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" 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:
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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

        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 you will 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 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 ;)
  • Jun 13 2011: Lindsay
    No, we have not outgrown belief systems, and we never will. Belief is a basic part of who we are and what we do. Every worldview, even the ones you mention have beliefs, many just call them something else (like theosophy). Even by what you say in the intro, you have a "belief system" it just may not be one of the so called traditional ones.

    By trying to say there are not any, you have actually said you have one. One that says there are no systems.

    Beliefs are mediated through worldview and are derived from them.

    One more thing, we are not evolving toward some new enlightened day. It isn't ever there, nor has it ever been there. We gain and lose knowledge, change mental models of how things work, but we are not now nor have we ever been evolving, in the sense that we are losing the "primitive" belief system world to gain an enlightened non-belief system system world.

    And by the way what do you do with the millions upon millions of people, in different religious faiths all around the world who have and share belief systems? Are they all unenlightened? Count me in I guess!
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      Jun 13 2011: Hi Michael, glad to see you here and thanks for stopping by. My framing f the question needs a good edit .

      You have unpacked a lot about how belief systems operate in our lives..where what we incorporate intoour lives comes from. I set up three or four posts with different ideas and entry points one of which I guess you didn't see. Both there and in th eframing of the question I am trying to make it clear that I am talking about the parts of our belief systems, wherever they derive from that aren'tr serving us well and not serving the world well.

      As you so wisely say, belief system are complex and interconnceted with our identity..our entire personal operating system and world view in complex ways. So working within one's own tradition is usually the best way to go and ultimately at the wisdom level all the world's great religions seem to lead to the same place and are about the same things and those things are ternal and dynamic and flexible. Almost every major system ( christian, judaic,muslim,) offers a wisdom path in some form or other.

      I point to Ken Wilber not as some new age guru but because that is exactly what his work is about.seeing the resonance and mutuality of all the great religions.. I point to Cynthia Bourgeault and Thomas Keating as two of many resources within the Christian tradition who offer a wisdom path.

      I point to Tom Atlee, who offers to anyone looking to be more conscious about consiousness. What he has written, tracks with what you have said.

      I point to Buddhism and Sufism beacuse they are wisdom traditions in their own right..full of what isuniversal and enduring and also imporantly a spiritual home for many who have given up on "organized religion"

      Cultural evolution, which includes religion, predominat wolrd views, predominant values is ongoing. I am not sure what your refernce to enlightenment means or points to I certainly don't feel we are more enlightened. Only that our belief systems aren't serving us well..
      • Jun 13 2011: Lindsay
        A couple of things. I do appreciate you placing the question. My response is still firmly no, we have not outlived "belief systems." The only thing that may be happening is some old ones are shifting. For as much as I think there are dialogue points between religious beliefs, they do not point to the same road. Sorry, but they just dont do it. They never have.

        While I do agree with Atlee's post, you need to understand my position says
        There is flat out no cultural evolution, change yes, but no such thing as "progress" of simple over more complex.
        A wisdom tradition, is still a belief system. And it is as or can be as stifling as any "dogmatic" system.
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          Jun 13 2011: thnak you for your post..hope you will keep an eye on things here and chime inif naything moves you.
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    Jun 18 2011: In response to:

    "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"?

    If you are referring specifically to the major religious faiths/institutions my answer is an emphatic almost desperate "Yes!"

    Political ideologies/beliefs? No. They are more dynamic and will adapt, evolve with the changing values of societies.
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      Jun 18 2011: Hi Jim

      .thanks for stopping in

      In a very rich conversation which includes an in person visit by wise man and visonary Tom Atlee, we have been mostly exploring whether the "belief systems" we have acquired as individuals are serving us well.

      As we have explored it here "belief systems" include all the information we acquire as part of our own internal operating system..even atheists have "belief systems"

      We have also been exploring whether and how we can become aware of the operations within us of our "belief sysytems" which tend to work invisibly genertaing automatic responses and lenses to all that we experience in every phase of life.

      Tom Atlee, in the beautiful essay he posted for us here as commentary suggests we need to sort of unpack our personal "belief systems"..think about what is serving us, what is "serving life" and adopt a more active engagement with our own belief syste through mindfyulness, awareness, and critical thinking.
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      Jun 18 2011: Jim, why political ideologies adapt; because they don't keep on arguing about writings done thousands of years ago?
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        Jun 18 2011: Yes essentially. Also that the political institutions are concerned with the here and now - not the unknown hereafter.
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    Jun 18 2011: Good morning InTheGarden and thank you for these thoughts on how to acquire the habit of acquiring and seeking wisdom.

    I agree that it helps to have that built into our "belief systems" from an early age by cultivating compassion, empathy and critical thinking. And we can prepare our children to meet the growing complexities of our wolrd, it's growing pluralism with opneness, eagerness, and a disposition to seeking, learning, inquiring and keen observation.

    I would add to what you say also teaching children to be comfortable with what cannot be explained, what cannot be kknown, with the idea that the human expereience always includes the unknowable. Exploring the question of whether knowledge is infite in another TED Conversation it "twigged" for me that our culture has an intolerance for complexity and uncertainty.

    Rudolph Steiner's "Waldorf Schools" offer children much of what you are suggesting Montessori does that as well, I think.. On a nature outing with a group of second graders the other day, the Docent asked "What do birds need?". The twp children with this back ground listed "other birds".

    Rudolp Steiner also offere a way to these same habits to any one of any background through practice. As adults any of us can learn these habits through practice. We can at any point in our lives, choose to have theses habits and we can cultivat them in our lives..

    Robert Sardello in his beautiful little book "Silence" opens the doors for that and offers some practices ( also Steiner influenced)

    Cynthia Bourgeault and Thomas Keating offer that.

    Tom Atlee offers that.

    Sufi wisdom offers that.

    I think it's very hard work for someone not raised with the "habit sof seeking wisdom", in the ways you suggest, to "break out " but there are many ways once that breakthrough awareness occurrs for people to acquire "the habit of seeking wisdom"

    Thank you so much again .
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    Jun 18 2011: Here is one suggestion for openbing minds early in life: teach practical wisdom.

    One way to teach practical wisdom is by example, but that only goes so far. Virtues become vices when they are not limited by practical reasoning.

    Another is to use literature and movies to encite empathy. There should be a class every school day in a students life that focuses on empathy inspiring literature.

    Another is to get people to think through practical problems. Start with a premise like all people matter or treat others the way you want to be treated and work on discussing what follows in particular situations or for particular policy questions. Engage the children in learning how the facts matter, and thus, how the other discipllines are relevant for answering these questions. This class should meet just as often as any other core curriculum calss. Have the students keep a journal with regular writing assignments on such matters. Hold small group discussions of three or four students to discuss the journal entries. Have students write responses to other students journal entries.

    For the most part, these two classes would replace Language Arts. They would effectively teach writing, reading, and the analytical arts through the hands on practice of doing them.
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    Jun 14 2011: .........I actually started this journey in 1993, Lindsay.
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      Jun 14 2011: you must have covered a lot of ground.

      do you consider your self to have what your would call a "belief system"?

      do you consider that it is something that is not invisibe in your llife anymore..that you are constantly updating it, growing it?

      do you consider that now your "belief system" grows withyou?

