People Need Nature

“Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Human beings are part of nature. Nature is not dependent on human beings to exist. Human beings, on the other hand, are totally dependent on nature to exist. The growing number of people on the planet and how we live here is going to determine the future of nature. And the future of us. Nature will go on, no matter what. It will evolve. The question is, will it be with us or without us?” ~ from the movie “Nature is Speaking
Revering the Universe, Caring for Nature, Celebrating Life

Self-Disclosure: Breaking Through Paradigm Defenses

Chapter 5 excerpts [and flowchart] from the outstanding publication, The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential — And How We Can Change Them | 1998

by Christopher Largent and Denise Breton

Drawing from the success and wisdom of the Iroquois Peace Confederacy, twelve step recovery programs, and the poetry of Rumi, this book provides an analytical framework of our current social systems and presents suggestions for change that can ultimately result in an entire paradigm shift.
Chapter 5
Breaking Through Paradigm Defenses
Hearing the truth
Fifth of the Twelve Cycles of Truth,
the Iroquois Peace Confederacy Tradition
I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.



Covering soul loss.  Self-knowledge observes the paradigms we use to filter consciousness and focus our energies.  But self-knowledge also observes the price we pay for filtering reality as we do.  To focus on some energies, other energies get blocked.  That’s natural and necessary, even a good idea.
What’s not such a good idea is to decide that soul energies are the ones we need to block.  Yet that’s exactly what happens.  To fit into a control-paradigm family, school, church, peer group, workplace, or profession, we factor out our inner self.  Coping with the shame, humiliation, and trauma implanted by control-paradigm institutions takes precedence — and drives our souls into hiding; our inner being can endure only so much trampling.
When paradigm filters obscure our inner self to create an outer self that does the coping, the gap left inside grows into a chasm.  Wang Yang-ming, the sixteenth-century neo-Confucian teacher, put it succinctly: “With the true self, one lives; without it, one dies.”
At first we ignore soul loss.  When that doesn’t work, we keep problems a secret and pretend everything is okay.  Since we’re not sure what’s wrong, we cover to get by.  We devise stories — which we then live out — to shore up the outward image, while we search for something to fill the inner void.
Seeking without for what can only be found within, though, is the formula for compulsive behavior, since no amount of outward compensating can compensate.  We don’t feel connected with what’s meaningful.  Life seems empty, which, without our souls’ aliveness, it is.

Are we our filters?  The trouble intensifies when we forget the gold we are and instead identify with our paradigm filters.  We believe that to expose our filters is to expose ourselves; worse, to lose our filters is to lose ourselves.  Our filters are how we’ve survived.  We fuse with them, believing they’re all we’ve got.
Hindu philosophy describes our personality filters as vehicles for our souls.  They give us the tools to learn and evolve, but they have the same status as the cars we purchase and resell after we’re done with them.  Our paradigm-packaged, space-time-race-gender-culture personalities are vehicles, not who we are in our core.
Yet, given the traumas of coming into this world, we-our-souls forget this teensy distinction and come to identify with we-our-filters — the mask part of us that bears a name and carries a personal history filled with abuse and defenses.  It’s as if we identify with our armor rather than with the living person that the armor protects.
In this light, the rigidity that makes paradigm shifts traumatic turns out to be a fear reaction — fear of the emptiness and vulnerability we’d face if we didn’t have paradigm filters to fill in and protect us. Treating our inner lives as having little value — a strategy we’ve acquired from control systems — we build our paradigm’s filters into forts of invulnerability.


The best way to make our paradigm armor invulnerable is to make it invisible.  The cloaking shield of invisibility is the most potent defense, as Klingon, Romulan, and American defense engineers know.  What can’t be seen or detected can’t be shot down.  Invisible, our paradigms avoid the risk of attack.  We hide our paradigm’s filtering processes under acceptable cloaking devices — and many such covers will do the trick.

Staying within a group.  For example, one way to make paradigm filters invisible is to surround ourselves with people who share our set.  We align ourselves with groups that take the same paradigm for granted.  Surrounded by filter-familiars, ours blend in.  Paradigm filters stay invisible: “What filters?” “What’s a paradigm?”
As long as we remain within the group, our paradigm filters are safe.  No one questions them, since everyone shares the agenda of keeping them unchanged.  When paradigm issues do surface, it’s to reinforce how successful and right the group’s paradigm is.  The official lines get repeated and the catchphrases and shibboleths echoed.  To speak the language of a given paradigm isn’t to do paradigm reflection but to identify with a group whose strategy is to keep the paradigm in place.  Those who question it are soon out.
Small wonder cliques permeate paradigm-rigid societies — with each group accusing the others of being cultish.  The more researchers studied the religious cults that shocked everyone in the seventies, the more the paradigm-dogmatics — resembled what goes on in mainline churches, corporations, schools, universities, governments, labor unions, and nonprofits.  The strategy of keeping filters invisible under the cover of a group-shared paradigm turns out to be not aberrational behavior but the required norm.

When groups support growth.  Not that the support of a group-shared paradigm is all bad.  If we’re shifting to a new paradigm and letting go of the damaging filters, group support is exactly what we need.  Transitions of this magnitude aren’t easy.  We’re on new ground — and usually in systems that work hard to keep us as we were.
We also need the support of a group-shared paradigm if we’re exploring its full potential, as happens in scientific, therapeutic, creative, artistic, and spiritual communities.  Working with people of like mind takes us forward by leaps and bounds.  As we work with others synergetically, developments emerge greater than any one person can produce.
We also need support if we restructuring social systems, since we’re bucking the collective commitment to a particular paradigm.  Social change takes heavy lifting — more than one person can do alone.  Gandhi needed the Indian people to join in his strategy of nonviolent noncooperation with British rule, a major paradigm shift, for his efforts to have effect.
Whether group involvement supports filter evolution or filter fixedness, therefore, is a matter of paradigm development: what phase are we in?  As with the chick and eggshell, what supports paradigm evolution at one stage may stifle it at another.  It all depends on where we are — and how relatedness to a group either supports or hinders our paradigm-evolving process.

Compartmentalized.  Another way to keep paradigms invisible is to split our lives into compartments and to design paradigm filters for each box.  We divide our lives into love relationships, family, school, work, social circles, and church.  We divide our businesses into labor, management, staff, and customers.  We divide our governments into powerful, celebrated leaders and powerless nameless citizens, into liberals, conservatives, and radicals on both ends, or into clout-carrying PACs (political action committees) and the cloutless masses.  We divide our professions into experts and clients, doctors and patients, know-it-alls and know-nothings, perfect ones and sickies.  We divide our minds into reason and emotions, money making and family values.  We divide our culture into sciences and humanities — and within each a dizzying number of specialized fields.  And we divide reality into spirit and matter, mind and body, positive and negative, God and humanity, inner and outer, spirituality and “the real world.”
By splitting our world into separate pieces, we protect the paradigm filters we use for each bit.  Soul has nothing to do with economics.  Spirituality has no relation to government.  In a fixed area, certain paradigm filters apply, and we don’t mix them with filters we use for another box.  That way, we never have to ask how it all adds up; it just doesn’t.  No one expects it to.
We don’t ask, for example, whether the values we use at work are the values we’d like our children to live at home.  If we’re management, we can’t be bothered with the filters of labor.  If we’re scientists, we don’t have much time for humanities.  If we’re doctors, we pay little heed to the self-healing powers of clients.  Or if we adhere to one religion or political faction, we don’t want to hear about the views of another.
By putting walls between our filters, we protect our overall filter arrangement.  We avoid filter comparisons, which invariably bring our paradigm out into the open and subject it to revision.  As we mentioned in chapter 3, some of the greatest leaps in knowledge and art — cultural paradigms — occurred when two or more societies interacted.  Box-category thinking, valuable as it is for developing specialized knowledge, prevents this fertile exchange.  It forbids us even to attempt to integrate our filters with wider contexts, which paradigm evolution demands.  There’s no overall paradigm, we tell ourselves, which means our cultural paradigm stays offstage, invisible.

