|A brief but comprehensive overview of the
paradigms is presented regarding how control systems work within
levels, and why there is a need to change governing paradigms to
beyond victim-blaming and toward system transformations. The concept of
filtering consciousness through paradigms is presented, followed by:
regarding choice of paradigms; what is normal or possible for
seeking paradigms that fit us; saving paradigms but modifying them for
more efficient performance. The cultural non-commitment to human
is discussed, and the importance of learning that new worldviews bring
FILTERING CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGH PARADIGMS
Most of all, though, we resonate with Mr. Swann's
on mindsets, worldviews, and paradigms as the key to it all. That's no
surprise, since we're philosophers. It just makes sense to us that
models provide the channels through which our consciousness and hence
Filtering aspatial, atemporal, superconnected
through paradigms is like pushing cookie dough through a cookie press
different gadgets to put on the end: whatever gadget we choose gives
cookies their shape. So too with consciousness: whatever mindsets
paradigms we choose determine the form of our perceptions, which in
shape our decisions, actions, experiences, social systems, worlds, and
A colleague of ours, Sue Rolfe at Hazelden, uses
work week to illustrate the power of a paradigm to shape
rhythm and flow of our lives. She writes, "Our 5-day work week is a
decided we must work 5 days a week? Perhaps on Mars they work on the
and have 5 days off. In any event, this 'working paradigm' which rules
us is of our making. We decided that, for the economic health of our
5 is the magic number. If you work more than 5 days a week you are a
worker or maybe even a workaholic, less than this and you might be
lazy and unmotivated." (It's actually Venus where they work only on
on Mars they work all 7 days.)
CHOICE OF PARADIGMS
Choice, as Sue points out, is precisely what's at
But we first have to be aware of paradigms and how they're affecting
us in order to exercise our power of choice.
If we're not aware of the role that paradigms
shaping experience, then we believe we're stuck with the world as it is
and ourselves as we are. "What paradigm? My belief-structure has
to do with it. This is the way I am, that's the way human beings are,
that's the way the world will always be." The sort of universe that the
paradigm creates becomes absolute. Scientists of the old school, for
claimed to have no worldview intruding on their "objective observation
of reality": they were simply "seeing things as they are."
No more. Scientists up to speed with "new
(a century old by now) know that their models or paradigms determine
how they think, what kind of experiments they construct, therefore what
they observe and how they interpret their observations. Reality isn't
"out there" the way we once thought it was. It's an interactive
that's continually coming into being relative to the paradigms we
cookie press gadgets we use to filter reality.
That's good news. Insofar as we recognize the
paradigms and our power to change them, we have options-paradigm
We're not stuck with the world as it is, because we can shift
and as we do, everything shifts with us. Philosopher of science Thomas
Kuhn-who died in June 1996 and to whom we are indebted for naming
and their power in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific
that when scientists shift paradigms, they live in new worlds. The old
rules don't hold in the same way, and what before was considered
can become not only possible but even normal.
This means that whenever we shift paradigms,
only do new possibilities emerge for how we can structure our
but also we discover potentials within ourselves that the old
declared either nonexistent or off-limits. (If we shift away from
indentured-servants-to-money-systems paradigm, we'll have time to
WHAT'S NORMAL OR POSSIBLE
Awareness of paradigms and the possibilities that
with changing them carry enormous implications for how we understand
Are the limits we experience in perception, learning, and knowing
or are they imposed by a paradigm-one that we can choose to have or not?
Psychic and paranormal experiences
suggest that the limits imposed by materialist philosophy are not
Even one case of powers that defy physical limits proves what's possible,
whether these possibilities are commonplace in the current paradigm or
not. By challenging paradigms that put our
powers in straitjackets, we free ourselves to tap powers we've barely
to imagine. Examples of mental
powers defying so-called laws of matter abound.
Then of course there's research begun by Georgi
in Bulgaria and reported by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder in
books Superlearning and SuperMemory. According to
studies going on all over the globe, our minds
capable of vastly more than we ever imagined. If we have human
we're geniuses, and the only reason we're not experiencing our minds'
is that they've been shut down by stress, negative programming, trauma,
or mind-numbing boredom.
Clearly, there's more going
with consciousness and our human potential than the official paradigm
Again, the fact that extraordinary powers occur at all proves the
of powers that may be latent in all of us.
