Putting it together - We are a work-in-progress transcript
Thus far, we have enlightened ourselves to a number of wisdoms that strengthen our way of thinking. Today, let’s create a dynamic image of how a newer way of thinking transforms us from helpless, self-centered “takers” into powerful creators of our own destiny. Let’s understand that we ourselves are the work-in-progress of a powerful creative force. Indeed, we are not only the growing edge of change; we have made ourselves the most significant agent of change. We have a mission and a purpose that began with simplicity and we are continuously growing in complexity and sophistication.
Our life span is characterized by three stages, whereas other earth inhabitants experience one or two. Each stage may be identified with its own master who creates the rules that govern the experience of life within that stage. The most important way that we stand out from other life is that we have been provided a sophisticated portion of our brain that invents language, the cerebral cortex, or “freedom organ.” Humankind alone has been given the gift of naming. Naming enables us to collect, store, share, and pass knowledge forward. Knowledge of cause and effect is power. As successive generations collected more knowledge, we have become such increasingly powerful creators and destroyers that we now influence our destiny and we have assumed responsibility for the future of our loved ones and mother earth.
Learning starts with labeling. In prior strens, as a practical matter to convey meaning, I have labeled the first forces that are the masters of the way we think instinct and tradition, whereas self-mastery identifies the self-programming that frees us from instinct and habit. Some prefer to call the first controllers of our life nature and nurture, others fate and circumstance, and some identify a supernatural force which is commonly called “God.”
Stren #3 identified the three masters who together direct our life’s experience:
· Instinct (nature) consists of the inherited operating system that is predetermined by our genes. Instinct links us to our earliest ancestors. A long chain of adaptations for survival, proven by trial-and-error, have been passed forward over billions of years and innumerable generations. Instinct includes those patterns that were successful in getting us this far by being effective in a primitive, savage environment.
· Tradition (nurture) consists of the innovations our more recent ancestors have added to nature’s perspective and thereafter pass forward. They mainly consist of the common sense solutions that were effective for yesterday’s problems based on yesterday’s knowledge. We are assigned allegiances: a tribe, a native language, a country, a religion, a political ideology, sports teams, how to dress, what is masculine and feminine behavior, and how to interpret the world. Wow! We get quite a lot from our nurturers.
· Self-mastery appears in the third phase of our life cycle. It is the most interesting phase because in it we can assume direction of who we are and what we are to become. It is the process whereby we mentally free ourselves from dictators to assume the opportunity and the burden of personal responsibility. Unlike the passively received inscriptions of instinct and tradition which we cannot refuse, self-mastery is an option that requires our active participation. We attain self-mastery by inventing word-switches that create a newer way of thinking. Word-switches serve as signals that inspire common sense problem-solving; they replace established trigger words that turn on instinct and tradition. The rules of instinct and tradition are not designed to wisely manage the problems new knowledge creates – for example, our discovery and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power. Our current generation has reached such a level of power that we have already assumed responsibility for who and what survives. We are the first and only life to have reached such godlike power.
Instinct and tradition are dictators in that they predetermine the way we think, and demand that we conform to their perspective. Our early way of thinking is formed like soft putty being molded according to the whims of its designer. Through our early decades we are physically and mentally immature. Like all life, we lack sufficient mental power to resist instinct and tradition. Because most of today’s issues are unchanged from the past, the rules innately demanded by instinct and the acquired rules demanded by tradition are usually effective today.
Let’s now establish names for the three development stages humankind experience within our life cycle – immaturity, maturity, and super-maturity:
· Immaturity: During the 9 months from conception to birth, instinct (master nature) directs who we are and what we are to become. After our birth we add our nurturer’s traditions to guide us through immaturity, which lasts for decades. Our freedom organ requires about 18 years to reach full physical maturity. Studies of adult development reveal that most of us require an additional 10 years to attain enough mental and emotional maturity to significantly free ourselves from our early masters.
· Maturity: Upon birth and through our first thirty years, more or less, tradition (master nurture) adds new instructions to those of instinct to gradually dominate our thinking, feelings, and actions. As we slowly mature and acquire knowledge, we become powerful creators, but continue to be dependent on the “shoulds” of instinct and tradition.
· Super-maturity: The third and most interesting stage of our life cycle develops as we acquire sufficient power to direct who we are and what we become. We call this stage by such names as self-mastery, becoming one’s own person, mental freedom, and thought control. I use the label super-maturity to signal awareness of this stage.
