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If we look at our key burning questions like climate change, inequality with all its consequences like wars and poverty and the soaring number of mental suffering one could get hopeless and desperate. How on earth are we going to solve these problems? I would suggest to look deeper at the level of paradigm, rather than looking for immediate solutions, and one key problem ist the fact, that we are all living from a paradigm of separation.
It is this We against Them, the Good economy against Bad economy (industry), the New against the Old. This is the absolute prolonging of the past, creating more suffering as it is reinforcing that old pattern separation.
All of us (at least in the “Western” world) have been basically been born into and raised in the paradigm of separation, it is all we know. We are coming from a world of competition, of “you or me”, of “more is better” and the illusion of the separate self. We are fully identified with our ego, mind and thoughts – that separated self – and we are trained in distincting ourselves from others, be it by race, sex, social status, nationality, religion, income, looks, cars or lifestyle.
We have been separated from nature, from being with plants and animals and from ourselves. Head is separated from heart, body from mind and this is reflected in our fragmented medical, education and research systems: we live in a fully compartmentalized realty and therefor society.
Raised in the mindset that not we are “owned” by mother earth but we ourself owning her, and therefor the world is here to be exploited and destroyed for the sake of our consumption and comfort. Even if we have learned to overcome some of these behaviors, we still live in the illusion that we were separate from each other.
This basic paradigm of separation leads to what the Buddha identified as the “3 root causes of suffering”: DELUSION – GREED – HATE. Now you might say: that’s not me and I tell you: this is exactly all of us!
We live in the delusion of a separate self and therefore separation, we are greed based to a certain extend, wanting more even when we all have by far enough (shoes, money, status..) – and we hate. As for hate I would like to point out “self-hate” as the biggest problems: we keep telling ourselves we are nothing, not good enough in various shapes and forms and that hate of ourselves we project onto the world out there. We are “civilized” enough to contain this most of the time, but if you look around you can see hate everywhere. We even coined the term “haters” on social media. Look at all the cynicism, envy, depreciation, war and what we do to ourselves and each other.
With separation comes fear, anxiety, loneliness, scarcity: no matter how much we have, we always feel something is missing, not enough, we never feel safe – hungry ghosts, never ever nourished. We are good consumers, because we want more, greed is the fuel of a growth based economy. Hate makes us vulnerable to fake news and ideology of all forms and delusion keeps us from waking up and becoming aware and cultivating our own consciousness.
Connection is a fact: “Nothing exists independently” says the Dalai Lama
What does that mean? It means exactly that! We might be different but not separate. We don’t even need to quote the Dalai Lama once more to get an understanding of the connectedness of everything that exists. Just talk to scientists: Biologists, Ecologists, Quantum Physicists, Cosmologists, some Doctors, Brain Researchers (some), you name them. No matter where you come from, if you look deeply, not just on the surface of perception, you will not find anything that exists independently from each other. This is where science and wisdom traditions meet: Not even a single separate piece of matter has ever been found on a quantum level. If you look at a wooden table it seems to be a separate solid object, but if you look deeply you see the sun, the earth, the wind, everything in it. One half of our lung hangs on trees in form of leaves breathing in what we breath out and we breath in what the tree breathes out.
An if we look even deeper, matter will disappear and the only “thing” that will be left is a pattern of interfering fields moving through the whole universe. Nothing is born, nothing ever dies, all there is is “transformation”. It is absolutely impossible to make a spec of dust disappear from the universe.
The underlying force of all of that seems to be loving consciousness – this is not new age crap – but science so far. The current model is an underlying unified field of consciousness out of which “matter” in our everyday awareness emerges. This goes now a little bit too far, I just wanted to make the point, that “we are all one” is not just a metaphor or a saying, but a fact. Our existence and consciousness itself is a big myth, nobody can explain it truly. We should be astonished every single day by the fact that we are alive, that we are conscious and that we are at all.
Why is that? Because of obvious reasons. Separation gives us the motivation and the justification to destroy, exploit, hate. From that paradigm everything we do and the way our world looks today, makes absolutely sense. But now, if we choose to come from a paradigm of connection – and this is what it is, a conscious and deliberate choice – EVERYTHING shifts in an instant moment. Suddenly a different behavior totally makes sense. Because from now on everything we do to others we do to ourselves as we are not separate from anything we do, and the impact of our thinking and acting is connected with everything that is and so it is of universal impact.
Connectedness for us is expressed in 3 KEY root causes of PROSPERITY (in opposition to suffering) and needs extra attention and cultivation, as we have not been raised in this paradigm – until it becomes a new and natural state of being and the genuine place we live our lives from. And even if we don’t live all the time from this place, we at least have a conscious choice now.
PRESENCE – INTEGRITY – KINDNESS
We could go on with this list and all of these words are hosting worlds of their own to be explored.
We cannot choose whether we are separate or not. We are connected no matter what. What we can choose is the paradigm we live from in our everyday consciousness. And as we are not raised or trained in that reality this needs special attention, training and practice.
To live from a paradigm of connectedness is nothing that was given to us. It is our call to rediscover and cultivate it and develop a deep practice in it. Our job is to wake up and acknowledge the fact that we live in the delusion of separation.
And then, bit by bit, unlearn “separation” and learn “connection”. And cultivate that reality. Probably this needs a lifetime of practice, but the true act of transformation is the moment where we become aware of our delusion and choose to shift into the natural state of connectedness and live our lives from that space. It is the result of a choice, not of fate, circumstances, hope or something that will come over time. It won’t. This needs an active choice and action.
Following that path we all will deepen our consciousness, our ability to perceive and experience connectedness on multiple layers and the world we live in will shift over time. We will work with intention, with the potential and beauty of every moment and life will be unfolding beautifully, naturally and with ease. We will stop struggling and experience flow and abundance as well as the feeling of trust and being guided and supported by the world. I am in that state most of the time, although there is still enough struggle, egoic energy (which is useful by the way if chosen deliberately), but things suddenly come my way and emerge as needed.
I would suggest this path espcecially to people, who consider themselves leaders, mentors, consultants, teachers, healers, helpers of all forms. Be the change you want to see in the world first. By living from a place of connection the world already IS a better place, because then you can be truly beneficial and inspire others to follow this path.
While Buddhist Economics as a field of research may still be new to many, it has grown over the last few decades. Buddhism is powerful only, when applied to the very heart of our everyday lives, business and society.