Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Change- Think Big!
Topsy-turvy conditions, the appearance of sudden turns, and the loss of familiar landmarks, have become the rule and not the exception in our society. We appear to be living in a period of general discontinuity.
Today, in all areas - politics, science, economics, and health - things look uncertain. Chance and change have become intermixed.
Titles like "The Age of Unreason" and "Thriving on Chaos", are bestsellers even in the sedate business market. We are told to apply "upside-down thinking", to succeed in a society, that refuses to allow us the time to stand still.
What is happening? In previous generations, sweeping change took time. Forecasts for the future, were made with assurance; things were predictable.
In the past century, and particularly in recent decades, advances in science, travel, and communications, increased the rate of change.
The introduction of the microchip, and computerized systems of data management, have accelerated the rate of change so radically, that it has gone off the graph.
Moreover, it is not only the rate of change that is unique, it is the nature of the changes that are occurring. The majority of us grew up with a Newtonian concept of the universe.
This means, that readily discernible causes, are seen to produce predictable effects - a "clockwork universe." This vision spurred the Industrial Revolution, and enabled Western ideas and methods, to attain a dominant position in world thinking.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity hinted at the existence, of a higher degree of interrelation. People began thinking of non-linear systems; i.e., systems whose organization is not predictable, in terms of the information within our grasp, at any given moment.
This line of thinking has spawned a new theoretical approach, referred to as the “mathematics of chaos”. Generally, we conceive of chaos as confusion or disorder.
But this new approach understands, that what may be chaos to us, is nonetheless the reflection of a hidden order, motivated by a deeper and more abstract reality.
Complex behavior appears random, and yet conforms to a pattern. For, large, dynamic systems, are organized according to different structures, than those perceptible by our ordinary conceptual paradigms.
In previous generations, our lives followed more clearly mapped-out routines, and so we had less difficulty charting our future. But now, these maps are continually being redrawn; because the shifting reality in which we are living, upsets our existing frameworks of reference.
In such an environment, how does a person prevent himself from becoming as disoriented as our weightless plants? - By having the tightrope walker’s sense of direction and purpose.
A person who knows where he is going, then knows where to put his feet. When the leader of a desert caravan or a ship’s captain, was unsure of the direction in which he was going, he would look into the night sky, and find the North Star.
As civilization advanced, the compass was invented.
A person who has an inner sense of purpose, has a needle constantly pointing him true-north.
What is meant by, inner purpose?
A person once complained of depression. Nothing in particular was wrong; on the contrary, both at home and at work, he was considered moderately successful. But as he approached 40, he was haunted by feelings of futility.
A friend told the Lubavitcher Rebbe of the problem, and the Rebbe advised him: "Share this insight of our Sages, with your friend: “I was created solely to serve my Creator.”
It made a difference, the person’s attitude changed. After he saw the pole, he learned where to put his feet.
When we have the courage to look at ourselves honestly, we gain inner power, and a handle on our future. When we consider our spiritual purpose, we encourage inner dynamism. We insure, that this future will not be self-oriented; and we thus tap a source of energy higher, and more potent, than that contained in our individual being.
Our Sages describe every person as an entire world, and the world as a personality in macrocosm. Conceiving of ourselves as a world, i.e., multifaceted and multi-dimensional, enables us to develop harmony, between and within, the different aspects of our beings.
Conversely, viewing the world as a macrocosm of man, also provides us with constructive insights. Just as an inner sense of spiritual purpose, is the key to an individual’s success and happiness; so too, the world at large will thrive, from gaining awareness of its spiritual purpose.
What is the purpose of the world? Our Sages state: "The world was created, solely for Moshiach." More specifically, they tell us, that G-d created the world, because He desired a dwelling among mortals. This implies, that the infinite dimensions of G-dliness, will be revealed, within the finite framework of material reality.
These concepts, are reflected in the world’s cultural history. In the first phases of human development, mankind knew no boundary between the physical and the spiritual. Spiritual concepts were interpreted, in material terms; and man’s conception of reality, was a mixture of fact and fantasy.
Slowly, scientific thought began to take hold, progressing to the Newtonian concept of existence mentioned above. Man began to appreciate the framework of existence in which he lived, and learned how to function, more efficiently within it.
As the time for Moshiach’s coming draws nearer, infinity has begun to enter our conceptual frameworks. Or rather, our conceptual frameworks, have begun to appreciate the Infinite. We are witnessing an explosion of knowledge in all fields, introducing non-linear frameworks of reference, that are mind boggling.
The Zohar predicted 2000 years ago, such a blossoming of thought; and teaches, that this will prepare the world for the Era of Redemption.
Augmenting our awareness, can precipitate these changes. The first step in this direction, is a change in mindset; for ideas and information, are the forces molding our society today. A revolution in thinking, will send ripples of change, throughout the world.
To speak in metaphoric terms: Ships have long been guided by the movement of a rudder. As ships grew larger, the rudders necessary to turn them, also increased in size. Moving these larger rudders became difficult. Therefore, a small rudder, referred to as the trim-tab, was attached to the large rudder.
This smaller rudder, is easier to move; it then moves the large rudder; which in turn changes the course of the entire ship. In today’s world, each of us can be such a trim-tab. The direction in which we point our lives, can thus affect the direction, of the vessel that is humanity.
Living with the Redemption on a conceptual level; learning about the ideals, which G-d envisions for our world; and integrating these principles in our lives; can serve as a trim-tab for every individual, channeling the direction of global change.
By anticipating the Redemption in our minds, and lives, we can precipitate its coming much sooner!