Open and objective.  Another way to keep paradigms hidden is to appear to be filter-free, as if we have no paradigm, no filters — and no covers for them either.  For decades, scientists hid their filters behind claims of objectivity: they weren’t using filters; they were unbiased observers.  Only when physicist Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” suggested that scientists’ perspectives influence and even determine what they observe did scientists begin to acknowledge their filters and examine how they affected their findings.
Being “open” and “skeptical” are other ways of hiding paradigms we’re not keen to question.  Not that open-mindedness is the prime evil plaguing the globe.  Rather, sometimes claiming to be open is used as a strategy to make us appear paradigm-free, which guarantees that neither we nor anyone else has a chance to look at our filters.  By appearing to be oh-so big-minded, we keep our paradigm close to the chest and off-limits.
No matter how open we are, we’re not without paradigm equipment, nor is that desirable.  As long as we have bodies, minds, and a space-time awareness, we have filters.  As long as we live in control-paradigm systems, we have defenses.  We need them for protection.

Suffocating.  The trouble is, our paradigm covers work so effectively that they obscure our paradigm’s filters not only from others but from ourselves as well.  If we’re to evolve, we need to know what paradigm we’re using, so we can change it.  Defensive covers block this awareness.
How far will we go, though, to protect our paradigm?  What cost are we willing to pay to keep it in place?  Would we rather die than change it?  That’s the danger.  Like a chick trapped inside a shell it can’t break, we can suffocate inside an outgrown paradigm — and in the groups that share it, especially if they’ve raised us, paid our salaries, or promised love, security, prestige, meaning, and salvation as long as we stay committed to them.  Taking chances and pecking through doesn’t sound attractive, even though we suspect the shell is what’s smothering us.  The more afraid we get, the more fervently we try to make life in the shell work.
And why should pecking through sound attractive?  Being inside the shell is what we know.  We’ve learned how to adjust.  Like the chick, we haven’t a clue about life outside.  Our filters have shielded us.  It’s hard to imagine that they may now be killing us.
Shifting paradigms is scary.  No wonder our strategies for keeping paradigms in place are more developed than our strategies for changing them.


System filters.  The same paradigm-protective dynamics occur in systems.  Like individuals, systems need paradigm to do their jobs.  Paradigms organize a shared activity, whether it’s education, spiritual pursuits, doing business, or running a town or nation.  They coordinate the energies of everyone involved by giving them an overall view — a framework of ideas, concepts, and values.  This framework then translates into specifics: methods, policies, roles, strategies, structures, and goals.  The paradigm has a track record of working, at least by paradigm-defined standards.
If they’re serving us well, for instance, paradigm filters of religion screen out separateness and intolerance, so we can see our lives whole and connected; business filters screen out greed, so we can manage our human household wisely (the original meaning of economy); school filters screen out fears of inadequacy, so we can tap the treasures of our minds, and government filters out power-grabbing and exploitation, so we can build a just, fair, and free world together.

Off-limits and invisible.  Somehow, though, our social paradigm filters aren’t working this way.  To paraphrase from Paul’s letter to the Romans, they’re filtering out what they should let through and letting through what they should filter out.
Yet getting at our systems’ filtering paradigm and changing it is no small task.  System filters, orchestrated by the control paradigm, have their ways of staying off-limits.  Many of the most soul-damaging control filters — such as the win-lose competition filter that dominates school and business, or the power-over filter that creates heavy-handed hierarchies in families, religions, the military, law enforcement agencies, and corporations — go unquestioned, even by otherwise change-oriented people.  We take the filters and the paradigm behind them for granted.  We’ll fire people and hire new ones, spend money by the billions, conduct studies and form committees, yet not question the core paradigm creating our social structures.
Changing actors in bad plays won’t make the plays better; we have to rewrite the scripts.  But that’s hard to do when the scripts are functionally invisible.  How do the cloaking devices become so effective?
As with personal paradigms, system paradigms enjoy invisibility as their best defense against change.  Systems use many covers to hide their paradigm filters, but one strategy beats all for blocking filter-awareness: taboos.


Societies’ most potent cloaking devices for its paradigm are its taboos: the questions we dare not raise, the things we dare not do, and the ways we dare not think.  Obeying taboos, we pretend that aspects of our lives don’t exist.  Problems aren’t problems, and obvious sources of trouble remain off-limits; we never speak of them.  We let our systems throw walls of silence around us, so neither we nor they are threatened by hearing the truth about what we’re experiencing.

Taboos about sex.  From the Puritans’ version of Christianity, for example, we inherit taboos about sex.  As H. L. Mencken observed, puritanism, is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”  Because we’re not as committed to perpetuating puritanism as we were several hundred years ago, we’re examining and changing these taboos.
For instance, even talking about sex (yes, we almost didn’t write this section, because there’s a taboo about that too) makes people uncomfortable, but the taboos go way beyond that.  Everyone knows that sex is pleasurable, but no one’s supposed to experience it (except Mae West and Marilyn Monroe).  Men are supposed to have sex only to satisfy their “drives,” while women are only supposed to do it to have children.  Neither is really allowed to feel the pleasure of the experience (good women don’t enjoy it, and real men don’t have feelings).
Gender-specific taboos even invade our most private practices, though many of these are being changed: men aren’t supposed to get involved in intimacies (cuddling and all that); women aren’t supposed to be on top, men aren’t supposed to touch each other except for athletic slaps; women aren’t supposed to initiate sexual activity; neither men nor women are supposed to touch themselves, except for bathing, and you’d better be quick about that.
Significantly for a patriarchal society, more taboos exist for women than for men.  Women aren’t supposed to have more than one partner, for example, even if they’re not married, while the opposite is encouraged in men, even if they are.  Older men may team up with younger women, but older women aren’t supposed to go for younger men.  It’s more okay for men to talk about sex — especially using specific language or slang — than it is for women.
And everyone who has a sexual experience is programmed to experience guilt and shame afterwards.
That’s the control paradigm in force — and invisible.  We’re too absorbed in fulfilling gender roles or feeling guilty to reflect on the paradigm that sets us up to feel these things.  We think it’s us, and taboos keep it that way.  They make us controllable.

Taboos about feelings.  Another paradigm-protective taboo makes our feelings off-limits in social systems.  In family systems, for instance, we learn to stifle “unacceptable” feelings and feel guilty for having them.  In school systems, we learn to get tough and hide how we feel, whether it’s fear of tests, shame in competition, or joy in learning.  Blase’ cool is the way to survive school, with emotions tucked safely away.  At work and in professions, feelings have no place.  The most professional-looking expert is the one most “in control” of his or her emotions, therefore apparently least emotionally involved.  Even the words emotion and emotional have negative connotations.  To say someone is being emotional more or less discredits what the person says.
Factoring out our emotions is convenient for control-paradigm systems.  If we’re cut off from how we feel when we’re being dominated or shamed, we’ll tolerate it more readily.  And we’ll learn to disregard the pain we feel when we witness control-system abuse to others.  We’ll flee into our heads, where the control paradigm feeds us with rationalizations, judgments, and ultimata — “Things must be done this way, or chaos follows.”

Science taboos.  From science, we’ve inherited a host of taboos about what’s real and what’s not, what we can talk about “intelligently” and what’s superstitious or pseudoscience.  In general, the rule is this: If you can measure something, manipulate it, predict its functionings, and then replicate it — i.e., control the outcome of experiments on it — it’s scientific and real; if not, it’s imagination or illusion.
We accept this approach to science because it gives us some measure of control over our environment.  Yet there’s the rub.  The strategy reduces knowledge to control.  We think that knowing something means being able to control it — control-paradigm epistemology.  Given the authority we grant science, we don’t question this strategy, even though it discounts mountains of observed but nonreproducible — therefore “anecdotal” — evidence.

