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Re-writing the Story of Who We Are

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America celebrated its first Earth Day in 1970, the year in which my favorite children’s book, The Wump World, by the beloved writer and illustrator Bill Peet, was also published. I discovered The Wump World in a mountain of books my mother helped my little brother and me haul home from our local library. After my first read, I searched anxiously for The Wump World every time we visited the library, looking forward to sitting for the umpteenth time with the story of the “Pollutians,” who invaded the green, pristine world of the furry, doe-eyed “Wumps” with their ideas of industrial progress. In the simple, colored-pencil illustrations, the hapless Wumps retreat into underground caves until the Pollutians finally declare to their leader that they can no longer live in such a polluted world; they were sick from their lifestyles and had to find another planet. After the Pollutians took off in their spaceships, the Wumps emerged from their caves to a “dead” landscape of concrete buildings, smoke-filled skies, and paved-over earth.

The book’s message about pollution did not escape me or my first grade classmates, as most of us displayed “Turn Off Your Lights” stickers on our light switches and watched Iron Eyes Cody, the Native American in the “Keep America Beautiful” commercial, cry on his horse while overlooking a littered cityscape. It wasn’t the book’s obvious message – pollution is bad, and we need to do our part to stop it – that I found fascinating, though. It was the last page that held my rapt attention: A solitary Wump, stares at a sidewalk where a single, green-leafed plant had pushed its way through a small crack in the landscape of gray rubble. Perched on a crumbling wall, the Wump’s unmistakably happy smile seemed to impart a secret . . . or a promise.

I would race to this last page each time I read The Wump World, needing the reassurance that the Wump, the leaf, and I shared there – the secret knowledge of something else that was true, something greater and more real than irrational dedication to industrial progress at the expense of our own health. What was that something else, whose power would eventually heal the Wump’s world?

The Influence of a Worldview

At this moment in time, four decades later and on the heels of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – one of the largest man-made environmental disasters in human history – it feels as though much of humanity is staring at the last page of The Wump World and wondering, with no way off the planet (though some are working on it), how we might begin to enter into a relationship with the consciousness, the healing life force, represented by a humble, green leaf? How do we heal our world and our bodies – our on-loan, animated Earth suits – which depend upon the health of the planet? Where do we find the will to let go of an old story – “We’re Pollutians, and this is what we do” – and choose to write a new story, one that features human beings tapping into their innate potential, pursuing conscious relationships with all of life, and working together to cocreate a healthy world?

Our stories about ourselves – who we are and what we are capable of becoming – are influenced primarily by our worldview, which shapes our lived reality. The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) defines worldview as “the beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions through which one filters their understanding of the world and their place in it.” Whatever the story is – created, told, and retold in a habitual, self-perpetuating cycle – it influences our choices and behavior. This is true individually as well as collectively. To evaluate the wisdom of a worldview and to better recognize its influence, it helps to identify some of the assumptions embedded within it.

In 2008, IONS published The 2008 Shift Report: Changing the Story of Our Future, the second of two such reports exploring the impacts of our belief systems and worldviews on individual and social well-being. It described the current dominant Western worldview as driven by the following assumptions:

  • Growth is good; more is better.
  • Economic wealth is the truest sign of progress.
  • The “market” is the most reliable measure of value.
  • Individual selfishness serves the common good.
  • We live in a world of scarcity.
  • Humans are superior to other creatures.
  • The Earth is ours to exploit.
  • The world can be divided into “us” and “them.”
  • People are intrinsically bad.
  • Technology – or God – will save us.

The first report in the series, The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming, had this to say about the old story, that its purpose has been fulfilled and is no longer useful: “Materialist science represented an evolutionary leap from a mind-set that relied on religious authority for verifying truths to one that valued an objective search for knowledge. In this global age of rapid change and transformation, it is time for another such leap…[to] include the rigorous study of subjective, inner experience, a renewed appreciation for meaning and purpose, and a recognition that the world of consciousness is far more mysterious and influential than we have ever imagined.”

