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We Are Between Stories

--by Judith Thompson (Dec 20, 2011)


We live in an exciting time. As cultural historian, Thomas Berry put it: "We are between stories." The old story -- bracketed on the one side by reductionist scientific materialism, and on the other by institutional religious dogmas -- is no longer able to guide us toward human or planetary flourishing. Instead, the chasms created by both science and religion, and the various social philosophies they spawned, are implicated in pushing us toward the precipitous edge upon which we now stand. At this edge we see both breakdowns and breakthroughs.

While the story of scientific materialism has been part of our evolutionary journey, it has created a map of reality -- a worldview -- that de-legitimized a vast portion of wisdom and experience. It placed reason over intuition, intellect over emotion, material over spiritual, objectivity over subjectivity, exteriority over interiority, and condensed this into a story that we live in a mechanistic, material world that can only be known through objective and measurable observation in which human reason reigns supreme.
 
Institutionalized religion upheld a story that gave male authority figures the power to interpret and mediate purported divine laws and construct theological justifications for power over women, children, the natural world, and non-believers. While scientific and religious stories were at odds with each other, both saw it in their interests to label metaphysical or spiritual worldviews outside their boundaries as heresy, superstition or witchcraft.
 
Yet ironically, science itself has now begun to step into the realm of the mystics. The "new sciences" story finds biologists and neuroscientists astounded by the hitherto unstudied capacities of the human brain and heart, indicating our ability to intentionally amplify love and compassion. It finds psychologists exploring the territory of contemplatives and revealing a map of human consciousness far beyond the individual ego-self. It finds physicists discovering that the presumed separation of observed and observer doesn’t exist. Much like the African worldview of Ubuntu -- “I am because you are” – all things exists as a communion of subjects, not an assortment of objects.
 
The new story frames the human journey, not within the context of tribes or nations, but embedded in a constantly evolving planet and cosmos, interconnected and interdependent at every level. The implications of this framing could signal dramatic changes in every field of human endeavor.
 
The trends we are seeing within restorative justice, reconciliation, transitional justice, dialogue and other forms of peace practice, are evidence of new ways of addressing human conflict that are moving beyond the old dichotomies. We have chosen to name this trend social healing partly because we see an evolving paradigm that is not fundamentally hinged around the dualities of good vs. bad and right vs. wrong, but is rather inclined toward viewing human conflict through the lens of wounding and healing. Social healing, then, is not guided by revenge, retribution or punishment, but rather by the compassionate response of relating to all people -- victims, transgressors and bystanders alike – as inextricably connected.
 
--Judith Thompson, in Social Healing Project report


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13 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jan 2, 2012 Rajesh Singh Sisodia wrote:

Yes,the article is very pragmatic.Today we are really witness to "spritualism & materailism" which are the poles apart. But we have to live between these two opposite poles.Living amid these two poles is called LIFE.



On Dec 29, 2011 Arvetta wrote:

WOW!   How good it is to read the deep reality of today.  My heart felt gratitude for your clear language and articulate image of the bridge that humanity is crossing - either flowingly, or kicking all the way - every connective cell is feeling the change.  Some knowingly, others in ponderance of the chaos in their lives - unable to make sense of it due to a stagnate state of knowledge and belief system that no longer serves them, nor energizes the sacred destiny of humanity.  

The compassionate response to transgressors is not easy - but doing what is easy and doing what is right and of sacred justice is not the same thing.  Chaos is the driver toward a shift in our beliefs and toward change that matters.  Abundant blessings to all on this 'journey over the bridge'.  May a compassionate and resonate future be an abiding reality for all.

 

 

 

 



On Dec 23, 2011 Thierry wrote:

Talking of the old story, in 1945, near Nag - Hammadi, in upper Egypt, the plow of a local peasant uncovered amphoras with parchments dating back to the time of Jesus. Among those parchments a gospel, a record by Thomas Jude Didyme, the 12th apostle, of the living words of Jesus. Among those here is Logion29 (translated from the French version):

"Jesus said:  If flesh has come to exist by the cause of spirit, this is a marvel!... But if spirit has come to exist by the cause of body, this a marvel among marvels! But what feels me with wonder is this: how can this Being, who actually is, inhabit this no-thingness!"

  Where one recognises, first, the "story" of creation; second, the "story" of evolution; then the wonderment at the mistery of beingness that passes understanding. 