      I am using "belief system" here in the classical sense of all the kit and kaboodle about culture,religion, learningexpereience that shapes how we see the world.
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    Jun 14 2011: Does Saying that we have outgrown belief systems mean everyone should babandon the tradituons they are in now? No. It does not. It means everyone can get on that path of common wisdom by getting to and focusing on the wisdom traditions in the path you're on. ( easy for Budhhists and Sufis..they are encumbered by "belief systems" to begin with..they are wisdom traditions, wisdom paths). Within each tradition there are movements, teachers leaders who are doing that

    .Ed Schulte has brought the work of Thomas Keating to Ted Conversations and it has resonated deeply with our members. Abbott Keating offers broken hearted christians a home in the wisdom traditions of christianity in a practice of "Centering Prayer"..a silence based contemplative pracatice ( my own). His protege, Cynthia Bourgeault has taken that even furtheroffering a contemplative rcatice still christian based but closer to Wilber in its integrative wisdom tradtion appraches.Rudolph Steiner's Theospohy inspires the work of Robert Sardello who teaches habits fo thinking and living that transcend "belief systems" Many brilliant minds and critical thinkers , like Buckie Fuller for one, were and are theosophists. The practices and teachings here are universally useful and fully comapatible with any of the grea wisdom traditions of the for those seeking the wisdom traditions within their own tradition as muslim, christian, or jew. Fully compatible with other wisdom traditions..Buddhism and Sufism

    Krishnamurti was originally a theosophist and has become a worldwide spiritual leader offering his own wisdom based teachings
  • Jun 14 2011: Hi Lindsay. Sorry I have only just discovered your letter relating to etheric bodies. I have researched other areas of time and demension and I am 99% sure that the latter of your explanations is the right one. I must have got in touch with the three survivors after the crash, that is the only way I could have been aware that there where three survivors. However you suggest I should not pursue an explanation and console myself just with having the experience. I find this very hard to do knowing the circumstances. If the trauma that these three endured could connect to me then perhaps we are all connected. Connected in a way that we have not come to terms with yet. Think how trauma could have helped the design in nature over the billions of years with evolution. Helped that is, if we are all connected.
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      Jun 14 2011: hi derek..we can talk about it more via email if you me via ted email and I 'll givve you contact info. ( or start a talk inviting others who have had had similar encounters with the unexplained and we can explore it there) And once again, as we would learn together if we had sucha talk, these are amount of resrrcah will find anything more than other other folk who have had the same thing..and you clearly have a gift

      Here we are looking into what happens when our belief systems don;t grown and change as fast our lives and expereiences we recognize that, what we do about it.

      Any thoughts in that direction?
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    Jun 14 2011: As an example of the kind of work and chnage I am pointing to atthe insititional level I wanted toshare this quote from the current "Black Pope" The Reverend Father Nicolas
    'Nicolás has expressed his wariness of missionaries who are more concerned with teaching and imposing orthodoxy than in having a cultural experience with the local people, saying,"

    "Those who enter into the lives of the people, they begin to question their own positions very radically"

    The Reverend Father is a holy and wise man working within the church at the very highest level to return the church and its teachings to all the people
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    Jun 14 2011: Any belief system should be rational and altruistic, within that I think everyone should invent their own belief system which is better suited for them. Religion as an ideological propaganda has over complicated and corrupted what everyone should be doing for themselves.
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      Jun 14 2011: Annuraag, nice to meet you and thank you for stopping by.

      Those are good standards..rational and altruistic and good guidance that the work of "fine tuning" is our own work.
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    Jun 14 2011: Something from this time;

    When everybody agrees belief systems are there to awaken the inner, to have access/ be contacted with to 'the whole', let us look at one current happening;

    Britain's Got Talent, the auditions. What happens more and more (and ofcourse the producers look for that) is (a.) a person like you and me walks on stage, people you see every day. (b.) The jury ignores them, the audience laugh at them. (c.) And than it happens, in an INSTANT when their voice is heard a wave of pure energy flows over the jury and audience, even into the millions of living rooms. Hairs on arms stand up and many have tears in their eyes.

    This is the most famous, most of you might know;

    This is the most recent I connect with;

    There are about 50 of these 'miracle' auditions now online.

    It is the classic hero journey Joseph Campbell describes. A 'nobody', ridiculed, and goes through the first threshold in becoming a hero.

    phase 1 : Belief Systems also spread like this. Somebody in the crowd one day started to tell a story, people listened, they connected, the energy flowed.

    phase 2 : Opera/theatre added a layer, started to combine the power of the written word, and the 'connecting/tuning' vibrations from the singing voice.

    phase 3 : Pop music added another layer, they added the heart beat to give a rhythmic boost.

    phase 4 : The recording industry was able to spread these compositions of visionary words, tuning voice and rhythmic instruments.

    phase 5 : Talent shows combine them with the hero journey.

    The question is, what is next. For example this years winner, chose to sing "Awaken me from the Dark"

    The story of any belief system is about 'awaken from the dark'. It is opening the inner spirit. Though where does it globally go from a storyteller on the market place to a compassionate manifest to support groups?
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      Jun 14 2011: Paul a gift of spirit to all of us..each with a power for deep awakening . And here is my gift of spirit ..the window by Leonard Cohen.. a great wisdom master who has awakened and healed and comfoted through his poetry in music for decades.(my third ocasion to post this remarkable hymn for all peoples

      it's an invocation to awaken:

      "come forth from the cloud of unknowing
      and kiss the cheek of the moon
      climb on your tears and be silent
      like a rose on its ladder of thorns"

      (I sing it with my harmoniun five or six times a current meditation practice)

      Yes our belief systems should enable us to stand at the ground of our being, feel alive encouraged, strengthened, empowered, energized.

      And yes, when Insitutional sysyems fail to do that we do find it in poetry, art music and random encounters.

      We have an internal gps that find what we are seeking and often what we are seeking seeks us. We find ways to continually repair and upgrade our own belief systems so that our whole operating sysyem works better .

      Thank you Paul.
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    Jun 14 2011: @Paul.........Oh yes I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I think like you that the education for global citizeship has to be taught at a very elementary school age then perhaps the idea will be taken home and get into the family conversation and who knows where it will go from thereItis too bad that we have to use schools to teach respect and caring. Childrenshould receive this education at home but alas there are situations that are not conducive to teaching there.@Lindsay...........I think Tom has a great idea. That is what I did to rid myself of "limits" I began to think critically when I started therapy and if the doctrine or dogma or some belief did not resonate with me then I got rid of it. But you know what ? I felt for a long time that my feet were firmly planted in thin air. That is a scary feeling. I bet you might have experienced it too. In my case, it broke a connection between my idolotrous god. And I didn't know what to replace it with There seemed to be nothing. My life coach told me her belief was thatgod was a force and I just could not see how you could have a relationship with a force. She is wise and lets me find my own answers and sometimes it takes awhile but she is there to support me. But I am rambling about myself so I need to quit. :)
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      Jun 14 2011: no not rambling at all..what you are saying is exactly what this conversation is all about. I love the way you decribed your expereience of floating off when you broke free of the limitations your broken and ineffectual "beleif system"

      " I felt for a long time that my feet were firmly planted in thin air" ( Helen Houpe)

      That's called "liminal space"..that time when you cut free from all those knots and seems kind of vague and uncertain for awhile and then all of a sudden you will see a door and you will go through. It's an important time of possbility in transfornation. That you are doing it ay 80 is just so inspiring to are amazing. You have great personal courage .

