Our freedom to think, speak, dream and evolve comes with a price. One beautiful moment in time, no matter how simple or how grand will be subjected to a myriad of interpretations, observations and embellishments due to our own personal projections. These projections are a result of outside influences surrounding us from birth to life.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called it "collective unconsciousness," writer and spiritual teacher Ernest Holmes referred to it as "race consciousness." This consciousness is the powerful influence that shapes the way we perceive our self and the world around us. The perception governs our opinions, reactions, behavior, and beliefs…all that contribute to the development of one's personality.
|Don Miguel Ruiz
"Day by day, at home, at school, at church and from television, we are told how to live, what kind of behavior is acceptable. The outside dream teaches us how to be a human. We have a whole concept of what a "woman" is and what a "man" is. And we also learn to judge: We judge ourselves, judge other people, judge the neighbors."
Most aspects of one’s daily life is influenced by the filters of personal perception. We choose our political party, religion, career, type of spouse, method of child rearing, and so on through these layers of self-identity. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz refers to the process as agreeing to "society's dream" and the "domestication of humans."
The many faces of the season
This time of year we experience the celebration of many different holidays. The varied ways of recognition and celebration bear witness to the power of social-cultural influences. Thanksgiving may stimulate feelings of home, family and gratitude in one culture while stirring painful memories in another. Christmas in the United States has become a melting pot of cultural traditions from all over the world combining ancient celebrations of Winter Solstice with the recognition of the birth of Jesus. Add Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well as many others and it quickly becomes evident that our particular society has been greatly influenced by its cultural diversity.
Christmas in the U.S.
The differences continue even on a micro level when we consider the differences in just the Christian community. Catholics, for example, celebrate the Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas Day. The emphasis is on the words of John the Baptist telling of the coming of the Lord into our current lives while preparing for the future Kingdom. Latter-Day-Saints (Mormons) believe, as do most scholars, that Jesus was born in the Spring but they do celebrate a traditional Christmas in December complete with stockings, trees and gifts. Many Protestant religions do not recognize Christmas in December because it is not the believed to be the time of year that Jesus was born. New Thought philosophies recognize the “Christ Light” and see Jesus as a man who carried that light with a message to the world. Still other religions do not celebrate this holiday because it was created by a combination of events that stemmed from Pagan celebrations and a mandate (according to some scholars) by Emperor Constantine between 325 AD and 337 AD.
A common thread
In spite of the differences, the underlying similarity among the spiritual beliefs in the United States seems to focus on the message of love and light. It seems to be the dogma that separates and causes discord. In the words of Jesus himself (Gospel of Thomas, No. 113) when asked by his disciples "When will the kingdom come?"
"It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."