In my last post I focused on the micro – the individual. But how does this unconscious thinking work on a macro-scale? In the West, in recent times (I’m talking the last 300 years), humans have developed a whole way of seeing our world through this form of Cartesian consciousness – where the mind dominates and rules, where we compare and contrast.
I realise in saying this that I too could be seeing through this lens even as I write. It can be really helpful…but. We have developed dualistic thinking to the max(imum). We conveniently split things into good or bad, right or wrong; we habitually make unconscious value judgments that this is better than that, all of which can lead to dangerous conclusions. For example, that physical is more important than spiritual, or visa versa; that mind and body are separate (and of course mind is more important); that earning more and more money is more important than living simply within our means; were technological and industrial advance is more important than any effect this might have on the living planet we strip of its resources; where economic growth at all costs in the West is more important than the effects on third world countries; where my country and our way of doing things is better than yours,…etc. And often we Christians are just as guilty of this dualism. We judge and criticise those in our own church, and across denominations, and we love to compare and contrast preachers, teachers, and worship leaders, etc. In some deluded unconscious fashion, we split ourselves off from our own humanity with huge consequences for the global human family. Just think of the countless millions who have been sacrificed this last century and continue to be sacrificed ‘to the fanaticism of totalitarian ideologies’.
Writers like Thomas Berry have been saying this kind of thing for ages. In his book The Dream of the Earth (1988) he writes that our times have seen “possibly the most complete reversal of values that has taken place since the Neolithic period.” We could do with ‘waking up’. I believe we need a complete shift of consciousness. But first we need to recognise how unconsciously we are living. Q: do you ever notice the glasses you are wearing through which you see the world? Q: have you ever thought of taking them off for a few hours?
And it is not just the way we use our minds, or that we have become addicted to certain ways of thinking that should concern us. It is how easily we become unconsciously addicted to all kinds of behaviour, full stop. We sleep-walk into these addictions because of the pain inside, the emotional damage and physical experiences through our growing up and our need to compensate. We seriously need to wake up to the programmes for emotional happiness that we have constructed for ourselves. Q: but who will notice we are asleep (like Sleeping Beauty)? Q: who will notice the huge dense forest or thorny hedge that hides us from the truth? Q: who will rescue us?