      Somewhere else here we talked about how hard it is go solo when insiutions of religious instsruction fail us.. So I love your approach of having a life coach. If the path you envison is a spirtual path there are also spiritual directors around. It used to be that only clergy sought and had ( I thinkits required) spirtual dircetors nut increasingly people settingout on their own spirital path have spurutual directors as well. And incresaingly throughoiyt the country there are centers for spiritual development that are non denominational..mine is the Northeast Guild for Spiritual Transformtaion. Cynthia Bourgeault has wisdom schools and gives semniars all over th ecountry.. There's lots and lots going on and many communities leraning and studying together. So there is more and more support and community for people seeking to upgrade their "belief systems"
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        Jun 14 2011: Lindsay........Unfortunately I don't have an S/D. But I was fortunate enough to meet a prof inmy theology courses that I would definitely call a spiritual director although I never saw him function in that way. He studied under Karl Rahner in Innsbruck, Austria. And he brought all that wisdom back to us at Rice Institute. For 9 semesters I took the courses and really all the pieces that were abstract to me at the time are falling into place. He did not throw the baby out with the bath water and Karen Armstrong's writings have helped me understand at a gut level. I have learned so much from these Ted conversations, I am so grateful for all the people I have met here. I thank you for the links you send and I want to read them all. I am familiar with Keating on a superficial level as I just was not ready for something like that. I have read some Thomas Merton and I love Richard Rohr. I had a nice relationship on a theology Forum with a Buddist. I Really like to talk with him. He directed me to Ken Wilber and I read some of him. There is so much out there and here. Thank you.
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          Jun 14 2011: Sounds like you have also put a great deal into your spiritual journey..that's what it takes t get any where..a big investment and very impressive that you are doing it at 80!! I love that..I love everything that says and is. Just wonderful.
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    Jun 14 2011: when looking into the past it too easy to see a monolithic block of time. The question you ask is constantly being asked by different generation, who each have a layer of onion skin of obsolete metaphors to peel away.
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      Jun 14 2011: I love that anthony and you are so is the work of each's a normal and necessary part of cultural evolution
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    Jun 13 2011: Hey Lindsay, good question! I have thought along similar lines on many occasions starting a few years ago. One thing I'd like to start with is in general I think the religions that we have thus far have brought more good into the world and have helped many many people with their struggles. That being said, yes it is time for a change. We are getting more complex then we ever have been as well as more inter related. Have you ever thought about the evolution of god or the main deity? Many thousands of years ago there was worship of the Earth, then worship of the Sun, then came along the idea of a god beyond. It seems that as our understanding grew of the space around us god became more and more distant retreating to those areas we have yet to understand.
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      Jun 13 2011: Thomas, so great to see you here and thnak you for your thoughtful and insightful reply. Dod you reda what Tom Atlees had to say below? A wonderful oerspectiv eon how we can unpack exmaine and realign our "belief system" which are most a black box..operating in us, shaping our reactions, what we see, what we do in invisible ways.

      It's one of the great things about Ted..we're all always dropping things in out of our blief systems ..things we take for true and give,only to find out that doesn't work so well with someone else;'s belief system . Belief sysytems don;t seem to be geared to change..they seem to expect to be permanent and forever enduring..we sort of pack it away inside us on that same assumption and it works in there in ways we don't even know or understand.

      And for a long time we didn't change so fast so belief systems didn't "fall behind". Each tradition updated itself and its teachings only when absolutely necessary..poor Galileo. Poor Darwin who understood the impact of what he knew was true on the belief systems of his entire world and then the tsruggle of those "belief systems to catchup".
      And now change is at a lightening speed and now we are truly global and in avery complex world carrying around within us :belief systems" that may not be serving us well.

      You would love Ken Wilber's book "Sex, Ecology&Spirituality" tries tor trace and synthesize in evoloutionary terms how humanity has evolved and how our belief sysytems have evolved. ( I ahven't actually read it yet myself..but enjoyed an exhilarting seminar based on it last weekend)
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    Jun 13 2011: I just realised that all my posts in this conversation thus far have been simply countering the religious rather than answering the question itself. Shame on me :)

    If I have understood the question correctly, and by beleif system, you mean a series of religious/spiritual beliefs then the answer is yes, sort of. I will elaborate on this in a moment.
    If however you mean belief systems to mean the entirely of beliefs about the world that we hold to be true. eg the sky is blue, my name is Simon etc then no. Out-growing this would effectively be put and end to any form of intelligence so I am going to assume you mean the former.

    I do think that, in general, in most countries, the trend is that we are begining to abandon the traditonal religions. Mainly because they are increasingly untenable when exposed to reason and science. Less literal interpretations of the traditional faiths are becoming more promenant, some seek answers in eastern faiths that have less supernatural crazyness and new faiths are springing up. However, more and more people are doing away with belief all together. I think this trend will continue.

    A replacement may well be needed by some/most people but I think a form of spirituality can be found to fullfill the needs of these people without requiring unjustified faith in anything. There are more than enough wonderous and awe inspiring thnigs in the real world to meet our spiritual needs without the invented and unimpressive Gods of iron age desert cults.
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      Jun 13 2011: Hey simon..right that is what we are trying to apologies if my framing of the question was not clear..I think it does need some work

      Yes we are trying to .understand and explore together how we blindly, or even intentonally, incorprate our "belief sysyems"onto how we think, whta we say how we act and then tend to just let them work . Part of cultural maturity, part of personal maturity might be to eamine these things to sort of unpack our own belief systyems..see which parts we consciously choose to engage, undertsand why, and keep our belief sysyems an active, dynamiic, part of our lives..engaged with our expereience, our learning, our chnage, able to serve us and help us relaize ourselvesbe what we seek to be in the wolrd. .
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    Jun 13 2011: I feel that we are in the post-industrial-revolution age (in the west) and yes, our progress is retarded by outdated belief systems. Whether (most) Religions, Socialism or whatever, we've been fed the story that your individual rights and responsibilities are subordinate to a commonwealth. I think now is the time to recognise a new system.
    - What kind of behaviours do we want to promote? Innovation, creativity, freedom, trade, compassion etc
    - How do we reward these behaviours. Is there another way than through the freely exchangeable currency of money?
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      Jun 13 2011: Behaviour; spending actively 5-10 hours a week 'outside' the system to start something better. Can be small, can be big if you have the talent for it. Starting with basic survival needs?
      Reward = 'time left' in the end to live life ?
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        Jun 13 2011: Yes
        How to Reward compassion, for example.
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          Jun 13 2011: Quoting Lindsay;"What do you think about James Question of the rewards of that. From you rown expereince what would you say are the reward sof taking on that work?"

          My humble personal experience;
          The Reward is 'inner', I experience more 'life' energy. I / The You experiences an enriched aura (spirit/warmth/ whatever you call it). With this 'charge' you have in a way - in internet terms - a bigger server/hub/broadband connection with others/the collective conscious. With it you can interact with other enriched and attract 'newbies' to learn from your progression.

