13. Cultural Cycles and Climate Change- More Quiet Time
The key elements of our findings are that the West today has reached the final stage of the outward cycle, which has produced great advances of intellectual prowess, however, due to excessive emphasis on this process, without a suitable balance of more inner intuitive experience, the time has come for a change.
It is clear that the need for change is not recognised by many, especially those who have benefited greatly from the results of scientific advances, the freedom of democracy, the dynamism of the capitalistic system and the wealth created for some.
The first step is therefore to present the factual case based on the lessons learned from well documented historical studies and modern statistical data, highlighting the deficiencies in our culture, including the high degree of stress, tension and mental illness along with the extensive erosion of our environment, mainly for the sake of economic gain and personal pleasure. We have offered a full list of the key problems in Blog 9, so here is summary of the key problems we need to acknowledge:
• We are a predominantly materialistic society dominated by the values of wealth, power, fame & pleasure. Excess in these domains has become the norm.
• There is little or in some cases no spiritual education offered to young people and participation in the traditional religious services has substantially decreasedfor the older generations.
• The family as a cohesive supportive unit is in the verge of collapse and this has caused increased stress and tension in young people raised without the love anddiscipline offered by both parents.
• Climate Change, which has become a global problem. The West, being the current dominant economic power, needs to make significant changes to its policies and actions that damage Nature for the sake of economic gain.
Here is brief summary of the first steps,which we have called More Quiet Time, needed to resolve these issues.
More Quiet Time
The essence of this new direction is turning the attention inwards by: quieting the moving mind; surrendering the excess baggage of ego-based ideas and feelings; and simply connecting with our true ‘inner being’.
This is where the conflict with scientific thinking arises. In scientific terms every element needs to be identified and measured. A quantitative measure is necessary. If it cannot be identified and measured, according to the scientific community, it does not exist. Rupert Sheldrake, in his work, The Science Delusion, expresses it this way:
Here are the recommended practices for attaining a more balanced, conscious state which when attained will enable you to make clear, objective decisions.
A practice to help bring our mind to a more still state, to be in the present moment. The essence of mindfulness can begleaned from the name. We need to have access to a full mind, the full potential of the mind. This can only happen in the present moment when all distractions of the past or the future are put aside and our attention is concentrated on whatever task is at hand. Being in the present moment is the key to rectifying the conditions created by the wrong actions of the past. The present is stronger than the past and the future, so we need to use this power in the right way. Other aids to more quiet time that are discussed are:
In our society today, there is a belief that we need to fill our day with constant activity and not waste a moment. All too often it is the speed of an activity that counts as opposed to the quality.
Practising contemplation or quiet reflection is an approach that combines the ability to focus and concentrate with the need to let go of the stream of thoughts that cloud the show.
If change is going to be brought about on a group level, whether that be a family, a business organisation, a political party or a nation, what is needed in our democratic society is open and effective dialogue. It is important that we make a clear distinction between discussion and dialogue.
Meditation has been practised for thousands of years in the various spiritual traditions, versions of which are consistent with their teaching. While there are different systems of meditation, the practice itself is universal. It helps create a real sense of unity, which is crucial in our world today. The essence of the practice is about attention, one-pointed attention, be it on a mantra or on a flame. There will be the inevitable distracting thoughts which consume vast amounts of our energy. In mantra meditation by continually returning our attention to sounding the mantra and listening to it, we avoid losing the energy. If the attention is maintained, the sounding and listening becomes finer and finer, until a point is reached where there is no sound, no listening, only a profound silence. It is in these moments that great peace is experienced.
Silence is always present. It is the source, the substance from which all sounds arise; sounds in the form of thoughts and verbal sounds in the form of speech. Sounds are vibrations, movements. When there is silence, there is stillness. Both silence and stillness are characterised by no movement. We will confirm the points made about silence with of quotes from various traditions. Here is one.
“In silence there are no thoughts, justbeing.
In total silence the mind comes upon the eternal.”
There is an increasing acceptance of the value and benefits which come from these practices. Mindfulness and Meditation are increasingly being used in schools to counter the high levels of stress. They are gradually gaining the support of young people which is an important step going forward. Some businesses have also introduced the practices which is another good sign.
The next Blog will offer a summary of the next stage which involves working to fine human values in how we think, relate to others and act.