Orientation

Humans are adaptable creatures. They can arrange themselves in any number of ways, both as individuals and in groups. The mode of arrangement that we choose depends entirely on our orientation.Orientation is fundamental to functioning. Without basic orientation—knowing who we are, where we are, and what surrounds us—we are helpless and inoperative. We are in the position of an autistic child. In order to operate in the world and in our life, we must have a North Star to orient toward. The North Star that we choose affects everything. It determines our identity, or who we take ourselves to be. It determines our values, or what we consider to be important. It determines our behavior and goals, or where we are trying to go with our efforts. The North Star that we choose orchestrates, organizes and fuels our entire life process.

In this culture, our North Star is consumerism and materialism. In pursuit of the good life, Americans have come to believe that it consists of accumulating money and things. Perhaps as a reaction to the deprivation experiences of our immigrant population, having material goods has risen to the top of the list of priorities. The burgeoning industrial society, with its mass production methods and lower prices, has put most goods within the reach of the common people. We are all eager to have one of everything. We believe that having things will result in fulfillment and lasting happiness. We continue to believe this, even though our experience shows us that the joy of having something new, even something that we have longed for, is transient and short-lived. It does not solve the problem.

The impulse toward consumerism as the key to fulfillment is, of course, fueled by the advertising industry. It is heartily endorsed by the cultural complex in general. It is apt and laughable that, in the midst of the nationwide shock and grief of 9/11, President Bush’s response to the nation was to urge everyone to go shopping. How have we come to this? How have we allowed our lives to become so superficial and pointless? How have we succumbed to the need to have all the latest gadgets while a substantial number of people in our own society and across the world do not have the basics of a decent life—food, water, housing and medical care? How have we gotten so seriously off the road? Are we irretrievably decadent? And, what can be done now?

One possibility that might help would be to re-orient ourselves to the Field as our North Star. If we turn our attention even briefly to the miraculous nature of Life and Creation, we still have the capacity to be struck with wonder. We are currently in a state of sleep, mesmerized by the neurotic, consumerist conclusions of the cultural complex.

However, forces are at work to wake us up. Foremost among them is the desolate emptiness produced by this way of life. Enough of us are having the experience of empty despair that the society as a whole is beginning to realize that something is very wrong. We are looking desperately for some kind of meaning, some other road to take, some solution for the conditioned misery produced by the consumerist answer to life. This uneasy discontent is fertile ground for evolution.

Turning to the Field as the North Star might produce a wealth of positive results. Perceiving the unfolding of the Cosmos, from the Big Bang to the present, generates a response of awe and wonder. A sense of sacredness cannot be far behind. Although we have desacralized our lives and our world, the realities of the Field’s creative, sustaining and destroying capacities are still operating right before our eyes. The Universe is no less miraculous now than It has been for the past 13.7 billion years. Societies before us have oriented themselves to the Field as their North Star. Each in their own way and with their own images, they put the livingness of the Field in central place and instructed their children about it. Most of those societies we would call primitive, but which is the more primitive society—the one that puts unseen, dynamic, unfolding, creative Reality as its North Star, or the one that is miserable, lost in its toys and diversions?

The Field is available as a solution, or at least as a direction. Besides re-sacralization, focusing on the Field also encourages a community of equality. With all of creation as Its product, and unity as Its nature, It undergirds and supports the evolution toward a new human consciousness. It is consistent with less greed, less personal aggrandizement at the expense of the group, and a greater sense of responsibility toward the whole functioning system. Our attitudes could change, not only toward our fellow humans, but also toward other species and the whole natural world. We might begin to take better care of the planet and its other inhabitants. With the Field as a new North Star, we might be able to view ourselves appropriately and realistically within Reality as a whole. We might actually be able to see ourselves in context. A new day might begin to open up.

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