          - Simply 'giving' to somebody in need is compassion, and there is the instant resonance of energy between the giver and receiver.

          - Simply listening to the elderly is progression, you do not need to act upon it, just listening is enough already to get more energy through the resonance taking place between the giver and receiver. The reward is more energy/thicker inter-net connection.

          Eating food = charging your cells with material energy
          Contemplation/Grounding/Compassion = charging your cells with 'immaterial energy

          It is simply actually the other half of our material ecosystem. All faith, religion, yoga, etc etc are putting this ecosystem / a-field / aether, or how you wish to call it, in text, words, metaphors/analogies/romantic stories for us to have the beginning / access point.
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          Jun 13 2011: James..isn't that a matter of personal satisfactiom? Doesn't it just make everything simpler and easier to live and think compassionately? ( There's another whole great conversation becauseit keeps us from being overwhlemed or feeling helpless or useless..compassion is always a gift, it always helps and there is no place it can't be given).Your comments are taking me into elemnts of dysfunctions of belief systems we just carry oaround withoutthinking about them,evekauting the, choosing them and that tat we reamin uncncoinscious to the distortions and confusions and conflicts thet are building sin to our lives. Just getting rid of that is reward enough maybe.?

          n ohter words the process of "updating" our belief systems..bringing them out from behind the scenes, unpacking them checking them out, deciding what serve, what doesn't what actually informs and empowers our lives and what doesn't is a self rewarding process.. The reward is built into it.

          And couldn't that all be true at the institutional level ? ( The ecumenical movement is about that but notreally getting at the needs of human beings to have vibrant relevant dynamic, growing , growth encouraging belief systems. Unifying doctrine and dogma, doesn't do that . There are some very tiny faint stirrings here and there.

          The work of Raimon Pannikkar while deeply rooted in faith based spiritual practice offers a transcendent and universal world view.. a way of looking at ourselves, the wolrd and our place in it that is dynamic and empowering and limitless . Certainly more staisying..if that is a vlaue in your rewards system.
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          Jun 13 2011: Paul thank you..that is my experience as well compassion is its own reward.

          Was this part of the belief sytem you "inherited" ? Was the tradition you were raised in and taught as personally rewarding as what you have evolved? What was that process?

          I had a sense very early on that the church of my tradition wasn't fully on board with my own commitments and callings in the world and wasn't supporting or encouraging me in that direction.I chose to break with the church because I felt that had broken with what was most important in the teachings and found it very hard outside of christian community to live a faith based christian life. I think people know that somehow..that it's not solo work.
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          Jun 13 2011: Thank you, and your question asks for a long answer ;) Here the short version;

          I guess I have a bit the same trajectory. I come from a village of about 6000 people, though only 5 KM from a big city. There was a roman catholic church and the connectioning was long gone I think, as it was only about memorizing and doing the traditions/rituals.

          Personal connectedness with the collective consciousness I experienced bit by bit, until all these experiences started to make sence as one and the same 'principle', I was around 25. I had no connection to the church, didn't 'feel' it really in those buildings, only personal connectedness.

          It was when I met my wife, who is a modern baptist, who took me to her church. It was there I started to feel something going on, the collective contemplation, the meaning and role of music/singing, meditation through prayer. All these techniques I only learning to be able to do the 'tricks', now started to make sence.

          Though afterwards being in more churches, I didn't feel anything there or just wrong/egocentric energies.

          Thinking about it now, I guess it is the priest that made the difference, he has the strength, understanding of what we currently only still see in tribal/indigenous shaman; the mental technique to let immaterial energy flow in a group.

          So it depends on the person/guide in the community. Some find it through Yoga, some in Buddhism, some in Martial Arts, some still in the catholic church if the priest has this talent/skill/experience/ability.
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          Jun 13 2011: Paul..Thank you for your is it fair to say that you wre guided buy what resinated with you..what opened doors for you ..what was happening in he Baptist church just feltbetter to you and did more for you than what had known before. No conscious unpacking, checking it out..a natural attrcation that happened all by itself.? That's an excellent barometer and importnat part of being aware of whn our "belief systems" are or are not working welll for us.

          You also point to leadership in helping to reform and update your "belief system". I gree that has been so important to me always. I tend to notgrow as fast or learn as much or stay as fluid if I am trting to solo it. It is so valuable to have people more advanced in their journey to talk to and draw on. The very rich and deep conreplative literature I have pointed to here (Sardello, Bourgeault, Keating, are very accessible and serve in that way but its alwys better to have someone in person. Being part of alrge and very rich spirtual community, the Norteast Guild for Spirtual Formation and the Alcyon Center, is also very helpful in keeping my practice honed and moving.
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      Jun 13 2011: Hello James..thanks for being here.

      I have to edit my phrasing of the question a bit to clraify that by "belief systems" I mean even what self described atheists have as well..all the things we learn from our culture, our education, our parents, our own expereince"

      It was framed out of a long agonzing troll through the still ongoing Israeli Palestine Border debate where it just became so clear that so much of the wolrd energy wwas engaged in settling hat amounts to a conflict of "belief systems" drawing on ancient claims and traditions.That conflict in that case is also a matter of security to other nations.

      But I mean the discussion to encompass a broader sense of "belief systems" as well as they habve away of solidifying invisible ways that don;t werve us or anyone else well..

      As Tom Atlee suggests, below, part of "modernizing" or refubishing oour belief systems is rceognizing that we have them and wkaing to to ho wthey affcet our lives and those around ous..getting attuned ti noticing whether they are "working well"..serving well.

      To your questions working welll "to what end"..for what purpose..Tom suggests "to serve life" which works for me but your question is one eachmust answer..what is thepurpose of my belief system what is it I want it to do for me> For the world.

      I hadn't thought of a motivation..for theis house keeping of our "belief systems" were you pointing to personal satisfaction..feeling happier, eliminating interior conflicts, learning more, seeing more..? I'll have to think on that for myself.

      Thnaks again for stopping in..very glad to see you.
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      Jun 13 2011: Can you enlighten me about the deeper meaning of the following selection of Bible stories;
      - Lot being raped by his daughters
      - Lot offering up his daughters for rape by the sodomites in place of the visiting angels.
      - The many instructions of how to treat slaves.
      - The many instructions on how to sacrafice animals?

      There are many others for which I doubt a satisfactory deeper meaning could be found but, for now, these will suffice.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi Simon

        .thanks for stopping by. I am not a biblical scholar and I don't know what tradition you are asking your question from. So I can't offer you any theological or other context for your the texts you have asked about.

        I do find these days that you can google almost anything and gets lots of interpretations and explications and that they are always edifying.I took a long seminar last summer on the most diifcult to comorehend books of the old testament under two biblkical scholars. What I learned is that much of the old testament is a history of the jewish people. Not every phrase of a history is a wisdom teaching.Yet there is wisdom there in the old testament that is foundational to judaic, Christian and Muslim traditions and that wisdom is also echoed in Buddhism , Sufism and other wisdom paths.

        Investigate on your own what others of different traditions and many pactices say about these passages. See for yourself whether there is a teaching there that serves your life or serves hmanity. If there is, keep it and share it.
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          Jun 13 2011: As a description of history the bible and other religious texts have been shown to be very very wrong.

          As for wisdom, meaning and morality:
          If we have to cherry pick the bits we like from the texts in question then we're really just applying our own wisdom and morallity; not receiveing anything from the texts. Why not cut out the middle man?

          I do see what you mean about the belief systems straying from underlying wisdom but I would say that the wisdom you are referring to isn't really contained within the religious world view and covered by lots of other unwanted elements. It is infact simpley innate within us. A product of our biological and cultural evolution. We need not and should not look backwards to these iron age cults for wisdom.
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        Jun 13 2011: Slaves; Can it be the word does not imply the forced slavery in America, but enduring life and work, be slave of the system, become numb, go with the general flow and exploitation by the elite in charge?
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          Jun 13 2011: Perhaps general talk of slavery could be reinterpreted this way with some leaps and contorsions but I doubt you could when looking at specific quotations.
          Here are a couple:
          "If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever." (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

          "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment." (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
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          Jun 13 2011: Hi Guys..driftingoff topic..we are not here to study explore or interpret scriptutre.. Like the idea of agroup bible stdy though..we haven't had one of those yet at sTED. Why Dom't you start one..cut and paste these sections frm here to there

          But plaese..I beg you..not here please stay on topic.we are not evalutaing any one's belief systems or any compjnets of them except in the context of wheteher and how our belief systems stay current and relevant in our lives.
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        Jun 13 2011: simon.& paul,

        your excahnge is getting to some imporyant aspects of how belief systems are at work in our lives.

        .If I understood you, Simon, I think we are on the same page..what we are wooking with here is the idea that our belief system should further our own actualization somehow and that they should serve some purpose,further some goal about the world and our engagement in the world, even support and guide us n that, perhaps..

        You both are focusing on key feature of "belief systems".(.and we all then..even athesits have belief is anatural part of us as you say) which is that they.are, for most of us an automoatic part of us..somethings that is just there..not something we consciously build..something we just incorporate and then it it just does its work invisibly and we can't even see how its affecting what we say and do or whether it is serving us in any way at all. As Paul said "become numb go with the general flow" without thinking about it or ever evaluating how well its working.

        I am not suggesting Simon that there is no wisdom in the Bible..or that there is no wisdom in all the ancient traditions..tthere is much there that i suniversal and eternal ..timelessly "sreviceable". And of course the thing about "wisdom" is it is dynamic, transcational, in the moment, flexible. No expiration date on wisdom.
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          Jun 13 2011: Hi Kathy..I don't want to go off topic either except I consider the Kabbalah to be the wisdom tradition within judaism. In fact I sometimes feel all roads lead to Kabbalah. I am not an expert by any means but I am very interested and hope toone day explore its rich wisdom tradition.Many people refer to Kabballah as a wonderful medieval invention ( referring mostly to the Zohar, I guess..another fascinating wisdom resources) but going ore deeply and within the tradition I have come to understand it is very ancient and was always an oral tradition and always a wisdom tradition practiced by and known to only a few ( is that correct?)So in terms of content I am continually bumped back to the Kabbalah but can't really penetrate there. It's always felt like ging any furthe woould require years of study with a willing scholar.So there is a very ancient wisdom tradition which is part of the Judaic "belief system" which has fed it an dnurtured it over th eons but which has not been widely available as part of the belief system of most Jews.Same thing with Christianity..the wisdom teachigs of Jesus which are the heart of my christian based faith and practice were actually ordered destroyed after the council of nicea which is what gave us. more or less the new testament we know today. Through Nag Hamadi and the Dead Sea Scrolls we have recovered some of these wisdom teachings but they haven;t been taken up and embraced as part of christian teaching.So to oversimplify, in these two great religions.both growing out of the same history, the same root, the wisdom traditions which are so useful and fluid and dyanmic have been kepy from "the faithful" and a different version has been offered to "the. masses". Leaving "the masses" with an "official belief system" that is incomplete, bound in the culture and values of a partcilar long ago time that no longer exists and pretty confusing to use in liivng in a complex modern world.
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          Jun 14 2011: Thanks..we are actually very much on topic as I am looking to the wisdom traditions and the Kaballa is one of the great ones. But you are right there are noshort cuts so it is not available to most.

          By the way ( and this is way off topic) I love to chant Genesis.Chapter 1 vs 1-23..the creation story. It's something I do as part of my own practice from time to time.
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          Jun 14 2011: Kathy,

          I had a few thought about very signifcant differences between the judaic and christian expereince growing up..when we form our belief systems. The judaic traditon I think is much more focused on teaching the Torah..the family is much more involved in that through home based observances and readings and Rabbis really are teachers

          . I have always felt that was a very strong and empowering trdaition..all that teaching and expecially the in home practices and observances. I think it helps to build avery clear well supported "belief system"

          We have nothing like that in modern Christianity. In fact "official chrsitendom" is the last place to go to seek spiritual growth...there is no teaching..( but then again I am an Epsicopalian by affilitaion..not really known for spirituality but my sense from others and from my own epxreience in other denominations is there's not much difference it's more about socuial identity and social cohesion that about building helathy dynamic "belief systems"
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      Jun 13 2011: as always,well spoken, Kathy and thank you so much for coming here. Your words are true. By "Belief Systems" here I meant doctrine,and dogma and traditions that have been been pasted on top of the underlying knowldge and wisom. the teachings. The things that no longer servie life and peace.

      I posted this after a long exploration in the Plaestine-Isreli discussion here at Ted where it became clearer than ever that lives were being lost and the secuirty of the wolrd threaten by adherence to doctrin and dogma that had nothing to do with the underlying wisdom traditions.and no longer served life and peace.

      Modern wisdom master and visinary Tom Atlee very kindly accepted my invitation to speak to this issue of "belief sysyems" that no longer serve the world and has given us some good standards and processes to think about at the individual level and at the level of insiutional leadership and authority.

      His reply below, redictred my own thinking and my own inquiry on this question and what we make of it that is relevant right now in our daily lives from within whatever belief system we carry.

      Tom Atlee , below, urges a continual awareness of our own belief systems a continual re evaluation , rechoosing, recreation of our own belief systems as individuals against the standard of "serving life"

      I was feeling quite "stuck" after wading through the Palestine-Isreali discussion. I could see that the problems was clinging to and adopting belief systems that cause continual wars,disruptions and stalemates on permamnent peace. The Tea-Party Fundamentalists righ there at home were wearing me down with their rigid unhumanaitarian divisive belief systems taking inflitrating our governing bodies.

      "Belief systems" that don't serve peace and justice, don't serve humanity, aren't inclusive and tolerant, only get to grow and survive and wield influence on our culture when individuals fail to reconcile their own personal belief systems with these values.,
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      Jun 13 2011: @ Kathy K.: well said, lately I was in the situation of moving a lot and therefore visiting some christian churches, each time in the hope they would go beyond the story level. The priests simply didn't, as long as I remember as a child, the priests dictate the story and there it stops. We are not 'taught' to go beyond/deeper. Not by the classic church.

