A creation story from the Hopi Nation goes like this:
Creation said: “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.”
The eagle said, “Give it to me. I will take it to the moon.”
The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”
The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”
The Creator said, “No. They will go there, too.”
The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”
The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there.”
Grandmother who lives in the breast of Mother Earth,
and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said “Put it inside of them.”
And the Creator said, “It is done.”
Is now the time for humans to find this hidden creation treasure within?
A World in Emergency
We live in a time of rapidly increasing complexity and profound global change. We are pushed by necessity and pulled by opportunity. The push is a growing systems crisis spanning ecological, sociological, and economic areas, evident in the breakdown of financial institutions, climate disruption, resource depletion, unsustainable populations, and more. The pull is the opportunity to rise to a new level of human maturity, collective coordination, and freedom. The combined push and pull at a global scale makes this a time of profound turning and transformation for humanity. Will we emerge in the opportunity, or fall to the crisis?
We already have the knowledge, resources, and systems necessary to solve our problems, clean up our messes, and co-create a world of peace and prosperity on Earth. But why has this not happened already? Or why does it appear to be taking so long?
Can we consider there is more to the global situation than what we are commonly seeing? Like a tree in the forest that is sick and not bearing fruits, what may be influencing the health of the tree at the deepest roots?
Our global problems can be placed into two fundamental categories: extrinsic problems, and intrinsic problems.
Extrinsic problems are the types of problems most commonly recognized today, such as: climate disruption, economic collapse, resource depletion, social violence, and more. These are the types of problems we want to apply extrinsic solutions toward, such as: bioremediation, new economic systems, sustainable energy, and political reform. These types of extrinsic solutions are necessary to realize a most extraordinary world imaginable. Yet even with all these types of external systemic solutions in place, will sustainability persist in the long term, or would these systems become compromised again?
Intrinsic problems are the types of problems not commonly recognized, fully understood, or even explored–yet are most essential to a full understanding of the totality of our global situation. Some examples of intrinsic problems are: the nature of individual and collective psychology in perpetuating behaviors of greed, corruption, and violence, the influence of long-established conditioning and cultural narratives, a mis-alignment with deeper values, and skewed perspective and tilted orientation to who and where we are as an evolving species in a vast cosmos. Solutions to these types of intrinsic problems are essential to realizing a most extraordinary world imaginable.
The span of the extrinsic problems in global crises–ecological, sociological, and economic–are rooted in more fundamental intrinsic crises of psychology, perspective, and meaning. It’s an existential crisis, a crisis of ‘consciousness’, of which the extrinsic, external problems are mainly symptoms of. Resolving the more fundamental intrinsic crises is a meta-solution for global systemic change, sustainability, and co-creating a better future for humanity and the planet. Heal the roots, the tree will flower, and the flower will widen its bloom.
Maps of Meaning
Looking at these more fundamental intrinsic problems in psychology, perspective, and meaning–because they are interior and hidden–they are less easily distinguishable and understandable. Like examining the roots of a tree, we must carefully dig and trace each tangled root to even begin to understand what the origins of an issue is. While this may not be an easy task, it’s worthwhile, as it can certainly have a long-lasting and significant influence on the overall tree–the future generations of humanity.
While a full description of the intrinsic problems and solutions to humanity’s existential crisis is too much to explore in this article alone, an outline of some of the general areas to begin can be made. Problems and solutions in psychology, perspective, and meaning overlap and intersect in a common scope and area of consideration of what can be referred to as maps of meaning. These types of meaningful maps are the stories, narratives, and myths we tell ourselves and each other; they are also our religions, spiritual traditions, philosophies, sciences, and even political ideologies. Maps of meaning are any way that we make meaningful sense of ourselves and the world.
Maps of meaning are important for many reasons. One reason is they provide a sense of orientation–guiding us to where we are. Another reason is they provide a sense of identity–telling us who we are. Take for example an individual person who is experiencing an existential crisis–a moment of questioning how their life has meaning, purpose, and value. By reviewing the stories of their own life past, or by hearing stories or myths of other people’s life (fact or fiction)–they themselves may begin to orient to their own life in a way that provides more meaning, purpose, and value.
