G&G Wellness Special
Progress Is Awareness Of Our Own Inner Power
In the future, what steps will humanity thank America for taking? What path will our children call progress?
- Curious George
Dear Mr. George:
Unfortunately, what we usually call progress is an illusion. The comforting belief that the world is getting better and better through advances in science and technology is becoming less believable every day. Some of us still do think that a technological utopia is just around the corner, where we will barely have to work and effortlessly enjoy the fruits of a rapidly advancing modernity. But the true believers grow fewer these days. Earlier in our history, when the world's natural resources seemed inexhaustible, the notion of continuous material progress seemed viable, if not obvious; but as those resources now begin to appear limited, the world begins to look a lot smaller, a lot more delicate, and with a lot less of everything to go around.
Much the same can be said for humanity's psychological progress. The idea that we humans are rapidly getting better is challenged every day as we witness brutal aggression between individuals and between nations, and as we watch the rise of feverish fundamentalism and a sometimes equally feverish anti-fundamentalism. We witness abuse of children, mass murders, and all the other crimes that cry out in opposition to the na�ve view that things are getting gradually better through the continuous collective workings of modern society.
Additionally we hear regular revelations by anthropologists and archaeologists that ancient civilizations were far more knowledgeable and sophisticated than we have been taught to believe. It seems clear our ancestors' societies were not inferior to ours, only different, with strengths and weaknesses relative to our current society -- in much the same way the world's many cultures vary today, and none is "the best" or "the worst." There has been no single society we can point to that represents the very best that humanity can achieve.
We Americans believe we have it pretty good, and from a strictly material point of view, we do. That is, most of us do -- the ones who don't daily face homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to adequate medical care. But beyond materialism, we are alienated from our neighbors and our environment, and countless other issues linger in the backs of our hearts and minds that remind us of all that we overlook when we judge ourselves to be well off.
Today, Awareness of Our Power
So here we are, at the beginning of the 21st century, suddenly confronted with a world much more hostile than we expected, and with problems and issues much more complex than we seem capable of handling. All around us we see our national and global leaders unable to implement the basic changes necessary to create a better world. We are disappointed, and many of us are now frightened of the future.
History teaches us that, in such times of crisis, the appeal of simplistic slogans and an anxious need for safety will make a society fertile for the rise of leaders who offer simple answers and promise to deliver crucial security. I don't think many of us would categorize that development to be progress worthy of a free people.
So what could be considered real progress? How can we create the kind of society that we really want? Where are we to find the hope and inspiration not only to endure these times, but to live with joy and purpose?
We are very fortunate these days to be living at a time when advances in science, psychology, and biology are presenting us with answers to some very basic questions. Some newly emerging facts to consider:
- The state of our thinking and the state of our emotions directly impact our physical well-being. We already know about psychosomatic illnesses. We already know about relaxation, meditation, and prayer. These are only the beginning.
- The universe is composed of cascading worlds that are similar in quality, and differ only in size. In other words, the whole is present in its entirety in each of its parts: from an atom to a fingernail to a person to a nation to a planet to a galaxy.
- Finally, like a tiny pebble cast into a pool of water, each of our actions has far-reaching impacts, well beyond what is ordinarily observable, and thus we do much more than we think we do. What have you done in the last hour? Your actions, in all their biological, emotional, and mental complexity, are right now rippling through the universe and will soon affect me.
Combining these scientific facts, we can see that each of us has the ability to directly and profoundly affect the unfolding of the universe around us. We can each affect all the societal and political structures in which we live. In fact, we don't just have the ability to affect them, we are affecting them, all of the time, whether we like it or not. The world we live in and see all around us is the collective result of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
We all need to accept this level of responsibility if we are truly to make a step forward.
The Path to Progress
The most important point to understand is that our impact on the world and the people around us comes first from our state of being, and only then from our overt actions. It is not the other way around. From this deeper level within each of us, we reinforce and cultivate the world's health and peace, or its strife and discord. These recent discoveries in physics, biology, and psychology tell us that we can create health in ourselves, health in society, and health in the universe all at once. And the place to start is not from the outside, but rather from the inside. Let our words be words of peace and we will create peace -- wherever we go. Let our thoughts be thoughts of compassion, and we will create a world of love -- within us and without us. And let our actions follow our thoughts. Then we will truly change the world.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that it is sometimes difficult to live in this way. But this life of responsibility and awareness is the only path to true progress.
HealingMan answers questions on spiritual and mental wellness at HealingMan@att.net.
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