Scripture Study: Hebrews 12:1-3 and Romans 12:1-3. Discuss:
What image or phrases caught your attention?
What was most puzzling?
What would you like to learn more about?
What really spoke to your heart?
Think about what is meant by “entangle,” “conformed,” “transformed,” and “renewing.”
View Video for Session 5
Discuss Video, share reactions
Read “Moving into the Next Mind.” Discuss using the discussion questions provided.
Close in prayer.
Move Yourself into Your Next Mind
In the United Methodist Baptismal Liturgy, the persons to be baptized are first asked the following questions:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
These questions acknowledge that we live our lives enmeshed in social, cultural, and psychological systems that need to be redeemed and changed. The keyword is systems. A system operates by being an all-encompassing complex of factors, including values, educational processes, religious teaching, popular culture, political and military control, economics, and legal structures. As we work to dismantle and disentangle ourselves from these maladaptive and destructive systems, we begin by analyzing and understanding how these systems operate and how they infect our hearts and minds. This is the first step for moving into the Next, Bigger Mind.
As we examine these systems, we will employ the process discussed earlier:
Confession: Tell the truth, listen to the truth.
Admit the hold those systems have over us.
Recognizing the Divine Source that empowers change, growth, and development, and actively engage with this Source, using time-proven practices to manifest change within ourselves and our societies and communities.
Seek guidance and companionship of experienced and engaged persons.
Make amends for the harm we may have caused, and acting in solidarity with persons subjected to oppression, injustice, bias, hate, discrimination, abuse, trauma.
Learn to live a new life with a new code of behavior.
Help others who suffer from the effects of oppressive, dysfunctional, and destructive Life Operating Systems (LOS).
Disentangling from Maladaptive and Destructive Life Operating Systems In order to understand how these systems function beneath our level of conscious awareness, think of what it is like to be a fish whose entire life is lived immersed in water. Everything about you as a fish is adapted to living in water. Gills have evolved in order to filter out oxygen dissolved in water. Your musculature and body shape are designed to move you through water. In fact, you are only aware of water as the normal medium in which you live, move, and have your being.
Systems are the water in which we as human beings live, move, and have our being. Systems have shaped our thought processes, our desires, our intentions, and our perceived needs. Systems determine our value as a person, and devalue us if it suits the purposes of the system and the interests served in the perpetuation of the system. Telling the truth about how systems operate as well as understanding the nature of these systems is vital in order to begin disentanglement.
Life Operating Systems – both on the macro or social scale, and on the micro or individual scale – structure social relationships and interactions according value systems and worldviews. In order to appreciate how Life Operating systems function, let’s pause for a moment to talk about what worldviews are.
A worldview provides a way of looking at phenomena and events in life as well as a vantage point from which to look. A comparison with the German equivalents for “worldview” helps to illustrate this. For instance, “worldview” can be translated either as Weltanschauung or as Weltbild.Welt means “world.” Anschauung means view or opinion or even experience, as one’s personal experience. It is from the verb, anschauen which is a variant of ansehen which means “to look at (something).” Thus, embedded in this word is the notion of a way of looking at the world, an outlook based in subjective or collective experience. Weltbild literally means “world picture,” and carries the connotation of a particular way of framing reality or one’s perception of reality. This nuancing of “worldview” suggests that a way of looking can become much more structured and concretized, particularly as it becomes more influential in a society and adopted by the majority of its members.
What a worldview does, then, is provide a particular cognitive landscape, a picture-place, which is believed to describe the world as it is, and which also concurrently provides a way for understanding and living in that world. A worldview is self-reinforcing in that it not only determines what sorts of questions about reality are legitimate to ask, it also determines how one goes about investigating reality and deriving answers. Answers and solutions which fit into the conceptual landscape are deemed correct and suitable, and those which challenge that landscape or suggest other possible landscapes are rejected.
