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Breaking Free From Our Cultural Chains

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Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.        –   Rumi

We’re often afraid of what is different.  It’s easier to stick with what we know, especially when it comes to relationships.  We tend to stick to a group of people who think, act and do things like we do.  This is where we feel confident that we belong.  We can understand and feel understood.  Everything is easier when we are around people we know, however this can also be severely limiting.  When we know or think we know, we close ourselves off from knowing anything else because we already know – there is no more learning to be experienced.  We know and that is enough.  We can stay in our comfort zone secure in our knowledge where there is no fear or uncertainty.  Beliefs and norms of behavior are pre ordained – no independent thinking required.

However, a danger arises here – we need to ask ourselves if we have been shaped so much by the world around us that we have lost ourselves in the process?  Human beings rarely, if ever succeed at accurately perceiving their own culture.  It is true to say that this is how most of us live our lives.  We are victims of our culture and most of us don’t even realize.  We are born into a culture and the problem with culture is it’s impossible to know it when you’re in it.  You just can’t see it.  Although your life is defined and shaped by your culture we are all like the fish who swim in the sea – we are surrounded by the water of our culture, it is literally everywhere and so we take it for granted.  We can’t see it unless we have an experience where we notice an absence of our cultural norms and we know at a visceral level that something is missing.

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