Science taboos: Their wider impact.  But defining knowledge in terms of control raises questions.  To take some practical ones first, what kind of control does control science give us?  Control-paradigm science inevitably disregards wider contexts, because wider contexts aren’t easily controlled.  To gain control, scientists eliminate variables and constrict the field.  In fact, early in their schooling, scientists learn to think in narrowly focused ways and to disregard broader contexts.  The most defensible Ph.D. thesis is the most specialized one.
When we act on control knowledge, as we do in devising technologies, we act on highly focused information — information that has eliminated broader-context considerations.  Using narrowed control-think to create all our modern goodies, we find ourselves faced with wider-context messes.  Yes, aspirin can help with heart disease, but it can also cause bleeding stomach ulcers.  Yes, combustion engines move us around, but hey pollute like crazy.  Yes, we can invent super-poisons for pesticides, but we end up ingesting the stuff, while mutant bugs use it for seasoning.
As long as the immediate control objective is achieved, though, control-paradigm science doesn’t worry about the larger impact.  No wonder we’re stuck with radioactive toxic waste that has a half-life of several million years and traveling clouds of acid raid that kill forests.  As we discovered on a trip to eastern Canada, seeing trees — entire forests — sick and dying from the top down can ruin your whole vacation.
It’s no good using the dodge that science operates apart from technology — that the endeavor of science is unrelated to its technical, commercial applications.  Who funds scientific research in universities?  Who decides which projects receive grants and which don’t?  It’s not the Good Fairy — or science in the public interest.  If the same money went into researching alternative energy sources, for instance, as gushes into developing new oil fields, new uses for petroleum by-products. . .our economy wouldn’t be fossil-fuel dependent, our environment wouldn’t be choking with petroleum fumes and discarded plastics, and our knowledge of energy wouldn’t be stalled with burning things — caveman science.
Thanks to taboos protecting control science, though, we buy the dodge.  Science is pure intellectual activity, unaffected by economic or political forces, and we’re the Easter Bunny.  Fantasy for fantasy, ours is less dangerous.

Science taboos: Ethics and values.  The taboos that insulate control science from its impact on society also hide its values.  The directions that science and technology take involve decisions based on values — control values.  Nonetheless, taboos place science above ethics.  In other words, control-science taboos hide its decision-making processes and the values that guide them.
These values and decisions affect the course of science.  The fact that some scientific research gets screened out while other research receives both funding and publication is attributed to the natural course of scientific development, as if there’s no paradigm-based filtering going on.
Our experience in several universities showed us exactly what Vine Deloria Jr. described earlier: the “experts” who dominate the field also dominate the direction and limits of research.  They give their positions at conferences, where reputations may be made or broken, and they edit the journals.  If someone steps outside the experts’ prevailing paradigm, the step had better not be too great — or his or her reputation and publishing career (a “must” for tenure) is at stake.
Even more telling, though, is the funding of research by industry.  Because the college and the science department as well as the researcher get money, there’s an unspoken but real incentive to present projects that support the agenda of work being done in various industries.  Historian of science Robert Proctor documents this process in Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Can and Can’t Know About Cancer.  Proctor details how combinations of industrial, academic, and political interests influence — even control — what should otherwise be open scientific research to save lives.

Science taboos: Accepted practices.  Control-science decisions affect not only the direction of research but also how knowledge is applied.  As long as some practice is labelled “scientific,” we’re hesitant to ask whether it’s wise or cruel.  The status of “accepted scientific opinion” is often enough to put a the theory along with its applications beyond moral question.

Example: Babies and birth.  Accepted scientific opinion has long held, for instance, that babies have primitively developed nervous systems and can’t register pain.  Accordingly, doctors routinely perform painful tests and surgery on screaming infants without anesthesia.  “They’re just screaming to exercise their lungs,” we’re supposed to believe, not because the needles are going into them — and fresh out of that warm, safe, mostly needle-free womb.
Through hypnosis we now know the pain and anger such “scientific” practices produced.  If we walked up to someone on the street and lopped off a body part, we’d land in jail.  If an obstetrician does it to a baby boy — again without anesthesia — he gets paid.  What message does this send to baby boys about the world they’re entering?  How safe and protected are they going to feel when this experience meets them right off the bat?
In Babies Remember Birth — a fascinating book exploring the consciousness that babies bring into the world — psychologist and hypnotherapist David Chamberlain discovered that babies are most annoyed at being treated like objects to be poked and prodded rather than as intelligent, conscious beings.  Chamberlain writes:

A ringing declaration of infant intelligence ends the report [of the birth experience], as Deborah compares her knowledge with that of the hospital staff. Saying that she was more aware of being a mind than a person, she speaks of feeling intelligent and explains why. She decided she was more intelligent than those caring for her, because she knew the real situation inside while they seemed to know only the outside. She was also superior in being able to receive their messages while they were unable to receive hers…
In Deborah’s own words:
I felt I knew a lot — I really did. I thought I was pretty intelligent. I never thought about being a person, just a mind. I thought I was an intelligent mind…
They seemed to ignore me. They were doing things to me — to the inside of me. But they acted like that’s all there was. When I tried to tell them things, they just wouldn’t listen, like that noise [her crying] wasn’t really anything. It didn’t sound to impressive, but it was all I had.
I just really felt like I was more intelligent than they were.”

Science taboos: Philosophy and consciousness.   But consciousness, certainly infant consciousness, has no place in the official worldview of science, and taboos keep it that way.  Taboos hide how control-paradigm science affects our overall philosophy.  Because of taboos, we don’t ask whether physical observation, quantification, and control under laboratory conditions are adequate for understanding the universe, including ourselves — or babies.
Yet questions persist: If we can’t measure or control something, does that mean we can’t know it?  Does it give us grounds to act as if it doesn’t exist?  Even if we seem to control something, do we know all there is to know about it?
By making noncontrollable aspects of life off-limits — outside the domain of scientific inquiry — the taboos of science ignore many realities, but most of all, consciousness.  Only when scientists figure out a way to reduce consciousness to observable, measurable, and controllable behavior are they allowed to study it.  By that time, though, what they study is boring and sheds no light on the complexities that conscious beings face.  We have to wonder why we buy a paradigm of knowledge that’s incapable of dealing with the most significant aspect of human life.
Consciousness isn’t exactly peripheral to us.  Yet the dominant paradigm of knowledge places consciousness research off-limits.  Intuition, inner advisors, synchronicity, spiritual seeking, the quest for meaning, healing, transformation, near-death experiences, soul work, mythic consciousness, microcosm/macrocosm connectedness and the symbol systems, such as astrology or the I Ching, that explore it are called hokum and nonsense.  No self-respecting scientist would be caught dead investigating them, certainly not if he or she taught at a university and were up for tenure.

Science taboos: The nonordinary.  One of the most powerful ways taboos shut down open inquiry is to ridicule those who step outside the official scientific-opinion.  If something doesn’t fit control-paradigm science, the phenomenon is dismissed as nonexistent, and the people who persist in speaking about it are dismissed as crackpots….
There are a few taboos of science — taboos that protect the dominant paradigm we use to gain knowledge.

Taboos at work.  [W]ork life is fraught with taboos — and for the clear purpose of keeping the control paradigm invisible and unchanged.  Employees dare not speak out when their company acts illegally, exploits the community, or damages the environment.  Neither may they discuss ways in which the workplace functions abusively.  On policy, procedure, scheduling, and operations, people aren’t free to speak their minds to “superiors” — not without risking a lower performance rating, cut in salary, or loss of job.  As Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel show in The Addictive Organization, to air concerns is to be disloyal.
Yet taboos cripple business effectiveness.  The more information flows freely, the more people base business decisions on a big picture of what’s going on.  When taboos shut down this flow of communication, managers are in the position of a barge captain trying to negotiate the shoals of the Mississippi with no dials working.  It’s astonishing how out of touch managers can be with the people they manage.  Yet it’s logical within a control paradigm of management: in a control hierarchy, information flows down, not up.  Even when the control model is failing, taboos prevent people from saying so.

