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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Something Unknown, And Better: Toward A New Humanity

Have you ever had that feeling in your life where nothing seems to work out the way you want it to?

Where no matter what you try, or how hard you push, things just don't ever seem to go the way they should?

This is very, very common, and there are two main ways in which we are taught to deal with it.

The first is to just chalk it up to 'life' - it's just one of those things.  And because it's just one of those things, you can't really do anything about it.  And more than this - because it's 'life', you can't ever really expect to understand it, or address it in any meaningful way.

The second is to just keep pushing, pushing, pushing.  Eventually, you'll break through.

The assumptions of our culture are the sea through which we, like fishes, swim.  We often barely notice that they are there - we're way too busy standing on them.  But even when we do, it's always tempting - because so many people agree with them - to assume that they're strong.  That they're solid.  That they have, at some point in the distant past, been properly thought through.

That the person who first came up with them did so because they actually thought that this was a credible explanation, and that the reason other people agree with it is because they have done the same.

One of the things that you learn if you start tugging at the few loose bits of string that hang off the edges of the great tapestry of our assumptions, is that is another possibility.

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman once wrote a great little book called Good Omens, and like everything Pratchett had a hand in, it wasn't just a great read.  There were real flashes of brilliance there.

One of these is about the main character, who happens to be the Antichrist.  There's a psychic character who meets him, and this psychic character (it's fiction, be cool) has the ability to see auras.  She can see everybody's aura, everyone she's ever met.  But when she meets this guy, she looks at him and sees no aura at all.

And she assumes that he doesn't have one.  But he does.  She just can't see it - in the same way that someone standing in Trafalgar Square can't see England.

It is literally to big to see.  She's inside it, everyone is, and so to her it seems invisible.

One assumption like this is that the 'mysteries of life' are beyond anyone's reach.  The fact that just continuing to do what you are already doing until one day it works, is another.

When you actually look at them, they're very simple things.  And because they're so simple, they can do something.  They can serve as a foundation for a lot of other ideas.

All the many ways in which people give up on being curious about really deep things, for instance.  There are so many - and yet almost all of them rest upon a basic assumption that life is inherently mysterious.

Within that idea, you can have an infinite variety of variations, or extensions.  Some of these can be extremely extravagant and complex.

A very clear example would be holy mysteries.  The things we can never know because they are beyond the understanding of anything that is not divine.

More subtle ones exist as well.  There is an idea stemming from a scientific background that was put to me recently to explain why it is that science has not been able to replicate its success in charting the external world with similar success in charting the deeps of humanity.

I thought it was very interesting, simply because it does seem so coherent.  It's this - that physics attempts to directly chart the fundamentals, so it's relatively straightforward to work out clear laws.  But the laws of chemistry sit on top of those laws, and so it's slightly harder to work out laws to do with chemistry, because it's 'one step removed', so to speak.

Biology sits on chemistry, another step above.  And right at the top, teetering precariously on top of biology, sits psychology.

This is why you can't get clear laws of psychology.

Now, before we start looking at this in a slightly more critical light, take a second to appreciate it.  It's quite elegant, as an idea.  Simple enough, rational enough, it would seem.  Makes sense of the actual work science has done, as well - it is true that clear laws become more rare as you 'climb the ladder', so to speak.

And from physics to psychology?  That's a long, long way.  Many steps removed.

The result of all this is that we are to lower our expectations.  To lower our expectations of the possibility of clear insight about the human condition.

Can you see?  It's not just that it explains the lack of it - the way it explains it is to say that the possibilities are themselves limited.

That the human interior, the deeps of life - these are, by virtue of the nature of science itself, inherently more mysterious than the external world.

And with that, you can see a quite striking parallel between the holy mysteries, and the apparent failure of science to match its accuracy with regards to humanity, compared to atoms and stars and such.

It's strange to see such a deep agreement between such apparently antagonistic forces.  And yet, perhaps not so strange if you think about the nature of assumption.

A belief is something you know about.  An assumption is something you don't.  A belief is visible, and so is relatively straightforward to question.

I say relatively - some people never even do that, of course - but if they wanted to, they could.  It's not so difficult.

Questioning an assumption is far more tricky, because the truth is, we don't know what we assume.  We know that there are assumptions, and we could probably name a few if pressed, but there are seas of assumption on which we float the ship of our life.

What this means is that assumptions can go unquestioned for very long periods of time.  And I'm not talking weeks, or months, or even years.  I'm talking centuries, and millennia.  The assumption that there are things of which we cannot know is a very old assumption indeed, very old.  To see it come back in new clothes, all dressed up in a lab coat like a cassock, and wielding a laser pointer like a fiery sword, is quite an interesting thing to see.

Because the thing is, the whole idea of sciences sitting on top of each other like a house of cards is about as strong as a house of cards.

Science is the charting of the real - or it is nothing.  And the real is united.  A biologist does not need to worry that they might find something that would contradict a physicist - and the reason is that if they are both searching for the truth, and they both succeed, no contradiction will occur.

Reality does not contradict itself.

And to go slightly deeper - it would a mistake to assume that complex systems lack a simplicity all of their own.  Although yes, complexity does dramatically increase through the 'strata' of science, from atoms to molecules, from molecules to cells, from cells to people, there is a very interesting thing that happens to simplicity also.

Or rather, doesn't happen.  Simplicity doesn't retreat.  As complexity rises it makes it easier to get lost, perhaps.  But incredible simplicities cut through highly complex systems.  In biology, for instance, your poster child for this would be Darwin's work.  That is an incredible simplicity that cuts through an enormous amount of complexity.

And in fact, it doesn't just cut through it.  It accounts for it.

And in fact, it doesn't just account for it.  It demands it.

Benoit Mandelbrot did some very interesting work on this phenomenon.  The deep simplicity that intertwines and often is the origin of, deep complexity.  He called this quality 'fractal', and spent his life charting the geometry of it.  He is extremely well respected, perhaps one of the most respected mathematicians of the last century.

But when someone says - oh, but science is a stack, and this rests on that, and therefore, therefore, therefore.....there are things that we cannot know....

Isn't it easy just to nod along?  It resonates with a very deep assumption that in ages past was reinforced with incense and ritual.  We no longer, in large part, use the incense anymore.

But the assumption remains.  And it remains potent and powerful.  And it constrains.  It limits.  It discredits any attempt to chart humanity, to look to the deeps and find the simplicities that might allow us to generate seismic and profound advances in our understanding of what we really are.

And because of this, it limits the future.

All the problems of a belief you never question are far closer than any of us might know.

It's not that we're fanatics about our assumptions - but we don't need to be fanatics in order to be locked inside them the length of our lives.

Like any unquestioned belief, an assumption narrows our experience of living within a certain set of limits.  We assume that the deep mysteries of life can't be solved, and so we don't even bother.  And so they don't get solved.

And even if they do, when any solution is placed in front of us, it is very, very easy to reject it out of hand, before it is seriously considered.

You don't need to consider it.  The ground beneath your feet says it is impossible.  You can just save some time, shrug, dismiss it out of hand, and go about your day.

The hidden power of assumption to constrain the possibilities of the future is one of the most powerful forces acting on the human animal.

It is incredible how constrained the experience of living is for vast numbers of people.  The assumptions of our culture lock us into certain lines of thinking, lines of living.  But because these things are assumptions, this effect is invisible, from the inside.

It's not invisible from the outside - if you don't share someone's assumptions, you can see the constraining effect of them very clearly.  Political belief is a great example.  If you don't share someone's political views, it can be very striking how the ideas they have - and the assumptions those ideas are based on - constrain that person's ability to see things in broader scope.

But politics - that's a 'high-order' things.  A big, banner headline thing.  But it's the little assumptions, the simple assumptions, the assumptions right down in the core that have a much more powerful effect than anything we've so far seen.

But they're invisible.  Invisible to the people who hold them.  So if it is in fact assumption that's holding you back, how do you know?  Before you can even address it, how do you know if this is actually the problem?

Well, let's go back to those questions from the start.  Have you ever had that feeling in your life where nothing seems to work out the way you want it to?

Where no matter what you try, or how hard you push, things just don't ever seem to go the way they should?