On Dec 23, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:

 Ubuntu philosophy is correct –African Philosophy..   Indigenous I live in Australia and we have a motto song that we sing;  “I am, you are, we are Australian”.. ...  It’s exactly in the way of ‘world'  It’s an recent song not old at all, but it’s just so correct, for we ‘all are’  It doesn’t matter who you are, what  color, what nationality, what gender, what age or denomination, when we are here, being and working together we are ONE... When I was learning and working through the Chakras, and the mirror works and inner child work, it is very common to be in the “I am because you are” state..  When one says NAMASTE = means the recognition of one's existence by other person. Please correct my English interpretations if I am wrong, but on the basis of my learning, Namaste means, "I salute or recognize your presence or existence in society and universe,  See full.

 

Ubuntu philosophy is correct –African Philosophy..   Indigenous

 

I live in Australia and we have a motto song that we sing;

 

“I am, you are, we are Australian”.. ...  

It’s exactly in the way of ‘world'  It’s an recent song not old at all, but it’s just so correct, for we ‘all are’  It doesn’t matter who you are, what  color, what nationality, what gender, what age or denomination, when we are here, being and working together we are ONE...

 

When I was learning and working through the Chakras, and the mirror works and inner child work, it is very common to be in the “I am because you are” state..

 

When one says NAMASTE = means the recognition of one's existence by other person.

Please correct my English interpretations if I am wrong, but on the basis of my learning,

Namaste means, "I salute or recognize your presence or existence in society and universe,

And OR, My higher self, greats your higher self...     What a great way to greet someone instead of ‘Hey’ :-) 

 

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On Dec 23, 2011 Betty` wrote:

 I love the way you write, Judith. The ethos of your piece reminds me of the kind of inspirational content that I've read in the Amazing People Club stories: of achievement through adversity and turning traditional values on their head. I had never heard of Ubuntu before...much like Existentialism in it seems, but I need to investigate all of this as this form of peace practice seems to fit all my motivations and ideals. Thanks for the article! 



On Dec 22, 2011 Dinesh Mehta wrote:

 Audio clip from this week's circle of sharing ...

 



On Dec 22, 2011 Kabir wrote:

 Krishnamurti even in his writings constantly emphasize on the fact that "let there be no difference between an Observer and Observed".

We are between stories (may be out of context) reminds me that the real expression of the author or poet is in the space between the words and sentences. 

 



On Dec 20, 2011 Yoghio wrote:

" All things exist as a communion of subjects", this sounds very true to me. Yet, the more aware of their subjectivity the subjects, the better. All science is often seen, these days, as reductionist. This view of science may well be reductionnist itself. The realisation that the observer interferes in the process of observation is an actuality for most scientists today. Take ethology as an instance, a science of observation, and look at the tremendous insights it gave us into animal behaviour. Is'nt it because those scientists have learned to see what actually is through the veil of human subjectivity. The scientific attitude, in that instance, is respectful of animals and thus truly compassionate. 



On Dec 19, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:

Hmm – We are Between Stories - How do you relate to the old and new story? Interesting....Hmm –Do we relate at all? Or are we just passing through it, and once we have passed through it, thats when we ‘realise‘what has happened? I’m thinking that’s exactly when our reality occurs, so, at that moment of understanding to ‘relate’ on any level or any situation, is when awareness occurs, and that’s when  we know and we can comment, or act on any given situation, or event – All-be-it of past actions!!!  And that’s how we relate with words and divisions - Possibly?  Otherwise, we would have affirmative actions in the ‘moment’ creating ‘Bliss’ with ‘Now’ knowledge...  Anyway, we all pass through the moment of old to new, like water passing through our fingers, So, time is the ‘evolution’ and that is the ‘reality’ we know!!!  By t  See full.

Hmm – We are Between Stories - How do you relate to the old and new story? Interesting....

Hmm –Do we relate at all? Or are we just passing through it, and once we have passed through it, thats when we ‘realise‘what has happened?

I’m thinking that’s exactly when our reality occurs, so, at that moment of understanding to ‘relate’ on any level or any situation, is when awareness occurs, and that’s when  we know and we can comment, or act on any given situation, or event – All-be-it of past actions!!!  And that’s how we relate with words and divisions - Possibly?  Otherwise, we would have affirmative actions in the ‘moment’ creating ‘Bliss’ with ‘Now’ knowledge...  Anyway, we all pass through the moment of old to new, like water passing through our fingers,

So, time is the ‘evolution’ and that is the ‘reality’ we know!!!  By the time we actually realise what has happened, the moment has gone....  So, is new ‘Science’ just a replacement for old Religion? that makes us feel connected from an old dogma 'to' a possibly new code of belief?  Who knows, we have to be ‘aware’ in the ‘moment’ to realise and relate!

 

Thanks for the thought.