THAT FIT US
Imagine, for instance, a paradigm that describes
free beings, moving in time, space, and matter through the powers of
unconstrained by demands for money and unconcerned by the quest for
or control. Imagine further a paradigm that honors us for who we are,
treats human beings-as well as all beings-as treasures of the universe,
and that therefore places a priority on nurturing and developing our
the current world where humans are ownable, exploitable, controllable
only insofar as they can either command or generate capital-such models
seem utter fantasy.
According to spiritual teachings the world over,
such models more closely fit what they call "True Human Beings." Hindu
philosophy, for instance, takes our potential seriously enough to
liberation as the fourth basic desire of human beings, the one that
arises in us after we've grown weary of pursuing the desires for 1)
2) success, and 3) duty.
Liberation is the liberation to be who we are
big picture, not to be narrowed by models that aren't worthy of us.
It's the freedom to live from the inside out, to be guided by who we
in our essence, rather than to spend our lives juggling family, social,
financial, religious, or other cultural expectations.
SAVING THE PARADIGM
If we don't experience ourselves or each other as
and great beings, it's not because we lack this potential but rather
the paradigm/cookie gadgets our cultures pour us through aren't equal
our essence. We come out twisted, grasping, angry, and insatiable
we know we're more, yet the cultural paradigm has no room for us. The
can't both acknowledge our innate worth and treat us as objects to be
that must be coerced into systems that violate our dignity and
by their very structures.
Born into the culture, what choice do we have but
be subjugated? Babies and children don't have options but to submit. So
we adapt ourselves accordingly. We conform to social systems by
the roles that go with them, narrowing ourselves to fit the cultural
We become the competitive, insecure, obedient, brain dead,
creature that our social systems require. If we didn't comply,
be no place for social systems to hook into us and control our
which the paradigm says they must do in order to achieve social order.
But instead of social order, the paradigm
and suffering-images of which we see everyday on the news and feelings
of which we experience as stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
or even self-hate. These images and feelings say nothing about which
paradigms might better serve human beings or who we might be if we used
less narrowing models. They simply give us feedback about our cultural
But paradigm oblivious, we don't interpret
pain as paradigm related. We don't trace personal and social suffering
back to the cultural paradigm and so set the stage for changing it.
we save the paradigm by believing that humans must be fatally flawed
we ourselves more than most. Accepting the cultural paradigm that
what's most valuable about us, we view ourselves in the mirror that
systems give us: a mirror of externals. Our paradigm options go
CONTROLLED BY EXTERNAL REWARDS
In a paradigm of externals, externals call the
Instead of allowing us to be guided from the inside out (a formula for
anarchy, the control paradigm claims), the paradigm controls our
through rewards and punishments. We come to think and act like Pavlov's
dog, salivating over the next bonus, a bigger kennel to call home, a
collar to sport, or a top dog position. The paradigm isn't about
our talents, abilities, or potential; it's about making us controllable
by giving or withholding external rewards.
To achieve this control, the paradigm grades each
in a hierarchy of externals. The inner life means nothing compared to
outward characteristics indicated by our species, race, gender, age,
group affiliation, and income. If dogs possessed the wealth of Bill
for instance, they wouldn't suffer in medical experiments, just as
who have money don't work in sweatshops or sell their children into
That's the problem with externals: they're fine
they become the means for enslavement, which unfortunately they do
immediately. When a paradigm puts external
first, consciousness dimensions are dismissed out of hand.
Small wonder that the
of our minds and hearts-and all the values that go with them, e.g.,
compassion, justice, or wisdom-go undeveloped. A control paradigm has
use nor place for them.
NOT EXACTLY WELCOME
Naming paradigms and their power for good or ill
a new insight; it's as old as philosophy. It is, however, an overlooked
insight in an age that can't seem to shake a materialistic,
paradigm-and for good reason. Reflecting on paradigms is the stuff of
and changing paradigms is the most
and powerful change we can make.