These are not random things that 'just sort of happen'.  They are very specific, and arise from a very specific kind of thing, and one thing only.

The constraining power of assumption.

Reality is very big, and contains many different ways to get things done.  But if the way to do what you're trying to do sits outside of the boundaries of your assumptions, you will never do it.  Never.

No amount of trying.  No amount of tears.  No amount of resourcefulness.  No amount of hope.  No amount of support.  No amount of backing.  No amount of influence.  No amount of anything.

And that's why it's so easy to get stuck.  It's not random, it's not magic.  It's not just 'one of those things'.  It's a very specific thing, and it works in a very specific way.  Because if you're trapped inside your assumptions of how things work and those assumptions are wrong, no matter what you try, or how hard you push, things will never work out the way you want them to.

There is a pattern, there is an underlying process.  It works in a very specific way, and produces a very specific effect - in this case, frustration.  But not just 'some' frustration.  Frustration itself.  It isn't magic, it isn't random.  It's a very specific effect that arises from a very specific process.

Another assumption we have is that big effects must have big causes.  That if all the frustration of your life is laid at the feet of a single cause, that cause must be vast, just as your frustration is.

But this isn't necessarily true.  Because assumptions impact right at the core of how human beings interact with the world, the consequences echo out and amplify through all of life, and become massive.

And just as the damage these deep assumptions cause can have vast effects for a human life, and for the future of the world in which we live, the benefit of finding a way to address these issues directly can likewise be vast, vastly positive, and vastly out of proportion to the process itself.

Get right down in the core, and little fixes radiate out into great change.

And while yes, it's a good thing to identify and bring to light the specific assumptions that constrain your life, there is a greater potential here.  A new way of living which strikes to the core of the process itself.

Instead of playing 'wak-a-mole' with all the hidden assumptions, could it be possible to live in such a manner that the process itself that underlies their creation and entrenchment is directly addressed?

Let's take a little step sideways for a second, and see how this stacks up, as an approach, against a couple of popular approaches people take to changing their lives.

'Thinking positive', for instance, is extremely popular. It seems so simple, and so obviously the thing to do for a huge number of people.  It involves reinterpreting the world to give it a positive spin, or to emphasise the positive elements.  People, events, challenges - these are all reinterpreted, as much as is possible, to make things seem brighter.

Better than wallowing in frustration and negativity, of course - but then, most things are.  This approach involves ignoring, drowning out reinterpreting or avoiding the negativity that arises from frustration.  But even at it's greatest and most successful, it is still, fundamentally, working to address the problem after it is already fully grown.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a far more rigorously developed thing - it's used to combat depression and anxiety disorders in a therapeutic context.  The point of CBT is to work out which thought process are sustaining the negativity, and work to 'rewire' those processes.  To build new ones, new ways of thinking that aren't so brutal or jagged.

It is a very different thing from just 'positive thinking', but it does share one very important quality - you're attempting to condition yourself to address the negativity after it is already fully grown.

NLP is a form of what I suppose it would fair to describe as 'conversational hypnosis'.  The concepts of it underlie vast swathes of the modern 'self-help' movement, and basically provide the paradigm on which it sits.  NLP works to change beliefs.  You want to disrupt and replace destructive beliefs with beliefs that are of more use, that are more positive.  But again, we can see a clear commonality running through all these approaches - that they seek to address negativity after it is already fully grown.

Forgive all the italics, but I hope you see why they're there.  These approaches may seem superficially different, but they all work within very similar terms.  They're trying to do the same thing in very different ways, but the thing they are trying to do is basically the same.

This is not in any sense to caricature them, and although we're looking at them from quite a high altitude, we're not mangling them or mutilating them.  We're just seeing something else - that things that look very different, close up, can be revealed to be very similar when you take a step back.

And from a step back, we can see a few more things.  Firstly, these approaches are inherently antagonistic.  They seek to destroy, overcome, attack and defeat negative feelings, emotions and beliefs when the negativity is in its full flush.  So no matter how effective they may be, the way in which they are effective is the degree to which this conflict is successful.

