Actualize the collective
I think of ‘Actualization’ as the process of creating more congruency between our greater potentials and our lived being-ness. It is the process of deepening our self-understanding and furthering our expressions in ways that clarify and enhance our authentic self. Actualization is the process of manifesting our higher dreams and reaching far beyond our petty ego-desires; it is a manifesting of grander realities by the embodiment of our grander selves.
Actualization nourishes us as well as those around us on all levels: spiritually, materially, physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively, and more. Actualization is the blossoming seed of true self.
We must actualize ourselves to further know ourselves and we must further know ourselves to further actualize ourselves. In other words ‘Self-awareness’ and ‘actualization’ have a reciprocal relationship.
The medical definition of ‘self-actualization’, as coined by Maslow, is simply “the full realization of one’s potential”. While I generally accept my definition as somewhat interchangeable with the medical definition, I see actualization as a never-ending process of unlimited improvement. Therefore I do not believe someone can cross over into ‘full’ or ‘absolute’ realization of their ‘ultimate’ potential, but rather that one can continue to embody successive levels of greater potentials ad infinitum. Thus I prefer to define the term ‘actualization’ as an enhancement process, as to not put undo limits on one’s potential.
While I do believe, that every person’s innate value is beyond the scope of all measurement and comparison; for this value to be tangible and relevant to us, we need some way to experience it in the context of waking life. It isn’t until we actualize ourselves within the world that our gifts can be received and our innate value can become practical value … or in other words: when we actually bring forth our gifts it is then that our ‘seed’ can ‘blossom’.
I believe each of us has our own unique gifts and talents that, when fully expressed, are immensely valuable to the world. In fact, I believe that the actualization of each person’s unique gift provides a unique medicine that is necessary for healing the planet. As we actualize ourselves we gain the ability to help others actualize, and through symbiosis we have the potential to actualize a planetary healing.
With that being said I believe it is important not to mistake ‘un-actualized’ for ‘valueless’; or to mistake ‘unnoticed’ for ‘un-actualized’. For I believe that it is by learning how to recognize and cultivate this innate value in ourselves and in others that a collective human actualization is possible.
Conscious and Unconscious Actualization
We are all in the process of actualization whether we know it or not. The actualization process starts at birth, as babies we begin actualizing ourselves by learning to speak, walk, feed ourselves, etc. We further our abilities to adhere to the demands of survival and create ontological mechanisms for satisfying our desires. Actualization can be done from a conscious place or it can be done unconsciously.
Unconscious actualization is the inevitable result of blind trials and errors that eventually lead to deeper self-awareness and greater self-expression. Typically, unconscious actualization is delivered through painful life lessons resulting from the pursuit of lower ego-desires. (usually seeking to acquire things from outside the self: power, money, respect, love, and so on.)
Conscious actualization, on the other hand, occurs when a person, regardless of what they are actualizing, is aware of this actualization process as a means to expand self-awareness and unfold greater self-expression. The individual undertakes the process of expanding the self as the source of their own happiness.
The conception, pursuit, and subsequent actualizations of our potentials are directly linked to our beliefs. It would be pointless and irrational to pursue something that is unattainable; therefore what we believe is possible ultimately determines what we will pursue. At the same time, it’s worthwhile to examine our beliefs, because our beliefs about how the Universe works greatly influences the ways in which we choose to actively pursue our potentials.
Beliefs that Block Us
Many of us adopt belief systems relatively early in life that rule out the possibility of what at one time seemed like very real potentials. Even exciting potentials, that our conscious minds consider realistic, are often hindered by the presence of doubtful and uninspiring belief complexes. Others of us have convoluted our beliefs to the point that we are not sure what we want, or even who we want to be anymore. As a result, many of us eventually end up conforming to a mediocre lifestyle consisting of uninspiring work and weekend escapism. This internal polarization or ‘fragmentation’ is a debilitating force that perpetuates stagnation and procrastination.
Simply put, I believe that the number one ‘saboteur’ of actualization is fragmentation, the fragmentation of our beliefs and/or desires. If we have a conscious potential that we seem to be incapable of progressing towards, we are fragmented. If we have a deep soul wish from our childhood that has been buried by pessimism and doubt, we are fragmented. Essentially what has happened is: our fragmented beliefs have divided our ‘soul-force’ and set us against ourselves. Part of us may believe we want one thing while another part of us believes we want another thing; or part of us may have wishes and desires that another part of us believes are impossible to achieve. Either way this internal fragmentation perpetuates stagnation and stunts the actualization process.
