“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
There are so many people stuck in old ways of thinking, with outdated worldviews that no longer fit our ever more complex and globalized world.
I know how difficult it is to shed old ways of thinking and being. Like the skin of a snake, my personal worldview holds my ‘me’ together so intimately and tight, it can be hard to let it go when the time comes.
It can be so tiresome and inconvenient to surrender our securities, no matter how false they may be.
But we must shed our skin. We must shed old and outdated ways of thinking, behaving, believing, belonging, and being.
If our global community is to survive and thrive in the midst of global climate change, an increasing population sharing finite resources, and legacies of injustice towards minorities and people without privilege, then we must, as Toffler says, be willing to “learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
That is to say, we must be willing to change, transform, and ultimately, evolve, both personally and collectively. If we are to survive as a species, we must unlearn old ways of thinking and relearn by way of updating our worldviews.
Einstein famously asserted: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”How obvious, how true.
If we want to make sense of the mess we’ve made, either in our own lives or our global socio-political world, we must be able to transcend the mind that got us into such a mess in the first place.
We must transcend and include ways of thinking and being. We must transcend the limits of outdated worldviews, yet include the good that is within them.
And what is necessary to transcend, to get out of the “same level of thinking” that created our global problems?
We need wakefulness of mind and heart. We need to “wake up”, to consciously be aware and alert. As our own Conscious Living Center teacher Deborah Ooten says, “If you are on automatic, you are dead and unconscious, if you are not observing, you are on automatic.”
Observing, or being awake means that we have the ability to level-up our thinking. We can become more “conscious” and be better prepared to address the issues at hand. And in so doing, we will not just change with the times, but we will do so consciously.
For we must evolve consciously.
And humans, as far as we know, are the only species aware of such “conscious evolution.” As the Muslim mystic Jalalad-Din Rumi expressed it, “Consciousness sleeps in minerals, dreams in plants, wakes up in animals, and becomes self-aware in humans.”
As a self-aware being, you have the capacity to consciously evolve. You can see your “self.” This is the good that maps like the Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram give us, the ability to see our worldviews and ego-in-action, right before our eyes.
As humans, our basic birthright is a consciousness that is “self-aware.” And if we are truly aware, we will know the fundamental fact that the world is not static, but in motion, unfolding, and ever evolving.
Self-awareness means consciousness of evolution.
We can become, and indeed are, aware of our consciousness and our ability to evolve.
I believe we must hold self-awareness and our awareness of evolution in the highest regard, and make sure that we are consciously evolving, not only for the good of ourselves, but for the good of the global community and ultimately, the universe at large.
Collectively, we must be careful not to devolve and return to old ways of being, like a snake who slithers back into its old skin, finding comfort in its old securities.
I encourage you in your own way to look at what old skins should be shed in your life. Are you living in old worldviews that are religious or spiritual in nature? Are they social or political? Or are they more personal and relational?
I encourage you to consciously evolve, transcend and leave behind whatever way your skin limits you, and include whatever good you find worth keeping.
Keith Kristich lives in Buffalo, NY where he teaches meditation, contemplative prayer and the Enneagram. As a lover of spirituality and world religions, Keith seeks to help people slow down and connect with their deep self and the divine within. You can find more about Keith’s work at https://www.keithkristich.com/