To a paradigm of control, that's not welcome. The
total of our experience contingent on something as invisible and
as a philosophy? Change by paradigm shifts, which anyone can make?
of perception and creativity that defy rigid material boundaries?
as beings of immense powers and abilities? Once you let these cats out
of the bag, there's no telling what mindsets and institutions might be
Obsolete is precisely what established
power and control don't want to be. They learned from the fate of
and buggy whip manufacturers when cars came along. Established
now make sure that questioning the neanderthal paradigm of burning
for energy triggers "War-of-the-Worlds" panic about destabilizing the
economy. Even the call for improved public transit systems borders on
"MORE TO US" IS THREATENING TO POWER-OVER
Stiff challenges face a paradigm shift on the
level of out-there technology, frozen at a stage that Captain Picard
finds among the more primitive human civilizations he encounters. What
challenges might we face if we embark on a far deeper level of
redrawing the paradigms that sort out who we are and why we're here?
Plenty. If the cultural paradigm's purpose is not
honor human potential but rather to make it an obedient servant to
social structures, then nothing could be more threatening to the
order than a paradigm shift regarding our self-conceptions. We fit
into society as it is now only as long as we don't remember that we're
more and here for more.
The agenda for traditional psychoanalytic
for instance, isn't to develop human potential; it's to keep people
functional in established social structures, however miserable
lives may be and however abusive or wrong-headed the social structures.
"Well-adjusted" becomes a synonym for mental health.
But if someone is well-adjusted to being an SS
in Nazi concentration camps, is that person mentally healthy? In Fire
In The Soul, psychoneuroimmunologist Joan Borysenko writes of this
narrow aim of therapy: "Sigmund Freud...believed that when a person was
cured of neurosis the best outcome that could be expected was return
an ordinary state of unhappiness.'" (New York: Warner, 1993, p. 54)
Psychotherapy's official job is mopping up the
social systems make of our lives by convincing us that the mess is our
fault, our failing, our screwiness. If we don't conform, adjust, fit
and measure up, something must be wrong with us. And psychotherapy has
its truth: we may well be frozen in grief or shock and not functioning
at our best, but don't the social systems that shape us deserve equal
equal critical analysis?
Thankfully many therapists reject this paradigm
forth with their clients on the forbidden territory of meaning and
potential as well as of critiquing social structures, but it's no easy
task persuading insurance companies to come along. Control institutions
pay insurance companies to pay health professionals to keep people in
place, serving the established order.
THE AGENDA FOR SCHOOL SYSTEMS
Nor are school systems committed to developing
that we are. Schools are an arm of social structures, whether
governmental, or economic. According to the paradigm-defined needs
of those structures, tapping human potential doesn't create enough
to ensure the "efficient" running of corporate, governmental,
and educational hierarchies.
In this century, business interests have dictated
structure of schools. Henry Ford quickly noticed that creative genius
intuitive knowing aren't useful on factory lines. So he pioneered the
school system that inculcates values and skills appropriate for 20th
work life: being punctual, obeying orders, enduring hours, weeks, and
of boring, repetitive tasks, not talking while working, not resting,
to the schedule at all costs. Our minds become casualties of
Our souls end up casualties as well. Trusting our
judgment, thinking for ourselves, adhering to our values, and having
in our innate worth don't make us good foot soldiers for
bosses. Only people with low self-esteem are sufficiently insecure to
abusive work environments. Insofar as we believe we don't deserve
we adjust, becoming the kind of person that's required to "do the job."
Obligingly, school systems produce people
the low self-esteem that's needed for worker "flexibility." Fears
being wrong, of not making the grade are fears confirmed for 90 percent
of the population. That's the percentage who are required not to get
by the bell curve system, guaranteeing that 90 percent of everyone
out of school believe that they're incapable of excellence. Schools
back to students the mass message that "you're just not good enough,
if you do what you're told without question, you may get better and be
rewarded." That's a handy message to have installed in the psyches of
percent of the population-handy for perpetuating corporate, religious,
governmental, and professional tyrannies, that is.
All this modern schooling goes against what we
the human mind and how we learn-and have known for decades. Studies in
learning show that we learn best when we're most relaxed, yet schools
stress through fear of failure. Studies show that children learn most
through cooperative learning, yet schools impose a competitive model.
also indicate that students' beliefs about their own learning abilities
affect their performance-if they believe they're good learners, they
easily; if not, learning the simplest things becomes difficult-yet
systematically undermine students' confidence.
In these and many other ways, school systems
virtual lobotomies on our psyches, producing graduates who've long
lost their joy in learning, who believe they must be right all the time
and "know it all" or be condemned to outer darkness, and who experience
post-traumatic stress symptoms at the thought of having to learn new
on the job.
