The role of paradigms
What paradigm will we choose this November? A “power-over” model or a “soul-honoring” model?
In their thought-provoking book, “The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential,” Denise Breton and Christopher Largent set forth the role of paradigms in governing society and indeed our lives.
A paradigm is a worldview or set of assumptions that guide our decisions, e.g., if you think that everyone is born with a particular, carefully pre-defined purpose, then you view it as good if everyone is staying in their track and carrying out their purpose. This is how a nation ends up with the caste system that once controlled every life in India. As Breton and Largent point out, the Buddha came along and turned the prevailing paradigm on its head by teaching that the central organizing principle of human action is intention and we are all on an equal footing and equally empowered from within to govern our lives by our personal intention also known as “the pursuit of happiness.”
A soul-honoring model of society creates structures and systems that nurture the soul’s innate desire to blossom in the direction of loving kindness. A power-over model is one that allows a relative few to control everyone else for some goal that is perceived as good by those in charge but which drains the life out of everyone else.
In American society democracy may be viewed as helping the soul to flourish but our economic system seems to be depleting the energy of many by demanding longer and longer hours for inadequate wages and rewarding those who stay late. This means less and less time for family, leisure and simple fun. Meanwhile those with the power become addicted to more and more of it.
In education there are those who theorize that a top down model of teachers over students and motivation by grades is equally oppressive and should be replaced by a “community of learners.” I asked a high school freshman what would motivate him to learn more than the current system does. His answer: “Food.or hot sauce!” Okay, back to the drawing board.
We come now to the November election. It seems to me that we have a choice between a power-over model and a soul-honoring model. It is clearly the second model that is more in conformity with the sacred traditions of the world all of which have the Golden Rule as their cornerstone.
The Dalai Lama has said, and I paraphrase, that if we teach meditation to eight year olds, there will be world peace in a generation. This is because the path to a society governed by the concerns of the soul is the path of spiritual awakening. This means adopting a practice of meditation leading to awareness of what lies beyond the concerns of the ego and to the ability to see through the illusory and sham nature of the prevailing paradigm.
Bill O’Brien is a Consciousness Coach. Contact information at www.billobrienconsciousnesscoaching.com