E

 

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On Dec 19, 2011 Catherine Todd wrote:

Conrad wrote: "Zen …insists that the whole trouble is just our failure to realize that there is no problem, and of course, this means that there is no solution either.”       “…A solution to the great problem of life, is not solving it all: the not solving is really the solving. The wise man does not pursue wisdom but lives his life and therein precisely does his wisdom lie.  The wisdom that Faust comes to in the end, Zen starts with it... When an ordinary person becomes enlightened, he or she is a sage. When a sage becomes enlightened, he or she is an ordinary person.” Reducing desire and being in the present more often are great  for me." Thank you! These are "words to the wise" and "words from the wise" and I can understand and take this to heart. Gracias! "The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails."  See full.

Conrad wrote: "Zen …insists that the whole trouble is just our failure to realize that there is no problem, and of course, this means that there is no solution either.”

      “…A solution to the great problem of life, is not solving it all: the not solving is really the solving. The wise man does not pursue wisdom but lives his life and therein precisely does his wisdom lie.  The wisdom that Faust comes to in the end, Zen starts with it... When an ordinary person becomes enlightened, he or she is a sage. When a sage becomes enlightened, he or she is an ordinary person.” Reducing desire and being in the present more often are great  for me."

 

Thank you! These are "words to the wise" and "words from the wise" and I can understand and take this to heart. Gracias!

 

"The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails."

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On Dec 19, 2011 Conrad wrote:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Evolution is accelerating, especially the Lamarckian type. We are evolving into noticing, not that we have found a new home, but rather, we are now noticing that we never left the home of non-duality. In addition, Shunryu Suzuki said, we are not two and not one. As David Loy said, we are nondual yet duality can be a subset of non-duality. That's something like saying that the way that can be said is not the way. Former University of Michigan philosopher, Abraham Kaplan, helps clarify the difficult to understand when he said about Zen: “Not rejecting one metaphysics, set of thought, or theology in favor of another.  It is a whole metaphysico–theological enterprise that is being repudiated.  So far as concerns the actual living of our lives there is little to choose among the various constructions.  They are all metaphors, as it were, and while a change of metaphor may satisfy the critics, it will never lift us from lite  See full.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Evolution is accelerating, especially the Lamarckian type. We are evolving into noticing, not that we have found a new home, but rather, we are now noticing that we never left the home of non-duality. In addition, Shunryu Suzuki said, we are not two and not one. As David Loy said, we are nondual yet duality can be a subset of non-duality. That's something like saying that the way that can be said is not the way.

Former University of Michigan philosopher, Abraham Kaplan, helps clarify the difficult to understand when he said about Zen: “Not rejecting one metaphysics, set of thought, or theology in favor of another.  It is a whole metaphysico–theological enterprise that is being repudiated.  So far as concerns the actual living of our lives there is little to choose among the various constructions.  They are all metaphors, as it were, and while a change of metaphor may satisfy the critics, it will never lift us from literature into life.  We become so accustomed to particular conventions of civilization that we forgot altogether that we are dealing with symbols and mistake convention for nature itself.”

      …“We cannot escape the confrontation of our own natural self.  We cannot help trying to find meaning in life….  We cannot hide from ourselves. So instead of telling us what the problem is, Zen …insists that the whole trouble is just our failure to realize that there is no problem, and of course, this means that there is no solution either.”

      “…A solution to the great problem of life, is not solving it all: the not solving is really the solving. The wise man does not pursue wisdom but lives his life and therein precisely does his wisdom lie.  The wisdom that Faust comes to in the end, Zen starts with it... When an ordinary person becomes enlightened, he or she is a sage. When a sage becomes enlightened, he or she is an ordinary person.” Reducing desire and being in the present more often are great  for me.

 

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On Dec 19, 2011 Catherine Todd wrote:

"...We have chosen to name this trend social healing partly because we see an evolving paradigm that is not fundamentally hinged around the dualities of good vs. bad and right vs. wrong, but is rather inclined toward viewing human conflict through the lens of wounding and healing. Social healing, then, is not guided by revenge, retribution or punishment, but rather by the compassionate response of relating to all people -- victims, transgressors and bystanders alike – as inextricably connected."

 

This is wonderful. This is something I can try. Thank you so much.



On Dec 19, 2011 PK wrote:

 I love this piece because it resonates where I see myself -- right in the middle of two paradigms, two worldviews -- neither of them wrong nor right. Neither is fully present nor absent. It is the past that informs me and the future that inspires me. How do i move gently into the future of my choice and honor the past of my tradition...

What worked in a past still has a place in the future -- though not in the exact same way. What is being created and invented is happening on the ground of the past.

In this middle space -- in this gap between the past and the future -- that present exists.

in this time, in this present moment - in the now -- all of the future and all of the past come together and celebrate. And we get to live in that present now and for ever...

it is really exciting time!