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.