Since the early yogis first withdrew their senses to find higher consciousness; since Buddha first practiced renunciation; since the early Christians retreated into monastaries; and since New Age spiritualism started talking about ascension, the arrow of our attention has been pointing upward, toward transcendence and detachment—saying that the realities of everyday life were not real—that only spirit was. Even the chakras have most often been seen as a ladder for liberation, a means toward an end: to transcend mundane reality.
And what has all this upward spiritual pursuit gotten us? Do we have better command of the reality around us? Are we more effective in our lives? Have we been able to prevent genocide, ecocide, pesticide, herbicide, and collective suicide? Are we becoming an enlightened civilization? I would argue that higher consciousness contributes to solving these causes, but it takes something more than that to actually create a new world.
Many folks think that human consciousness has been the same throughout time, but, just as an individual human consciousness can change by re-adapting and re-molding, so has greater humanity adapted and evolved as a species. The world today does not look the same as it did to the ancient horticultural and early agrarian societies. Our collective vision evolved with the advancements achieved by the Industrial revolutions and the overthrow of monarchies and the creation of representative democracies.
We live now in a multiculturally-rich worldview, where all prior worldviews are within our capacity to understand. It is the informational age! Could enlightenment be different for every individual self today, because everyone’s experiences and interpretation of enlightenment are seen through their unique view of the world? And is there a fuller, wider, deeper and more complex understanding of what enlightenment actually is now, today?
And these basic ideas I call myth, not using the word 'myth' to mean simply something untrue, but to use the word 'myth' in a more powerful sense. A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world. Now, for example, a myth in a way is a metaphor. If you want to explain electricity to someone who doesn't know anything about electricity, you say, well, you talk about an electric current. Now, the word 'current' is borrowed from rivers. It's borrowed from hydrolics, and so you explain electricity in terms of water. Now, electricity is not water, it behaves actually in a different way, but there are some ways in which the behavior of water is like the behavior of electricty, and so you explain it in terms of water. Or if you're an astronomer, and you want to explain to people what you mean by an expanding universe and curved space, you say, 'well, it's as if you have a black balloon, and there are white dots on the black balloon, and those dots represent galaxies, and as you blow the balloon up, uniformly all of them grow farther and farther apart. But you're using an analogy--the universe is not actually a black balloon with white dots on it.
In Chinese the two poles of cosmic energy are yang (positive) and yin (negative), associated with the masculine and the feminine, the firm and the yielding, the strong and the weak, the light and the dark, the rising and the falling, heaven and earth, and they are even recognized in such everyday matters as cooking as the spicy and the bland.
Thus the art of life is not seen as holding to yang and banishing yin, but as keeping the two in balance, because there cannot be one without the other.
The society is what we have made of it, what each individual throughout the million or fifty thousand years have according to their desires, ambitions, conditioning to their personal tendencies, to their aggression and so on, all this has actually contributed to the society in which we live. So the society is not different from us. That is a fact we seem to forget when we talk about society. Society is something that gradually has come into being, to which we have given all our endeavour, all our struggles, all our imprints and tendencies. This is the society, and society is us. It is not two separate entities.