Getting Out of the Box

What are our greatest obstacles to assuming authorship and authority for creating a new story, a new worldview – and therefore a new world? There are many, of course, at every level of human organization, but one such “obstacle” is also the means to our transformation: our brain, the one thing we possess and have the power to control. But as Dr. Andrew Newberg states in Born to Believe, “The brain is a stubborn organ. Once its primary set of beliefs has been established, the brain finds it difficult to integrate opposing ideas and beliefs. This has profound consequences for individuals and society and helps to explain why some people cannot abandon destructive beliefs, be they religious, political, or psychological.”

A 2004 study at Emory University illustrated how our brains become entrenched in preconceptions that defy all reason. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers studied the brain activity of a group of partisan Republicans and Democrats, asking them to rate and compare a series of contradictory statements made by both John Kerry and George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, the Democrats felt that statements made by Bush were more contradictory, and Republicans felt the same about Kerry. But the way they arrived at those conclusions was illuminating.

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of Clinical Psychology at Emory. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up. . . . Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and the activation of positive ones.” In short, “Partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data.”

The 2008 Shift Report takes note of this study, concluding, “[I]t appears that we avoid the discomfort of contradictory facts when they challenge a particular decision or belief – denial equals emotional homeostasis. This observance has a strong bearing on how one confronts an existing worldview and considers ways to change it. Those who accept the maxim, ‘Growth is good,’ for example, will resist other perspectives even in the face of evidence that such a conviction may be slowly killing us. The media is complicit in reinforcing such entrenched assumptions, and the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy becomes an enduring characteristic of the cultural soup.”

Two years after IONS published The 2008 Shift Report, the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico riveted the world’s attention with an ecological crisis whose impact has yet to be fully measured and whose ripple effect is expected to continue for decades. In 1971, the same year that Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell envisioned IONS, Joseph Chilton Pearce presented humanity with a guide to transcending toxic, irrational cultural conditioning in his book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality. This now seminal work argued that our notions of the world form a shell of culturally reinforced, rational thought, which in turn creates a vicious circle of reasoning that robs our minds of power and prevents us from reaching our true potential – that which lies beyond the crack in the fragile eggshell of our known world. Ironically, it was the cracks in the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico this past spring that attempted to break through calcified neural nets and institutionalized ignorance. The year 2010 may go down in history as the year denial was no longer a functional way for Americans to live their daily lives.

The consequences of our 500-year-old model of consumption, profit, and externalized costs in the form of environmental degradation and natural system collapse are mounting. The old story we keep telling ourselves, based on the assumptions listed above, is evaporating, leaving in its place the frantic question “What comes next?” To those whose belief systems resist new plot lines to guide them through the inevitable global transitions, it might indeed feel like the end of the world. But for those willing and able to consider a new story, the current challenges to and shifts in human consciousness promise exciting opportunities for personal and planetary change.

Embracing Our Potential

Right now we are like the Wump who turns her attention from the devastation of the planet to the hope for a better future. What will our new story tell us about ourselves and our world? Chilton Pearce believes an individual’s worldview must be integrated; it cannot exclude what has gone before but must appreciate all perspectives and possibilities. It must, in the spirit of integral philosophy, “transcend and include.”

“Our imagination cannot set out to find the cracks in the cosmic egg until someone lays the egg,” he writes in Crack in the Cosmic Egg. “New representations for reality, new ideas, new fabrications of fantasy searching for supporting logic must precede the final ‘discovery’ by which verification of the notion is achieved. It has been claimed that our minds screen out far more than we accept, else we would live in a world of chaos. Our screening process may be essential, but it is also arbitrary and changeable.”

In his 2009 book, Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here), coauthored with Steve Bhaerman, Bruce Lipton writes that “the real challenge for the individual is to practice evolution, to learn the lessons of the old stories so we no longer need to repeat them, and to remind ourselves that the critical mass of humanity involved with this evolution will change the world from the inside out. We are living positive future, practicing Heaven, and designing a bridge across which the whole of humanity will walk. . . . This is our love story, a universal love story for the entire Universe – you, me, everyone, and every living organism too.”

