Take a good look in the mirror, and consider this: the body you inhabit today is the outgrowth of your worldview and the choices that flow from them. If you want to transform your body, you must change your worldview, because everything that comes to roost in form and experience is the effect of a cause.
From Belief Springs Action
What you believe determines what choices you will make, and the choices you make determine the expression of every cell in your body. When you adopt a perspective that cultivates health, radiance, and beauty in all aspects of your life, your body will naturally manifest those qualities.
Making the paradigm shift from an unhealthy worldview to a more harmonious, life-generating one includes but also transcends dietary considerations. The worldview at the core of today’s mainstream culture supports divisive ways of thinking, behaving, and consuming that destroy both the human body and the human spirit – all living things, in fact. You might think you only need to change your ideas about food or exercise, but it’s really the whole infrastructure of your mindset that drives the choices that will make you feel variously old, sad, sick, ugly, tired, and fat.
Of course, this means you will have to learn how to see with new eyes and prepare to abandon the path of least resistance. As Daniel Quinn says in If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways: “If we’re going to make any progress here, I’m afraid, you’re going to have to resist the long-standing impulse to listen, nod and acquiesce.” But once you summon the courage to question everything around you and begin to see the world with your own unblinking eyes, you will experience a great awakening.
Stretch Your Limits of Perception
Ask a romantic and he’ll say love makes the world go round. Ask a business executive and she’ll say money makes the world go round. Who is right depends on how you see the world and what you consider the world to be.
We each see only what we are conditioned to see within a given field of vision. We inherit our socially conditioned eyes from our parents, our teachers, our peers, the media, and countless other influences long before we’re aware of it. When we are lulled into a sleepy herd mentality, there seems little reason to question our perceptions. Usually, it is not until we are driven to a point of terrible suffering that we are finally compelled to challenge them.
When you are confronted with new information that sounds implausible, or an idea that sounds radical or crazy, instead of rejecting it outright, consider that it is probably coming from another worldview, and your inability to relate to it may be a factor of limited perception. Consider the possibility that, once an idea is contextualized, it may come to make perfect sense to you. Be discerning, of course, but make room for new ideas and possibilities. This is a wonderful principle to live by, not only because it will make you more open and compassionate with others, but because it will also open up avenues of personal growth that you might otherwise miss.
There are as many worldviews as there are people, but there are certain lenses that become common to people of the same culture. Sadly, in the modern world, our culture is constantly conditioning our eyes and sensibilities to some very distorted and dangerous perspectives. Sometimes we have to try to step back from ourselves and expand our field of vision. Of course, this is often easier said than done, but it is truly worthwhile and thrilling to discover that the world you inhabit is far greater, richer, and more interconnected than you ever realized.
My worldview growing up did not include information about how to care for the human body in the critical ways I now understand. Had I been educated about how the body really works and what human food really is and how the foods I was eating were clogging my body and causing all my illnesses, cellulite, acne, depression, moodiness and excess blubber, I would not have consumed those things. (Note to parents: Don’t underestimate your kids! Don’t assume your kids prefer junk food over a great life experience). My physical comfort and emotional well-being were far more important to me than eating what my peers were eating, and I would have welcomed breaking cycles of addiction to the grains and sugars I didn’t even realize held my body and my emotions hostage. In short, knowledge could have freed me. Increased perception could have unlocked the cage of my compromised existence, but I didn’t have the knowledge, so I remained caged.
This principle of worldview also applies to the values that determine our life choices. Living a life of impeccable values makes for a much more pleasurable journey. I like to call it the “vitality of values.” I’ll speak from personal experience again: This may seem crazy but I only discovered good values as an adult, as part of my transformation through cleansing and awareness. I grew up going to church and having biblical dogma poured into me on a daily basis, but living an impeccable life as I like to call it – where one moves with reverence for life in every choice, and values the indwelling spirit and the well-being of living things above material gain and personal worldly success – was not a message I received even remotely. Quite the opposite. Another cage that could have been unlocked with increased perception. Like that of most kids in our culture, my upbringing was one of tunnel vision. I received one message and everyone around me exemplified that message. It can be summed up in a short sentence: “Serve your little self.” The little self is the self that is caught up in the common worldview’s snares – whose only way to survive is to participate according to its rules. The big self sees the whole picture and can walk in and among a society that holds a worldview of separation consciousness without falling prey to its message. The big self knows that all life is comprised of worlds upon worlds of interconnected life force, the élan vital, conducting as one. The big self moves with grace, at one with the forces of nature.
As our culture becomes more crass, it is up to each of us individually to seek the big self, lest the messages all around us ensnare us back into the little self, where we cannot help but fail our bodies and our spirits.
These are all examples of limiting worldviews that hold us in cages – cages of suffering that can be dissolved with expanded perception.
Not one of us lives in a vacuum. We live within overlapping, interconnecting, always shifting systems – worlds within worlds. At every level of our existence, from the solar system all the way down to the cells and DNA of our bodies, we are vitally linked together in a living, breathing network of organisms. What’s the implication of this? It means that what best serves the whole also best serves the individual, and vice versa. Understanding this principle is absolutely vital to understanding how best to care for ourselves as human beings. When we expand our consciousness and tap the wisdom of interconnected systems, we can apply for our personal good with the confidence that it is also for the good of all.
To varying degrees, we are all guilty of moving through life with tunnel vision, dangerously oblivious to how our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are affecting the entire fabric of our world. But if we are all guilty of perpetuating shortsighted ideologies that have destructive effects on the whole, we are also all capable of fighting back, of working every day to reclaim our minds, bodies, and spirits from the insidious traps of modern living. There is no greater hope for saving ourselves and those we love than reevaluating all of the programmed ideas, associations, and biases that limit our perception and hold us in the same old patterns of suffering.
Step into the Light
Think about it: from the moment we are born, we are each given a pair of corrective lenses designed to condition us to our environment. We are indoctrinated to believe in the good of modern civilization, to equate progress with technology and profit, beauty with luxury, power with politics, and so on and so forth in an endless stream of given associations. Most people today accept the indoctrinated view without questioning its accuracy or wisdom, because it’s the path of least resistance, because the modern world makes it hard to imagine there are alternatives.
Throughout our lives, we wear the lenses we were given, thinking we’re seeing clearly when we’re really at the mercy of their distortions. It’s as if we’re all living in a movie theater with 3-D glasses on, mesmerized by the images floating before our eyes, reaching out again and again to touch them, swiping air. It is not until we step outside the theater, remove our lenses, and let our eyes adjust to the sunlight that we can remember that the world is a far larger place, pulsing with real flesh-and-blood vitality.
Only, the movie I’m talking about is the history of civilization. Civilization as we know it is still a mere blip on the radar of human history. Yet, we are taught to dismiss countless indigenous cultures – people with extraordinary life-generating ways who have kept humans thriving and evolving for three million years – as ignorant, savage, barbaric. From the victor’s perspective, we celebrate the birth of nations, conveniently forgetting the means by which we’ve gained control of lands and peoples. Instead of learning from the ancient wisdom of those who would live closer to the land, we are taught to pity and fear their “uncivilized” ways.
But if we make the effort to step outside the great myth of civilization, to examine it in the context of the broader history of life, we can begin to understand why we are suffering so much today – in our lives and in our bodies. Whether we’re suffering physically, mentally, or spiritually, our worldview is at the root of the problem. By expanding our worldview to include and honor all life, great and small, we can better contextualize our experiences, draw vital connections, and begin to create real, life-affirming solutions.
This concludes our first lesson. In next week’s edition of The Rose Program Insider, we will build on this discussion with a closer look at the life cycle.