Thus, we can say that a worldview makes ontological, metaphysical, epistemological, cosmological and ultimate-value claims. A worldview begins by claiming, or perhaps it is more accurate to say it begins by assuming, to describe the world or reality as it is. The ontological claim or assumption to describe reality as it is in itself grants a worldview authority and power. A worldview describes the world, cosmos or universe in its inter-workings and how everything fits together, or describes things in their places and their proper workings and relationships. A worldview also describes how it is possible to know reality, or even how knowing itself is possible at all. It also describes the nature of action in the world, and the consequences and ramifications of various actions in the world, whether these actions are committed by humans or by other beings.
At the same time, a worldview is conspicuously unimposing. There are no portentous manuals on the prevailing worldview, no tests are given, no protectors of the worldview exist per se. Rather, everything in a society or culture is derived in one way or other from the prevailing worldview, and everything works to perpetuate and reinforce that worldview..
As a cognitive landscape or picture-place, a worldview functions to establish the parameters within which its constituents live, move and have their being. It is directly analogous to a terrain in that its constituents must learn to navigate, pilot and maneuver within the topography of assumptions, acceptable behaviors, possibilities, as well as explore that which remains undiscovered, possible but untried, potential but unknown. In addition, certain territories of behavior or thought remain dangerous, forbidden or taboo. To venture into those realms is to risk expulsion from the established worldview, or may introduce perilous elements into the worldview, or may even chance falling off the edge of the world as it is known!
In summary, a worldview establishes a cognitive place which places limits and boundaries on behaviors, activities, conceptualization, and attempts to alter those limits. A worldview is not only a way of seeing the world, it fixes that way of seeing as a place which can be seen, and grants it ontological status. “We look at things this way because that is the way they are.” But who is it that defines “the way things are?” Who benefits from this description of “the way things are?” Who is left out, cast aside, or consumed in the process of maintaining “the way things are?”
In order to disentangle ourselves from maladaptive and destructive systems, we need to examine the worldviews and value systems in operation, even as we seek to dismantle the social structures that are constructed in order to protect and reinforce certain worldviews and value systems. Here is a representative list of the major maladaptive systems that have a hold of us. We will discuss each in turn:
Heterosexism and homophobia
White Supremacy Culture and Racism
Imperialism and Colonialism
Militarism and the Domination System
As you work through each of these destructive systems, you will undoubtedly experience discomfort with the issues presented. Your engagement with these issues will also vary, depending upon your gender, your social location and status, your race and ethnicity, and personal life experiences. That is okay. In fact, that is the point. You might discover that you are a member of the class that has been responsible for perpetuating oppressive practices or have benefitted from those practices by virtue of being a member of that class. Or you might be a part of the class of people who have experienced oppressive actions. The tasks associated with disentangling from these systems will differ from person to person. But rest assured, the effects and constructs of each of these systems have sent roots down into the consciousness of every person who is alive and living in our societies around the world.
In addition, the following session are meant to be an introduction to engaging these destructive systems. These exercises and disentangling processes are just a taste of what should actually be done across the course of one’s lifetime. Test them, and see which ones truly challenge you and speak to the deep places in your heart. Choose to spend more process time with those issues, and form a group of persons who will agree to do the careful process work required.
Yes! Next Mindify Yourself!
The following links and articles will help you to understand the nature of Systems, Worldviews, and the key concepts behind Life Operating Systems:
"What is Systems Theory?" Social Work Theories and Approaches, article discussing the application of General Systems Theory to Social Work.
"Systems Theory." This article on the Academic Room website gives a more in-depth discussion of General Systems theory.
"The Great Turning," Deep Ecologist, General Systems scholar, and environmental activist/spiritual empowered Joanna Macy talks about a hope-filled way to understand the current global crises as a moment ripe with the possibility of transformation in ways that could benefit all beings. Download and read the article, originally published in the Spring 2000 issue of Yes!
"Deep Ecology Work." 1992 article by Joanna Macy which discusses Deep Ecology and the spiritual work that undergirds global healing for natural and human social systems. Download article excerpted from Human Potential, Spring 1992.