Capable Capable
Capable Capable

Working the paradigm shift

Here we are in this moment in America in the 21st century struggling to be autonomous, in possession of ourselves. Though deemed sovereign individuals by this nation’s political, economic and social history, we start our life-long journey as naked human primates.

That is, amid the highly competitive conditions and circumstances in which we find ourselves and equipped initially with little more resource than the primate’s programming, we are expected to create and finance a life of our own design.

However, as a means to this sovereign independence and responsibility, we are characteristically directed only toward the surface definition and systemics of the material and conventional life offered in America.

Yes, our involuntary attachment to an unrealistic and misunderstood socially acquired ego-function shifts the vantage point available to other primates. Still, as we well know, an untutored ego-function reflexively protects the instincts of an animal bred to the jungle instead of motivating us to think about the cognitive, communicative and performative behavioral skills we need in this complex modern world.

In fact, our natural and socially conditioned determinism provides us with little incentive to examine and struggle with the emancipatory mechanism of our sovereign point of view. Moreover, not only do we have little incentive, most of us have not even a faint idea that there is possibility—enlightenment—outside this short-sighted box of consciousness and opportunity.

I described the reasons for this “inside the box” situation in my 04.28.14 post, Plato at the Googleplex. We are led to believe that a meaningful life has been taken care of by the Scoreboard. If we arrange our lives by conforming to its dictates, we are sure in our misconstrued ego-function that we will experience a life worth living. We assume (without thinking about it) that to be exceptional by Scoreboard’s in-bred, close-minded, self-affirming standards, and thus admired or celebrated, is notionally the pinnacle of life.

Unfortunately, as it turns out in real life, despite our achievements on the ladder of rank and status, a Scoreboard-shaped life leaves us with a shallow or hollow subjective experience. Living in the light of our limited range of reflection, arranging and rearranging the surface of our lives, we can neither recognize nor creatively manage the problematic ego-function nor enjoy the wellbeing and life satisfaction that emerges from being in enlightened possession of ourselves.

When we take up the philosophic and pragmatic paradigm shift described by the discipline of autonomy and life, however, we can take a deeper—less superficial—cut at the opportunity of self-possession.

We realize that we are a product of the American Revolution, no longer confined to the relationship of king-subject, but subject only to the framework of our citizenship and fully responsible for our behavior. As such, we focus on, reconfigure and reset not only our hereditary (immediate) determinism, but also the sovereign mechanism involved in creating our perception of and response to the demand for responsible autonomy.

This gives us the ability to enjoy the life we have designed and to enjoy the difference that is our sovereignty from the sovereignty of all others. We enjoy our sovereignty even as we contribute our utility to our nation. And we enjoy our sovereignty despite the creative load we carry, the competitive environment in which we find ourselves, the adversity we encounter and our dissatisfaction over our losses and unfulfilled desire (what we can’t or simply don’t prevent, we must endure).

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Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and the leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes.