Amidst widespread mistrust of authority and governing institutions (politicians, particularly governments, are the least trusted group in society), dogma, from whatever source, appears to be losing its suffocating hold on the minds of people everywhere. Disillusionment with ideologically based solutions is being strengthened by the consistent failure of existing methods to solve the problems of the times, which are many and considerable.
If global and national challenges are to be met fully and whole-heartedly, creative reimagining, free of doctrine, is required; independent thinking outside the ideological box. Decrepit systems must be reappraised, the good retained the rest rejected; values realigned, belief systems revised and expanded. Humanity has been wedded to ideologies of one kind of another for eons. Our devotion to them strengthens self-identity, albeit limited and false, and provides a degree of comfort and order in a chaotic world which has no easily discernible logic or purpose to it. This is particularly so in relation to organised religions with their defined order, fixed doctrine and mapped-out route to ‘God’.
Capitalism, democracy and Christianity (2.2 billion believers) are the most pervasive global ideologies, but there are a host of others. In the religious field there’s Islam, the fastest growing religion (1.8 billion); Hinduism (the world’s oldest, one billion), which is not really a religion but a collection of traditions and ancient philosophies; Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism, plus a bundle of sub-sects. Then there are the socio-economic/political structures: Socialism, Neo-liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the many divisions; on and on it goes.
A veritable jumble of isms then, conditioning the minds of everyone, everywhere, enabling control, fuelling social divisions, historic conflicts, sparking terrorism and wars too numerous to count. Ideologies consisting of systemized forms, inflexible rules and cherished beliefs administered by devotees, suited and enrobed intermediaries — between the ignorant masses and the state or the divine. Ordained or elected to perpetuate the system, devoutly deliver the doctrine, condition the unsuspecting from the pulpit, the election rally or news channel, and orchestrate the hollow rituals designed by their predecessors. Mass media and education, plus already infiltrated peers and parents are key feeding grounds for the perpetuation of ideologies
Love in Action
Alongside the calls for justice, a relentless rhythm of the times is the collective demand for freedom. It adorns the placards and lyrics of protest songs around the world. Various freedoms are contained within The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR): “Freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want, freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” And crucially, “The right to freedom of thought” (Article 18). This ‘right’, which is the most important of them all, like numerous others contained within the aspirational articles of the UNDHR, does not exist anywhere in the world; it cannot exist within the boundaries of any ideology, and no society is free, not just from a specific ideology, but a potent cocktail of isms.
All belief systems inhibit and condition thinking, colour attitudes and impact behavior. Rigid adherence to isms of all kinds creates divisions, within the individual and by extension the society, and where division exists conflict and fear prosper. All of which runs contrary to the impulse and need of the time, for unity, collective action, cooperation and tolerance. It is these perennial ideals that need to be strengthened if we are to overcome the major issues facing us. All that separates and divides needs to be discarded.
Existing ideologies are in varying states of decay, with devotees of the doctrine lacking the freedom and imagination to allow the system (socio-economic, political or religious) to evolve. But as attitudes and values shift, and this is happening apace throughout the world, in order to be relevant and to adequately meet the demands of the time, evolve they must.
Unity is the key element in any such shift — the required guiding principle underlying the development of existing systems and modes of living. Systems and methodologies rooted not in ideology but in compassion and brotherhood, leading to love in action; systems designed to foster social justice, reduce inequality, dismantle divisions and build relationships.
Unity does not equate to mechanical conformity, that is what exists now; in a tolerant, non-judgmental space where the common good is the collective aim, different ideas can happily co-exist, each contributing to the enrichment and beautification of the whole. Oneness is the very nature of things, the essence of who we are; creating ways of living that are rooted in and encourage expressions of this inherent fact is essential if we are to face the challenges of the time, safeguard the environment and begin to build a just and free world.
Much needs to change in our world, and while this was clear before Covid-19, the pandemic is highlighting festering issues and creating a space in which to re-access current modes of living. New and just socio-economic and political systems are required together with positive values that encourage the good. Mankind needs to learn to share, to live more simply, to cooperate and to create a world free from conflict, and the planet needs to be allowed to heal. The list is long, but everything is interrelated.
Underlying the various crises facing humanity is a crisis of identity. Identifying almost exclusively with the form (physical body, thoughts and emotions), we believe that we are separate – from one another, the natural world and from that animating force to which we give the highly charged name of ‘God’, whatever that may be. The belief in separation is firmly held and is constantly perpetuated by the structures of the day – social, economic, educational, and so on – it conditions relationships, is a source of deep seated psychological conflict and fear and cloaks the truth.
