TED Conversations

Lindsay Newland Bowker


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Have We Outgrown Our "Belief systems"? Are They Actually Obstructing Our Advancement? What Are The Alternatives?

Have we evolved culturally,. technologically, scientifically to a point where we have outgrown what most of us have incorporated into our "belief systems"? We certainly still need the core wisdoms of world's great religions, including the wisdoms of indigenous peoples all over the world, but do we need all that other "stuff"..do we need that dogma, that list of articles of faith, the strong and divisive group identity, the over identification of self and within system closed system thinking habits encouraged by "belief systems" ? Do we even think about it or realize how belief systems affect our thinking and even our seeing.?
Should we be unpacking our “belief systems” , evaluating how well they work for us in a complex, pluralistic global society? Is what we have in our kit dynamic, transactional..what wisdom is there to help us navigate and understand and thrive ? Does your “belief system” cultivate habits of compassion, habits of critical thinking, habits of dedication, commitment and purpose, habits of peace making and truth seeking? Does it support you where you stand right now. ?
Do you agree that we have outgrown much of what is packed into our "belief systems"?
Do you think that some of what is packed into "belief systems" may actually holding us back from becoming a global community? Holding us back personally?


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    Jun 13 2011: We can transcend _a_ belief system, but we cannot transcend belief systems, as such. Even when we "know" something or have the "evidence" of our experience or trusted others, we operate on a belief in stories about how we know things. And, whatever we know, it is edged all around with what we don't know, a realm that grows bigger as our knowledge grows. (My own contribution to ultimate wisdom is this: "There's more to it than that." This applies to all situations and may well be the most important thing to know in any situation.)

    So all of us have beliefs by the hundreds, many of them woven into systems of beliefs that manifest and reinforce each other. As far as I can tell this is kind of unavoidable...

    The issue, to me, is how we relate to our beliefs and to the beliefs of others. Do we nail them down in the "Truth" or "Falsehood" dichotomy, or see them as things that happen to make sense to us now, given our life experiences so far? Can we "suspend our assumptions" (as David Bohm said) -- recognizing them as just assumptions, open to inquiry? To what extent are our beliefs really ours, and to what extent have we adopted them without inquiry into their validity for our lives? Do our beliefs inspire us into actions that clearly serve life? Are we able to change them when circumstances change or evidence mounts that they are not serving us or Life? Can we live in inquiry together, exploring and evolving beliefs together, sensing how they resonate (or not) with Life in all its dimensions and learning from that?

    All this applies both to "belief systems" and to individual "beliefs". (You may have even intended this inquiry to be about mainstream cultural belief systems, but the opportunity to inquire into beliefs, as such, was just too tempting. :-) ...)

    Many practices exist to help us with all this, but even they are grounded in beliefs that such pursuits are worthy of our time and attention.

    Which I believe this one is :-)
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      Jun 13 2011: Tom

      .I am so honored that you accepted my invitation to come here.

      I will let your wisdom stand on its own as beacon and reference as we explore the good ground you have laid out

      . I thank you for the very fruitful shift your wisdom has given me.

      We will try here together to unpack and further explore what you have given us to consider



      PS: TO ALL Synchronicityy!!! Karine has posted a conversation asking what are the three most limiting beliefs in your belief system. a great opportunity to put into practice what Tom is pointing us to:http://www.ted.com/conversations/2600/beliefs_they_can_help_us_rea_1.html
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      Jun 18 2011: Tom, great idea to thrive on and feel comfort with that with new insights, new questions will rise all the time.

      Like surfing on the expansion of the universe, knowing the wave never ends :)

      "Suspend our assumptions" rings a bell in me from filmschool. is a thing I had to nail down in film/game school;

      Within writing a story or film or computer game complex narrative, we 'surf' on the notion of "suspension of disbelief" by the audience. While 'entering the story-movie-game circle, you accept much more in words, you give the writer/storytelller the chance to make his/her point AND to go wider and deeper in the subject/fiction than in normal 'political' life you would be able too.