I believe that the primary key to actualization at this time in human evolution is defragmentation. We must align our wishes with our beliefs and integrate the polarized aspects of ourselves, in other words: we must defragment our consciousness.
When ‘polar-opposition’ or ‘fragmentation’ is alchemized it becomes ‘polar-integration’ and what was once restriction becomes flow. Only through integration can we create the necessary coherency to consciously direct our ‘soul-force’ towards positive change. Defragmentation creates higher levels of integration and thus liberates the authentic direction and momentum of ‘soul-force’.
This liberation of ‘soul-force’ unto its authentic direction is Actualization.
Actualization is a holistic process; it is about learning to understand all aspects of ourselves without negative self-judgement. When I say defragment I do not mean ‘beat-out’ our ‘negative thoughts.’ Going to war against our ‘negative’ self only perpetuates more inner turmoil.
We must be honest with ourselves about the beliefs and desires that we harbor, especially when they are less than pleasant or even dishonorable. Often we are not willing to take responsibility for the aspects of our character that contradict our ego’s self-image, and these ‘shadow aspects’ end up playing themselves out unconsciously in one way or another. If we do not learn to consciously integrate our shadow we will create more pain and struggle for ourselves: as our shadow will continue to demand more and more attention by manifesting hardship as a means for getting our conscious attention.
Actualization is about understanding the structure and source of all of our beliefs; in order that we may integrate them in harmonious ways that benefits us as a whole organism. As long as we simply ignore or deny our ‘dark side’ or try to ‘beat it out’ with our ‘light side’ we will never gain a holistic understanding of ourselves and thus never be an integrated whole. It is only by truly understanding the different fragmented aspects of ourselves, both what we consider our “positive’ and our “negative” aspects, that we can begin to organize ourselves into a cohesive and synergistic whole. Through inner symbiosis we gain the ability to truly liberate ourselves and consciously direct our ‘soul force’.
Finding A Connection-Point
The trick to integrating ourselves is in finding the ‘connection-points’ (the common threads that run through the opposing aspects of our psyche). Often these common threads are found in our base level desires, the most common of those being simply: the desire for well-being and avoidance of pain. Virtually all of our belief systems, though they may seem contradictory to each other, have been generated with the intent of creating more well-being and reducing pain. Essentially, we believe what we believe because, in one way or another, we think it serves our well-being. It is the complex fragmentation between what we believe well-being to be, how we believe we can attain it, what we believe pain to be and how we believe we can avoid it, that is at the core of our collective schizophrenia.
For example: an individual has a belief that being a public speaker would be expressive and exciting, thus they believe that public speaking would give them a measure of well-being. At the same time this individual has a belief that being a public speaker is dangerous and potentially painful, thus they believe that to avoid public speaking will preserve a measure of well-being. Both beliefs are inspired by the same general impulse towards well-being and away from pain, yet they pragmatically oppose each other. This leaves the individual fragmented and immobilized.
When we become aware of a common core-intention behind an opposing set of belief structures, we have found a ‘connection-point’ and can then begin to consciously integrate them. When we honestly examine our opposed beliefs within the context of a common intention, the immobilizing effect falls away and the individual can more easily come to an integrated and holistic decision.
For example: The individual can then ask: is the measure of well-being that is to be gained from public speaking more or less than the measure of well-being risked in its pursuit? What are the odds that greater well-being will be achieved by public speaking? What measure of well-being would be lost from not trying? Can preventative measures be taken to reduce risks and damages? Based on the answers to these questions, is it worth it?
Now that well-being is the conscious focus, the oppositional beliefs have merged to serve a common purpose. This makes a conclusion much more clear which will remobilize the individual. If the conclusion is to let the idea of public speaking go, the idea can be dropped without the pressure of being torn between beliefs; thereby freeing this energy to be focused on other things. If the choice is to pursue it, all unsettled pressure that was once hindering the individual from taking action can be focused towards the goal.
By connecting polarized beliefs we can see where our true heart lies and the illusory aspects of either side fall away as a more holistic and integrated perspective is taken.
This is a highly simplified example and explanation of this process. It gets trickier when we are involved with shadow beliefs, cellular memories, collective paradigms etc. But generally speaking, the more we begin to understand ourselves holistically the more we can see that most of our contradictory belief systems are rooted in the same initial intentions and impulses.