The reality is Oneness; all of life is interconnected, whole. The essential first step in the process of renewal (for us and the planet) is for humanity to see itself as one, and from this realization to design systems and ways of living that cultivate and strengthen the experience of oneness. Humanity is a family, a group, large and diverse, consisting of unique individuals with a variety of gifts and qualities, all sharing the same constitution and inherent nature, and all suffering from the same or similar fears and longings.
Belief in separation has led to the creation of divisive unjust systems and a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality, a widespread acceptance that man/woman is inherently selfish, greedy and driven by pleasure. As we transition out of the present dying order and into the new, many people are challenging this false idea and calling for a shift, not only in the modes of living, but in ways of thinking.
Oneness and Fragmentation
One of the most significant characteristics of our times is the polarization between large sections of the population. There is the worldwide movement towards collective action, greater tolerance and cooperation, and, rooted in the past, the converse reaction towards tribal nationalism, the aggrandizement of the Nation and the success of the individual at the expense of the group: Unity or Oneness in opposition to Fragmentation or Separation. On the noisy surface at least, fragmentation is in the ascendancy, and unity, although often warmly refereed to, rather like a much-loved eccentric relative, is held within the margins and spoken of in condescending unrealistic terms.
Fragmentation constitutes the normal, if totally unnatural, way of things; it characterizes virtually every aspect of life and describes the state of mind of most, if not all of us. Where competition exists (and its hard to find anywhere where it doesn’t), where ideology dictates and nationalism triumphs, fragmentation, like a giant jigsaw puzzle will be found scattered across the mind and the society, in chaotic, yet familiar disorder.
Motive is also a primary factor in the creation of fragmentation and the belief in separation. Any kind of motive – noble or ignoble – creates fragmentation, and where is there action free from motive? Desire, which sits alongside motive, colors all activity it seems, polluting and corrupting as it passes from one form to another, one discontented agitated mind to the next.
Generations have been systematically conditioned into believing that this is the way to live, that we are separate and must compete with one another to survive; that greed, selfishness, social division and tribalism are part of who and what we are as human beings, and that there is no alternative. According to the Doctrine of Division it’s good to ‘love your country’ above all others, flags are saluted, anthems of obedience and loyalty sung, conditioning the mind young and old. To compete to be the best and to overcome your enemies or competitors essential, if we, as separate divided human beings are to survive and prosper, to fulfill our potential.
This fundamentally misguided, and false approach has led to the creation of a deeply divided world, to brittle unkind systems of governance and control that perpetuate violence and social injustice, creating a frightened world community at odds with itself and the natural world, to say nothing of ‘God’. Fragmentation is division and where division prospers so does conflict, internally (psychologically and physiologically) and externally.
From this fractured state of mind decisions flow, personal and collective, political and corporate. The negative results of which we see in our own lives and in our societies; endless war’s, needless poverty and acute economic inequality, social division, relationship break down, mental health illnesses, climate change and the widespread collapse of ecosystems, etc., etc. Fragmentation and the fervent belief in separation defies the natural way of things, which, if allowed to flow unimpeded is ordered and harmonious. It crushes brotherhood, sews mistrust and suspicion of ‘the other’, and obstructs totally the experience and realization of our innate self; that essential reality that, beyond the time bound constructs of thought, we all are. That is our true being, and when actions proceed from that unified non-fragmented place harmony ensues.
If we are to move out of the crumbling chaos of the old and create a new and just civilization in which humanity can live peacefully together for the first time in our long and painful history, we must first of all recognize that we are one; that all of life is interconnected, something we know in theory, but disregard in practice. The new forms and ways of living that must emerge need to be based on and encourage expressions of brotherhood and compassion. This will establish a living cycle of love; yes, perhaps unsurprisingly it’s all about love, and the absence of it. Unity is an expression of love.
The creation of a fertile ground in which harmony can come into being is a great deal easier than might be imagined. As humanity collectively demonstrates (excluding the minority) in times of need, underneath the outward shows of cruelty and selfishness, mankind is good; remove the obstacles (fear, desire, competition etc.) to compassion and that unifying force – love, which is our very nature, will naturally and spontaneously express itself. As the shoals of fish swimming in the previously polluted Grande Canal in Venice show, remove the noise and pollution, allow the filth to settle to he depths and the waters become clear by themselves.