      It was only years later I started to realize the real role of storytelling in society. It was “Suspension of Disbelief” in both reality and mythology on which the noble and the wise decided on futures. “Suspension of Disbelief” helps us looking wide and deep at the same time.

      It is the responsibility of the artist in society, the storyteller to tell the right stories in the right time for society to see opportunities and dangers. A great storyteller understands the dynamics of postponing disbelief, opening voluntarily my and your mind broad and deep.
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        Jun 18 2011: Thank you Paul for recognizing and adding to Tom's wisdom

        .Suspension of assumptions and Suspension of Disbelief really are very practical keys with which we can unlock, unpack and re examine our own personal" belief sysytems"

        Your point about the role of story is an important one. Story does, as you say nudge us along the way, help us unpack our "beleif systems" help us incorprate new information we need to navigate well and move forward in an ever more complex, ever more challenging world."

        Being comfortable with the unknown and the unknowable is a good habit to cultivate if we are to keep our "belief systems" fluid and dynamic and serving us well in the world
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        Jun 18 2011: Here is a great quote from an essay that Tom write some tiime ago that really frames what we have been exploring here together

        :“Billions of years of creative trial and error have added up to the world we live in. Some of that world is profoundly exciting and enjoyable. Some of it is increasingly scary. Things are getting better and better and worse and worse, faster and faster. Much of it is changing faster than we can follow, its novelty and complexity racing ahead of our individual capacity to understand and respond.”

        “How conscious are we about who we are, what we are doing, where our motivations come from, and the consequences of the choices we make? Do we realize that our awareness, our intelligence, our desires and dreams, our creativity and efforts -- seasoned by wisdom, or not -- have become evolution, right here on earth, at least for now?"

        Tom Atlee http://www.co-intelligence.org/Evolution-Learning2BEvol.html

        These words of Tom’s, from an archive of wonderful essays at the website for the Co-intelligence Institute describe where we are and what is before us…what this question and this conversation has been all about

        .“How conscious are we about who we are? About what we are doing? About where our motivations come from? About the consequences of the choices we make?”
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        Jun 18 2011: Another wonderful quote of Tom Atlee's from the same essay linked above..a good thought to hold as we draw to the close of this penetrating conversation about how we are becomig

        "Nothing on earth can compete with the impact of 21st century humanity. Collectively we have become a semi-conscious branch of evolution. We are the shapers of the ongoing processes of transformational change -- half blind, half awake, less than half wise.It is slowly dawning on us that our species will flourish or fade away, thanks to the evolutionary choices we make now, whether or not we know what we are doing

        .We are at a critical stage in our remarkable human journey on this planet: We are coming to a place where the road ends. From here on out, we will be making the road as we walk it, in ways we've never had to do before. We now have the job of forging our own evolutionary destiny, and being prime agents of the process of evolution here on earth.It behooves us to learn something about the job description, starting with the story of who we are." Tom Atlee ( seelink above)
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        Jun 18 2011: Thank s Paul..I did listem//a very different take on things..and a very different focus on "preparation" .but all paths with the same goal..lead to the goal..

        Tom's work ..as you will see..is about putting these ideas to work in the by chnaging hoe decosions are made ..see his web site..a lot of work on dircet demicracy, facilitated decision making..not meditation, or inetion or prayers..actually getting out n th ewolrd and chnaging how it works..

        I am attracted to Tom's work because that is what I am doing to..living into the wolrd from my practice..from my beliefs.
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          Jun 19 2011: That is a good thing Tom found, to apply the universal knowledge of the collective consciousness. In the field of transition management I also try to apply universal knowledge, but it is mostly packed in solidarity-care-transparency-peace-flow-true growth.

          Good luck with your discoveries and keep up the good work at TEDconversations.

          For me it's time, as I am a bit led by the mayan calander, time to sprout ideas to concrete actions, flow on the wave of knowledge expansion and implementation around the world. Enough is said on these conversations for mooncycle milestones and 2 years of work ;)

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