The Ruin of Tradition.

Throughout this series I’ve shown that the ruin of one stage of consciousness is not its eradication, but its transformation and inclusion into something bigger. Hopefully you are able to see these stages on display in our world. Without understanding the stage or state from which a person acts, means that we make assumptions about that person’s ability to see another’s perspective. It’s as though each stage has its own language and right now we are witnessing a world arguing while no one is speaking the same language. It’s a modern retelling of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9).

The traditional stage is the result of leaving pre conventional wisdom to arrive at the conventional stage. The huddle of the tribe became the security of the warrior and now the masses need to be organized. There are now too many variables for each person to be personally connected to the central goals of the group, therefore rules of order are established, ratified, sanctified, and even deified.

Tradition is a container. In its most beautiful form it becomes a familiar pattern that allows the greatest number of people access to its treasure. The treasure is within the container. The treasure of a tradition is that esoteric aspect of reality which brings the people meaning and purpose. The tradition protects and preserves the contents for other generations to have access to the treasure.

Tradition takes a lot of work. People must work on the container as a means to honor and preserve the contents, and as a result become extremely invested and attached to the container. The biggest problem with the traditional stage is when the contents are overlooked in favor of the container. Tradition for the sake of tradition becomes an empty shell and a tedious burden. Empty containers cause of unbelief.

Religion and its adherents are often trapped in this stage. It takes a tremendous amount of self-criticism to adapt traditions for new generations so that the contents are preserved. While Christianity may lead other religions in its willingness to contextualize its contents to modernity, for many it still isn’t going far enough. Islam and other religions are undergoing huge change as traditions that diminish women can no longer be seen as believable. It’s vital to understand that as the contents change the inner person, they inevitably out grow the container. Our world is growing up. 

Once people learn how to extract meaning and purpose from other means, then the tradition that once contained that meaning is on the road to obsolescence.  This is when those stuck in the traditional consciousness begin to fight back. The alignment of the masses around rules, sacred texts, and moral behavior display their venom at those who no longer find the contents inside of traditions box. When a person won’t play along with the structure, they are viewed as dissidents, unbelievers, defectors, traitors, and rebels. Yet it is most often integrity, not rebellion that forces the wineskin to burst (Luke 5:37). We can watch daily how the traditional mind regresses into the warrior or tribal mind in an effort to justify its existence.

To be fair there is beauty in some containers. The traditional mind can’t help but appreciate the history, the process, and the correctives that tradition provides. While it has good things (like control), it isn’t entirely good. While it has bad things (like control), it isn’t entirely bad. Many of our youth are growing up without a traditional framework and we are seeing its effects.

The tradition of high jumping was ruined when the Fosbury Flop was introduced, now no one jumps higher. The tradition of transforming a mind was ruined once words were captured in print, now the entire world can teach us. The tradition of advertising was ruined when commerce went online, now tags and meta-data live in our pocket. Tradition doesn’t die when it’s contents create its shape. 

Wisdom teaches us that it isn’t a binary choice between the container or its contents.

Matthew 13:44 has a small parable that revolutionizes this tension. We all know the treasure, but it comes buried in a field (container). If we want the treasure, we have to buy the field. The implication is that the field is worth everything we have so long as we access the treasure, but with no treasure, the field is just dirt.

My advice is to find the treasure in every container and abandon those with no treasure.

What happens when we focus on the contents (for example, science), but run it through a traditionally structured process and framework? The result is the inclusion of tradition into a modern world and the results have been transformative to our humanity. We’ll explore the scientific stage of consciousness next week.


The Ruin of the Warrior.

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I know that this series is like picking at scabs in that it’s uncomfortable or even painful to get beneath our protective layer. Nonetheless, it’s vital we remain open to this process even though I will push some buttons. Awareness hurts sometimes.

The warrior stage of consciousness is a larger extension of tribal consciousness from last week. The warrior mind is consumed with forces larger than itself and how to overpower them. Where the tribe huddled in self protection and appeasement, the warrior  aligns the power of the collective to combat a perceived threat.

The good side of the warrior consciousness is that it brings people together for purposes larger than the tribe. It provides solidarity and common goals among multiple tribes, but not all tribes.  The warrior mind is needed to defend civilization from threats. However, the warrior identity requires an adversary, so peace is impossible at this stage.

Our culture is so deeply embedded with this consciousness, that even questioning it causes strife. We have created hero’s and elaborate systems from this testosterone soaked worldview. The very spirit of competition stems from the warrior stage, and its strength is the identity it provides its adherents. Behind it are elites who maintain power through distractions, and by promoting the next scrimmage, battle, or war.

