Every culture has a story, a narrative, or worldview that shapes the way they think and act. This narrative describes who we are, what life is, and what our purpose is. To the people born and raised in their culture, their narrative is believed to be the truth, or is so widely accepted that they don’t even notice its existence; to them, it is simply the way things are, since it is all they have ever known, and all they’ve been raised to believe since birth.
The prevailing worldview of our culture is that we are isolated individuals who exist apart from the rest of the world, and are living in an unintelligent and mechanical universe made of matter, governed by random and chaotic forces, and from this random and insentient universe of inert matter, through an accidental and improbable process of evolution, life emerged. This belief is widely accepted by the majority of people; it is taught in our schools, it is proclaimed by our scientists, it is assumed by our societies and governments.
This worldview is so widely accepted that the majority of people never stop to question their narrative, to ask themselves why they believe it, how it makes them feel, whether or not it is true, nor especially how this worldview is the cause of human conflict and the rapid destruction of the natural world. What appears to be a vast and complex worldwide situation of external conflict, has its roots in a simple and subtle internal cause: we do not really know who we are. We have confused our true identity with an illusory identity created by our minds.
This book draws attention to the fact that it is our culturally inherited beliefs and our definition of who we are that causes us to suffer, and that if we can question these beliefs, and discover the truth of who we are, we will have freedom and peace. For we are not separate, isolated beings, as our culture leads us to believe. We are all strands in the web of life, parts of the greater whole of nature, and more than that, we are the whole of nature expressed as individual parts. If we can realize this fundamental truth—that our true self is the whole of nature, and that all beings are a part of our self—we can have peace and harmony on Earth. From this new understanding of who we are, we will act accordingly. When our actions reflect our understanding of oneness, and have in mind the benefit of the whole, then every action will be one that benefits all beings. But to accomplish this, we have to be able to look at our cultural narratives, question the stories that we live by, and change this worldview of separation by realizing that ultimately all is one. All is self.