There is another, slightly subtler point - but like many subtle things, it has a very big effect when it plays out in full.  It's easiest to see in NLP, but is present in CBT and positive thinking as well.

NLP works to change belief, make it less harmful and more helpful.  But what is a belief?

At a very basic level, a belief is just something that you think is true about what is going on.  Sure, it can be invested with all sorts of feeling, but when you really strip it down, that's what we're talking about.

What about the truth?  If NLP works to make beliefs more positive, what about the truth?

If, for any reason, we are ignoring what is real and believing what is convenient to believe, no matter how we do it or why, we are stepping away from an engagement with reality.

This isn't just a little philosophical nicety.  It matters, because reality is where real change happens, or doesn't.  And no matter how useful or positive a belief may seem to be in the short or medium term, in the long term the beliefs we have will collide with reality.  And no matter how useful they may have been at some point, if they are not true, and not accurate, we will collide with reality as well.

This is a very deep problem, and with CBT and positive thinking, is no less pronounced.  Our beliefs inform the way we live at a very deep level, and  if the accuracy of those beliefs plays second fiddle to how good they make us feel right now, we are retreating into a fantasy world, and living as if that world were real.

And it's not.

Now, that's just three.  But the commonality between them is very striking - they're not the same from close up, but take a step back and it becomes apparent that they are all trying to do something very similar in different ways.  And the similarity of what they're fundamentally trying to do - which is to say, the core assumptions on which all of these things are built - constrain their power to meaningfully change a human life.

What happens, though, if you can get right underneath the core processes from which destructive negativity arises?  That's not just a 'new and improved' version of what these things are doing.  It's something fundamentally different in nature.  It's not like an 'addition' to these approaches - it's a different approach.  And because it's different, perhaps it doesn't need to work so hard to counteract the problems that these approaches generate.

It's coming from somewhere deeper.

What we want is a different kind of approach.  Something far more profound, but also very simple - simple enough for us humans to do it, and not get all tangled up.

The last thing we want is to fall into navel-gazing, dredging up assumption after assumption, and pouring analysis all over them.  That way madness lies - or if not madness, surely mess.

But something deeper, simpler - and far cleaner - can be done.

Now, there's a lot of work on this site about the fundamental core of human suffering, and the core mechanisms behind a new way of living that addresses them at source.

But what I want to talk about here, is something slightly different.  It's the basic approach needed to make any of that stuff work.

It isn't magic - none of this is - and it's not a silver bullet.  But it's a pretty high-calibre round nonetheless, if you're prepared to aim it right.  Reality isn't magic - but reality doesn't need to be.  We don't need to call in supernatural powers to effect real change - reality has power enough.

But there is a problem, and it's probably the biggest single problem that keeps people from effecting genuine change in the very terms of their lives.  Because the only way to start tapping the power of the real is to accept a possibility that nobody wants to accept.

This is the admission fee to a new way of living, if you will, and if you don't pay the doorman, you don't get past the door.

The possibility is this - that you might be wrong.

That the deepest and most cherished things you hold true are wrong.  Dead wrong.  And not just wrong - but that what is actually happening might be nothing like what you think is happening.

This is the gateway possibility.  If you won't accept that this might be possible, go to Google, search "cat doing funny things" and you will, honest to God, spend the rest of your day more productively than if you were to continue reading.

It seems like such a little thing.  Such a simple thing, and when you look at it, such an obvious thing.  That we might be wrong in the things we believe, and that we hold dear.  That we might genuinely be wrong, or only seeing such a tiny slice of what is actually going on that it makes little difference.

The scary thing is that it is an unbelievably rare thing for a person to actually do this.  If you do it, then you probably don't see why someone wouldn't - it seems so obvious, so basic.  And it is.  But nonetheless, it almost never happens.

And even in the rare instances where people do admit this possibility, they often only do it with things they don't really care about.  The things they do care about, they never, never question.

It's easy to approach things that don't matter to us with open eyes.  But because they don't really matter to us they don't form the core foundations of our entire understanding of life, of goodness, of hope, and of love.  Of honesty and rationality.  Of you, and what you really are.

