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In New Cultures Arising by the Internet's Electronic River Ancient Wisdom Resonates and "Polyphrenia" is Healthy

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Thursday, October 21, 2010
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Everything that was is not any more. We are going through the most radical construction and deconstruction the world has ever seen....We are gathered at a wake for a way of being that has been with us for thousands of years," says Jean Houston, scholar, philosopher, and researcher of human capacities. "Our challenge is to cultivate vision and being that are in step for the opening of new times."

The Greek word Kairos represents time we experience by its meaning rather than its chronological measure in minutes and hours. Houston says Kairos is symbolized by the moment a shuttle passes through the warp threads of a loom and new fabric takes form. And she says the millennium was a crossroads between the old and a new existence the world is only beginning to imagine.

The internet, she says, is remaking civilizations just as great as the cultures that arose along the great Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, and Yangtze rivers. "Now civilization grows up along the electronic river, changing people's personal and public behavior. Our views of the nature of reality itself are changing, developing new nervous systems that will change our way of being."

Huston, author of 28 books, consultant to the United Nations, a scholar of indigenous cultures and an international mentor on human potential, was a keynote speaker October 17 at the Organizational Development Network Conference in New Orleans. She calls the city a microcosm of the world, where climate change, crisis, and chaos have combined to bring about new potential, opportunities and human resilience.

One of her books is Jump Time, Shaping Your Future in a Time of Radical Change. She explains jump time as "the changing of the guard at every level, a whole system transition, a re-patterning of human nature." Despite the dislocations brought by massive change, Houston expresses confidence that the evolution of human consciousness gives us the ability to direct the processes of change along new lines. She speaks of socialartists, whose canvas is society, who will guide the next phase with their commitment skill, and radical empathy. She says the young are international thinkers by nature, and she emphasizes people the world over hunger for vision and new ways to cooperate.

She hails the wisdom of indigenous cultures, where people "use more of themselves" and live with intense inner imagery. In her study of 55 of the world's most creative people, she found a common thread: "They are archeologists of their own minds, spelunkers of the caves of their minds. They develop hooks and eyes to catch creativity."

And how can we deal with the cascades of crisis that periodically inundate us? Myth, symbol and ritual offergenerative power, Houston says, and "seeing the self as a theater of selves," and living through multiple personas, joins together new energy and skills. If schizophrenia is an illness, she says polyphrenia is health.

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