This fall, thought leaders, health practitioners, and parents engaged in the consciousness movement will gather in Washington, DC, to share their research, insights, and tools for creating a new story. The focus will be on cultivating our inner world while working together through collaboration and community outreach to redefine our role in a vital and evolving universe. Speakers at theCelebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice” summit include the following:

  • Bruce Lipton, PhD, author of The Biology of Belief and Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here and an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit
  • Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and The Magical Child and a leading figure in the study of human consciousness and child development for more than a quarter century
  • Joe Dispenza, DC, whose book Evolve Your Brain explores “the biology of change”–that when we truly change our mind, there is physical evidence of change in the brain

 (For a complete list of the more than forty conference speakers and to register, visit www.familywellnessfirst.org.)

I am grateful to my mother for those frequent trips to the library, where I could delight in the magical experience of reliving The Wump World, as if for the first time, and joyfully share the Wump’s secret. In the end, when we stare past the concretized beliefs in our own minds, we will witness the truth of life’s possibilities and our innate potential shining through the cracks.

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    MariposaLily Oct 07, 2010

    ....and the pollution of our world continues with the Red Deluge in Hungary, threatening the mighty Blue Danube. When, can-- it ever stop before the World of the Wumps is a reality!

    C. Harrison

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    eyewonder Oct 07, 2010

    The Wump World seems to be a precursor to move Wall-E, another cautionary tale.

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    jamipamema Oct 07, 2010

    After such a wonderful essay on seeing, believing and working toward the living leaf's cracking the cement, I came telescoping back to concretized beliefs reading MariposaLily's comment. Suggestion, Mariposa: See the Danube clear and blue in your mind's eye. Maybe that will help it happen. Pamela

  • frequencytuner Oct 07, 2010

    Perhaps nobody ever conceived the idea that the Mayan Calendar and every other prophetic calendar system or vision depicted a 'probable course' instead of the preconceived notion that they describe a 'definite course'. All of the wishing and praying and positive thinking is truly in vain if the world - as a collective organism - does not understand the true nature of itself...which it doesn't.

    Presently we are reaping the rewards of our predecessors and are continuing down the path they laid for us. This is common knowledge. What is not common knowledge is the true purpose of their path. Again, it must be understood and perceived from the perspective of the human organism as a whole. This is the creation of duality. This is but one single cause that replicates and magnifies like the branches of a tree. It is this division and multiplication of cells that has created the entire manifested universe.

    What we understand as "Cancer" is an uncontrolled growth of cells within a organism. It can be understood that humans are the 'cancer' of our earth because our growth is a direct reflection of the cancer we see in human bodies. As an organism, the earth, our 'higher self', recognizes this presence within itself. Unlike cancer we will call our role on earth to be the destroyer.

    It was first widely publicized - and scrutinized - with the adoption of the swastika by Adolf Hitler. Having notables with him such as HP Blavatsky and Carl Jung only enforces this fact: We are the destroyer of worlds. Carl Jung and HPB both knew what I speak of now. Unfortunately nobody is willing to admit that all of the western world adopted Hitler's philosophy and has now implemented it, spreading it to the east. The wisdom of the east was SUPPOSED to tame the growth of the energy of the west. We defeated it.

    The swastika represents 2 forces: creation and destruction. It is a form of the yin-yang, both symbols originating in the East. Until the human organism understands the symbol that drives and powers it: creation leading to destruction and destruction leading to creation. This energy flows between creation and destruction until it finally reaches a state of harmony. In this state humans do not exist. Humans are the cause of the unbalance. More precisely, the untamed drive to create and destroy that is only present in the human mind.

    This story, however, does not have to end this way. It is the most probable course of action. One can tell the course of humanity by gazing to the stars where it is reflected on a grand scale. With the momentum and deep roots we have grown entrenched into this final annihilation is most likely to occur because humans are a 'cancerous growth'. It is what it is. Once humans accept this it will disappear.

