Describing my longer retreats always presents me with a challenge and an opportunity. The intention behind them is audacious and subtle, and communicating exactly what it is sometimes feels overwhelming. At the same time these retreats are the place where everything I teach comes together in the most comprehensive and intensive way so articulating them is a chance to express everything that my life is dedicated to. It has become my habit to prepare for each longer retreat by writing a series of essays that explain what happens on retreat and why it is designed the way it is.
My work is dedicated to shifting humanity into a different paradigm of being.
The language of paradigm shifting has gained popularity in certain circles and unfortunately, as with anything else, when we become overly familiar with something it starts to lose meaning.
To me, the most exciting thing about paradigm shifting is that we can consciously and deliberately shift our neurology into a different experience of reality.
We are currently conditioned to experience reality one way and we can re-condition ourselves to experience it another way.
“I don’t want to recondition myself.” You might complain. “I want to live in reality!”
I would answer that the conditioned belief that there is a single reality that can be discovered is one of the first assumptions we need to question if we want to shift into a new paradigm.
We’ve all been conditioned to believe that we experience reality, but how do we know that there’s something real underneath our experience?
Look around. You assume you’re looking at a real world, but why do you believe that?
Why couldn’t the world that you see around you be more like a dream or a virtual reality game? How would you know? Do you really want to shift into a new paradigm? Or are there limits to how much change you’re willing to consider?
It’s easy to want to shift into a new paradigm until you realize how much change you have to be ready to tolerate. When we start to see how different things can be we often feel overwhelmed. At those moments we might find ourselves defending the very paradigm we had thought we wanted to shift out of.
That’s too weird. That’s not possible. That’s ridiculous. Are the kinds of complaints that our mind will throw out to us like cognitive lifejackets deigned to keep us afloat in the rough seas of uncertainty.
If you can’t tolerate things getting profoundly weird, how can you participate in a paradigm shift?
The process of paradigm shifting as I see it is a process of deconditioning our neurology and then reconditioning it, or what I prefer to call unWorlding ourselves and then reWorlding ourselves.
We are worlded. We don’t live in the world. We live in the experience of the world that we have been conditioned to have. We are worlded.
Let’s use an example to make the point more visceral.
Doesn’t it look like the Sun rises over the eastern horizon in the morning, moves across the sky all day and then falls below the horizon again at night? In other words, doesn’t it look like the Sun is going around the Earth?
It does, but we know the Sun isn’t moving, the Earth is rotating.
Then why does it ‘look like’ the sun is moving?
The great architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller believed the reason it looks that way is because we use the terms sunrise and sunset to describe the Sun’s appearance in the morning and disappearance at night.
Every time we say sunrise or sunset we’re conditioning our nervous suystem to experience the Sun as moving and not experience the Earth’s rotation. We are training each other into a false perception.
It looks like the Sun rises and sets because we’ve developed a perceptual habit of seeing it that way.
In more ways than we can imagine we are conditioned into our current experience of reality without having any idea how accurate our perceptions might be.
Consider the possibility that all of the things you are aware of right now are all perceptual habits and not perceptions of reality.
We only live in the world in the sense that we live inside a set of perceptual habits. The world is a set of perceptual habits. The process of developing these habits is what I’m calling worlding.
Paradigm shifting is a process of unWorlding and then reWorlding ourselves.
UnWorlding ourselves means letting go of all of our ideas about ourselves and the way things are and entering into the vast unknown of pure, undifferentiated, uninterpreted sensation.
ReWorlding ourselves means identifying the core assumptions that our current perceptual habits rest on and then feeling our way into alternative ones.
On my long retreats I use the practice of meditation as the ultimate unworlding process and the goal of meditiation as I teach it is to completely let go of any interpreted experience of reality until you literally have no idea who you are, where you are or what’s happening.
The freedom of this depth of not knowing is tremendously exhilarating and cannot possibly be described. Are you ready for things to get that weird?
Deep questioning is how we reWorld ourselves. During my retreats over the last few years I’ve been refining a form of highly experiential and radical philosophical inquiry that I call wormhole inquiry.
In a wormhole inquiry we identify one of our deepest existential assumptions and then use a carefully designed thought experiment to literally feel your way into the experience of something else.
Over the span of just a few days on retreat you begin to see just how unimaginably different things can be.
If we want to rearrange the world while leaving it fundamentally intact there is only so much change possible.
If we want to change the entire world, not just parts of it, then the process must involve radically unWorlding ourselves and then reWorlding into a different experience of reality. When we do this together, in a very tangible way, we change world.
This is the miracle of paradigm shifting that inspires all of my work.
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On this summer's retreat we will be engaged in intensive wormhole inquiries that will uproot five of the most foundational assumptions around which our current paradigm is built.
The five assumptions that we will challenge and move beyond are:
- Preexisting Reality – The belief that there is a reality that already exists waiting to be discovered by us.
- Inner Cognition – The belief that our experience of consciousness is somehow generated inside of us.
- Linear Time – The belief that we live in a field of time that moves through the present from the past and then into the future.
- 3-Dimensional Space – The belief that we live in a space of height, width and depth that extends infinitely in all directions.
- Independent Existence – The belief that we are isolated beings that are essentially separate from the rest of the world.