Living in the new age
Based on the work of Carl Rodgers Ph. D. The Father of Humanistic Psychology
“Small wonder that we stand confused, alternately arrogant and frightened, chaotic in our purposes, in the midst of social changes which seem beyond our control. We are facing a combination of paradigm shifts which may be more powerful than anything the world has known before. The possibilities, both the disruption and for creative living, are enormous.” – Carl Rodgers
Carl Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who is best known for his client-centered approach to therapy. He believed that people are innately good and that the therapist’s job is to create a safe environment in which the client can explore their feelings and thoughts. Rogers felt that it was important for therapists to be genuine and authentic to build trust with their clients. His work has been influential in the development of cognitive-behavioral therapy and positive psychology.
In 1984, Odyssey Magazine published the writings of Carl Rogers. In this piece he alerted the reader to the plight of our world and her people
“The world is in an agony of turmoil, of travail. This may well be the disintegration preceding the destruction of our culture through the suicide of a nuclear holocaust. We cannot dismiss the possibility that we are in the closing throes of our death. If that is the case there is not, it seems to me, a great deal to be said. It will be for archaeologists of the far distant future to diagnose our fatal illness.
On the other hand, the current chaos, the terrorism, the confusion, the crumbling of institutions and governments, may be the pains of a world in labour. There is much reason to believe that we are also involved in the birth pangs of a new era. If so, we are also involved in the birth process of a new human being, capable of living in that new era, that transformed world; it is this possibility that I would like to consider.
Why is it that we, as individuals, as nations, as cultures, are experiencing such incredible upheavals? ‘
Thirty-eight years later we are still experiencing the ‘pains of a world in labour’ and what was written then is profoundly true today. Carl Rogers went on to say that the world is experiencing a number of paradigm shifts which occur simultaneously and that the inevitability of those shifts have and will continue to shake the very root of our physical, psychological, economic and spiritual beings. He summarised these paradigms briefly:
“Reality as we have known it – the world of matter, of time, of space – no longer exists, in any fundamental sense. We are facing a mysterious reality of oscillating energies, operating in bizarre ways. It is a reality of almost mystical interconnectedness, a relatedness of which every animate as well as inanimate entity is a part. As a great scientist has pointed out, the universe no longer seems like a great machine. It resembles much more a great idea. We stand in awe as we endeavour to understand a universe that is an ‘idea’.
But science, which has been our tool for understanding, is undergoing almost equally striking changes. Our vision of the world through the perspective of a linear cause-effect science, is vastly over-rated. Such science is seen as one aspect of a much larger view. The world is seen as being understandable only in the context of reciprocally interacting cause and effect. Understanding has become far more complex; furthermore, the much emphasised law of entropy, or deterioration, is seen as but one side of the coin. The other, brighter side, is a formative tendency, a capacity for sudden and creative change into new and more complex states. The beautiful simplicity of science has vanished into a ‘science of complexity’ resembling the views of the Eastern mystic, rather than Newtonian mechanics.
And man himself can no longer be seen as a larger computer, a mechanical bundle of stimulus and response. Our concept of the person faces drastic change. This person has hitherto undreamed of potential.
The person’s nonconscious intelligence is vastly capable. It can control many bodily functions, can heal diseases and can create new realities. It can penetrate the future, see things at a distance and transmit thought directly. This person is gaining both a new awareness of his/her strength and power and a recognition that the only constant thing in life is the process of change. It appears that we need to view the individual primarily as a person who is continually transforming, a person who transcends.
This is the world into which we are inevitably moving. It is a world in which reality as we have known it has disappeared; in which science as we have known it becomes part of a far more mysterious and mystical whole; in which the individual as a comprehensive machine of muscles, nerves and brain, is no more and an incredibly capable, mysterious being, always in process, is discovered instead.”
Who will be able to live in this utterly strange new world?
Carl Rodgers outlined who the new world person will be in this published article: Odyssey Magazine Volume 8 No. 2 April/May 1984
The New World Person by Carl Rodgers Ph.D.
I believe it will be those who are young in mind and spirit – and that often means those who are young in body as well. As our youth grow up in a world where patterns such as I have been describing envelop them they will become new persons – fit to live in the world of tomorrow – and they will be joined by older folk who have absorbed the transformation concepts.
Not all, of course. I hear that young people today are only interested in jobs and security, that they are not persons who risk or innovate, just conservatives looking out for ‘number one’. Possibly that is so, but it certainly is not true of the young people with whom I have come into contact. But I am sure that many will continue to live in our present world and only a limited number in this new world of tomorrow.
Where will they come from? It is my observation that they are already born. Where have I found them? I find them among corporation executives who have given up the grey flannel rat-race, the lure of high salaries and stock options, to live a simpler new life. I find them among young men and women in blue jeans who are defying most of the values of today’s culture to live in new ways. I find them among priests and nuns and ministers who have left behind the dogmas of their own institutions to live in a way that has more meaning. I find them among women who are vigorously rising above limitations which society has placed on their personhood. I find them among blacks and Chicanos and other minority members who are pushing out from generations of passivity into an assertive positive life. I find them among those who have experienced encounter groups, who are finding a place for feelings as well as thoughts in their lives. I find them among creative school dropouts who are thrusting into higher reaches than their sterile schooling permits. I find them being birthed in the international and intercultural workshops which have been an important part of my recent life.
