television documentaries, as well as political, social, and economic policies, It is so familiar to us, so close to our perception, that in many respects it has become our common sense, the form and foundation of our self image as modern humans.”

Edward Sapir and his student Benjamin Whorf studied several languages and found that the Hopis could create a consistent universe without using our meanings for time, energy, space and matter. In other words they saw the universe and their external and internal reality according to their paradigm. They went on to say that we lump together isolated perceptions into a totality – we have to be taught this – and what we are taught is what everybody agrees on. The world is an agreement. But what lies beyond our agreement? What lies beyond our paradigm?

In 1900 Max Planck proposed a revolutionary new view of the universe in publishing the quantum theory. Since then the theory has gathered strength through an enormous amount of research, and is suggesting a universe in which the atom is by no means the fundamental material of our body or the cosmos. In fact it says that the core of our being is an almost indescribable condition of infinite potential. They go so far as to say that we are co-creators of the world we live in, as our personal awareness changes the nature of the things surrounding us.

Research into the particles and processes beyond the atom is also opening the door to what is described as a multidimensional universe, or as David Deutsch calls it, the multiverse, or multiple universes.

Of course, that is another paradigm. It is another set of theories offering another way of experiencing reality. But reality is simply what it is, and human theories or religious beliefs, while they help us understand and relate to reality, are not reality itself. You and I, in our fullness are reality. To meet reality we must enter into self enquiry, not just with intellectual questions, but with the willingness to experience ourselves beyond the boundaries of our normal paradigm and prejudices.

To step out of the paradigm of the western mind, or any other paradigm, the path of self enquiry and direct experience of the reality you are is the only way. In the past this has often been called ‘illumination’ or ‘enlightenment’ – but think of it simply as direct experience of yourself.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What paradigm am I living within and controlled by?

How can I open the windows of this paradigm I am within and look out?

Have I ever had glimpses beyond the paradigm I grew up in?

To fully experience a dream and explore it – not interpret it – is a journey beyond our paradigm, as also is the methods of self realisation. Read Life’s Little SecretsLifeStream Acting on Your Dream – or Enlightenment Intensives in the USA or UK they really work.

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