Peace for the warrior is actually a mislabeled form of revenge which corresponds to their ability to remain a threat. This low-level consciousness is fueled by fear and threat. Our US military is larger than the next seven militaries combined. Our expense there could easily pay off all our debt, ensure everyone has medical care, education, food and shelter. This is not pacifist propaganda and I am in no way diminishing the sacrifice and service of those who have served in the military. I am only exposing the effect of this wide-spread consciousness on our society. It comes at great cost.

The gravitational pull on this stage is immense. For some it is the ONLY identity they have. It takes tremendous awakening to swim against the warriors tide of otherness. We know we are outgrowing this level when empathy for the other emerges in our heart.  Usually, personal suffering opens us to see the suffering on the other side. Until then, the war machine masks or spins the suffering it produces. Others are more like us than different from us and that ruins the warrior mind trap.

Let’s not overlook the spiritual aspect of warrior consciousness. The same fear, threat and power that drive the war machine also drive our religions. Many writings in sacred texts reflect how long human history has been stuck in warrior consciousness. Many Christians depict Jesus as an insurgent warrior who is gathering his army now for the final battle of Armageddon. The message is take Jesus’ love now, because his whoop-ass is coming. Isis sees God as advancing Islam through militaristic eradication of non-muslims. Ancient Israel saw God as their defender and fighter on only their behalf.

The warrior in each of us has a gut reaction to reject these claims. This is because we cannot or choose not to see an alternative. What is beyond the hero and the villain? The warrior mind is the setting for all great story. Even scripture advocates an armor for battling realms we cannot see (Ephesians 6:10-20). This is because we don’t recognize the Good News and invitation to put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).

The solution is integral. We graduate from the warrior stage once we realize it is only needed sporadically. A skilled martial artist never picks a fight, their training and engagement is not in the warrior stage, but beyond it. The warrior mind is a bunker, not a home.

Here again, the story of Jesus is revolutionary. It depicts Jesus having legions of angels ready to defend him, yet he chose not to play on that level (Matt 26:63). He cautioned his disciples that living according to the sword is the same as dying by it (Luke 22:38, Matt 26:52.) He saw his own message as a figurative sword of truth that divides families, and cuts through confusion. (Matt 10:34, Rev 1:16, 2:12). He employs the sword for healing, not war.

The ruin of the warrior is recognizing that we can activate a warrior, defending life as required, but we need not live as a warrior, lest we live in fear and die without knowing peace.

The warrior consciousness survives on otherness by bringing us into our next battle. It’s an exhausting trap. Many have moved past it and we will explore that next week.


The Ruin of the Tribe.

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Our family of origin is our first tribe. It is our introduction into social engagement and it is stop number one in the formation of our worldview. Our tribe gives us community, identity, safety and strength in numbers. Our tribe also gives us distorted world views because it only promotes the view of the tribe. If we never leave this group, our contribution to the world will be greatly truncated. I think that is why faith systems, stories, poems and songs talk so much about growing up and leaving home (Genesis 12:1). We all must come of age and this happens when we are exposed to views beyond the tribe.

Tribal consciousness, like all stages, is powerful. The tribe is fearful and positions itself against new ideas because it knows that once we are free from these formative containers, our worldview enlarges like a repotted plant. Once we adopt truth beyond our tribe, re-assimilation is essentially impossible. We all leave the garden at some point (Genesis 3:23-24). This is what Jesus meant when he said you can’t put new wine into old wine skins (Mark 2:22). Transcending the tribe doesn’t mean we reject all aspects of the tribe. If we are moving into truth, then we include the truth of the tribe.

Spiritual maturity is impossible if we do not leave our tribe. Our soul, like a plant will become root bound in our formative container. This is why Jesus taught that no one could be his student (disciple) if they didn’t hate their family (Luke 14:26). This is not a directive to hate our family, but is speaking to that fact that spiritual growth will cause us to depart in many ways from those that formed us. We ultimately discover that the only way to love our tribe is to include it in the transformation process.

The tribal stage of consciousness is focused on what is best for the tribe, and sometimes out of necessity. Tribal consciousness is focused on survival. The homeless, the addict, refugees from a war zone, represent those focused on immediate needs. Tribal stage religions resemble the Kalahari bushmen who must appease the gods of sunlight, rain and the hunt if they are to survive.