Here, in a person-centred climate, they are developing a sense of community based on trust and respect, creating harmony in diversity, a harmony which fits this new world. They are building intercultural networks of the sort so vividly described by Marilyn Ferguson (1980).
It is truly an ‘Aquarian conspiracy’, in which multitudes of congenial people the world over are ‘conspiring’ together, that is breathing together, discovering that they view life in this fundamentally new way.
As I have experienced these individuals I find certain traits in common. Perhaps no one person possesses all of these qualities, but I believe that ability to live in this utterly revolutionised world of tomorrow is marked by certain characteristics. I will very briefly describe some of them as I have experienced them.
These persons see that power over others is simply another form of conquest, equally abhorrent and unacceptable. Their goal is to empower each individual, to share power in common enterprises.
As a part of this relatedness underlies their building of human scale communities, their flexible way of dealing with common problems.
These persons do not like to live in a compartmentalised world – body and mind, health and illness, intellect and feeling, science and common sense. Individual and group, sane and insane, work and play. They strive rather for wholeness of life, with thought, feeling, physical energy, psychic energy and healing energy, all being integrated in experience.
These individuals are fundamentally indifferent to material possessions, comforts and rewards. Money and material status symbols are not their glory. They can live with affluence, but it is in no way necessary to them.
They are seekers, but their quest is essentially spiritual in nature. They are aware of and influenced by the larger rhythms of the universe.
They are at home with altered states of consciousness, with psychic energy, with meditative and mystic experiences. They wish to find a meaning and purpose in life which transcends the individual.
These persons have an openness to the world – inner and outer. They are open to experience, to new ways of seeing, new ways of being, new ideas and concepts and a newly discovered world of feelings.
I find these persons value communication as a means of telling it the way it is. They reject the hypocrisy, deceit and doubletalk of our culture. They are open, for example, about their sexual relationships rather than leading a secretive double life.
These persons are caring, eager to be of help to others when the need is real. It is a gentle, subtle, non-moralistic, non-judgemental caring. They are suspicious of professional ‘helpers’.
These individuals have an antipathy for any highly structured, inflexible bureaucratic institution. They believe that institutions should exist for people, not the converse.
These persons have a trust in their own experience and a profound distrust of external authority. They make their own moral judgements, even openly disobeying laws they consider unjust.
Their life is built on consistent philosophy – a basic trust in the constructive nature of the human organism, a respect for the integrity of each person, a belief that harmonious communication between individuals can be facilitated and a recognition that the experience of intimate community is essential to the good life.
These are some of the characteristics I see in these new persons being born. I am well aware that few individuals possess all of these characteristics and I know that I am describing a small minority of the population as a whole.
The striking thing is that persons with these characteristics will be at home in a world which consists only of vibrating energy, a world with no solid base, a world of process and change, a world in which the mind, in its larger sense, is both aware of and creates, a new reality. They will be able to live with the several paradigm shifts.
The infant mortality rate among those who are sharply different from their culture, who carry within themselves the ferment of a revolution in lifestyle, has been high. Will these new persons survive?
They will meet plenty of opposition. In various cultures they will be oppressed and suppressed in different ways. They will be a threat to the bureaucratic state, because their values are different, because they expect to participate in decisions which affect them, because they reserve the right to make their own moral judgement.
They will be scorned by most of our educational institutions, because they give feelings an equal place with intellect, because they defy tradition and do not make good conformists.
They will be a vast puzzle to business and corporations, because they cannot be controlled by larger pay scales or promotions and because people have for them a higher priority than profits.
They will be misfits in our technological culture with its emphasis on shaping man to fit the machine with its desire to devour all of nature, spitting out the toxic by-products with no thought for the future.
They will cause great discomfort to those who are in sure possession of the truth. The ‘true believer’, whether a dogmatist of the left or the right, cannot accept and understand the person who is open, who is seeking, who does not possess all the truth.
They will frighten many of us, because they portend radical change and the possibility of change creates frightened and angry people.
No, these new persons will not have an easy time. Their infancy will be a time of trial and pain. But they have one great element which nurtures their strength. This is the fact that they are on the side of the future – they can live comfortably with the fantastic new changes in perspective.
Theoretical physics is not going to be bottled up. Biofeedback is going to progress, not disappear. The knowledge as to ways of expanding human potential is not going to go away. The new modes of science are not going to vaporise. These great shifts in our perception of the universe are here. They will challenge us, whether we like it or not. They will change us. And those who can live these new patterns will have a good chance of survival.
I would like to give my dream – admittedly an idealistic one – of what we may be moving toward. This new would will be more human and humane. It will explore and develop the richness and the capacities of the human mind and spirit. It will produce individuals who are more integrated and whole. It will be a world which prizes the individual person – the greatest of our resources. It will be a more complex and human science, based on new and less rigid concepts. Its technology will be aimed at the enhancing of persons and nature. It will release creativity as individuals sense their power, their capacities and their freedom.
“The winds of scientific, social and cultural change are blowing strongly. The enormous perturbations of modern society will force a transformation into a new and more coherent order. And in that order relatedness, a renewed love for nature and for each person, a grasp of the spiritual unity of the universe, seem to grow out of the new world view. It should be a more human world, with more of a place for individuals who are integrated and whole. That at least is my informed hope.” – Carl Rodgers
And so it is. All Love Ed.