I’ve recently been more aware of how much cultural myths have been affecting me.
Raised Roman Catholic, I was explicitly taught that if I were sinful I would be denied entry into the kingdom of heaven and would be left to either go to purgatory, or if I were a mortal sinner, be sent to hell for all eternity.
Think of the horrible feeling a child develops being raised with such myths and the ever-present guilt it leads to.
It is to tell children that the source of our being gives conditional love and we are on probation for that love.
Luckily this cultural myth, which is completely counter-productive to the Christian goal of helping children develop a relationship with God, is being widely challenged.
A myth that has yet to meet such steep resistance, however, is the belief structure that surrounds the idea of failure.
I see a stark difference between how we currently relate to failure and how we could and eventually will.
Imagine a society which always cheers you on, not because it hopes you will continue against the odds and maybe succeed in the face of potential failure, but because it knows that the only thing there could ever be is more life, that you’ve already arrived, life is perfect and it is metaphysically impossible to not exist, as life is eternal.
This new outlook is clear that “failure” is a groundless distinction created by the belief in winning and losing, as if life were a game or competition, rather than a never-ending expression of our being. It presumes that we lack what we need to have a wonderful life and thus need to fight to gain what will get us that life. This story is society’s prison sentence, perpetuating the collective selfish and fearful behavior which reinforces our belief in the myth.
If we change this cultural story to exclude lack, competition or failure, we can establish a society which cheers us on not from fingers-crossed hope in success, but as a celebration of our movement through every turning point, knowing we will only find more and more expressions of that perfect life we already have.
Imagine how encouraged we would be as we moved through life, how excitedly we would approach opportunities. Imagine how graciously we would accept what we encounter at each turn, knowing there is no possibility of loss in the play of life. Frustration would seem like a silly notion. The idea of quitting would also be non-existent, replaced by the idea of shifting focus onto new and different opportunities and expressions of life.
Our cultural myths of failure and death, framed as being “realistic”, are actually the false products of indoctrination. Yet, belief in their reality powerfully creates the experience that they can and do happen to us. These are two of the most dreaded aspects of life, and the greatest news is that they are solvable by a decision to move beyond them, first as individuals and then collectively.
It is important to understand the creative power of beliefs. Without belief, reality has no meaning at all. No one thing can be more important than another except through belief. Death cannot be more important than life, nor good than evil. In the absence of belief, the perceptual content of life is like a dancing mirage.
Beliefs completely determine the quality of our subjective experience. They construct our entire system of values and the meaning each seeming circumstance and event has in relation to that. we could say then, without exaggeration, that they construct our reality.
No one felt like they inhabited a mind until someone invented the concept that we had one in the first place. No one believed they were a separate self until the idea was created by a human. If we can invent and accept beliefs, we can let them go as well.
There are countless cultural myths and ideas we can change. I am planning to make a list of the main beliefs and myths I would like society to change along with healthy alternatives because I am excited to know that children born in our future will be raised with much healthier cultural myths and ideas and I want us to really work on it. This will be my 95 theses.
We’ve hardly even begun to round the corner on adopting truly healthy cultural beliefs but that means there is an incredible amount of room for improvement and the effect on personal experience will be unimaginable. Changing even one core cultural belief can make an enormous difference and this gives me great hope.