Taboos about addictions and abuse.  As the recovery literature documents, heavy taboos surround addictions and abuse — again, for paradigm-defense reasons.  If we admit that the paradigm behind our social systems is driving us to self-destructive behavior, we’d be forced to question it.  It’s easier to pretend nothing is wrong with our social systems or their paradigm; it’s just a few people who can’t cut it.  No, addiction is not a global epidemic — or, as Shakespeare put it, “This is not my nose neither.”
Studies indicate that 88 million Americans are chemically dependent or in a relationship with someone who is, 50 million smoke, 12 million chew tobacco, and 37 million have a food addiction.  One out of every four families suffer from alcohol- or drug-related problems.  That doesn’t count people suffering from the emotional trauma of dysfunctional families.  Yet taboos forbid us to deal with these experiences openly or to consider how they’re affecting our adult behavior, from intimacy to parenting to professional conduct to national policy.
In the case of President Lyndon Johnson, for instance, Johnson’s mother wanted him to excel where her husband did not.  When young Lyndon got A’s at school, she praised and rewarded him, even by inviting him to sleep in her bed.  When he misbehaved or got less than A’s, she refused even to acknowledge his presence and would talk about him as if he weren’t there — even as if he were dead.  The message was clear: if you don’t excel, you don’t exist.  Decades later, President Johnson couldn’t admit that Vietnam was a no-win war, even when his advisors told him.  He said he refused to be the first American president to lose a war.  His decision reflected not political realities but childhood programming.

Taboos against having problems.  In fact, having problems at all is taboo, because it suggests failure — “real men don’t have problems,” or if they do, they certainly don’t talk about them.  When we’re in systems, we’re expected to pretend everything is okay.  If problems do arise, they’re ours, not the system’s, certainly not the paradigm’s.  Again, if we’re in pain as a result of living in systems, something must be wrong with us.
In other words, taboos present system paradigms, but they don’t protect the people within the systems.  They don’t help us cope with the realities of our own lives.


“Defensive routines.”  An excellent analysis of both how paradigm defenses work and how to disarm them comes from the two team-learning consultants in business management, Harvard’s Chris Argyris and MIT’s Peter Senge, who describe “defensive routines” as major obstacles to learning in corporate and business systems.  “We trap ourselves,” say Argyris and his colleagues, “in ‘defensive routines’ that insulate our mental models [paradigms] from examination.”  In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge explains:

Defensive routines…are entrenched habits we use to protect ourselves from the embarrassment and threats that come with exposing our thinking.  Defensive routines form a sort of protective shell around our deepest assumptions, defending us against pain, but also keeping us from learning about the causes of pain.  The source of defensive routines, according to Argyris, is…fear of exposing the thinking that lies behind our views….  For most of us, exposing our reasoning is threatening because we are afraid that people will find error in it.  The perceived threat from exposing our thinking starts early in life and, for most of us, is steadily reinforced in school — remember the trauma of being called on and not having the “right answer” — and later in work.

Defensive routines block transformation.  Since defensive routines don’t let us inside our paradigm’s castle, we can’t get to the paradigm filters where change is most needed.  As a result, defensive routines block learning — and real solutions.  “‘The paradox,’ writes Argyris, ‘is that when [defensive routines] succeed in preventing immediate pain, they also prevent us from learning how to reduce what causes the pain in the first place.'”  We stay within pain-making structures, trying to avoid the pain those very structures create.
Defensive routines also block communication.  We develop rapport when we share which paradigm filters we’re using.  Our filters don’t have to be the same; we just need to know the filters at work in a relationship.  Then mutual understanding grows.  But when one person hides his or her paradigm, other parties do it too.  Defensive routines are contagious.  Once defensive postures start, they spread.  Up goes the armor.
Trickiest of all, defensive routines are “self-sealing,” to use Argyris’s term.  Not only do they hide paradigms, but they hide their own existence as well — the invisibility trick again.  To both hide our paradigm and be psychologically correct, we fall back on the openness cover.  We want to seem open and candid, so we work hard at appearing that way.  But this simply pushes paradigm defenses deeper, as we pretend that neither our paradigms nor covers for them exist.  If we subjected either to examination, we’d risk having to restructure them — exactly what a paradigm shift requires.


Lies, secrets, and cover-ups.  By hiding the paradigm that lies at the root of problems, defensive routines allow situations to get worse.  They don’t let concerns or confusions surface, even though these may be the key to a breakthrough.  Instead of helping us deal with realities, defensive covers divert our energies into preserving masks and images.
By so doing, defensive routines force us to live a lie — not to be honest about what’s happening.  It’s not that we’re intentionally dishonest; it’s rather that, as long as we’re participating in a control system, we’re simply not at liberty to speak openly about what we’re experiencing.
When taboos forbid us to speak our truth, our lives alone and together get “zippered shut with secrecy,” to use journalist Jonathan Vankin’s phrase, leaving us vulnerable to “secrecy’s chief weapon, propaganda.”  At home and at work, at school and on the news, we’re lobbied into believing the official line that justifies control-paradigm systems.  Our family, educational, economic, social, political, and religious institutions are basically fine.  All we need to do is get rid of the bad people — lock them up, kill them, or drug them until they fit the norm.  Then our systems would work.
But our systems don’t work, no matter how many people we drug, lock up, or kill.  Instead, a chasm of silence comes between us and system realities.  That’s not good.  “The more taboos there are in the empire,” the Tao Te Ching says, “the poorer the people.”  If the recovery movement did nothing more than show how destructive lies, secrets, and covers are, its service would be immeasurable.
In Healing the Shame That Binds You, John Bradshaw says, “Families are as sick as their secrets” — a truth that applies to any social system.  Defensive covers obstruct our quest to find what’s real about ourselves and our systems, while defenses hide our paradigms so well that not even we can get at them.  What we can’t discuss, we can’t change.  Or as John Bradshaw puts it, “We cannot heal what we cannot feel.”

The toll of the defenses.  Whereas lying was one filter among many in the last chapter, it’s the one to tackle here.  Lying is how we get trapped in our own defenses.  Whenever we invent a story to cover, we make matters worse — in many ways.
For one thing, lies obscure self-knowledge.  Screening what others know of us, we end up screening what we know of ourselves.  Defensive shields come between us and our own reality as we start believing the half-truths we put out.
Lack of self-knowledge is as devastating for companies, churches, schools, and nations as it is for us personally.  Within systems, we need to know where we are — what’s working and what isn’t, what we’re feeling and what others are feeling as well — in order to plan the next step.  We can’t pretend things are okay if they’re not.  As we’ve found with the national debt and the crisis in health care, hidden problems are the most dangerous.  They grow in silence, until they’re so overwhelming we don’t know where to begin to solve them.
Lie defenses are also harmful because they consume our energies, diverting them from where we need them most.  Whether we’re in business or in a marriage, we need to focus on what’s real in the relationship: a real product or service or a real self that’s present with the other.  Defensive covers make this difficult.  Unaware of our filters, we put energy into preserving covers rather than into dealing with real issues.  We create a life that’s more role than intimacy, more image than substance.
In the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for instance, energies poured into damage control for corporate images but trickled into damage control for Prince William Sound.  In the first few critical hours, little energy was spent on actually plugging the leak in the tanker’s hull or containing the spill.  Salvaging government and oil-conglomerate images by using lies and half-truths took precedence.  As with President Johnson’s inability to admit that the Vietnam War couldn’t be won, the compulsion to maintain an on-top-of-it image eclipsed his ability to cope with reality in a situation that was causing more death and suffering day by day.
Paradigm defenses act like guard dogs at the door of our paradigm’s castle.  Their assignment is to protect the model-in-charge at all costs.  Until we disarm the defenses, we can’t get inside.  We can’t explore our paradigm or what it’s doing to us and our systems.  The roots of addictive personal behavior and of soul-violating social structures stay off-limits — as does our real being.