Please note that we don’t jump from one master or one stage of development to another. We progress by gradually adding maturity to immaturity as we’d add milk to coffee, until we eventually create coffee milk. Similarly, we slowly add super-maturity to make our own original common sense perspectives coexistent with those of instinct and tradition. Progress from instinct to tradition to self-mastery; from immaturity to maturity to super-maturity, is “both...and,” not “either/or.” We can become self-directed in one area, such as family, while we may remain quite subject to instinct and tradition in other areas such as tribal allegiance and religion.
Simple life like one-celled organisms and bacteria, enter life mature, ready to repeat their life cycle. They have no brain, require no nurturance, and their life consists from birth of only one “mature” stage. More complex life forms may have brains of varying sizes and require nurturing, usually through mimicry, to reach maturity and procreate. Their life cycle is predictably limited to the rules of instinct and tradition. The time to progress from immaturity to maturity depends on the complexity of the species. Humankind is unique by the degree to which we enter a third self-mastery, super-maturity stage of the life cycle. Only we significantly acquire and pass knowledge forward to successive generations. Language provides us the creative power of imagination to change ourselves and the world. Our work-in-progress is acquiring sufficient wisdom to consistently direct our godlike power to constructive outcomes.
Instinct and tradition, like all dictators, program our thinking to comply with their authority by four identifiable characteristics:
1. Thinking is processed into two either/or categories. We call this dichotomous thinking because it divides our understanding of the world into two extremes – us or them, good or evil, right or wrong, safe or dangerous, friend or foe, and so on. Two-category thinking simplifies decision making but it is a major source of bigotry and prejudice.
2. Thinking is prescriptive. Our dictators signify their rules by trigger words such as “should, have to, must, and ought.” Thinking out of the box is a violation of our dictator’s rules.
3. Thinking reflects our dependency. It is factual that we are dependent for many years. Prescriptive trigger words convey meanings that clarify that someone else’s judgment is supreme. A common interpretation of the world is, “others are responsible for my experience; therefore, others are blameworthy when I experience frustration.” This once accurate interpretation persists, even though it becomes untrue as we acquire physical and mental maturity. We have a mission to acquire self-mastery and assume personal responsibility through a newer way of thinking.
4. Thoughts are automatic. Once preprogrammed as instinct and indelibly established by repetition to become habit, the “shoulds” of instinct and tradition spontaneously pop up without effort or direction. Habits passed from generation to generation become tradition.
Here are the easy word-switch changes that upgrade our thinking for self-mastery and super-maturity:
1. Substitute both...and for either/or to strengthen common sense wisdom and weaken two-category thinking. Both...and is our most powerful word-switch to free our thinking from dictators. Both...and recognizes our similarities more than our differences, and promotes tolerance instead of bigotry and win/win collaboration instead of win/lose competition.
2. Substitute descriptive words for prescriptive words. Could inspires us to apply common sense to create alternatives and choose among them; should demands compliance to a dictator.
3. Substitute personal responsibility for blaming words. I allow recognizes our role as powerful creators. It replaces the blaming perspective “They make me ....” that we acquire during our immaturity.
4. Collect strens, the common sense wisdoms that strengthen our mental power to consistently direct our growing knowledge to constructive outcomes. Each wisdom furthers our work-in-progress toadd the global community to our local allegiances. Strens enlighten us to contribute to the well-being of our global community instead of only taking from it, like a cancer cell. Today’s stren is only #15 in over 100 wisdoms provided in this series.
Don’t miss the critical insight of this stren. Humankind is the only species that significantly participates in the third self-mastery stage of development. Language provides us the power of interpretation. As we acquire knowledge and sufficient mental freedom from dictators, we increasingly participate as an active creator and chief executive officer of our own destiny. As powerful creators, we have a mission to design word-switches that elevate our thinking to engage in the common sense problem-solving that frees us from the action pathways hardwired by instinct and tradition. We elevate ourselves as we create word-switches that make common sense thinking common. Recent generations have so effectively enlightened us and changed the world that we have made our generation responsible for everyone’s future. Our current knowledge has launched us into a new era where multiple tribes will soon have weapons of ultimate destruction to create Armageddon, weapons with ultimate constructive power to create Utopia, and anything in between. If we choose to survive we must popularize a newer way of thinking that consistently directs our power to constructive outcomes. We require sufficient informed citizens to awaken our population to the need for collaboration among all tribes. In short, we have a limited amount of time to unite and popularize a newer way of thinking, and to elevate ourselves to the humane, civilized qualities to which we aspire.
A review of the seven Mind-freeing Life-changing World-saving word-switches will make clear how each powerfully contribute to our mission.