Similar to how an individual person can experience an existential crisis, the collective of humanity is now experiencing an existential crisis. Who and what are we, where are we, and why we are here … are the fundamental questions of this crisis in meaning. How do we collectively find or create meaningful answers to these questions that give us a deepening sense of collective orientation and common identity with greater meaning, purpose, and value?
How the World Lives a New Story
Traditionally, story, myth, and narrative have been our primary way of mapping meaning in the world. Since the beginning of human evolution, storytelling has been the original form of media, transmission of knowledge and wisdom, and means of orienting and cohering individuals, communities, and collectives within an increasingly complex world.
Today, our world is challenged with disorientation and fragmentation. In the wake of the profound changes at hand, the key questions around what it means to be human are emphasized more than ever before. The stories we tell shape our view of ourselves and the path we take through this time of collective awakening and global transition. It’s critical that humanity comes together to consciously co-create visions and stories of a sustainable and thriving future.
Reviving the fundamental art of storytelling across our global communities can help to increase the health and integrity of our individual and collective consciousness. Leveraging both the efflorescence of face-to-face social gatherings and on-line social media, we can form atmospheres for discovering, collecting, shaping, and sharing our personal stories of transformation, and weave our individual threads of meaning into a tapestry vision of collective evolution. Combining innovations in distributed network technology with effective psychological processes, we can make systematic methods to assist people toward realizing greater well-being, engender coherency and empathy within and across communities, and provide arenas for the collective co-creation of a new world view. Together, we can recollect a comprehensive integration of our collective history, as well as a clear, coherent, and cohesive vision of where we are going, and who we are becoming as a planetary species. Such an actualization of collective making of meaning can mark a cultural paradigm of renewing our ancient tribal tradition of storytelling–but at the scale of a global village.
But there, the meaning-making only begins …
A new story for humanity will look like nothing that has come before. While we can share our individual stories in order to weave the wisdom of our many perspectives, we must also eventually transcend the limitations of our past conditionings. And as a collective, we cannot simply revert to an ancient mythology, for this is not matched to the particular challenges of modernity. Rather than the construction of another religion as a new collective map of meaning, what is required is a synthesis of cultural perspectives. We need to preserve the diversity of local cultural groups and individuals, while also orienting, coordinating, and cohering together as a global collective in new and meaningful ways.
What will these new maps of meaning look like? How will this new way of meaning come about? In my view, the advent of new meaning is already arriving gradually, will continue to develop, and will eventually become apparent as something unprecedented and monumental. When we look now, we may recognize intimations of its unusual coalescing and formation in various emerging trends in technology, science, art, and spirituality. Its origin may be compared to the evolutionary emergence of language. In fact, it may become something like language–or become as essential to the human species as language–but operating at a much higher level.
Upon its arrival, we may begin to collectively utter the early instances of a new way of sharing meaning in our rapidly transforming world. This universal para-language will transcend and include all preceding cultural contexts, and synthesize the diversity of our human strands. It will extend from our already established networks, media, and databases, yet also somehow surpass rational association with logic, signs, and symbols alone. It will engage us directly with an authentic immediacy and novelty that matches the awesome impulse of evolution itself. It will orient us, reflect our essence, purpose, and reality to ourselves. It will enable us to concentrate our intellectual and spiritual forces, enhancing our collective intelligence, and to think, be, and act as a group. We may imagine it arching like a rainbow across the noosphere, transmitting spontaneously in astonishing response to our own becoming as an emerging superorganism in participation with cosmic evolution.
In the year 2020, the key word is vision. What is our individual and collective vision? What story have we been living, and what new way of meaning making will we live going forward as individuals and as a collective?
The venture I’ve founded, Mythic Systems, approaches the challenge and opportunity for new meaning making by producing research, systems, tools, education, and transmedia communications to synthesize the diversity of meaningful perspectives, actualize human potential for transformation, increase collective intelligence, and progress the evolution of culture, communications, and consciousness.
For more information on the topics and ideas presented in this article, and to participate in this meaningful co-creation, please visit and connect at www.MichaelGaio.com and www.MythicSystems.com and www.patreon.com/gaio.