"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, May 27, 2011

Towards a New Cultural Paradigm: 'Developing Sustainability' rather than 'Sustainable Development'

In his now-classic treatise, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," Thomas Kuhn points out that new scientific paradigms emerge when there is an anomaly that the existing paradigm cannot account for, when a new theory that can account for the anomaly is put forth, and when a small but growing number of adherents coalesce around that new way of interpreting reality.

Could a new cultural paradigm be emerging in a similar fashion? Instead of mouthing platitudes about "sustainable development," is there a growing number of people "developing sustainability" at an individual level, beginning with a shift in their own consciousness? Could a paradigmatic shift in our collective consciousness emerge as a result of, and to tackle, the existential challenges that we know we face - an energy crisis, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global warming, deforestation and mass species extinction etc.? Perhaps.

In the attached video, spiritual teacher, Adyashanti, points out that a change in our cultural paradigm is rapidly becoming "a biological necessity."

"I think we are actually at a point in time that is very unique," he notes. "Here we are, and it is very possible that in your and my lifespan we will actually experience the fulfillment of literally not being able to sustain certain things. We will run out of energy, we will run out of environment. We have weapons of  destruction that are so extreme that we can wipe ourselves out. It is very possible in the lifetime that we are living in, that we could actually come (to) see a conclusion, that non-sustainability will actually happen and we will have to deal with that. And I think we have been evolving towards that for a very, very, very long time. And, here we are."

"It is no wonder," Adyashanti observes, "that there is fanaticism breaking out in all sorts of religions and fundamentalists in all points-of-view, whether it is religions or philosophical (viewpoints). People are just dividing themselves. There are people that want to save the world, and people that want to destroy each other. They are all there. And it will be very interesting to see what happens. Because there is often at the points-of-no-return - at the point of the most dramatic tensions in life and extremes -  (that) is the very place that dramatic change and transformation can happen."

"I don't think that it's anywhere guaranteed that the change and transformation will happen," he notes. "We don't know. But it is going to go one way or another, and it's not going to be very long from right now before it goes one way or another."

"We are running out of options other than to wake up," he warns. "It is starting to become, possibly, a biological necessity of survival. And when it gets to that point, it really starts to get people's attention."

"We may destroy ourselves if we cannot actually wake up to the fact, to the living experience, that we are really the same," he notes. "It is not good enough to have the philosophy that we are really the same, because that philosophy breaks down when push comes to shove."

Clearly, it seems, we are overdue for a new cultural paradigm that is sustainable in the long-term. And such a shift in paradigms - which may already be occurring - will require the consensus of a great and growing number of individuals who see and experience themselves as being a part of something much greater than their individual selves. The crucial question, for each of us now, thus becomes: "Are we in or are we out?"


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