Actualizing as a Collective
Just as it is important for us as individual-organisms to integrate our inner polarities, it is important for us as a collective-organism to integrate our collective polarities. Similarly to how we become conscious of the connection-points between the ‘separate’ aspects of our individual selves, we can also become conscious of the connection-points between the ‘separate’ aspects of the collective-organism. It is by consciously integrating our collective oppositions that we begin to consciously actualize the collective-organism.
There comes a point in our actualization process when we begin to recognize the inherent connectedness of all reality (humanity/nature/the universe etc). Beyond mere conceptual understanding of this greater connection, a kind of familial heart-connection to all beings and things awakens within us. We begin to consciously experience how we as individuals extend beyond ourselves to fit as integral pieces of a greater collective-organism.
This was well understood by all of humanities great spiritual ‘heroes’ whose teachings are founded in unity and equality. What people like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and even messiahs like Jesus and Buddha all had in common was: they were highly actualized individuals who had mobilized a tremendous amount of ‘soul-force’. They used this ‘soul-force’ in their own unique ways to consciously actualize the collective. Their high levels of personal integration grew far beyond themselves to incorporate all aspects of humanity into an integrated balance within their hearts. They embraced all people: from the thieves to the saints. By remaining oriented towards the connection points between us all they dissolved illusions of fragmentation and thus, through the outward rippling of their saintly actions and wisdom teachings, stimulated greater actualization levels within collective humanity.
I believe the wisdom and knowledge of humanities great heroes is highly revered by the world’s people because their stories speak to the innate hero within us all. I believe there is an inherent spark in each and every one of us to be a hero in this world and though hollywood movies and war propaganda may have manipulated this spark for diabolical means, the purity of this innate spark is nonetheless something very real. This spark, for some of us, only expresses itself through our admiration of personal heroes (real life or fantasy), but I believe the reason we even feel admiration for our heroes is because: in our heroes we see a greater reflection of who we truly are. I believe our world’s great heroes are potent reflections of what all actualizing human beings are to eventually become: each uniquely heroic in their own special way, yet each of them intimately connected to the whole of humanity. I believe that as we continue on the path of defragmenting and integrating all of our inner aspects, the more we will uncover the latent hero within ourselves and actualize our heroism in the world.
Collective Defragmentation (unified/separate)
Our part as individuals in the collective actualization process is to unify those parts of ourselves that, along with the collective, are most commonly fragmented.
What I believe is the most common (and most pertinent) fragmentation of the collective psyche, is the polarization between what can be called our ‘separative’ beliefs and our ‘connected’ beliefs. Separative beliefs are our beliefs about reality that lean towards the idea we are all separate, disconnected beings. While ‘connected’ beliefs lean towards the idea we are all deeply connected. Both beliefs can lead to actions that could be considered appropriate or inappropriate, applicable or illusory, depending on the context.
For example; It would be inappropriate to steal from other people with a logic that states “we are all one; therefore I am entitled to all things” Just as it would be inappropriate to think that because we all have separate bodies that our thoughts and feelings have no effect on others.
With that being said, I believe we are severely imbalanced as a culture towards an over-separative paradigm. Though there are some cases where over-unified perspectives may be causing some trouble in the world, I believe the more pertinent issue at this point in our evolution is the imbalance towards separation. This is apparent throughout society as structures of competition and domination overwhelm humanity and pit people against each other. While most of us all have some level of awareness that we are all connected, (with ideas like ‘the circle of life’ and ‘six degrees of separation’) much of our daily lifestyle still reflects a deep seeded psychological investment in an overly separative world-view.
Collective Connection Point
I believe that the most general connection point between ‘separative’ beliefs and ‘unified’ beliefs is simply, as it is for most things, the intention for greater well-being. By focusing on well-being itself, instead of the means we have thus far believed can provide us this well-being : (money, power, notoriety etc), we start to see what ideas, beliefs and habits have been inappropriately associated with what true well-being really is.
Now it is time to take a closer look at our cultural beliefs of separation, where they are from and how they are actively creating our present day realities. In the next section (section 2) we will begin to take an honest inventory of common lifestyle modalities and our everyday motivations and impulses with the intention of clarifying what is both helpful and harmful for serving our true well-being. We’ll take a look at some of the individual and collective pathologies that stem from our overly separative paradigm, and how this imbalance has distorted some of our natural instincts.
Then in Section 3 we will explore more deeply the perspective of unity and how to connect it into our daily lives in a balanced way (with respect for appropriate separative contexts). I will offer methods for integrating a more unified philosophy into our daily lives, with helpful ideas and practices for navigating an imbalanced society in a way that supports our own actualization as well as helps to stimulate a collective actualization.