CULTURAL NONCOMMITMENT TO HUMAN POTENTIAL
Alice Miller, a champion of the potential we all
from birth, pulls no punches in her books-For Your Own Good in
analyzes the social, cultural agenda of shutting down our potential.
As she explains, the traditional rules of child-rearing passed down
generation to generation have nothing to do with developing our
either emotionally, intuitively, psychologically, or intellectually.
one agenda is control: control the child as soon as possible by any
means, whether it's by punishment, humiliation, intimidation, beatings,
grading, whatever it takes to break the child's will and autonomy.
The justification for this agenda is that
any other way won't fit into society when they grow up. According to
cultural paradigm-expressed in the rules of child-rearing-learning to
who we are and to become what others want and expect us to be is the
important survival skill. Our potential as human beings is
a side issue, compared to our ability to conform.
Of course we're supposed to believe that social
have our best interests at heart and that obeying them is indeed "for
own good." If we conform properly, our potential will develop
But is this so? As we've seen, schools and therapy - two systems that
think would be committed to developing human potential - have no such
In what system or area of the culture might such a commitment exist?
occupied with who has power over whom, who has the biggest
where money can be found, who wins which election or vote, etc.
the human potential of its citizenry is not a priority. If anything,
not on the agenda at all. The insider's view that "the masses are
is music to ambitious politicians' ears, who then believe it's their
destiny to expand their personal power and become benevolent dictators.
Dumb masses are easy to manipulate with slogans and half-truths. For
purposes, the less human potential the better.
As much as we value spiritual teachings, we
that religious organizations have much commitment to developing
human potential either, though granted there are exceptions. Adhering
fixed doctrines, building congregations, raising money, meddling in the
personal affairs of members, running down sectarian competitors, and
fear and guilt to exact obedience and tithing keep them busy enough.
Businesses and corporations certainly
themselves with human potential, even though they sometimes pay lip
to it in the hopes of making employees more "productive." The
line is the bottom line, and if human potential comes up at all, it's
a frill or luxury-"warm fuzzy stuff" that doesn't count in the "real
of business except to mollify disgruntled workers or help them adjust
higher levels of stress.
Scanning the culture, we frankly can't find
that's consistently committed to exploring human potential. If
our social systems regard human potential as an impediment, an
feature of human beings that gums up the systems' otherwise efficient
If people would just learn their roles and stick to them, everything
work so much better.
If we didn't know the paradigm behind these
we may find this lack of interest in human potential odd. Developing
potential seems crucial to keeping human civilizations vital and
up to speed with the challenges that continually arise. Technology per
se can't save us, since we're not using the alternative technology we
have to remedy social and environmental ills. What we lack is the the
and foresight, the honesty, the sense of meaning, justice, integrity,
the good to manage human affairs well. These aren't technology issues
paradigm ones. Wisdom and foresight are precisely the potentials that a
paradigm geared to domination and control factors out of us.
But no paradigm, even one that's used to having
word, is the last word. The human spirit, being what it is, doesn't
kindly to soul-lobotomies and develops all sorts of responses. One is
join the lobotomizing dominators: do it to others before any more can
done to you. Another is to adopt roles and play along, to accept one's
lobotomized lot in life.
Addictions make both responses easier. We can lay
5,000 employees and numb the pain with a 15
dollar bonus. Or we can take drugs to make it through the day in our
cubicles. Either way, numbing ourselves with addictions of process
and power) or of substance (drugs and alcohol) makes us forget the pain
of living in a control paradigm culture.
us, addictions serve the established paradigm
well: insofar as we forget pain, we don't confront its causes.
systems go unchallenged, as long as we find ways to cope with being
That's why recovery from
begins with recognizing pain. Acknowledging what we feel in social
is the first subversive step toward a cultural paradigm shift. A
of control through externals unravels when we affirm the importance of
what's going on within. When pain counts with us-when we refuse to
it, "to put up and shut up"-the days are numbered for the paradigm
causing us pain.
NEW WORLD VIEWS BRING
Refusing to be trapped
institutions on one hand and on the other claiming our essence, who
we are in the big picture-what's called the "soul" until a better term
comes along-we foment revolution of the most constructive,
and powerful sort. Each of us in our own ways participates
creating new worldviews, which in turn create new worlds within and