Sunday, 24 May 2015

Original Thinking foreword by James O'Dea

For the last 30 years the Kogi people have been sending urgent messages to the world from a top Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world's highest coastal mountain range. They view themselves as elder brothers and sisters whose younger siblings across the planet have fallen out of rhythm with the matrix that nourishes all life: we have stopped listening to the heartbeat of Mother Earth. We are no longer pulsed by Earth's abundant generosity towards all life. Instead we are fuelling a hyper-acceleration we call progress, racing beyond the laws of ecology and sustainability to a paradise defined by the acquisition of stuff. Ignoring Nature's principles for sustaining biodiversity and replacing them with manufactured goods and technowizardry is leading to a world where everything begins to look monochromatic and is dangerously out of balance. The Kogi do not see this outright assault on Nature in support of materialist progress as representing a final Armageddon. Even as they predict the possibility for catastrophic loss of life resulting from ignoring Nature's warnings about the real cost of our lifestyles, they defer to the original intelligence of Nature as the guardian of all life. Kogi elders personally told me, "Mother Nature knows how to clean herself and how to heal herself. Humanity must understand that Nature has infinite patience to teach us how to live in harmony with her laws."

The Kogi people have a commitment to the whole planet and daily pray for the world's people, its mountains, its rivers, its forests, and oceans. Their elders are in constant telepathic communion with life on Earth. They are a deeply wisdom-sourced culture. Yet they are not immune to the disruptions to their way of living brought about by climate change, aggressive commercialism, political turmoil, and the seductions of consumerist society. Their culture has remained relatively intact compared to some other Native communities, but the velocity of social and cultural destruction that comes with "progress" has already begun to affect them.

The wise Bushmen of the Kalahari have a story deeply relevant to this era. They speak of the time of All Devourer. This seems a particularly apt archetype to represent the current rapacious destruction of ecosystems and natural resources. All Devourer eats up everything, including rivers and trees. But like the Kogi, the original people of the Kalahari do not interpret these calamities as foreshadowing an end to the world rather they provide a basis for understanding cycles and processes. Since what it has swallowed is living, it only makes sense to the Bushmen that Life itself will eventually emerge from the belly of All Devourer. A time of renewal will follow a time of destruction and the wise are the ones who know what their roles and responsibilities are in each phase.

We are indeed in the time of All Devourer. For this reason it is particularly opportune that Glenn Aparicio Parry offers us the exceptional creativity and wisdom contained in Original Thinking. Rather than fixate on the breakdown we see everywhere, Parry chooses to go beyond symptoms to root causes. He enters into the prevailing maps of the mind with enormous precision. He shows us the trajectory of the predominant western worldview as it hurtles towards alienation and fragmentation. He unravels our predicament of creating a world where we serve accelerating time rather than the rhythms of a deeper remembrance of who it is we really are.

A spirit of resurrection and renewal pervades the book as Parry revisions a world that does not jettison the past but fully integrates its learning into a richly sensorial experience of harmony and wholeness. He achieves what so many others fail to do in honouring the past - he does not get stuck in looking back but gives us a template of meaning for living human values that are integral to the natural order rather than being in rebellion against it. Original Thinking is a hymn to the recovery of being in a mechanised world and to our liberation form paradigms that severely inhibit our innate wisdom.

The bedrock of experience for Parry's own fertile imagination and remarkable insightfulness emerges from years of dialogic practice. Dialogue has also been a path for me in my own journey to explore our capacities for collective social healing. I have facilitated and witnessed the healing power of dialogue between protagonists in major conflicts around the world, between victims and perpetrators, with survivors of torture, with human rights activists, peace builders, psychologists, and academics. Dialogue can create a field of openness to listening and being with another that can be profoundly healing. In dialogue we can move beyond linear narratives and constant disagreements over facts and history. We can move into an exploration of the truth of experience. Invariably the field of connectivity between people becomes significantly deeper when subjective truth is honoured and the wisdom of the heart is not suppressed.

As you will read in the pages ahead Parry has a great deal to share on the kind of integral dialogue that gives full play to both head and heart; to feeling with the mind and thinking inside the heart. But our contemporary systems are not organised around dialogic process. Our political processes are polarised. Our educational systems are compartmentalised and structured around information transmission, largely discounting the relevance of subjective experience. Dialogue is not seen as having the muscle needed to generate breakthroughs, originality, creativity, or real momentum in the social order. From this perspective, dialogue is a kind of tea-time affair that may be emotionally satisfying but not impactful on civilisation as a whole.

You are about to discover an approach to dialogue that is transformational for our collective engagement with nature and with a thriving planetary civilisation. Our deepest thinking is relational and it communes with all life rather than dissecting it into separate units. Original Thinking invites you to re-experience your own ground of being and your relationship to Cosmos, not as an information retrieval process but as a profound journey of discovery sourced by an open and dialogic inquiry into the connection between you and all that is. What a quest!

Finally a map that drops you into a territory of meaning where once more you have to trust your instincts, hone your intuition, and let your inner compass guide you to those wisdom keepers who will have the perfect question to set you on your way. I assure you some paradigm shifting, and even life-changing, questions await you in this important book.

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