A low-level consciousness based upon appeasement has crept into our world’s religions. God is depicted as distant, and easily angered, but since “he” is so powerful and we are desperately needy, we fearfully do whatever we can to keep a dangerous God happy. This is the basis of all religious practice both within and outside systems of faith. These types of fear based religious rituals are evidence of tribal stage consciousness and is seen in the worldview within many sacred texts.

Tribal consciousness is seen beyond the religious. Atheists are also stuck in the tribal phase. Anytime we enter into an I-thou relationship in employment, education, academics, athletics, or business, we employ tribal spirituality. Schmoozing the client is tribal behavior. Some acts of courtship, performances, superstitions and accomplishments are masking some aspect of appeasement.

The gravitational pull of the tribe is strong enough to cause many to stay.  Due to the prevalence of this low rung consciousness, some will conclude this stage represents all that is true. It’s surprising how many defend a survival of the fittest mentality. Not surprising, religions and people in tribal levels are often violent and divide the world into us vs them.

For some of us, the fear tactics of tribal consciousness have lost their effect. We have intuited through our own loving relationships that appeasement is the lowest form of engagement and it never brings real intimacy. We won’t enter the marriage bed under threat and some of us would rather die than pretend. As a result, our roots push firmly against the tribal container that tells us that fear is the path to love. We question whether God loves us or is a torturer and it immediately marginalizes us from the tribe.

The story of the cross is so revolutionary because it is the ruin of appeasement. Without appeasement the tribe is transformed, and so are we. But what becomes of us once we enter the exile from our tribal consciousness? Next week I’ll show you where most of us end up.


May I Ruin your New Year?

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If you like this blog, chances are good that you are a “zagger” like me.  When the herd is going one way, we go the other.  We don’t zag for the sake of being different, we zag because we will not break faith with our awakened hearts. 

In case you haven’t noticed, the vast majority of our world is under anesthesia or lives unconscious. We do as we are told, we step in line and adopt all the values and roles that our culture and its institutions dish out. We are not bad people. We are not stupid. We either are not awake enough to see the operating principals of our systems, or our fears imprison us into compliance to the wrong systems. The story line of all deep spirituality is our liberation from captivity to the wrong systems and our entrance into a higher community (Isaiah 61:1).

This blog is designed for those who are finding themselves in the Great Exile. Exile is the arid space when we just don’t have a team or a home.  It’s an inward and sometimes downward journey that begins in solitude but grows into solidarity. The exiled are those who struggle with compliance to the established systems, not out of rebellion or anger, but integrity to the truth we can no longer ignore. We enter when playing the big game is no longer worth it.

As we start 2017, it is my goal to awaken and invite as many as possible into exile. While other coaches are promising the stars, I’m offering you what first looks like suffering. Of course, exile is not where we end up, it is only the discovery grounds of faith and our true self. If I could take people directly to the other side, I would, but like many of you have discovered, beauty comes from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). The ruin of our false life fertilizes our true life, so what is the point in expanding the fake one?

In order to do this, I am going to start off with a series that will illuminate the “mall map” with the hope that we can find the “You are here” star. For us to see this, will require our wide-angle lens because we are examining cultural and personal consciousness in its most common stages. Whether you call this integral theory, spiral dynamics, stages of faith, or something else, I’m certain that once we can pinpoint our stages of awareness on a map, then and only then will we have the means to outgrow it.

Our personal and global transformation is the heart of true spirituality. Transformation is that for which we all long and are waiting (Romans 8:22-23). We are all sick of politics and power plays. We are tired of the lies, the hypocrisy, and the endless line of disappointments. We’ve had enough of dissatisfying relationships and dead end, meaningless busy-work. We are done with distraction. It’s time to get real. It’s time for the truth even if its painful.

This year, let’s not lump a bunch of effort and activity on top of last years blindness. For 2017, let’s start with ruin. Let’s ruin our overinflated ego’s. Let’s ruin our childish fears and assumptions. Let’s ruin once and for all our racism, classism, sexism, and elitism. May we ruin our certainty and all the fortresses that are built upon “otherness.” Let’s enter the lonely exile where we question things again. Let’s start with wonder and insist on love. Let’s exchange noise for intimacy, connections for connectedness, fragmentation for integration, independence for interdependence. These are the changes we really want in 2017.

The next few weeks will launch the willing into a new space. A naked, vulnerable, and undeveloped identity will emerge out of a ruined false self. May we have the eyes to see beyond the ashes and enter the land of promise and faith and truth. I hope you will join this very big family.