Because we almost always ringfence those areas, the assumptions bound up in them go forever unchallenged.  And this matters because the constraints that those assumptions - the intimate ones, the deep ones - place upon our lives are far, far more pronounced, and far more damaging.

Damaging how?

Well, again - although the ways that assumptions constrain and damage a person's life and a person's future are basically limitless in number, the core process underlying them isn't.  It's very simple.

To see exactly what assumptions are doing, and how they constrain, let's just see how the process plays out in something that nobody reading this really cares about.

If you're willing to admit you might be wrong in your understanding of the mechanical processes that go into the production of postage stamps, you will open yourself up to understanding the true process in a new way.

You will open up your ability to understand how stamps are really made in a way that would never, never be possible if you refused to allow your assumptions about them to be questioned.

If you refuse to admit there's even a possibility that you might be wrong about how these things are made, you will never understand the truth of what's really going on, though you live to be 1000.

Now, if your life depends on making stamps, this matters.  Few of our lives depend on this, so we're able to see the process very clearly.

Now think about this.  Is that process somehow going to magically alter when you change the subject matter?  What if it's not stamps, what if it's humanity?  What if you never admit you might be wrong in any way in your understanding of humanity?

Or love?  Or honesty?  Or truth?  Or hope?

What about happiness?  What about despair?  What about pain?

What about science?  What about rationality?

What about faith?  What about God?

What about you?

Switch out these things with 'stamps' and the process remains - but we're no longer talking about a funny little side issue.  We're talking about the deepest and most visceral elements of your life itself.

The constraints that assumptions around these things place on your actual life are really, really, really not academic.  They are extremely intense, and very profound.

Which is interesting, because when you look at stamps, it's not a problem for any of us (stamp fanatics excluded) to look at this process.

But when you start getting these really intense ideas, these powerful, intimate things that lie at the very centre of our lives, for vast numbers of people the portcullis drops, the drawbridge is pulled up, the crossbows are loaded and the boiling oil is set to standby.

Do not question what lies at the core.

This isn't a modern phenomenon, although in the world around us it expresses itself in a number of modern ways.  But the underlying process lies at the very heart of human nature.  The chains that rigid assumptions place upon humanity are old, very old.  They might look new, but don't be fooled.

And a way to actually start getting at these things isn't just a new paradigm in personal change.  It's a new way of being human.

A new human, for a new human future.

This is an opportunity, not a magical incantation.  If it is rejected, ignored, or analysed at arm's length - as it will be by many - no change will occur.  It's all just the same old same old.

More than anything else, what I'm about to describe could best be understood as an option.  A new option.  Something that people can choose, or can choose to ignore.

But the consequences of our choices are not of our choosing.  You can choose not to eat, but you cannot choose not to eat, and not to hunger.

This is like that.  A deep and seismic shift that you are of course free to ignore, or merely dabble with and discard when something flashier comes along to distract you.  Or you could take the path less travelled, and live a rarer kind of life.  A newer kind of life - a life no longer set on rails, but free to explore a much wider life, a much wider universe, and a much wider horizon of possibility than humanity has yet encountered.

The seismic shift is actually pretty straightforward, although it is quite scary.

As we've seen, the biggest assumptions that bedevil our lives are the ones that are the most important to us.  The ones that we cherish and care about the most.

Not that other people care about, or that people should in principle care about, but the ones that we ourselves personally care about.

The things it is deeply disconcerting to question.

And if we want to get the maximum change, and really start getting to the real assumptions that actually have the biggest and most palpable effect on our lives, we can actually use this feeling to zero in on what they are.

Can you see?  That of course, I could write a list of popular assumptions - but then, it's not really the popular ones that are the personal problem.  It's the personal ones.  And although there will of course be big similarities between people's assumptions, living in the same culture, there'll be big differences too.

Differences in emphasis, differences in importance, in priority - things like that.

What you want is a simple rule of thumb that allows you to immediately zero in on the key assumptions that are actually crippling and constraining your life.

So, let's see if we can't get one.

The most powerful assumptions we have are the assumptions it is disconcerting to question.

But ask yourself this - what is being disconcerted?

What is being disconcerted by the consideration of an assumption?

