So often have I thought about the importance of history … not the kind of history you get in a school, that’s all about funny names and dates on a calendar, but realhistory, which is about the collective experience of humanity. Have you ever wondered ‘why things are the way they are’ or ‘how did we end-up with this crazy civilization’ … or ‘what do I have to do with any of this’? Have you ever thought about why religions (including the religion of Science) have always dominated the course of our history, and what exactly does that mean? We live in a world with nations and theologies, and money and wars and all the rest of it … but what can we learn from this understanding of our reality … and is this what we really need or want?
Well, to begin exploring those questions you have to take a look at where all these ideas came from, and also, how did they have such a profound influence on the mass-mentality.You know, once upon a time, life wasn’t like we know it is today. I don’t just mean the cars and the computers, I mean the very way people perceived life was different. Nowadays everyone is looking at their own path – what role do I play; what is truth to me? But really this whole concept of ‘the individual’ hasn’t been with us for that long … not as a part of the way civilization works. Back then, about 500 years ago, ‘who you are’ seemed rather insignificant (unless you’re one of the ruling elite) and you never really thought about ‘what can I, personally, have to say about this world around us’ … or ‘does this make sense to me’? Life was just something you were born into … you just accepted it … and you had faith in the ‘sacred order of things’. That ‘divine order’, which defined reality so vividly, dictated all ‘answers’, and there was nothing more to it. “Do what you’re told, because the divine (by whatever name) told you to!” You didn’t question … to question would be to throw everything out of order, and no one wants to suffer the consequences of that! So, your role in life was just handed to you. If you’re a good boy and play that role well, then everything should turn-out fine …
But then, perhaps starting in many ways with Petrarch – when he climbed up that mountain and could see everything around him as so small and yet so grand – something rather significant occurred. It was an idea that he had … the idea that maybe life could be questioned, and not just by those that the king said were allowed, but by anyone. It was a revolutionary idea (one we often take for granted these days) that would become the starting signal, for a whole new epoch of life!
There were others too, like Martin Luther and William Tyndale, and even Machiavelli whose name today is synonymous with the concept of ‘the end justifies the means’. But right or wrong, all of these people started questioning the established ‘truth’, and by doing so, changed not only our understanding of what ‘truth’ is, but also the very course of civilization itself. We went from the ‘right-brained’ concept of sacred faith to the ‘left-brained’ concept of the individual, or trust in self. John Romer called it “from the sacred to the profane” … to know where we are we need to discover where we’ve been! Now that is what history is really all about: about the process of change, and the power of new ideas!
Change is first a question, and then it is a devotion of attention … a focus of energy, with the power of will behind it, and the belief that questions can be solved. The change that was occurring back then, and indeed still today, happens first with the internal act of broadening the mind. Reality began to reflect on the outside what was happening on the inside, and that-right-there shows us that ‘change’ comes when we have the courage to ‘think out of the box’ as they say these days … to become open to new ideas and new attitudes, and a greater understanding of the experience of humanity.
So, if the world is ever to change for the better, then we need to change the way we think for the better … we need to question and apply our passions towards discovering new perspectives, new information … new feelings. Once you realize that the greatest changes in our history all started with nothing more than an idea, and that ideas themselves can be powerful forces in civilization, then the path to all kinds of potential suddenly opens wide, like ‘an ocean’ whose breadth and depth touches all the continents of the world. The truth is all around us … and it’s inside of you. Nobody can ever fully define it into words, because it is life, and life grows and changes! Like Petrarch again, on the mountain day after day in his mind … seeing life from a ‘higher perspective’. And for us, just like Petrach, the higher you travel the more you can see … the more you can understand – everything! – Shall we climb?