In Potential, a TEDxUofT presentation, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson pinpoints the historical cause of current mayhem: the rise of empirical science and its “shattering” effect on religious belief systems. As a result, our current definition of “reality” is dangerously skewed. He draws on Western poetry, psychology and the philosophy of religions “developed over thousands and thousands of years” to argue the case that there’s much more to “reality” than current assumptions allow:
If you follow the follow the thing that manifests to you as interesting, it will lead you through adversity, lead you to do things that are difficult [the hero’s journey] . . .
What will happen is that as you hit yourself against the world pursuing what you’re interested in, you’ll tap yourself into alignment. . . Your internal structure will become non-contradictory like the internal structure of a jewel, which is something that reflects light. It makes you hard and durable and able to bear the terrible conditions of existence without becoming corrupt.
He includes all the main elements of the Life Wheel. The “inner structure” consisting of conscience, light, strength, and unity of alignment – are all described in his linear description.
What I contribute to this vision is the picture of ever deepening concentric circles unified by an endlessly infinite loop that traverses and links them, center to surface and back to center.
In Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This, I describe the Wheel. It is not “new” nor is it arbitrary. It embodies the timeless healing solution to the relatively “modern” rift between materialist and philosophical definitions of “reality:”
The archetypal Life Wheel formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is a modern day descendant of the time-tested Book of Change which leaders in every field of endeavor have consulted for over eight-thousand years.
While true to the ancient teachings of India and China, it abstracts their essence in a simple and complete manner accessible to us today.
It places the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 mass, energy and light, on increasingly deeper levels within the Life Wheel. The result is the Unified Theory which Einstein already had, though didn’t know it.
The three outer levels are interrelated and interdependent. Each is necessary but not sufficient. Their existence depends upon the unchanging hub of the Wheel. The true SELF — also called Conscience, the Tao or God — holds the spokes together as events on the Wheel’s surface rim change continuously. Creation in the form of primal consciousness emanates from and returns to this silent alpha-omega center.
This wheels-within-wheels model
is equally compatible with modern physics, yoga philosophy
and the world’s great religions.
It is a reality map upon which scientists and sages can agree.
Complete and accurate, it meets the Occam’s Razor standard by explaining the totality of human experience with maximum inclusiveness and utmost simplicity.
In Rethinking Survival, I connected with the idea that the Life Wheel is the answer to the ancient Upanishad question: “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” In essence, genuinely understood and implemented, it holds the KEY to Life.
The Positive Paradigm of Change can be personalized to facilitate positive personal change on all levels. Applied on increasingly larger scales of magnitude (to relationships, families, communities and organizations) it carries social implications in its wake.
According to Dr. Peterson:
Nietzsche said, “The person who has a Why can bear any How.” That’s a really useful thing to know. Because you think, well, we’re very vulnerable creatures. And our life ends catastrophically. Terrible things happen. How can we bear that?
The answer to that is, and always has been, that you have to be in synch with something that’s beyond you. Because that synchrony gives you the strength that you need to bear your terrible limitations.
The Life Wheel pictures the seat of Why and the place of How. It shows the eternal connection between individual, physically fragile life on the surface and the eternal Source within. However, the source of strength is not so much beyond as it is deep within:
The WHY at the center shines through every HOW, conforming WHAT on the surface to its inward vision:
- Intuition fits within the WHY level of the Wheel. This innermost level of Light is associated with conscience, spiritual guidance and flashes of genius. Unless integrated with the ability to strategize and implement, however, vision and insights fail to manifest as practical results.
- Emotions (including empathy) and strategy belong to the middle HOW level. The Energy layer is associated with action, street smarts and Emotional Intelligence. Magnetism and charisma emanate from this level, but unfortunately aren’t always integrated with integrity, intelligence or practical organizational skills.
- Outcomes belong to the surface WHAT level associated with tangible, measurable results. The Mass layer is the realm of quantifiable IQ as well as biological family and social/political connections. Persona (mask) and personality are surface appearances. They don’t necessarily reflect actual motives and feelings. (This is why merely imitating the words and actions of great leaders doesn’t have the same affect).
DYSFUNCTIONAL BELIEF SYSTEMS
Please stay with me. What follows isn’t necessarily sexy or fun. But it IS a matter of life or death. And the life it saves could be your own.
Technically, this subject comes under the philosophic umbrella of “epistemology” – the (highly politicized) rules of the knowledge game that prescribe who may know what, and how. Today, empirical science dictates that experience which is intangible and can’t be measured doesn’t exist – it isn’t real. In effect, conscience, intuition, compassion and gut feelings of the Life Wheel are ruled out. People who depend on those modes of knowing are invalidated and socially excluded.
Of course, saying inward modes of experience don’t (and shouldn’t) exist doesn’t make it true. As Carl Jung pointed out, repressing these intrinsic parts of the human psyche only has the effect of putting them outside of conscious awareness. Relegated to the “unconscious,” fragmented parts continue to operate out of reach, wreaking havoc on mental health, relationships and social systems.
Dr. Peterson is clear that our current course, driven by skewed belief systems, is fraught with dangers up to and including annihilation. In this, he echoes Albert Einstein, who, dreading the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, warned, “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Again, the Unified Theory and substantially improved (holistic) manner of thinking is hardly “new.” But it urgently needs to be restored to wide-spread, generally agreed-upon conscious awareness.
This urgency is underscored by Dr. Peterson’s point that competition between scientific and religious viewpoints resulted in large numbers of confused thinkers turning to substitutes for religion, especially to mass movements that are “erroneous in every way.”
Since the scientific age began, we’ve lived in a universe where the bottom strata of reality is considered to be something that’s dead like dirt. It’s matter. It’s objective. It’s external. There isn’t any element of it that lends reality to phenomena like meaning or purpose. That’s all been relegated to the subjective, and in some ways, to the illusory.
However, grave dangers flow from decisions and actions based on erroneous belief systems:
It really matters what you assume is most real, because you base the decisions you make that. You run the entire course of your life on those assumptions — whether you recognize it or not. And if you get the assumptions [basic axioms] wrong, or even if you leave them incomplete, you’re going to pay a big price for it.
Trade-offs have huge consequences:
The assumptions we use in our culture, although they’ve enabled us to develop a tremendously potent technology, are incomplete in ways that have cost us and that are extremely dangerous. . . A fair number of pathologies stem from assumptions of the systems they use to define reality.
Here is my visual representation of the hollow, incomplete reality brought about by empirical science. It rules out the middle and central inward levels of a complete and accurate belief system.
And here is a representation of resulting pathologies. The levels are out of synch, fragmented and disjointed. In “The Second Coming,” the poet Yeats mourned, “the centre cannot hold.” In fact, it is the other way around. The eternal center is, was and will always remain steadfast. It is we who have distanced ourselves from truth, blinded ourself to awareness of the unchanging. At terrible cost.
In the right hands, championed by well-known truth-speakers like Jordan Peterson and by the legion of folks who have grown to know, respect and love him through his good work, the KEY concept offers the world a way out of madness, an alternative path to the current course that leads to destruction and hell.
The question remains, how many truly want a positive, healing reconciliation of science and religion? How many are closed and committed to the path of ultimate destruction?
The worst case scenario is that members of fragmenting, polarized, warring factions world-wide are content to remain “conveniently” blind and deaf. They salivate at the visceral excitement of conflict, not to mention the greedy side-benefit of violence – looting (think Nazis dispossessing the Jews, Stalin robbing Russia’s Orthodox Churches, and Chinese warlords filling their coffers from the spoils of Tibetan temples). Heedless of the ultimate consequences, all-too-many are committed to killing each other off in uncivil wars, reducing the structures of civilization to oblivion.
My best case scenario and remaining hope is that those with the foresight to prepare will prevail. May they stay safely under the radar as long as possible. May the Angel of Death pass over their dwellings. And may they also be ready to fight and WIN when the time calls for them to take a stand. For God will be with them as they were with the psalmist/healer King David in battle.