When I was teaching, I used to ask my students how many had Christmas tress every year. Most raised their hands. So, then I would ask them WHY they had a tree. No one really knew. This is how false realities work. They get us enmeshed at a young age, before we learn to question. So, for the rest of our lives, we accept these habits of thought and being, without question. We learn to just do what we see, never making decisions.
So many world-changers were culturally inappropriate. Think of Buddha, Rosa Parks, Jesus, Madame Curie, Gandhi, Lao Tsu, Martin Luther King Jr., Mulan (yep, she was real) –this list of people who refused to accept what their culture said was “right” and “appropriate” could be a lot longer. They didn’t accept what wasn’t true and right, even when their entire culture was against them. That meant that what they did rubbed people the wrong way. They didn’t “fit in” to their society.
Why? Because they refused to accept what did not align with their highest values. They questioned the voices that wanted them to “go along to get along.” They didn’t listen to thoughts about how everyone did it, it had always been done that way, and so on. Fear, guilt, judgement, labels, and social “shoulds” didn’t move them. Truth did.
Step outside your culture, and you see a very different reality.
You can do this, though it isn’t easy, it is simple. You can’t spend your day immersed in cultural elements that command your attention, and expect to see clearly. All that cultural bait—those hooked thoughts that draw your attention—will fill up your mind if that is all you see. When you are immersed in culture, seeing it clearly would be like asking fish to judge the water—too hard to do from the inside.
If you watch daily TV, listen to the radio, read best-sellers, gossip with friends about the latest celebrity news, go to every movie that comes out, go to the same religious services each week, check social media every five minutes, and end your day with the TV news, you won’t be able to accurately see your culture. You are the fish in the water. Your mind will be consumed by the false reality of your culture’s story, and you won’t be able to discern its lies.
A human being is just a human being, but all the labels and judgements of culture cause us to to instantly distance ourselves from each other. If you are immersed in culture, you won’t even hear the labels. You will just automatically apply them.
Labels are always false. The true you knows this. The cultural you does not.
We often turn labels and judgements against ourselves. His is just another toll of the cultural construct to keep us in line. If we feel stupid, ugly, unlovable, lonely, then we are being enmeshed in the cultural programming. When that happens, we’re pretty unlikely to question that false reality. We are too busy feeling bad about ourselves, or trying to fix whatever culture says is “wrong” with us so we will be lovable.
Break Free from the Program
–Determine that you will love and accept yourself no matter what.
–Deliberately force yourself to seek out information and viewpoints that challenge your most deeply held beliefs. Listen with an open mind.
–Experience other cultures with curiosity.
–Turn off media and spend a significant amount of time in silence and/or nature each day.
–When you do use media, start to question its assumptions. Whenever you hear or sense a “should,” question it.
–Question every judgmental thought, against yourself or others.
–Refuse to engage in arguments over aspects of false reality.
Next week–Layers of Reality
For part one of this Series, see Cultural Reality