Facing the worst-case scenario makes covers superfluous.  Recovery breaks through defenses, and in a simple, straightforward way.  We create a space to hear the truth about ourselves, our systems, and the paradigms that shape both.
AA’s Fifth Step does this by admitting “to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Admitting wrongs pushes defensive covers way back, because it tackles the worst-case scenario — what we most fear — namely, being exposed for our mistakes.
If it’s okay to be wrong, we don’t have to hide or cover.  Openly admitting the abusive patterns that a paradigm creates — patterns we’ve participated in and perpetuated ourselves — we no longer need to mount a defense.  We can disclose our paradigm filters and get on with evolving them.
With this strategy shift, we’re out of the defense business and free to focus on  the realities at hand.  By facing our worst fears about being exposed, dealing with our paradigm openly, and being up-front about what’s happening, we dispense with energy-draining covers and attend to the real job: transformation.

Accessing our paradigm-shifting powers.  By so doing, we tap hidden resources of knowledge and growth.  Our willingness to confront what’s wrong opens us to our paradigm-shifting powers.  We see how wrongs get started on a paradigm level, and this insight gets us going on the path of changing paradigms.
Tarthang Tulku explains: “Because our problems are often painful and disturbing, our natural tendency is to try to avoid them; we seek ways to get out of difficult situations, or to go around the obstacles we encounter.  But our problems are like clouds: though they appear to disturb the serenity of a clear sky, they contain life-giving moisture that nourishes growth.  When we face our problems directly and go through them, we discover new ways of being.”

Breaking through defensive routines: self-disclosure.  Argyris and Senge agree.  The remedy for paradigm covers is self-disclosure: admitting what’s bothering us, discussing our defenses, and bringing both our paradigms and their defenses out into the open.  As Senge notes, “To retain their power, defensive routines must remain undiscussable.  Teams stay stuck in their defensive routines only when they pretend that they don’t have any defensive routines, that everything is all right, and that they can say ‘anything.'”
Self-disclosure breaks the hold that defensive covers have on us.  When we admit our defensive habits, they no longer block our growth.  Breaking the rule of secrecy and paradigm-protective taboos, we allow our paradigms to surface and our covers to dissipate.  Issues start bubbling up that carry us forward in confronting what’s really going on.  In addition, we have the energy — liberated from the enervating job of maintaining covers — to go forward.

Learning from defensive patterns.  With a strategy of self-disclosure, we expose our defenses and find out why they’re there.  We can’t get rid of our protective armor all at once.  We have defenses because we need them now, or we needed them in the past, or we think we need them even if we don’t.  Through self-disclosure, we begin to sort this out.  We admit exactly what our defenses are doing for us.
In most cases, identifying defensive covers takes us to the heart of what’s obstructing paradigm evolution.  We’ve stumbled on a mother lode of blocked energy and potential awareness.  What we’re most defensive about is often what we’re most quickly outgrowing.  However, we may not realize it or perhaps we’re not ready to face the consequences of such a shift.  Even so, the same defenses that block us can direct us to our deepest insights — the very idea-shifts that we’re most primed to make.  Again from Senge:

Defensive routines can become a surprising ally…by providing a signal when learning is not occurring.  Most of us know when we are being defensive, even if we cannot fully identify the source or pattern of our defensiveness….  When we are feeling defensive, seeking to avoid an issue, thinking we need to protect someone or ourselves — these are tangible signals that can be used to reestablish a climate of learning….  Often, the stronger the defensiveness, the more important the issue around which people are defending or protecting their views.

In the body, sore points indicate where physical energy is blocked.  In the psyche, defensive covers indicate sore points where soul energy is trapped.  In social systems, defensive patterns indicate where human energy is dammed up.
Self-disclosure unbottles the energy.  Naming defenses as such and looking behind them to the dynamics of our inner growth loosens blocked awareness and lets this awareness operate as a force for transformation.  Core issues surface, and we start working through them.


Commitment to truth.  A commitment to self-disclosure is a commitment to hearing the truth, which is by nature transforming.  Whereas lies, covers, and taboos limit us to existing paradigm filters, admitting what’s going on opens us to learning about reality and to evolving the paradigms we use to move with it.  Senge describes this commitment in practice:

Commitment to the truth…means a relentless willingness to root out the ways we limit or deceive ourselves from seeing what is, and to continually challenge our theories of why things are they way they are.  It means continually broadening our awareness, just as the great athlete with extraordinary peripheral vision keeps trying to “see more of the playing field.”  It also means continually deepening our understanding of the structures underlying current events.

Initiating self-disclosure.  When it comes to breaking through paradigm defenses, a strategy of self-disclosure starts with individuals and spreads out.  If we’re caught in defenses together — if our paradigm filters are so hidden that we can’t find out why our systems are behaving abusively — the way to break through the barriers is shared self-disclosure.
To start, we ask ourselves why we’re defending our systems as they now function, which relates to why we’re part of them in the first place.  We admit how we behave when we’re in a family or school system, for instance, and how we feel about how the paradigms behind systems lead us to think, feel, and act.  That’s the beginning — the strategy that gets the momentum of self-disclosure going.
Where else can we start?  Accusing others in the name of self-disclosure doesn’t work.  Charging others with being defensive brings their defenses out in force.  By contrast, admitting our feelings, confusions, fears, and defenses breaks the pattern.  By relaxing our defensive boundaries, we create space for others to join in and explore what’s going on.
Our story is one telling of our system’s story.  It’s also one telling of a culturally pervasive paradigm.  We’re a microcosm of the macrocosm.  As we share our stories, the system and paradigm no longer remain hidden.
We exchange our stories not to undermine systems but to evolve the paradigms behind them, so that our systems become better servants to human needs.  That’s why we have social systems in the first place.  If we’re not functioning happily in systems, systems can’t function optimally either.  We’re like canaries taken down into coal mines; if we’re not thriving, our systems can’t be either.  The more we’re honest about how we’re experiencing systems — the more we provide the feedback they need — the more our paradigms and systems evolve.

Gandhi: An open experiment with Truth.  Gandhi was a master of removing defenses as a strategy for transforming social systems.  To start, he used the strategy on himself.  Much of his force as a spiritual and political leader came from his commitment to self-disclosure.  British spies could learn nothing that he would not openly admit.  Even his most personal wrestlings with “brahmacharya,” or purifying self-discipline, we made public.  He called his life “an experiment with Truth” — an experiment he conducted in the open.
But he also encouraged the Indian people to let down their defenses and to admit their wrongs as well.  As Gandhi saw it, self-government is inseparable from self-purification.  Otherwise, we’re ruled by our shortcomings.  Self-purification starts with self-disclosure — admitting exactly what needs correction.  Gandhi wrote:

I have always been loathe to hide…the weak points of the community, or to press for its rights without having purged it of its blemishes…I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English yoke.  I am bent upon freeing India from any yoke whatsoever….  Hence for me the movement of Swaraj [self-rule] is a movement of self-purification.  It is we ourselves with our inertia, apathy and social abuse that more than England or anybody else block our way to freedom.  And if we cleanse ourselves of our shortcomings and faults, no power on earth can even for a moment withhold Swaraj from us.

Lincoln: Admitting America’s wrongs.  Hearing the truth about collective wrongs is liberating.  We can’t stop soul-violation until we stop defending it.  In his famous second inaugural address, for instance, Abraham Lincoln openly admitted the “offence” of “American slavery” and acknowledged the inevitability of paying the price for such an inhuman, institutionalized evil.
Defending the indefensible, Lincoln reasoned, locks us on the same level as the offense.  Withdrawing our defenses, admitting wrongs, and hearing the truth liberates us to move beyond both a soul-violating paradigm and the soul-violating systems it creates.
Lincoln and Gandhi did for their nations what system recovery suggests we do for ours today: face abusive paradigms, name how they build abuse into our social structures, and end the defenses, lies, and cover-ups.  With paradigm defenses out in the open, we’re free to evaluate the paradigm behind our systems and get on with a paradigm shift.



