What makes paradigm shifting so challenging for us is that a new paradigm cannot be built from inside the existing paradigm – and we all live inside the existing paradigm.
We have experiences beyond the current paradigm, but we don’t live there because it is not established enough to live in yet.
We cannot build a new paradigm, because we ourselves are a construct of the existing paradigm. New paradigms are not built – they are born. When you give birth to something you allow it to come through you from some mysterious place beyond you.
As I see it, the first thing we must do to give birth to a new paradigm is change the habitual set point of our consciousness.
In the current paradigm we feel most comfortable as our consciousness rests in a space of secure knowing. When we are uncertain we feel uncomfortable. The insecurity of not knowing knocks us off of our set point and we feel compelled to focus a great deal of our energy on returning to the space of secure knowing.
Here is a very common example. This morning for about ten minutes I couldn’t find my wallet. I was pretty sure it wasn’t lost because I knew I had had it the night before, but I still found it very difficult to go on with my day until I had found it.
As I had assumed, it was simply misplaced and I found it fairly quickly, but for those few minutes it was very difficult to do anything but search. The tension we feel in a simple circumstance like this illuminates how strong our center of gravity is anchored to secure knowing.
When it comes to shifting into a different paradigm this set point works directly against us because everything we know exists in the current paradigm. When we have experiences beyond the current paradigm we try to understand them without realizing that this neutralizes their transformative power.
To appreciate how subtle and profound the art of paradigm shifting is, we need to recognize that our minds are part of the current paradigm. You might as well say that we ourselves are part of the current paradigm. A paradigm isn’t just something we live in, it is something we are.
Moving out of the current paradigm is like trying to remove yourself from your body. You simply can’t. You are your body. Even though your body is not the limit of who you are, you do not exist without it.
In the same way, even though the current paradigm is not the limit of who you are, you do not exist without it.
It is like removing one side of a sheet of paper. You can’t remove one side of a sheet of paper because it is not possible to have paper with only one side.
You cannot be removed from the current paradigm because you cannot exist without a paradigm that shapes you.
In our deepest experiences of mystical insight and spiritual revelation we discover that we are not limited by this paradigm. We exist beyond it. In some mysterious way we are more than what can be known.
These experiences can be frightening or delightful, but either way they take us beyond what we know and knock us off our set point. When the experience subsides we feel an overwhelming urge to try to understand them and return to the comfort of secure knowing.
Inevitably that means explaining what we experience, to ourselves or others, in terms that can be understood from within the current paradigm. More often than not, our journeys into a new possibility end up being reabsorbed back into the current paradigm through our attempt to understand them.
Those of us who want to serve as ambassadors of a new paradigm need to shift our set point from secure knowing, to open receptivity.
When we are open and receptive we are awake, we are interested in discovery, without needing to pin down what we discover and understand it. We are willing to pass through one experience after another moving further and further beyond our current understanding of the world. We become fluid and free.
I teach meditation as a way of resetting our set point. I ask people to sit in meditation and not make a problem out of anything that arises in their experience. Eventually this leads to a deep state of open receptivity.
By sitting in this state consistently for prolonged periods of time we become acclimated to this spacious non-reactive consciousness. Gradually it begins to feel more and more comfortable to us. It becomes our new center of gravity.
As this becomes the consciousness that we naturally rest in we begin to experience cascades of insight and intuition that come from a place beyond what we know.
Giving birth to a new paradigm means allowing these insights and intuitions to express themselves through us. This is not about understanding them. It is about allowing them to express themselves through us.
It is possible to get out of the way and allow our inner mystical revelations to emerge through us, in words, in art, in movement, even in theories and conceptions. When we do this we are allowing the source of these revelations to have direct access to the world – without being shaped by our interpreting mind.
To do this we must be profoundly spontaneous, allowing things to come through us before we have any idea about them. We become an empty vessel for a new way of being. We begin to create things that even we do not understand.
These mysterious creations carry an energetic vibration beyond the world that we know. They allow that energy to gather and amplify and as it becomes more available more and more of us can align with it and express it.
There are a few areas in my own life where I experience this spontaneous creativity most regularly.
The first is in my teaching and writing. Often the concepts I teach and the metaphors I use to illuminate them stream through me and I only become aware of them as they emerge.
Another area where this birthing process takes place is in art. When I paint I sometimes don’t recognize the painting that appeared through me.
More recently I have been exploring an ancient Hawaiian form of spiritual massage called Lomi Lomi Nui. Even at this early stage of my training I often feel myself guided through the massage engaged in a delicate and profound energetic transmission that seems to happen all by itself.
More recently in my teaching work I have started to explore discussion practices in which everyone in a gathering enters into the space of open receptivity and shares from a deep source of wisdom and compassion.
It is similar to what I have seen in Quaker meetings. My early experiments with this process are very exciting because many people are ready for the profoundly tender vulnerability of talking directly from Source together. What emerges is often utterly surprising and always illuminating.
My work is dedicated to training ambassadors of a new paradigm. To me this means empowering people to communicate their deepest realizations of a different possibility through whatever medium of communication they choose – art, literature, entrepreneurship, science, technology.
Our capacity to give birth to a new paradigm depends on our willingness to rest in open receptivity and engaging in spontaneous creation. This is the foundational training that ambassadors of a new paradigm need.