      Why did I start to ask questions? Because the classic church didn't feel like a home. And until today, I haven't found a 'home', beyond through my own contemplation.
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        Jun 13 2011: Paul you are doing the good work of housekeeping your belief systems to keep them working for pupose that is meaningil to you and most likely those around you.

        What do you think about James Question of the rewards of that.

        From you rown expereince what would you say are the reward sof taking on that work?
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          Jun 14 2011: yes, that is the whole point Kathy..for us to be instrumen s of something meaningful for thers..and hopefully for peace and that work requires support and guidance which should be part of our own belief systems.

          Will be great when the power * authority*control that gives rise to dogma, gives way to teaching wisdom.

          Unti lthen it is our work. And ours alone.
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          Jun 15 2011: Yes, it is indeed what buckminster said, don't complain about something, offer a better alternative.

          Peace within ourselves is true, though than to collaborate with all these peacefull people is a challenge, including myself ;)

          Thank you Kathy
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    Jun 12 2011: I call myself Christian because I follow the example of Jesus and not because I am dogmatic or doctrinal. There is so much baggage associated with The belief systems of Christians. I salute you.
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      Jun 12 2011: Thank you Helen. and thank you for coming here.yes lotts of broken hearted too..we contemplatives almost never have a comfortable home in any church..wemostly are at the fringe.. The entire life's wokr of Thomas Keting and Cynthia Bourgeault is about the ancient wisdoms Jesus also taught and about "the Wisdom Jesus" So there are more and more options for broken hearted chrstians everywhere including those of deep and abiding faith.

      So these "belief systems", as you say, also impinge on faith and practice at the individual level. And in a way I guess we could say that undermines culture as well. If we are not supported by the church as an insutition in our own actualization and fulfillment its a little harder to engage and serve humanity which is the chrstian work.

      My question is posed to cosnder whether "belief systems are blocking cultural evolution". To consider whether we can make any progress at the global level until we get past "belief systems". I have to say I have never heard anyone say it just that way. It just sort of clicked into place for me out our long and agonizing discussion on the Israeli Palestine borders and all the history we looked at together there. And also out of my own discussion on Freedom of Religion and osme work I did recently on Ken Wilber.

      How does that idea resonate with you.? Does that make sense ? I guess I see it as fostering division instead of facilitating peace.. I'm talking about it only as an idea.. a recognition of something that seems true to me.

      Thanks again..Helen..I love having your picture here.
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        Jun 13 2011: Lindsay......As long as people insist that their belief system is the only way, I really don't see how progress is readily possible. Progress may move some if we accept others belief systems as viable (excluding the proponents of violence).. We must stop drawing lines in the sand. :)
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          Jun 13 2011: You are wise as well as dera Helen..thnak you..yes that's it..

          Our long painful still dragging on debate on the palsetine israeli borders seemed to get very bogged down,immutable and circular to th ejeopardy of safety and secuity of other countries over just bronze age holdover ideas that aren't serving humanity, aren't servong the poeple trying to live and thrive in Palestine, trying tolive and thrive in Israel How does all serve them?

          What did you think of Tom's idea that we should lal try to unpack our belief sysytems, check out everything that's there, throw out everything that is limiting, divisive, not relevant and repack it aginst some wolrd view we want to hold. He says keep and encourage what "serves life" I love that.
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          Jun 13 2011: @ Helen "stop drawing lines in the sand".

          This is done in primary schools, with force, propaganda on lines we only imagine. Memorizing (nation) states, their borders, their capitals, and religious groups and where they are. This is where it can stop. Though how?

          To stay on topic ;) :

          A global 'extra' belief system that all continents have a place in, a meaning, a uniqueness in a whole, feeling part and unmissable, needed in the whole. That there are no borders and actually we live on one big island together (ref. dymaxion world map). Lost, the series tries to show all current (material) human nonsense and (immaterial) supernatural.
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      Jun 12 2011: Great you started this topic! My point of view, very curious to others;

      Your first question; outgrown belief systems;
      As soon as belief systems met Gutenberg, our 'inner' (mind) development slowed down compared to our 'outer' (world) development. In other words; the oral passing on of belief systems had the power of teaching the essences in the language and analogies/mythologies a new generation understands. Freezing the words in books made an end to this. If a shaman in the past noticed his/her pupils didn't pay attention, he/she had to get creative to bring the essential messages on how matter and mind in a person and their world relates.

      So yes, we have outgrown the books. What is the message in there is still true and vital, we just are not able to read it anymore and make too literal or too holistic interpretations.

      Ken Wilber and Tom Atlee and various others have found and/or experiences some essences and are trying to put them in modern words and media to distribute essences of life and living. I have read bits of Ken Wilber his stuff, and for me it is already too holistic perspective, high brown, so I stop reading...

      My personal problem is, I do not have the time to read all these books! By the time I have, it is too late for me and even my children. I can guide my grand children probably if I am lucky enough :)
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        Jun 12 2011:!! how great..thanks for dropping in. So glad to see you.

        That's a very interesting point..that the written word is what disconnected us from the ancient wisdom paths in the sense that it

        (1) cloaked the wisdom in an interpretive teaching which may have mised the wisdom altoegther
        (2) decided to repackage the wisdom rebrand it to fit in better or to fruther specific goals not growing out of or honoring the wisdom
        (3) decided narrative was better and more accessible and wisdom was too hard to teach all toegther.
        (4) that writing, especially if tranlated from an original language at a distant time from when it was written contains cultural biases and traditions that misinterpret or miscats or just miss what is reall being said.writing it freezes it in one time and ne culture and ten it cannot grow and move and guide as it should,

        I had never put it in quite the way you did..thank you for the wisdom and simplicity of that.

        I dont think people ned to wade through big books ( Wilber's Sex,Evolution & Spirituality is 700 pages..I spent a whole day at a retreat on it last weekend and we barely covered the chapter is very dense and very rich and he is indeed a very advanced thinker..hard to catch up).

        I don't think we all have to be lookingat the same thing or agreeing on what to look at. There are many ways to get there. The only thing I am suggesting in theis question is that maybe we do all have to move on past "belief systems" if we are going to get anywhere at all.
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          Jun 16 2011: Hi Lindsay,

          This responds to later post. You asked, " How do you break out of clinging to memes and being manipulated to taking charge for yourself ?"

          I think I always had a kind of knack for "breaking out."

          I think it has to do with reading with empathy. When you do that, you start to see how words can differ in meaning. You learn that those who are said to being diametrical opposites are in fact quite close but use words differently. When I was starting out as a philosophy student, I liked to read as much of one philosopher as I could to try to get inside of them. I did not like theme classes or survey classes because they always seemed superficial. You would get a taste of what various philosopher's had said, but no real sense of why they said it. When taking such classes, I would be astonished when listening to the established dogma about where each philosopher fit into the tradition. That history was all about finding distinctions whereas I was seeing connections everywhere.

          A "belief system" is when you know what sentence to utter at what time in order to fit into some group that regards you as functional because you can do that. Breaking free has to do with the pursuit of integrity.