“This book is a must read for anyone who values family and freedom.” ~ Russell Means, activist, actor, and co-author of Where White Men Fear To Tread
“A comprehensive survey of the changing paradigm and the need to increase the rate of change.  We can only hope that we will find ourselves on the positive side of the tidal wave that now confronts us. There is a synthesis here that we need to understand — and support — if we are to survive.” ~ Vino Deloria, Jr., professor of history, religious studies, and law, University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto and Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact
Chapter 5 excerpts [and flowchart] from the outstanding publication, The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential — And How We Can Change Them | 1998
by Christopher Largent and Denise Breton

Journey into a Lost World : The Beginnings of Civilization

Excerpt from one of the most historically significant books of our time. Originally published in 1987:
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
by Riane Eisler

Introduction: The Chalice and the Blade

This book opens a door. The key to unlock it was fashioned by many people and many books, and it will take many more to fully explore the vast vistas that lie behind it.  But even opening this door a crack reveals fascinating new knowledge about our past — and a new view of our potential future.
For me, the search for this door has been a life-long quest.  Very early in my life I saw that what people in different cultures consider given — just the way things are — is not the same everywhere.  I also very early developed a passionate concern about the human situation.  When I was very small, the seemingly secure world I had known was shattered by the Nazi takeover of Austria.  I watched as my father was dragged away, and after my mother miraculously obtained his release from the Gestapo, my parents and I fled for our lives.  Through that flight, first to Cuba and finally to the United States, I experienced three different cultures, each with its own verities.  I also began to ask many questions, questions that to me are not, and never have been, abstract.
Why do we hunt and persecute each other?  Why is our world so full of man’s infamous inhumanity to man — and to woman?  How can human beings be so brutal to their own kind?  What is it that chronically tilts us toward cruelty rather than kindness, toward war rather than peace, toward destruction rather than actualization?
Of all life-forms on this planet, only we can plant and harvest fields, compose poetry and music, seek truth and justice, teach a child to read and write — or even laugh and cry.  Because of our unique ability to imagine new realities and realize these through ever more advanced technologies, we are quite literally partners in our own evolution.  And yet, the same wondrous species of ours now seems bent on putting an end not only to its own evolution but to that of most life on our globe, threatening our planet with ecological catastrophe or nuclear annihilation.
As time went on, as I pursued my professional studies, had children, and increasingly focused my research and writing on the future, my concerns broadened and deepened.  Like many people, I became convinced that we are rapidly approaching an evolutionary crossroads — that never before has the course we choose been so critical.  But what course should we take?
Socialists and communists assert that the root of our problems is capitalism; capitalists insist socialism and communism are leading us to ruin.  Some argue our troubles are do to our “industrial paradigm,” that our “scientific worldview” is to blame.  Still others blame humanism, feminism, and even secularism, pressing for a return to the “good old days” of a smaller, simpler, more religious age.
Yet, if we look at ourselves — as we are forced to by television or the grim daily ritual of the newspaper at breakfast — we see how capitalist, socialist, and communist nations alike are enmeshed in the same arms race and all the other irrationalities that threaten both us and our environment.  And if we look at our past — at the routine massacres by Huns, Romans, Vikings, and Assyrians or the cruel slaughters of the Christian Crusades and Inquisition — we see there was even more violence and injustice in the smaller, prescientific, preindustrial societies that came before us.
Since going backward is not the answer, how do we move forward?  A great deal is being written about a New Age, a major and unprecedented cultural transformation.  But in practical terms, what does this mean?  A transformation from what to what?  In terms of both our everyday lives and our cultural evolution, what precisely would be different, or even possible, in the future?  Is a shift from a system leading to chronic wars, social injustice, and ecological imbalance to one of peace, social justice, and ecological balance a realistic possibility?  Most important, what changes in social structure would make such a transformation possible?
The search for answers led me to re-examination of our past, present, and future on which this book is based.  The Chalice and the Blade reports part of this new study of human society, which differs from most prior studies in that it takes into account the whole of human history (including our prehistory) as well as the whole of humanity (both its female and male halves).
Weaving together evidence from art, archaeology, religion, social science, history, and many other fields of inquiry into new patterns that more accurately fit the best available data.  The Chalice and the Blade tells a new story of our cultural origins.  It shows that war and the “war of the sexes” are neither divinely nor biologically ordained.  And it provides verification that a better future is possible — and is in fact firmly rooted in the haunting drama of what actually happened in our past.
Human Possibilities: Two Alternatives
We are all familiar with legends about an earlier, more harmonious and peaceful age.  The Bible tells of a garden where woman and man lived in harmony with each other and nature — before a male god decreed that woman henceforth be subservient to man.  The Chinese Tao Te Ching describes a time when the yin, or feminine principle, was not yet ruled by the male principle, or yang, a time when the wisdom of the mother was still honored and followed above all.  The ancient Greek poet Hesoid wrote of a “golden race” who tilled the soil in “peaceful ease” before a “lesser race” brought in their god of war.  But though scholars agree that in many respects these works are based on prehistoric events, references to a time when women and men lived in partnership have traditionally been viewed as no more than fantasy.
When archaeology was still in its infancy, the excavations of Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann helped establish the reality of Homer’s Troy.  Today new archaeological excavations, coupled with reinterpretations of older digs using more scientific methods, reveal that stories such as our expulsion from the Garden of Eden also derive from earlier realities: from folk memories of the first agrarian (or Neolithic) societies, which planted the first gardens on this earth.  Similarly (as Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos already suggested almost fifty years ago), the legend of how the glorious civilization of Atlantis sank into the sea may well be a garbled recollection of Minoan civilization — now believed to have ended when Crete and surrounding islands were massively damaged by earthquakes and enormous tidal waves.
Just as in Columbus’s time the discovery of the earth is not flat made it possible to find an amazing new world that had been there all the time, these archaeological discoveries — deriving from what the British archaeologist James Mellaart calls a veritable archaeological revolution — open up the amazing world of our hidden past.  They reveal a long period of peace and prosperity when our social, technological, and cultural evolution moved upward: many thousands of years when all the basic technologies on which civilization is built were developed in societies that were not male dominant, violent, and hierarchic.
Further verifying that there were ancient societies organized very differently from ours are the many otherwise inexplicable images of the Deity as female in ancient art, myth, and even historical writings.  Indeed, the idea of the universe as an all-giving Mother has survived (albeit in modified form) into our time.  In China, the female deities Ma Tsu and Kuan Yin are still widely worshiped as beneficent and compassionate goddesses.  In fact, the anthropologist P. S. Sangren notes that “Kuan Yin is clearly the most popular of Chinese deities.”  Similarly, the veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, is widespread.  Although in Catholic theology she is demoted to nondivine status, her divinity is implicitly recognized by her appellation Mother of God as well as by the prayers of millions who daily seek her compassionate protection and solace.  Moreover, the story of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection bears a striking resemblance to those of earlier “mystery cults” revolving around a divine Mother and her son or, as in the worship of Demeter and Kore, her daughter.

It of course makes eminent sense that the earliest depiction of divine power in human form should have been female rather than male.  When our ancestors began to ask the eternal questions (Where do we come from before we are born?  Where to we go after we die?), they must have noted that life emerges from the body of a woman.  It would have been natural for them to image the universe as an all-giving Mother from whose womb all life emerges and to which, like the cycles of vegetation, it returns after death to be again reborn.  It also makes sense that societies with this image of the powers that govern the universe would have a very different social structure from societies that worship a divine Father who wields a thunderbolt and/or sword.  It further seems logical that women would not be seen as subservient in societies that conceptualized the powers governing the universe in female form — and that “effeminate” qualities such as caring, compassion, and nonviolence would be highly valued in these societies.  What does not make sense is to conclude that societies in which men did not dominate women were societies in which women dominated men.