  • Mindlink0 Oct 08, 2010

    I suggest that, as long as we use language that limits who we are and blames others for the choices we make, we will never realize our human potentials. For example, to quote from the article: "the rigorous study of subjective, inner experience," and "focus will be on cultivating our inner world." The terms "inner experience" and "inner world" imply a private, selfish, subjective existence, whereas those who have experienced nonduality know that we are all integral parts of a greater world, a greater consciousness and a greater experience in which concepts of private, selfish, subjective existences do not exist. As long as we keep using limiting language, we will retain our limiting "boxes".

    Comments such as "the brain is a stubborn organ" imply that the brain is a self-existent, intentional organ. The brain is just a tool of our own intentionality and will do whatever we want it to do.

    "Some people cannot abandon destructive beliefs" should read "Some people choose not to abandon destructive beliefs." We create our belief structures and we have the freedom and ability to revise them anytime we choose.

    "Our brains become entrenched in preconceptions that defy all reason" should read "We choose to leave our brains entrenched in preconceptions that defy all reason." We have the freedom and ability to revise our preconceptions anytime we choose.

    "The inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy" should read "our choosing not to distinguish between reality and fantasy." We choose whether or not a concept fits in with our belief systems, with or without verification as to its veracity.

    I will start to have faith in our ability to shift our thinking when I stop seeing statements that are inconsistent with the expressed goals.

  • frequencytuner Oct 08, 2010

    There is no story, no history, past, future or anything resembling 'time'. There is no we, no you, no me, us, them, here, there, then etc. Nothing is evolving. There is no right or wrong, life or death, no good and evil, black and white, male and female, young, old etc. These absurd concepts are the very fabric of the binding that traps the human mind. The irony is that these concept are creations of the human mind. Inability, as Mindlink0 correctly pointed out, is a choice.

    Not choosing is a choice in itself and humanity has passively elected to choose not to choose. Those who do this will scratch their heads at that comment and rightfully so. Stop thinking. Einstein said insanity is trying to solve the same problem the same way expecting different results each time.

    YOU have to change. Technically speaking - I do - but you are too confined within your mind to understand that. Every time you blink your eyes the entire universe recreates itself according to how you tell it to. YOU.

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    malou Oct 09, 2010

    I am absolutelly enthralled that I FINALLY realized (discovered !) some definitely intelligent, purposeful people (ya all) "out there" :0) who are truly interested in creating AND PRACTICING by "thinking" creatively and on purposely POSITIVE vibrations. This instead of/in spite of (???) the bombardment from the contaminated mental miasma of so-called politically "accredited educational institutions", or the seemingly arrogant and obstinate medical and pharmaceutical pill mongers who often create MORE dis-ease with their pills and scapples and psycho tripe than heal our ills. And even in contrast with the often fear instilling religious institutions demanding their tithes by scaring people into compliance in order to feed their institutions continued existences.

    In fact, in retrospect, ALL the preceedig institutions I mentioned above seem to operate by instilling FEAR, don't they with VERY FEW exceptions? I don't pretend to believe that ALL people associated with the foregoing organizations are "unconscious", but most are I believe. To fnd a group of like yourselves who are forging ahead in your consciousness on a different and more positive vibration is sooooo gratifying to me personally.

    I have over the past decades I believed myself in a minority for sure, and I have felt that I "might" have been almost ALL ALONE for the most part in my reasonings --- AND personal demonstrations --- about creation and personal consciousness manifestations.

    Thank you ALL so much for the time you are taking to share with us what I have believed since I was little (i.e. 4 y/o maybe?). How did I KNOW that young an age? How do YOU know that you KNOW?

    I am discovering (gratefully) that knowledge about the truth about energy and its infinite manifestation IS becoming more disseminated, IS becoming more available to each individual consciousness, and the information about HOW to manifest it IS being taught, practiced and utilized in this NOW time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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