          When reading a philosopher, I did not believe I had understood what I had read, until it made so much sense to me that i could understand why the philosopher would say such a thing. This often lead me to give more sympathetic readings than my peers were giving.
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        Jun 15 2011: Hi Paul,

        About finding time for books: I listen to books on disks or tape when I am commuting. Since I started doing that many years ago, I have been through many more books than I would have otherwise read. I also listen to college courses that way. There are companies that produce college courses on disks. If you have a good library, it will have plenty to keep you busy listening for years. This has been an invaluable experience for me.

        I would not put the blame for the lack of connection with wisdom on books. You can see that lack of connection as something Plato was wrestling with in ancient Greece. It has to do with the way people connect to meaning through words. When they believe that meanings and words are somehow just attached together so that anyone who appears to satisfy social norms of language functioning is assumed to know what the meanings are that express truth, this stultifies the project of seeking wisdom because it makes people think they already have wisdom.

        The genius of Socrates was to show that people who can satisfy our social norms of speaking nevertheless do not know the meanings of the words they use like courage, knowledge, justice, piety, etc. It is only when we recognize that we are not automatically attached to true meaningfulness by nature that we even begin the hunt for true meaningfulness.

        In the Plato's cave, people who believe that they know meanings are easily manipulated by those who know that they can affect what meanings people will believe in. To the puppet masters (the spin doctors) the other inhabitants of the cave who just believe they just know meanings are easy dupes.

        A better life is begun only when there is a recognition that our understanding of meaning is insufficient and so there is a different kind of life in which one sets out on an infinite journey of pursuit of better, more sufficient, meanings, a journey guided by a slowly evolving idea of goodness that is used to evaluate competing meanings.
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          Jun 15 2011: friend..that is a lot of powerful insight packed in there.

          .thank you so much for that amazing contribution to this exploration...I wonder if we can unpack and explore some of those idea one by one as each point is so rich and so central to the gap between the belief systems most people are carrying around and the actual unfolding of the world around's increasing complexity, it;s increaing encounter with what is unknowable.

          Could we start a new thread with your first point? The connection between words & meaning in a normative context that leads people to think they have wisdom.. Could you say a bit more in a new thread about how that works and so we can see it ckearly ho wit manifests in what we see around us in culture.

          Each point you raised is worthy of an entire "semester" or more..but maybe you could help us unpack the basics.
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          Jun 15 2011: Inthegarden beyond the cave,

          Yes audiobooks, thank you for that, I didn't do that really yet. Radio Interviews with great writers I do often as they are able to say in one hour what they mean to say in summary in their book... :)

          The little Plato in me wrestles with meaning of words and their connections. Most of miscommunication and different interpretation of issues can be traced back to the evolution of different meanings. This counts very much for belief systems.

          As Plato looked for essence in relations, the meaning of bindings which cannot be discussed towards different opinions, I too look for these basics.

          Basically our first 'Global Belief System' should be 'SURVIVAL'. As simple and pure as that. What does it take and what do we need to do to survive on the planet in the best possible way. Here Plato can be of great help, the Cave.

          Once we re-discovered that, the second half of the global belief system can be fed by Socrates, the Garden. The name of this 'system is 'LUXURY'. Though first the first layer needs to be solved, elswise we are just Orwell's pigs rolling in mud to cool down.

          Our body needs a belief; survival, sustain as long as possible, that's all it wants.
          Our mind needs a belief; luxury, sustain free thinking as long as possible, that's all it wants.
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          Jun 16 2011: I've been back to your post so many time in the garden..

          First I agree that in what you are saying about word and meaning that whether the source is written or spoken the effect is the same..the same process is going on of assuming to know the word and understand how to use it in a communicable sntence is to also fully undertsand its meaning.

          So that would mean the belief systems we construct inkowingly within us are inherently frail and incomplete until we become aware that we actually have a "belief system" and start working on it in an intentional way.

          I think we are syaing the same thing..

          That's what I have been describing as the retreat to the pre-rational mythic.Your point about how susceptible frail belief systems are to suggestion and mainpulation really gets right at some of what I have observed and not understood..this meme thing, for instance. Or the tenacity with which people cling to a notion that has been disproven beyond dispute They will just go to the next person/venue and other that same false fact again,and keep doing that, reluctant to let go of that false piece of information.

          It connects up for me with the TED talk on experts..did you happen to see that? The point of the talk is that people have just surrendered their own judgment to experts..that that's easier than forming a judgment.

          So how do people who are at that stage of clinging to memes and being manipulated step out of that framework and take charge of unpacking and shoring up their belief systems? Where is the catalyst for that.?

          How do youbreak out of clinging to memes and being manipulated to taking charge for yourself ?

          I think at its root what we are seeing now is about uncertainty, disenfrachisement, alienataion.
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        Jun 16 2011: Thank you, i nthe garden,

        That is my sense too that critical thinking and purpseful seeking is the only defense against memes and paradigms , media giving us false information, stuff being passed around as truth in socila networking systems.

        But people who practice critical thinking and who have habits of learning and seraching don't fall victim to memes amd manipulations in the first place.. Once we're inside that information bubble, if we haven't formed a habit of critical thinking or aren't engaged in a process that might let some light in, how do we get out of the bubble?

        I think TED Conversations gives us all a sense of whether we are in a bubble or not. When people engage with others who have different beliefs it's impossible not to notice that what we thought is universal or absolutely true is not held that way by others

        But I have also noticed a tenacity a closing in as a response to that awreness....not an opening up. Closing up.

        Do you see that? I don't see awhoe lot of opening up going on.
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          Jun 16 2011: Hi Lindsay,Until one can assimilate new ideas, encountering them can be experienced as a negation of what has already been assimilated. Eventually, hopefully, useful new ideas do get assimilated. But for that to happen, one has to be ready. The idea must connect. And one must be willing to explore it enough to find the point of connection.

          Bringing in a new idea that connects deeper toward one's core may result in rejection of other inconsistent ideas that were attached less deeply.

          Also, people tend to respond to what they tend to think needs correction. Hence, the proportion of negative reactions to positive reactions may not give an accurate picture of how readers are responding.
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        Jun 17 2011: Hi Paul

        ..I love where your point went below and the great input from in the garden and Kathy K..a deep and beautiful epxloration of what you say.

        But I have been thinking about this original comment for some time and spoke to it only in part with my first posting

        .I am a christian from a tradition of deep faith and my practice is mostly based in the universal wisdom traditions. I believe, with others, that Jesus intentionally did not pu this teachings in writng for exactly the reasons you state..He didn't want them frozen in dogma and doctrine and time. I believe that Jesus' life of perfect trasnparency wasn't about going to temple and reading scripture ( although he did those things) was about going out every day and in every moment being those those teachings.The teachings were meant to keep us fluid, dynamic, other aware and compassionate in all thought, presence and action.Not by meorizing them reciting them discusisng what they mean..but actually living them

        .I hope that offends no one who may drop by is my own view and certainly not a mainstream one

        .So I immediately resonated with your post. I think that behind my question as framed about belief systems is a recognition that we all inescapably have belief system but if we don't tend to them
        with intention, exmainationand constant honing they become rigid are not working in our lives, serving us to serve others as Tom Atlee put it so beautifully.