Nonetheless, when the first evidence of such societies was unearthed in the nineteenth century, it was concluded that they must have been “matriarchal.”  Then, when the evidence did not seem to support this conclusion, it again became customary to argue that human society was — and always will be — dominated by men.  But if we free ourselves from the prevailing models of reality, it is evident that there is another logical alternative: that there can be societies in which difference is not necessarily equated with inferiority or superiority.
One result of re-examining human society from a gender-holistic perspective has been a new theory of cultural evolution.  This theory, which I have called Cultural Transformation theory, proposes that underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.
The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy — the ranking of one half of humanity over the other.  The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model.  In this model — beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female — diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.
Cultural Transformation theory further proposes that the original direction in the mainstream of our cultural evolution was toward partnership but that, following a period of chaos and almost total cultural disruption, there occurred a fundamental social shift.  The greater availability of data on Western societies (due to ethnocentric focus of Western social science) makes it possible to document this shift in more detail through the analysis of Western Cultural evolution.  However, there are also indications that this change in direction from a partnership to a dominator model was roughly paralleled in other parts of the world.
The title The Chalice and the Blade derives from this cataclysmic turning point during the prehistory of Western civilization, when the direction of our cultural evolution was quite literally turned around.  At the pivotal branching, the cultural evolution of societies that worshiped the life-generating and nurturing powers of the universe — in our time still symbolized by the ancient chalice or grail — was interrupted.  There now appeared on the prehistoric horizon invaders from the peripheral areas of our globe who ushered in a very different from of social organization.  As the University of California archaeologist Marija Gimbutas writes, these were people who worshiped “the lethal power of the blade” — the power to take rather than give life that is the ultimate power to establish and enforce domination.
The Evolutionary Crossroads
Today we stand at another potentially decisive branching point.  At a time when the lethal power of the Blade — amplified a millionfold by megatons of nuclear warheads — threatens to put an end to all human culture, the new findings about both ancient and modern history reported in The Chalice and the Blade do not merely provide a new chapter in the story of our past.  Of greatest importance is what this new knowledge tells us about our present and potential future.
For millennia men have fought wars and the Blade has been a male symbol.  But this does not mean men are inevitably violent and warlike.  Throughout recorded history there have been peaceful and nonviolent men.  Moreover, obviously there were both men and women in the prehistoric societies where the power to give and nurture, which the Chalice symbolizes, was supreme.  The underlying problem is not men as a sex.  The root of the problem lies in a social system in which the power of the Blade is idealized — in which both men and women are taught to equate masculinity with violence and dominance and to see men who do not conform to this ideal as “too soft” or “effeminate.”
For many people it is difficult to believe that any other way of structuring human society is possible – much less that our future may hinge on anything connected with women or femininity.  One reason for these beliefs is that in male-dominant societies anything associated with women or femininity is automatically viewed as a secondary, or women’s, issue — to be addressed, if at all, only after “more important” problems have been resolved.  Another reason is that we have not had the necessary information.  Even though humanity obviously consists of two halves (women and men), in most studies of human society the main protagonist, indeed often the sole actor, has been male.
As a result of what has been quite literally “the study of man,” most social scientists have had to work with such an incomplete and distorted data base that in any other context it would immediately have been recognized as deeply flawed.  Even now, information about women is primarily relegated to the intellectual ghetto of women’s studies.  Moreover, and quite understandably because of its immediate (though long neglected) importance for the lives of women, most research by feminists has focused on the implications of the study of women for women.
This book is different in that it focuses on the implications of how we organize the relations between the two halves of humanity for the totality of a social system.  Clearly, how these relations are structured has decisive implications for the personal lives of both men and women, for our day-to-day roles and life options.  But equally important, although still generally ignored, is something that once articulated seems obvious.  This is that the way we structure the most fundamental of all human relations (without which our species could not go on) has a profound effect on every one of our institutions, on our values, and — as the pages that follow show — on the direction of our cultural evolution, particularly whether it will be peaceful or warlike.
If we stop and think about it, there are only two basic ways of structuring the relations between the female and male halves of humanity.  All societies are patterned on either a dominator model — in which human hierarchies are ultimately backed up by force or the threat of force — or a partnership model, with variations in between.  Moreover, if we reexamine human society from a perspective that takes into account both women and men, we can also see that there are patterns, or systems configurations, that characterize dominator, or alternatively, partnership, social organization.
For example, from a conventional perspective, Hitler’s Germany, Khomeini’s Iran, the Japan of the Samurai, and the Aztecs of Meso-America are radically different societies of different races, ethnic origins, technological development, and geographic location.  But from the new perspective of cultural transformation theory, which identifies the social configuration characteristic of rigidly male-dominated societies, we see striking commonalities.  All these otherwise widely divergent societies are not only rigidly male dominant but also have a generally hierarchic and authoritarian social structure and a high degree of social violence, particularly warfare.
Conversely, we can also see arresting similarities between otherwise extremely diverse societies that are more sexually equalitarian.  Characteristically, such “partnership model” societies tend to be not only much more peaceful but also much less hierarchic and authoritarian.  This is evidenced by anthropological data (i.e., the BaMbuti and the !Kung), by contemporary studies of trends in more sexually equalitarian modern societies (i.e., Scandinavian nations such as Sweden), and by the prehistoric and historic data that will be detailed in the pages that follow.
Through the use of the dominator and partnership models of social organization for the analysis of both our present and our potential future, we can also begin to transcend the conventional polarities between right and left, capitalism and communism, religion and secularism, and even masculinism and feminism.  The larger picture that emerges indicates that all the modern, post-Enlightenment movements for social justice, be they religious or secular, as well as the more recent feminist, peace, and ecology movements, are part of an underlying thrust for the transformation of a dominator to a partnership system.  Beyond this, in our time of unprecedentedly powerful technologies, these movements may be seen as part of our species’ evolutionary thrust for survival.
If we look at the whole span of our cultural evolution from the perspective of cultural transformation theory, we see that the roots of our present global crises go back to the fundamental shift in our pre-history that brought enormous changes not only in social structure but also in technology.  This was the shift in emphasis from technologies symbolized by the Blade: technologies designed to destroy and dominate.  This has been the technological emphasis through most of recorded history.  And it is this technological emphasis, rather than technology per se, that today threatens all life on our globe.
There will undoubtedly be those who will argue that because in prehistory there was a shift from a partnership to a dominator model of society it must have been adaptive.  However, the argument that because something happened in evolution it was adaptive does not hold up — as the extinction of the dinosaurs so amply evidences.  In any event, in evolutionary terms the span of human cultural evolution is far too short to make any such judgment.  The real point would seem to be that, given our present high level of technological development, a dominator model of social organization is maladaptive.
Because this dominator model now seems to be reaching its logical limits, many men and women are today rejecting long-standing principles of social organization, including their stereotypical sexual roles.  For many others these changes are only signs of systems breakdown, chaotic disruptions that at all costs must be quelled.  But it is precisely because the world we have known is changing so rapidly that more and more people over ever larger parts of this world are able to see that there are other alternatives.
The Chalice and the Blade explores these alternatives.  But while the material that follows shows that a better future is possible, it by no means follows (as some would have us believe) that we will inevitably move beyond the threat of nuclear or ecological holocaust into a new and better age.  In the last analysis, that choice is up to us.
Chaos or Transformation
The study on which The Chalice and the Blade is based is what social scientists call action research.  It is not merely a study of what was, or is, or even of what can be, but also and exploration of how we may more effectively intervene in our own cultural evolution.  The rest of this introduction is intended primarily for the reader interested in learning more about this study.  Other readers may want to go straight to chapter 1, perhaps returning to this section later.
Until now, most studies of cultural evolution have primarily focused on the progression from simpler to more complex levels of technological and social development.  Particular attention has been paid to major technological shifts, such as the invention of agriculture, the industrial revolution, and, more recently, the move into our postindustrial or nuclear/electronic age.  This type of movement obviously has extremely important social and economic implications.  But it only gives us part of the human story.
The other part of the story relates to a different type of movement: the social shifts toward either a partnership or a dominator model of social organization.  As already noted, the central thesis of Cultural Transformation theory is that the direction of the cultural evolution for dominator and partnership societies is very different.
This theory in part derives from an important distinction that is not generally made.  This is that the term evolution has a double meaning.  In scientific parlance, it describes the biological and, by extension, cultural history of living species.  But evolution is also a normative term.  Indeed, it is often used as a synonym for progress: for the movement from lower to higher levels.
In actual fact, not even our technological evolution has been a linear movement from lower to higher levels, but rather a process punctuated by massive regressions, such as the Greek Dark Age and the Middle Ages.  Nonetheless, there seems to be an underlying thrust toward greater technological and social complexity.  Similarly, there seems to be a human thrust toward higher goals: toward truth, beauty, and justice.  But as the brutality, oppression, and warfare that characterize recorded history all too vividly demonstrate, the movement toward these goals has hardly been linear.  Indeed, as the data we will examine documents, here too there has been massive regression.
In gathering the data to chart, and test, the social dynamics I have been studying, I have brought together findings and theories from many fields in both the social and natural sciences.  Two sources have been particularly useful: the new feminist scholarship and new scientific findings about the dynamics of change.
A reassessment of how systems are formed, maintain themselves, and change is rapidly spreading across many areas of science, through works such as those of Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine and Isabel Stengers in chemistry and general systems, Robert Shaw and Marshall Feigenbaum in physics, and Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in biology.  This emerging body of theory and data is sometimes identified with the “new physics” popularized by books such as Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics and The Turning Point.  It is sometimes also called “chaos” theory because, for the first time in the history of science, it focuses on sudden and fundamental change — the kind of change that our world is increasingly experiencing.
Of particular interest are the new works investigating evolutionary change by biologists and paleontologists such as Vilmos Csanyi, Niles Eldredge, and Stephen Jay Gould, as well as by scholars such as Erich Jantsch, Ervin Laszlo, and David Loye on the implications of “chaos” theory for cultural evolution and social science.  This is by no means to suggest that human cultural evolution is the same as biological evolution.  But although there are important differences between the natural and social sciences, and the study of social systems must avoid mechanistic reductionism, there are also important similarities regarding both systems change and systems self-organization.
All systems are maintained through the mutually reinforcing interaction of critical systems parts.  Accordingly, in some striking respects the Cultural Transformation theory presented in this book and the “chaos” theory being developed by natural and systems scientists are similar in what they tell us of what happened — and may now again happen — at critical systems branching or bifurcation points, when rapid transformation of a whole system may occur.
For example, Eldredge and Gould propose that rather than always proceeding in gradual upward stages, evolution consists of long stretches of equilibrium, or lack of major change, punctuated by evolutionary branching or bifurcation points when new species spring up on the periphery or fringe of a parental species’ habitat.  And even though there are obvious differences between the branching off of new species and shifts from one type of society to another, as we shall see, there are startling similarities to Gould and Eldredges’ model of “peripheral isolates” and the concepts of other evolutionary theorists in what has happened and may now again be happening in our cultural evolution.
The contribution of feminist scholarship to a holistic study of cultural evolution — encompassing the whole span of human history and both halves of humanity — is more obvious: it provides the missing data not found in conventional sources.  In fact the reevaluation of our past, present, and future presented in this book would not be possible without the work of scholars such as Simone de Beauvior, Jessie Bernard, Ester Boserup, Gita Sen, Mary Daly, Dale Spender, Florence Howe, Nancy Chodorow, Adrienne Rich, Kate Millett, Barbara Gelpi, Alice Schlegel, Annette Kuhn … to name but a few.  Dating from the time of Aphra Behn in the seventeenth century and even earlier, but only coming into its own during the past two decades, the emerging body of data and insight provided by feminist scholars is, like “chaos” theory, opening new frontiers for science.
Though poles apart in origin — one from the traditional male, the other from a radically different female experience and worldview — feminist and “chaos” theories in fact have a good deal in common.  Within mainstream science both are still often viewed as mysterious activities at or beyond the fringe of the sanctified endeavors.  And in their focus on transformation, these two bodies of thought share the growing awareness that the present system is breaking down, that we must find ways to break through to a different kind of future.