Let me put it in a different way.

If a deep and personal assumption is correct, then in considering it you stand to lose nothing.

If your deep and personal assumption is wrong, then you stand to lose deep and personal delusion.

Either way you cut it, it's a good thing.

In real terms, the deeper an assumption the more you have to gain by questioning it.  The more personal an assumption, the more personal the benefit of putting it on the table will be.

And yet in practical terms, as human beings, we find these by far the most difficult assumptions to question.

Isn't that strange?

Take some time with the strangeness.  Think about how weird that is.  That the assumptions we gain the most by questioning are the ones it is by far the hardest to question.

It seems like a paradox, on the face of it.  But then, of course, reality doesn't do paradox.  There's something about this we're not seeing.

What is the point of an assumption?

If the point of an assumption is to be accurate, then this makes no sense.

But accuracy has never been the point of assumption.

Assumptions form the bedrock of our understanding of the world, yes - but more than this.  They form the bedrock of us.  The bedrock upon what we are is built, the stories that we tell about ourselves, that we present to other people - and that we repeat when nobody else is watching.

And if you think of the point of assumption as being to create a stage on which a person can display, can show, can be seen?  Can be seen as good, can be seen as moral, can be seen as worthwhile?

Then all of a sudden this paradox vanishes like morning dew under the noonday sun.

This is what is threatened.  The coherence of the story.  The coherence of the self.

This is why, even though the questioning of deep assumption is by far the most sane choice, it is very rarely chosen - and so far in human history has never been chosen as a central element of engagement with reality.

All the needless frustration and misery that unquestioned assumption causes - which is to say, all needless frustration and misery - are a price that most human beings who have ever lived, from the time of the trees, have happily paid to keep those stories looking good.

And it might seem that there's something to be said for that.  I could absolutely imagine someone turning around and saying - "So what?  So, I believe a lie, so it hurts sometimes, but if it looks good, then at least I'm getting something."

Which would be a fair point.  If we lived in a magical world where all our wishes came true.

We do not.

If we lived in a fictional realm where we get to choose what is true, just because we believe it, then yes, this would be absolutely fine.  And many people like to tell themselves that actually, this is what the world is like.

The magical power of belief is a mainstay in a very large number of very potent cultural movements from the obvious semi-mystical ones, to a huge proportion of films, music and writing that tells us that all we need to do is believe enough, and everything will be fine.

It is a massive part of our Western culture, bubbling just beneath the rational veneer.

But it's not that it's 'insufficiently rational' that is the problem.

Reality is the problem.  Because reality doesn't care how happy you are to walk along a mountain road with your eyes closed.  It doesn't care how pretty your reasons are for closing your eyes.  And it won't tap you on the shoulder, and suggest a new approach, and argue and persuade you into taking it.

It will just let you fall off a cliff.

This is what I call "the justice of the cliff-face".  It's not that a cliff is cruel, or malicious.  It's not that it is stern and forbidding.  It's not that it is trying to teach you something.  It's not a monster.

But it will shatter every bone in your body, immediately, and without hesitation or mercy if you ignore that it is there.

A brutal justice for a seemingly innocuous crime.  All you did was close your eyes.  You had all these good reasons.  They were all so pretty.  You just liked to believe them, is that so bad?  Is that such a terrible crime that it deserves the shattering of your bones?

In human terms, no.  But in real terms?

Well, even calling it justice is something of a stretch.  It would be closer just to say, that's what happens when you walk a mountain path with your eyes closed.

Reality does not march to the beat of our drum, it does not bend and sway to fit itself to our expectations of it, it does not take our concerns or motivations into account.

This, when you get right down in the bones of it, is why lifelong frustration is endemic in humans.

We all understand that the outside world has rules about it.  Big ones, like gravity.  It's not cute, or sweet, to close your eyes walking along a cliff-edge, no matter how cute or sweet your reasons are.  It's just dumb.

But the internal world of human nature also has such laws.  When we close our eyes to reality, for the sake of preserving our pretty little stories, reality doesn't care.

It doesn't care that we do it, and it doesn't care how good our reasons for doing it sound.