        I think even more after sharing this exploration with all of you that what we really need are practices that hone our thinking, align will, heart and mind to purpose, to inquiry to keen observation in way that is a dynamic and alive

        A second thanks for your insight.
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          Jun 17 2011: That is nice, there are many more people thinking like this, the church where I awoke is a 'new' baptist church. With new I mean the opposite of the conservative baptist church. The building is purely a need so people can gather and don't get cold in winter and wet in autumn. The bible is a reference book, ofcourse people and the priest quote from there, as there has been put much good thought in writing essences of relationships down.

          At the same time, and this is the difference I think with 'conservatives', is that the bible is kept in context of it's time. When something is quoted, the priest (mostly) says after it what it would mean in modern - our world - context. Ofcourse this is his subjective thought, which he always says, but he does it so people think further than what the words describe.

          Second, the priest is a 'shaman' type of man who understands the immaterial world and how to orchestrate immaterial relations between people and the 'source'.

          Third, these two things are great, though the connection between the words and rituals and the daily lives of people are fully disconnected.

          A church was for a local community, everybody lived, worked, played local. If the harvest was bad, everybody was affected and everybody in church could contemplate to release stress and have fresh hope.

          So these buildings and the bible still have profound functions, though we need and are able to deal with an update on your belief system to feel more connected again locally and globally.

          To see this last in an analogy; First time you drive a car, it is very shaky and your speed is very low. Your brain and body have a hard time dealing with all the input and output. Once you master the steering wheel of the car, the peddles and gear... You are ready for the highway and, next to that, you have gained an enormous physical and mental freedom (Ian Xel Lungold has the credits of this analogy
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          Jun 17 2011: The point I realize now, reading your last comment and what I just wrote... When the local church building was/is usefull as everything what was going on was local so the priest could connect the bible with the community.... What should he do now? How to connect a community with the 'source' when the community is wired and working in the whole planet?

          Jesus did not want his words to freeze but at the same time not to be lost and badly passed on probably, that's why we celebrate Pinkster (the day you started this post, coincidence?). He had no idea of the comming of Gutenberg, if he would, he would have given an introduction how to use the book; "keep it in context people and don't take everything so literal."

          If you didn't see Empathic Civilization yet, I recomment it, there 'belief systems' are put in context with eachother... and what we need next.

          Thank you again for your interest in my thoughts.
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      Jun 12 2011: On your second question, the alternative?

      To quote the maya calendar; we are on the 9th wave, all about collective consciousness, and re-realizing the (global vs local) 'tribe' is part of if. Maybe the good thing is there are no scriptures remaining to interpret wrong.

      I really believe we need new/better mythologies/analogies to have an alternative to the classic books. With the same essences, though in an updated internet 'live' wired world view version. And hollywood blockbusters can't deliver this. Not even a good book as there are so many.

      The alternative is I think a 'Platoisch' framework which is as true as 1+1=2, nobody can argue about for what IS immatter, what IS culture. This is not easy but that essence is the basis of all belief systems and great books. Maybe the writers you mention can help out?
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        Jun 12 2011: Yes Paul, excatly..Wilber's huge book in fact is excatly finds those points of universal connection from all the ancient wisdom traditions..the common ground of all humanity..for all time that will carry us through all time no matter how fast we change.. As you said above..things that are embedded ..that we can recover and have with us in a transactional fluid dyanmic way in every facet of our lives.

        I do read all those big books and i do have a very intensive spiritual practice but I finally distilled it down for myself to few simple hand holds

        "Be mindfully present in every moment without need, attachment, fantasy or ego"
        "Allow for silence, especially before speaking or acting , speak and act from the silence"
        Seek truth, live with compassion

        It's worth doing the hard work and I do find everyone I mentioned above very fruitful and rewarding..I always harvest something worthwhile that I can put right to work right away in dyanmic way in my every day life. Cynthia boureault's book, the Wisdom Way of Knowing is a a small book. each chapter stand sn its own as a whole tecahing. Robert Sardello's book "Silence" the same. each chapter stands on its own. Tom Atlee writes a lot of essays all very accessible and rich.

        What would be your advice to people who agree that we have to get past "belief systems" but aren't sure what's next. What do you do?
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          Jun 13 2011: Your handholds I like, I try to do something like this, be 'free in mind'.

          What do I do… A good question;

          I practice contemplation/meditation, though do not make it till 20 minutes as I should. So not in tune so to say yet.

          For the rest I try to listen to what is needed around me / in the world, and some years ago the famous sentence of Einstein hit me; "I want to know what God thinks, the rest are details". This made me wonder. What does 'he' think. With lot's of complex system designs on trade-finance-learning-caring I came to an idea what God thinks; "You give your children crappy food and crappy education". So I try to help solve that where time and place allows me to.
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          Jun 13 2011: Advice on what's next; watch

          In conclusion, after tribal, national and religious 'home' feeling, we need the global 'home feeling. This will be the new belief system for our 'inner' (mind) to catch up with the 'outer' (world).

          As we stopped killing eachother because of tribal and national background, by having this new 'global tools for empathy', we will stop attacking eachother on religious grounds.

          We just need to start creating the tools for global empathy, (1) mindfull communication is getting solved with English, (2) material collaboration is starting, (2) continuity of the global symphony of the soul has yet to begin.
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        Jun 13 2011: Paul thanks..good way to go..contual open inquiry, continual personal seeking and exoloring..can't go wrong doing that. Tom Atlee, below has offered a wonderful stanrd for our own constant dyanamic updating of our belief systems..

        " do they serve life"

        He has also laid out som eother questikns which we might un pack together here.

        Kathy has also put it in a very useful context also emphasizing individual growth and search.
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    Jun 12 2011: Co_Intelligence

    Visonary and modern wise man Tom Atlee is essentialy saying the same thing as Ken Wiber about "where we are now" least there is no contradiction there.. Tom Atlee calls this thing we need now "co-intelligence"

    " Healthy communities, institutions and societies -- perhaps even our collective survival -- depend on our ability to organize our collective affairs more wisely, in tune with each other and nature.
    This ability to wisely organize our lives together -- all of us being wiser together than any of us could be alone -- we call co-intelligence.
    In its broadest sense, co-intelligence involves accessing the wisdom of the whole on behalf of the whole.

    Again, my question, the way I have framed it is no something Tom Atlee might say or has said..those my leap that I talke from Tom Atlee..that we have outgrown "belief systems" we need "wisdom systems"
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    Jun 12 2011: Ken Wilber's "Sex Ecology& Sprituality" has become a "handbook and bible" to may great thinkers and leaders including Pesident Obama . It's a look at the evolution of humanity, a tthe evolutionof consciousness at where we are now of breathtaking vision and scope..its about integral thinking..transformational dynamics ..Wilber and the tecahers of Wilber might not want my question:"have we outgrown blief systems" to be attributed t Wilber or associated with him..I don't think he has said that in so many words but that's where I leap to from his words.


    Sex Ecology &Spirituality is a reconcilitaion and synthesis of Eastern and Western traditions that goes underneath "belief sytems" to the core wisdom traditions that are consistent and shared .

    Belief systems in Wilber's model of evolution formed in the "pre-rational" mythic stage of human evolution--the tribal. Again. not Wilber's words but my leap from them, at the stage we are now this "belief system model" isn't compatibl with the next stage forward..we need an integrated more fluid transactinal and inclusive system to move forward.