The chapters that follow explore the roots of — and paths to — that future.  They tell a story that begins thousands of years before our recorded (or written) history: the story of how the original partnership direction of Western culture veered off into a bloody five-thousand-year dominator detour.  They show that our mounting global problems are in large part the logical consequences of a dominator model of social organization at our level of technological development — hence can not be solved within it.  And they also show that there is another course which, as co-creators of our own evolution, is still ours to choose.  This is the alternative of breakthrough rather than breakdown: how through new ways of structuring politics, economics, science, and spirituality we can move into the new era of a partnership world.

by Riane Eisler
“The most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species.” — Ashley Montagu
“Validates a belief in humanity’s capacity for benevolence and cooperation in the face of so much devastation.” — San Fransisco Chronicle Book Review
“As important, perhaps more important, than the unearthing of Troy or the deciphering of cuneiform.” — Bruce Wilshire, professor of philosophy, Rutgers University

"We Forget That Dinosaurs Go Extinct"

Bill Moyer talks to scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva, who’s become a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds.  These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers.  Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.

Moyers remarked that Shiva is facing an “uphill battle,” being one woman against some of the most powerful corporations on the planet.  Shiva replied that under the teachings of the sacred Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, duty comes before any thought of outcome.
“You do not measure the fruit of your actions,” she said, “You have to measure the obligation of your actions.  You have to find out what’s the right thing to do.  That is your duty.  Whether you win or lose is not the issue.”


Guest post : To Undo The Folded Lie

by Phil Rockstroh

A stammered truth is more resonate to the heart than a well-told lie; unfortunately, an habitually dissembling mindset will view the situation in reverse.  All too often, our internalized system of viewing an unfolding event will determine our take on it.  If the institutions (e.g., familial, governmental, mass media) that have influenced our method of perception are themselves compromised by internalized biases, then a type of carnival funhouse mirror effect is in play (both on an individual and culture-wide basis) whereby distortions reflect distortions that, in turn, reflect those distortions…ad infinitum.  Reality is made grotesque, and gross distortions are perceived as reality.

This is why it is essential to develop a method of viewing that includes the heart, the gut, and all of one’s senses.  A lie only fools the mind; in contrast, truth reverberates throughout one’s entire being.

“All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie.” – W.H. Auden

A truthful remembrance will free imprisoned ghosts from their torment (They will be bestowed with heart-felt feeling (i.e., remember their humanity) and therefore be reborn.)–while shallow, self-serving dissembling will raise an army of mindless zombies.

Only 41% of the population of the U.S. believe in the verifiable reality of global climate chaos.  The institutionalized, thus internalized, lies of the corporate/consumer state – the usurping of the innate longings of the human heart and replacing them with consumer desires – have not only left consumerist true believers bereft of the ability to honestly process information but have rendered them unable to locate the source of their own suffering.  It is impossible to sate empty appetite by more empty consumption.  The hollowness at the core of the consumer state can only be remedied by an awakening of the heart.

How does one take this course of action?  The answer is neither recondite nor inaccessible: by the time honored methods of grief and gratitude.  Fortunately, our lives give us ample opportunity for practice.

Apropos: Grieve for our abuse of the flora and fauna of this living planet into which we were born, and grieve for the suffering we bring to ourselves by these callous actions…for the abuse and neglect that we inflict upon the earth we heap on ourselves.  As long as we believe it is our birthright to exploit the planet, then we will continue to believe it permissible to ruthlessly exploit one another.

In short, when we demean the world, we demean ourselves by the same methods.  There is no need for a vengeful god above to punish us for our transgressions…we’re doing just fine on our own.  To trudge through life devoid of the warmth bestowed by a compassionate heart, is to divest one’s self of soul…to not be fully alive within life.  And that is an awful form of punishment: to construct, in the area within yourself where your heart should be positioned, a dungeon where you have become both the torturer and the tortured–all ordered by a merciless king (your willful mind untempered by the counsel of your heart) who lords over the wasteland of misapprehensions that you have mistaken for the whole of existence.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City.

He may be contacted at: Visit Phil’s website or at FaceBook.