And sooner or later (probably sooner, to be honest, these aren't vague karmic forces) your blindness will lead you off a cliff.

At the very least it will profoundly constrain what you are capable of seeing, and therefore profoundly limit your ability to successfully engage with the real.  And it will continue to do this, and you will live a life of frustration and useless compromise.

But sooner or later, unless you are amazingly fortunate, the cliff will come.  Something in your blindspot will lead to a situation of genuine ruin and actual collapse.

And what then of your story?

And this is the final nail in the coffin of the unexamined life.  That even the things it tries to protect - the pretty little stories - it eventually destroys.

What you have limited your life to protect will be confounded at every turn, and shattered at the last.

This, when you really get down to it, is the core problem of self-delusion.  Yes, it makes you feel good, or meaningful, or deep, or rational, or spiritual (or whatever) for a time.  But over time all lies collide with reality.  And reality is not dented.

There is a single switch of priority, right down in the source code of all the things we've seen here that opens up a new horizon.  A new way of living, and a new kind of future.

It is nothing grand.  It is nothing vast.  It is scary, yes - but the fear you feel in doing it is nothing compared to the anguish you make your fate by ignoring it.

It is this.  To switch the emotional polarity of how you deal with assumption.

The normal emotional polarity of how the vast and overwhelming mass of people through all human history have dealt with assumption is this - that the more they care about something, the less they are open to questioning it.

Flip the script.  The more you care about something being true, the more urgent questioning it becomes.

It is a jarring, jarring thing to do - especially to start with.  But it is the first step of a new life.

Because all of sudden you're no longer living in a tiny slice of experience, only seeing what is safe to see.  You don't live a safe life anymore, you are no longer a tame person.

The possibilities that have historically been closed to almost every human start to open up to you.  Ways of doing things that lie outside what people see become apparent - new possibilities hove into view.

It powerful, but it isn't magic.  It must actually be done.  You can't just read about it, and hope it happens.

But if you do it, you're no longer addressing the symptoms of frustration, or the symptoms of collapse.  You're getting right down in the origins, and because of this, if you do wish to do amazing things, you are massively, massively more likely to succeed.

And what is more - if you are no longer limited in your vision to the slice of life your assumptions permit yourself to see, great possibilities of what can be done open up.

So it has two effects.  It's not just that it helps you do what you're trying to do.  It also allows you to see greater things that can be done than most people have ever been able to imagine.

At the heart of this new way of living lies a very simple thing.  It is a very specific kind of humility.

It is the kind of humility that you need when walking along a mountain path.  Humility to the real.

Right at the core of human damage lies a very specific kind of arrogance.  It is not arrogance to other people, but a far deeper, far more extreme, and far more common kind.

Arrogance to the real.  That you feel your beliefs are more important than reality, and that reality should toe the line.  Should knuckle down underneath your opinion, and do things your way.

So much of human damage, when stripped right down to its essence, is this.

Standing on the seashore, shouting at the tide.

When we are humble - not to each other, not to those in authority, not to politicians or priests, not to this week's celebrity, or next week's moral panic - but humble to the real?

That is when we begin.  That is where it all begins.  A new way of living where you no longer crash down cliff-faces, or spend your life banging against brick.

A way of living humble to reality, and in that humility, open to reality.

And in that openness, open to all the beauty, peace, love and possibility that reality contains.

Which is to say, all real beauty, all real peace, and all real love.

All real possibility.

This is the revolution in human affairs that Immanuel Kant spoke of, many years ago.  Dare to know.  Dare to know the truth beneath all the things you cherish.  Do what nobody does.  Dare.  Dare something new.  Something really new, something new in history.  Shift the polarity.  Break the chains.

It's not in political force or in economic structure that the deepest revolution of humanity must originate.  It is in the heart, in the soul, way down in the deeps.  It must instead arise from individual people, from the bottom up.

Not to fight the dark, but to kindle a new light, over time, into a blaze.

This is the way to a new human future, for us as individuals, and for us all as a world.  A new kind of revolution, something we haven't seen before.

And with the power of the real, to heal the damage we have done to ourselves and to the world, and make of tomorrow something unknown, and better.